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The Liar’s Key Cover Reveal

When your most recent novel has done enough to pick up both the David Gemmell Legend Award (prose) and the David Gemmell Ravenheart Award (Cover Art), you are inevitably going to have readers waiting with bated breath for your subsequent work.

Certainly, when Mark Lawrence announced that he was going to continue writing books in the same setting that ‘The Broken Empire’ trilogy was set there was a sigh of relief and some high expectations as to what the new title, Prince of Fools, would offer. We can confirm that the excitement was warranted: as expected, Mark Lawrence’s follow up title was just as beautifully written and even more readable than his previous work – the decision to follow a less brutal, more hopeless rogue-like fellow meant the reader could enjoy Mark’s work guilt-free (or, at least, without feeling a little conflicted over the fact they were so fond of a cold-hearted psycho/sociopath).

Prince of Fools (sm cover)However, there was something missing from the American version of Prince of FoolsJason Chan. Yes, despite his work having been praised across the board, picking up a Ravenheart Award, and Mark Lawrence himself attributing at least a percentage of his success to the artists cover designs, the American publishers went with a different artist for the first book in the new series. We don’t actually know why… Perhaps it is because they wanted to differentiate this series from Mark’s original and thought this would be a good way. Maybe Jason Chan’s popularity meant his costs went up significantly. We don’t know.

For me: the American cover of Prince of Fools didn’t quite work. It looks a little bit like a modernised version of the old Game of Thrones covers and Mark’s books – despite cover quotes to the contrary – aren’t that. Mark’s books have their own unique style and a darkness to them that Jason Chan captured perfectly… I still remember seeing the cover of Prince of Thorns for the first time. I remember it instilling a certain expectation in me and I remember that expectation being met – almost exactly. Put simply: Mark and Jason are the perfect complement to each other as artists.

Anyway, it seems the guys over at ACE in the US realised their mistake (or bowed to readers’ demands at least) and have signed Jason Chan back up [feel free to pause here and punch the air]. I am delighted and grateful to said publishers for allowing Fantasy-Faction to exclusively reveal the US version of Mark Lawrence’s The Liar’s Key before anyone else:


Pretty incredible, right? I’m not sure whether the font will be yellow as it appears; my guess is that it will be raised from the page and in gold (which would be fitting and very cool). What I’m most impressed with though is the implied tone that this artwork promises the novel will contain. This second book will undoubtedly be darker than the first. Jalan must surely now accept that he is more than just an unimportant Prince. Following the events of book one, he will have a place in a grand, dark scheme whether he likes it or not. That said, I guess whether he killed the giant wolf-like creature we see or not is debatable; he could just be stealing the sword…. which wouldn’t be unlike Jal. Whatever happened, I’m pretty excited to read the scene this picture is based upon!

For those interested, Mark has teased the variance we will see in the UK cover and also given details of the suggestions he made to the publishers in regards to the direction of The Liar’s Key cover art:

The UK market (or publishers) are not keen on showing the protagonist’s face – wanting the reader to be free to imagine their own version. So in the Liar’s Key cover Jalan’s sword will cast a heavy line of shadow (not seen here) across his eyes, a mask if you like, offering some ambiguity. And, while the artist has obviously retained the Beckham hair-cut from Chris McGrath’s US Prince of Fools cover, he has perhaps given Jalan a little more dramatic flair/swagger more reminiscent of the UK Fools cover.

I did suggest a slightly pompous Prince Jal, or for Jal to be clearly edging away from the action but neither publisher believes their customers are ready for an epic fantasy cover to figure a non-heroic ‘hero’ so that didn’t get realised.

In any event – I think it’s a fine cover and the Jason’s undeniable talent has paid off yet again.

That makes a lot of sense. If there was a single thing that does stand out between this and Jason’s previous work it is the extent to which we can see Jalan’s features. Jorg, for example, always had his face hidden in some way. I guess the other benefit of doing things this way is that readers who did pick up the first book won’t have to worry about the covers looking completely different. Although this is Jason Chan’s artwork, he has done a good job of not deviating so far from the first cover that it is unrecognisable as the next in the series.

We’re officially even more excited than ever for this one. Here’s the official blurb to tease you even further:

“Lawrence’s epic fantasy is a great summer read, full of humor, revenge and perils that this warrior-and-coward duo must evade in order save their kingdoms and themselves.”

Washington Post on Prince of Fools 

After harrowing adventure and near-death, Prince Jalan Kendeth and the Viking Snorri ver Snagason find themselves in possession of Loki’s Key, an artefact capable of opening any door, and sought by the most dangerous beings in the Broken Empire—including The Dead King.

Jal wants only to return home to his wine, women, and song, but Snorri has his own purpose for the key: to find the very door into death, throw it wide, and bring his family back into the land of the living.

And as Snorri prepares for his quest to find death’s door, Jal’s grandmother, the Red Queen continues to manipulate kings and pawns towards an endgame of her own design…

The Liar’s Key hits stores June 2015! We’re due an Advanced Copy and, of course, will be looking to review it as soon as possible – so keep checking back and we’ll let you know if it lives up to our ever-increasing expectations of Mark Lawrence’s work (no pressure if you’re reading this, Mr L).



  1. Avatar Overlord says:

    Mark tells me that the wolf is of the Fenris breed. I googled that and got this:

    In Norse mythology, Fenrir (Old Norse: “fen-dweller”), Fenrisúlfr (Old Norse: “Fenris wolf”), Hróðvitnir (Old Norse: “fame-wolf”), or Vánagandr (Old Norse: “the monster of the river Ván”) is a monstrous wolf.


  2. Avatar Doug M says:

    I thought it might be a Rodent of Unusual Size.

  3. Avatar Carole-Ann says:

    I love it when an artist ‘stays’ with an author – one GETS the continuity!! And this cover is delightful (to me!)
    So…looking forward to when I get my own copy!! 🙂

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