With Bloodmender now making its way out into the world, it seemed like a fine time to take a look at the artistic process that Spiralchain graphic designer, Andrew Jason Aguirre, has employed to give our series covers both a sense of continuity and a continuous forward motion.
The cover to Gatemaker started everything. Most of the design elements seen throughout the series’ covers got their origin story with this design. For this cover, Andrew designed the now-famous 8 orbs of the Spiral, and we used a flare (or “lit”) state to indicate which worlds the book would be focused upon–in this case, Core, Onus, and Murrod. The color of the energy surrounding the orbs–the Chain field, or what Andrew calls the galaxy–is in the red family. Each book has a distinctive color–a color used to determine its slipcase cover, for those that have purchased the deluxe editions from our annual Kickstarters. The color for Gatemaker is red.
The cover to Mindshaper began the use of a new graphic element–the creeping shadow, or Rot, that extends up from Nur towards subsequent worlds in the Spiral. Note that as of this book, the rot is now visibly embracing Core, indicating that Core is vulnerable to Obliviate incursions when Spiralgates are opened to and from it. Also take notice of the change in lit status on the orbs–while Core and Onus remain active, Murrod has gone dark and been replaced with a lit version of Rettik. The Chain field is much brighter and more cohesive on this cover–showing that more power is required by the chain in order to keep the Spiral whole. The color for this book is white.
Things are really starting to happen on the cover to Metalbreaker. The lit orbs have shifted again (now they are Onus, Arctos, and Murrod), but look at the depth of shadow on the Rot extending to Core. The danger to Core is greater than ever before in this image… but it isn’t the most terrifying change we see. Note that the pink orb, Rettik, has started to drift out of formation–a consequence of events described in Mindshaper. Also see the way the Chain field has grown in intensity–it is fighting as hard as it can to hold it all together, but that is getting almost impossible to do. The color for Metalbreaker is green.
The cover to Fatewaker really clearly depicts the events of the book. Now lit are Depal, Onus, and Murrod, and note the sinister curling of the rot up from Core to brush against Depal. This incursion into the violet world also accounts for the vastly diminished flow of energy making up the Chain field. While the galaxy pattern is still there, it is faded and worn out now that the pink orb, Rettik, has completely left alignment. The force that protects the Spiral of Worlds from decay has been stretched past the breaking point, and the worlds seem all the darker for it. The color of Fatewaker is violet.
Shadowbender starts the second half of the series, and its cover brings two new elements to the table. First of all, there is the terrific sense of movement as the stars around the spiral fly past us. Events in the series are rapidly escalating, and you can feel that on this cover. Note the lit orbs are now Nur, Core, and Rettik–this is the first book that doesn’t have Onus lit! And the Chain field has been stripped bare to reveal the DNA-like lattice underneath–reflecting Jara’s understanding of the universe. The Rot creeps now towards Onus–an ominous sign–and the signature lightning in the eyes of the Obliviates appears in that grasping shadow for the first time. Also note that Rettik has broken completely free of the structure of the Spiral–the ramifications of this will be felt in this very book. The color of Shadowbender is black.
Boltsender obviously represents a stark contrast from where we have been before. The sheathing energy of the Chain has exploded away, leaving only the naked lattice of the inner Chain to hold the worlds together. The almost void-like background speaks to the terror of our ultimate enemy, revealed at last in this book: the Absence. Note the lit orbs are now Nur, Arctos, and Pithysia–after 7 years of writing, the final world of the Spiral is finally revealed! Notice the gorgeous definition on the chain strands–the intricate interlocking of all of those tiny rings of metallic energy is all that stands between the Spiral and oblivion… well, that and our intrepid heroes. The rot now reaches past Onus towards Arctos, and the signature lightning in the eyes of the Rotkin has escalated dramatically (as one would expect in a book about the electrically-inclined Vols). Poor Rettik remains out of alignment, but it has not drifted any further thanks to events depicted in this book! The color of Boltsender is blue.
If Boltsender depicted contrast, Bloodmender shows us an absolute departure from much of what we have known before. Still adrift in the pale void, the Spiral of Worlds is all but consumed by the Rot as the sinister new schemes of the Absence enacted in the previous book have made rapid escalation of the Rot possible. Note the glowing false links of the Chain near Depal, Onus, and Murrod–showing the places where the servants of the Foreverot have done permanent harm to the foundational underpinnings of the Chain. Things have never been bleaker for our heroes than they are on this cover, but there is also the strangely comforting golden glow suffusing the Spiral–this is the hope that Cruz’s quest to claim the Anchor brings. You may also notice that for the first time in the series, no world orbs are lit–while the action in the book takes place on all eight worlds, the scope of the darkness that our heroes face has taken even that small measure of light from them. The final battle is well and truly begun in this book, and the cover perfectly conveys both the status quo and the stakes for which the Absence and the Children of the Line are playing. The color of Bloodmender is yellow.
I don’t know about you… but I can’t wait to see how the cover to the final book brings this saga to a close with style and symbolism!