I’ll admit to having been a bit lax on the Ben Kane front lately. I read the Forgotten Legion series and enjoyed them all tremendously.
In fact, I’m crediting The Forgotten Legion, the first book, with re-kindling my interest in Historical Fiction (though not Horsetorical Fiction, as that was before spellcheck pointed it out) as a genre and book-reading in general as a sport, after many years lying fallow.
I have bought/collected the Hannibal series (ok, the two) so far, as hardbacks. The first one was a little difficult to get hold of, but the second, Hannibal Fields of Blood I got recently as a new release. I’ll get onto reading them as soon as I’ve read the firsts in the other series, of authors new to me, that I haven’t started yet. Seems only fair.
But…then Ben posts these.
As you can see, these are something new, but in a similar vein, to the previous two Hannibal covers and I think the new close-up idea works very well indeed. And is strong enough to be continued. I thought the cover to Hannibal Enemy of Rome was good, but maybe playing a little safe, a little too passive, maybe? Hannibal Fields of Blood and its Iwo Jima pastiche* turned it into, what it says, a ‘pastiche’. Now, being an ex-advertsing man, I am interested in and generally have strong opinions on, book covers for good or bad. I can well imagine that was really funny and highly thought of at the end of a very long day and after a liquid lunch. I’ve been there. But really, someone somewhere should have said at sometime before they were confronted with several thousand of them “…no, really, what have you got to show me?” I would have.
These two are a departure for the series. So if you were hoping to get in as quick as possible and buy them to make up a set, before they redesigned them – you’ll already have been disappointed by Hannibal #2, I guess. The closest Ben Kane has got to having a theme run through his book series’, is with The Forgotten Legion. Though my copy of the first book, in paperback, is different in design to number two and three. However, you can now get it in the same design. Should you wish to have them all looking the same. Bus since then, with Hannibal and Spartacus, Ben’s books have changed design between ‘volumes’ and certainly and radically, between hardback and paperback. Maybe it’s a deliberate design decision, I don’t know. I’m not going to die in a ditch for continuity, but I can’t fathom why they feel the need to re-invent the wheel each time.
But for these two, I’ll happily make an exception.
These are superb cover designs from whoever is doing them on Ben’s behalf. Really much more of a realistic feel (thanks to photographs!) and a general ‘in your face’ angle to the both. I really hope they don’t get changed too much (if they find it necessary) from these seemingly finished ideas. I’d guess that if they do do anything with them, it will be to add some embossing or gold to the titles or Ben’s name, much as on the recent The Pagan Lord, by Bernard Cornwell (another one which prompted me to get it in hardback, rather than waiting and adding it to the paperbacks I have of all the others). But that was also because they changed the designs of the ‘Warrior Chronicles’ paperbacks which would have ‘spoiled’ my series, I thought, so I might as well break into the series with a hardback this time. I think the soldier on Hannibal Clouds of War (and Ben has said that the helmet is wrong for the period the book is set in) could look perhaps a little more animated. As in, perhaps some clouds of frosty breath, some sweat maybe. That kind of thing. Not much. Doesn’t need too many things going on. The paperback for Hannibal Fields of Blood is just fine, by me. Just add in the Pagan Lord embossing and we’re done. They’ve even got the type-feel consistent. With Ben’s name and the ‘of’ in both titles. Down the pub, fellas!
It seems that Hannibal Clouds of War cover, is most likely the ‘nearly done’ version they need to give Amazon to put on the page for ordering it. It may change – slightly – before it lands in your lap. Similar to what I noted with James Wilde‘s US version of Hereward, The Time of the Wolf. See pictures, left (look at the sword hilt. The image on the left, is how the printed book is, the one on the right is from Amazon’s page for the book. Still there too). We can just hope that they stay consistent with any further Hannibal stories Ben might write (I have no information on this is a trilogy or a quartogy or a fiveology…erm, but I would recommend keeping the type style of Ben’s name as a logo of sorts for future releases, in or out of Hannibal territory. That’s siurely a no-brainer…). One thing I think we can be sure of, is any further Hannibal’s from Ben, will have ‘of’ in the title somewhere.
I have written on this blog before on book covers, or two specific covers. If you’d like to investigate that, you can do so here and here. I’m currently mulling over another book cover post, based on the profusion of really terrible covers there are out there. But that’s to come later and will not be featuring these two new Ben Kane‘s.
Hannibal Clouds of War, is released 27 February 2014 and is available to order as we squeak. Hannibal Fields of Blood paperback is available to order on Amazon, but seemingly not from them, as yet. The page seems to be more or less the hardback’s page.
*I know that the famous picture, of the men raising the flag, as portrayed on ‘Hannibal Fields of Blood’, was itself re-staged for the photograph. But still, I’d have thought the men involved, or the surviving relatives of the men involved, could have been shown a little more respect. I know it’s been pastiched before, but I don’t think that is an excuse to do another pastiche of something these men fought and other men died, for.