Today I shall gush about the cover of book 2 in THE HANGED GOD TRILOGY, Shackled Fates! Prepare for there will be slight spoilers for this book ahead!
Let us start by addressing the centre piece of this cover.
A bit of backstory is needed on this item, I think, but pictured on the cover of Shackled Fates is a real piece of history.
It's a staff, and to those of you who have at least read a bit of Northern Wrath, you'll likely recognise it as a distaff not unlike the one Ragnar uses in the Darkness.
Is it the same one..?
Although I call it a distaff in the story, this kind of object wasn't actually used for spinning. It was a wand. It look at a lot like modern imaginations of wands, and it's thought that they were used by women who performed Seid (magic). It's related to spinning and spun fates.
Ah—see how it's already relating back to the theme of the story?
These kinds of wands have the base form of distaffs traditionally used to spin wool. These objects however, were not used to actually spin, they were symbolic in nature, representing the spinning of fates. Some were small like wands and others tall and long like staffs.
I don't know how Larry Rostant, who made the cover, succeeded in finding such a perfect and beautiful one for the front cover, but I am ever grateful for the work that went into it!
In my story I call wielders of Seid magic by many different names since many different people wield nordic magic. There is a Runemistress, the Veulva, the goddesses, the Nornir, and... Ragnar. To keep it as spoiler free as possible: this is a book in which you will see several distaffs wielded in many different ways and for different purposes.
So, I wonder... which one is on the cover?
You can learn more about these kinds of distaff/wands here, on the page of the National museum of Denmark.
Where the motif for Northern Wrath was fire and ashes, for Shackled Fates it's Ice. There's even a hint of absolute Darkness in the background.
It perfectly encompasses the story within the pages. Not only do we start in snow and ice, this story also takes us to icy shores and snow storms.
Warning: spoilers for the end of Shackled Fates until the end of this section!
This book gradually fills with ice as it brings us closer and closer to Ragnarok. It takes us to the coldest part of the nine worlds and starts the three yeared winter which precedes the final battle between gods and giants.
To me the ice also very clearly refers back to the title of the book and the main theme. It gives the idea that the fates of our characters are shackled in place, frozen in ice. Can it ever be melted? If you ask me, that's the the main motif of the entire story. The reason I named the book "Shackled Fates" was to highlight this part of the story.
Have you noticed that the Runes (the swirling Viking Age pattern in the back) is different on this cover compared to Northern Wrath?
Originally, they were the same. The Northern Wrath pattern is beautiful, but when it was time to make the covers for book 2 and 3, I suggested that the pattern fo the Runes change for each cover, to help drive home the main themes of each book.
My brilliant editor David liked the idea, and so the cover transformed. (See the early version of the cover compared to the final one below)
Exactly as with the motif on Northern Wrath, this new artwork too is a real Viking Age piece, made once upon a time by a real Norseman
For Shackled Fates, it's the image of a weather vane found in Gotland.
In the Viking Age, these kinds of weather vanes were often attached to the front part of a ship, to see the direction of the wind and as an additional decoration. They were usually intricately carved.
In Shackled Fates, Hilda is on a quest to find the Runes that have whispered to her in the wind since she was a child. Much of what drives this book is Hilda's search to find the true nature of the whispers in the wind, so it seemed appropriate for the main runic motif on the cover of Shackled Fates to be the motif originally found on a weather vane.
The story is about wind, and so the main motif also relates to wind.
Therein lies the hidden meaning in the cover of Shackled Fates!
I really love how the blue tones of the ice contrasts with the hot fire of tome one! Tune in tomorrow to learn about the story hidden in the cover of book 3!
All three covers of the HANGED GOD TRILOGY were made by the brilliant Larry Rostant. I highly suggest having a look at his site and I guarantee he has made a few covers that you’ve seen around and about.
"The story hidden in the cover : Slaughtered Gods" coming soon...