Friday Face-Off: Emperor gives Names to Elves

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. I usually compose these posts on Thursday nights and so far Thursdays have been tiring.

The Friday Face-Off is a weekly meme hosted by Books by Proxy that compares book covers to decide which is best. I believe Proxy is on a hiatus so the themes so far have been freebies. I don’t have a theme for this Friday. I noticed that some of the books I recently hauled have different covers so I thought to feature them in a Friday Face-Off post.

Emperor of the Eight Islands by Lian Hearn

Emperor of the Eight Islands is the first novel in a 4-volume fantasy series set in medieval Japan. It’s said that the series features spirits, demons, warriors, and assassins and I’ve heard that it’s written a bit differently from the usual fantasy novel. I’m curious about the series and have already purchased the first two books (all books in the series will be published in 2016) but haven’t yet read them. It’s while I was watching videos on YouTube that I realized the first novel has more than one cover design.


While searching for the first and third cover designs, I stumbled upon the second. The first cover (U.S. paperback) is eye-catching. I love the cool colors in the design and how the blue-green fades into gold. The placement of the text on the cover makes me think of a tablet, not a technological one but one that might have existed centuries ago. I must say it’s more the colors than the image that captures my attention though the image is nice too.

The second cover, which is the U.K. paperback, has the same illustration as the first but without the cool colors. Though the image is nice, I find the overall design unappealing because of the lack of color. The color on the first cover gives the overall design some oomph and makes it stand out. Plus, the Asian lettering in the upper left corner of the first cover helps to convey the culture the story is set in.

Like the first cover, the third is eye-catching as well. The artist seems to have pulled out certain elements of the story to highlight and placed them all in a sort of collage, all the illustrations are placed together to make up the single image on the cover. I think that’s pretty cool. With that said, here’s my


Emperor of the Eight Islands1

Isn’t it beautiful? I love this cover. I love the illustration, which reminds me of classic Asian paintings, and the colors and the typography and the overall design. The artwork was done by Japanese illustrator Yuko Shimizu. Here’s an article where she and the art director for the novels, Alex Merto, discuss the design.

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

We Need New Names is a literary novel about a young girl who immigrates from Zimbabwe to the U.S. That alone made me want to read it when I first heard of it, but I’ve yet to. However, I recently purchased a copy so I hope to get to it soon. This novel also has several beautiful covers. Let’s take a look.


From the left, the first cover is the one I’m most used to seeing. I like the bright yellow as well as the thin font for the letters. I also think it’s pretty cool to have a plane image for the negative space in the middle. I think that white space makes the cover a little more interesting.

The second cover is eye-catching as well. It’s not as bright as the first but the various patterns will attract the eye and cause viewers to pick it up for a closer look. This cover might seem busy to some but I love it. I like all the patterns. It seems random and it’s not overpowering.

The third cover is another good one. It’s the cover I own and it seems to have been influenced by the first two covers. Its background is yellow with a splash of white, and the words are in cool colors, except the author’s name which is expected to stand out. One of the words have a pattern as well. The colors all work well together here.

The fourth cover is good too. We have an image of a young girl, which I guess represents the protagonist, along with stars sprinkled down the cover. I don’t like the placement of the text, though I don’t know where else it could go. So of these covers, here’s my


We Need New Names3

It was kind of close. I almost chose the second cover above, the one with all the patterns. I just love all the movement in it. It’s certainly something one can look at for a while. But I love this cover that I chose as my winner. The colors work well together and the design stands out without being too busy.

The Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery

I’m currently reading this one and though I’m only a few pages in, I’m already in love with Barbery’s writing. I haven’t yet gotten a handle on what the story is a about and it’s hard to sum it up from the synopsis given on Goodreads but it seems that The Life of Elves is a fantasy novel about two girls who must use their magical abilities in a war. I don’t know if they will use them to prevent the war or to protect others.


From the bit I’ve read in the story, I believe the first cover shows Abruzzo, Italy, where one of the main characters is based. It’s a mountainous region and the photo on the cover seems to feature that with thick fog about to add mystery. It’s not an outstanding cover but it fits the sort of designs I usually see for literary novels.

The second cover focuses more on typography and I do like the font used for the title. I just wish the color stood out more. I also like the the trailing lines off to the side and the red bridge in the middle, though I don’t yet know what it signifies.

The third cover is the one I’m used to seeing. I know that the elves are in the woods, thus connected to nature as they always are, and that one of the main characters is sometimes led by them (or by some other mysterious force) into the woods. I guess showing hands on a huge leaf is meant to show the characters’ connection to nature…? I don’t get this cover but it stands out. Here’s the


The Life of Elves

None of them is very outstanding to me but I chose this cover because the image stuck with me. Wherever I see this image, even if the title, author name, and publisher aren’t printed on it, I will think of Barbery’s The Life of Elves and I think that’s a major point of book covers: to provide an image that will stick with customers, even if they haven’t yet read the story, to help them to remember the book.

Well then, what were your picks?

6 thoughts on “Friday Face-Off: Emperor gives Names to Elves

  1. I’m going with 2,4,2,
    Firstly 2, because i love the simple palette and the loosed arrows, if asked to improve on this cover i would incorporate the Japanese font, some of that neat green landscape of 1and the inclusion of “tale of shikanoko “(not sure where) That’s right, i want it all baby. I also like the 14 pointer stag of 3 (wonder if there is a larger edition)

    Secondly 4, love it, would try maybe reducing the font by a nats whisker (although it helps maybe with emphasising the youngness of the girl)

    Elves two, simple palette, red bridge, golden font, black bird.

    Liked by 1 person

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