I am pleased and excited to announce that Storn A. Cook—illustrator of many excellent role-playing game products, collectable card games, and more—has agreed to provide the cover painting for my next novel, The Soldier and the Slave.
I’ve been seeing Storn’s artwork on products I’ve purchased for years, and I felt he had the perfect style for my Tales of the Undying Empire series.
He’s already hard at work reading the book and making preliminary sketches, three of which I want to share here.
But first, I want to talk a little bit about The Soldier and the Slave.
This is my first novel in the series to take place entirely outside of Ythis. There’s a whole Empire outside of the walls of the capital city, and an even larger world beyond. In this book, readers will get to see the mountainous northern region of the Empire, and will encounter the Imperial Legion for the first time.
The Soldier and the Slave is a story that’s been in the back of my mind since I first started writing about the Undying Empire, but it wasn’t formed enough to commit to paper (or pixels). But it’s finally time to escape from Ythis and to explore some of the history that lies behind the formation of the Empire.
This is a story about doing the right thing, even though it may cost you everything you hold dear. It’s about strength in the face of failure, and refusing to give up.
Here is the official back cover copy for The Soldier and the Slave:
Kied Leele is a traitor to the Empire.
Unable to follow orders that he knew to be wrong, Kied was convicted and imprisoned in a slave mine for betraying his commission as an officer in the Imperial Legion. With the executions of his subordinates who followed him weighing heavily on his soul, Kied expects the remainder of his life to be full of darkness, toil, and suffering.
The Legion—occupying the mountains in the north of the Empire—has rounded up all local civilians while a special team searches for a long-forgotten, buried object of power desired by the Emperor himself. But Kied’s mysterious new cellmate, a dangerous giant of a man named Rotos, seems to know a great deal about this hidden object.
Kied believes that together, they might just be able to stop the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians at the hand of the Imperial military and deny the Emperor his prize. However, they must first escape the slave mine, reach the mountain valleys where the Legion awaits, and contend with the Legion’s new Commander.
And Kied doesn’t know if he can trust his companion, a man whose terrible secrets may herald the return of ancient beings long thought dead.
Storn A. Cook has taken the story of Kied and Rotos and created some great initial sketches.
Sketch #1: This is an early scene in the novel, when Kied and the giant Rotos first meet.
Sketch #2: This great, dynamic sketch shows Kied and Rotos trying to escape from the camp around the slave mine.
Sketch #3: And this sketch is a more traditional book cover image with our protagonist and his mysterious giant companion.
Storn will be making a few adjustments to the chosen image before showing me the final pencils.
If you’re interested in seeing even more, make sure you visit Storn’s blog for updates as he turns one of these preliminary sketches into a finished oil painting.
And check back here for more information on the ongoing Tales of the Undying Empire and the newest installment, The Soldier and the Slave.