Nov 01

Cover yourself up man! Your tackle is scaring me horse!Click for full image

Jeweleya Comments: This cover is so off-putting to me that I can’t bring myself to read the book. A few highlights –

  • The sword dissolving into blue dust
  • The barbarian’s barely-decent rags (it’s refreshing that the woman is wearing more than the man, for once)
  • The utterly generic, swirly, rainbow-threw-up-on-it background
  • And my personal favorite: the horse that looks like it’s just been flung backwards from a giant slingshot

…Indeed, a cover for the ages.
Published 1978

Many thanks to Jeweleya!

Actually, that cover IS a classical work of art!I would touch it without protective gloves.I've seen worse. Far, far, worse.Interesting, but I would still read it in public.Middlng: Neither awful nor awfully goodWould not like to be seen reading that!Awful... just awful...That belongs in a gold-lame picture frame!Gah... my eyes are burning! Feels so good!Good Show Sir! (Average: 7.45 out of 10)

Tagged with:

34 Responses to “Well of Shiuan”

  1. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    Haven’t read this one, but Cherryh’s stories tend to be feminist, in that men and women are portrayed in positions of power, as competent henchpeople, etc. I therefore assume that both men and women are empowered to wear the glute-revealing loincloth.

    Cherryh’s characters also tend to be confined to their own perspectives on technology. What I mean is, if a character from ancient Rome is presented with a lightbulb, he won’t know what it is and will describe it as a “glowing sphere”. Sometimes this works as a means to show the character’s world view, sometimes it doesn’t. So, perhaps we’re not really supposed to be looking at a horsie balancing on top of a wall, or a fence rail out in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps that’s just how the character sees it.

  2. Anrkist Says:

    The horse caught a peak at the man’s ripped loin cloth and was captured at an awkward moment.

  3. Brian B Says:

    I wouldn’t have made the connection myself, but I lawled at the idea of the horse flying backwards out of a slingshot. If you look at the direction of the hair on the mane, it’s awkwardly splayed legs, and the totally dumbfounded expression, it sure does look like the horse has been flung through the air. My only alternate theory is that the horse might have jumped up and backwards on its own, perhaps to start some disco dancing!

    That being said I wonder why the male has his arms tied up. Was this early Cherryh attempting to some inverted Goren thing?

  4. A.R.Yngve Says:

    I’m not sure what’s going on in this cover, but I’m worried for the horse.

  5. Babbage Says:

    Maybe the problem is that she rear-loaded her steed. The bedroll and payroll satchel are both behind her. When the woman in half-plate leans way back and then swings her sword back, you try to fight all that momentum. Of course the horse is falling over backward.

  6. Evad Says:

    I now will only read books that explicitly state “No animals were hurt in the production of this cover”
    Although as I think about it, if a unicorn gets a little roughed up I’ll make an exception.

  7. NGpm Says:

    Perhaps the horse is just going for that fauxhawk look with mousse?

  8. Polli Says:

    It’s been a while, my memory says the cover is accurate.
    The sword, Changeling, is a super advanced high tech “Stargate”, the reader doesn’t find out what’s at the other end (probably nothing). The horse might be about getting sucked into another much larger “Stargate”, fittingly only called gate, without the Egypts involved, but a fractured timeline.
    Morgaine, white-head on horse, comes from a far future, possibly got some alien-blood in her and is tasked with closing the gates.
    Vanye, half-naked guy, was picked up on a medieval and got to tag along (and run into trouble from time to time).

  9. Dead Stuff With Big Teeth Says:

    Well, was there a well?

  10. Adam Roberts Says:

    The middle book of a trilogy, Cherryh’s ‘Shiuan Works Hard And Saves His Money’ series: Financially Embarrassed Shiuan, followed by Well Off Shiuan and finally Stinking Rich Shiuan. At this point in the story arc he’s on his way to buy some nice clothes.

  11. David Cowie Says:

    “it’s refreshing that the woman is wearing more than the man, for once”
    Even so, her bottom is just as vulnerable as his.

  12. Jeweleya Says:

    You know what really bothers me about this? Maybe I would really LIKE the book. Maybe it would be one of my favorites, if I could just bring myself to read it. I remember some of the books I read when I was a kid, I snagged them off the library shelf because of the title or because I was reading my way through the section, and a few of the truly awful covers had marvelous stories. (See: Douglas Hill: The Last Legionary quartet.) Maybe that’s why these bad covers are such a crime against – well, everyone involved. (Unless the awfulness of the cover gives an accurate view of the book. That happens too.)

  13. Herm Says:

    Clearly, the horse’s invisible car made an emergency stop and his seatbelt cut in, giving him exactly the same dumb expression as I wear when my brother’s boneshaker drives over a mega pothole.

  14. brenope Says:

    I am Cherryh fan, but I couldn’t read this if my life depended on it. This cover promises more torture inside than I can stand.

  15. cicely Says:

    Okay, but you wouldn’t start with Well, anyway; the Morgaine Saga starts with Gate of Ivrel. Try reading that first, see if you like the series’ style, then decide whether you can hold your nose, ignore this cover, and read this book.

  16. anon Says:

    If the man’s head wasn’t visible, I’d bet he was head-butting the horse on the stomach.

  17. Anderson Says:

    Typical Michael Whelan excess — what is going on with that cape? — but two points:

    (1) As noted at #8 above, you can’t fault the sword. Changeling opens a gate to interstellar space, creating a vacuum that sucks air and bystanders out of the picture. (That would’ve been a better cover.)

    (2) The scene is actually kinda sorta from the novel, unlike 98% of these covers: Vanye’s a prisoner, Morgaine shows up to rescue him. (“Did you ever read the Morgaine novel where she and Vanye get separated?” is much like “Did you ever see the Three’s Company episode where one roommate misunderstands what the other two are really doing?”)

  18. Nigel Says:

    It does bear a passing resemblance to what happens in the book, which is more than can be said for one of the other covers in this series which, if I am remembering correctly, had bikini-clad woman facing off against a giant serpent. If you want to read it, and you really should, there was a collection of the trilogy brought out with a nice John Higgins cover back in the nineties.

  19. A.R.Yngve Says:

    “Fiend! Taste the wrath of my smoke-sword… oh crap! It got caught in an upwind again…

  20. Annexian Says:

    Looks like it’s after the head of the company had a heart attack and his feminist daughter took over and canceled “Gor” and a ton of other “Sexist” works before his body got cold. “Sword and Sorceress” etc. Really, look at the cover it’s “Anti-Gor”…

    Problem was, I liked GOR as a little kid discovering it, by the bucketload!

    And I noticed with “PC” they kept making stuff more “Mass appealing” so they had non-whites, women, etc. in positive roles in the stories and subjects. Increased sales microscopically in those areas but the “White male” who mainly read Sword and Sorcery, Men’s adventure, etc. got po’d being mocked and hated in all the media.

  21. Tom Noir Says:

    Who wouldn’t want to pick up a book where the cover is actually mooning the reader?!?

  22. RachelJ Says:

    Do you think we need a “floating horse” or “anti-gravity horse” tag?

    But let’s spare a thought for the poor publishers. No matter what they do, every single book manages to offend somebody…

  23. Tag Wizard Says:

    Yes! Good point. Would Surprised Horse fit the bill? I’m sure we used to have a Horses with Haircuts tag around here somewhere as well… [can’t find, added it anyway]

    Still one of my faves, this; at last, the heroine is the rescuer, hunk is the “damsel in distress”, and the portal sword artwork is immense.

  24. Severian 67 Says:

    “Hey! What are you shushpicioush charactersh doing hanging around my well, with your smokey swordsh and your shlingshot horshe? I do rather like the hairy chapsh get-up, though – putsh me in mind of a Boorman film I did in the 70sh. Needsh more red, though…”

  25. Anna T. Says:

    I’m impressed that Morgaine can keep her badass sword-wielding pose despite the fact that her horse has clearly been startled by an explosion in the vicinity.

  26. Tat Wood Says:

    All together now: (Like Marco Dias said, ‘It’s ironic’.)

  27. fred Says:

    Well, that’s one way to geld a horse.

  28. GSS ex-noob Says:

    Is there a very strong wind blowing from (our) right to left? Making the horse appear to have been slingshotted, the woman’s sword to blow out like a birthday cake candle, and the barbarian leaning over?

    @Tat: This cover is nowhere near that cheerful and peppy. This would have a lugubrious, over-orchestrated theme song.

    @fred: What do you mean… oh. OH. No wonder horse is looking surprised. I think that technique is actually used on smaller livestock, but Faux-nan there is very brave and/or very stupid.

  29. Bruce A Munro Says:

    Not only is the guy doing the “tied up near-naked girl being rescued” thing, he’s also in a pose almost as uncomfortable as the one they’re usually portrayed in (although I don’t think it requires any spinal dislocation).

    Looking at Morgaine’s gear on the saddle, I’m favorably impressed: anyone bringing along books and a teakettle on a quest gets props from me.

    “Changeling opens a gate to interstellar space, creating a vacuum that sucks air and bystanders out of the picture.”

    So we’ve established her sword sucks.

  30. THX 1139 Says:

    What you don’t see is the German Olympics coach just off to the side, there.

  31. Tor Mented Says:

    We can’t overlook the possibility that the horse is inflatable and the man is blowing it up.

  32. GSS ex-noob Says:

    @Tor: An inflatable horse would explain the apparent weightlessness and strange posse of the steed.

    @Bruce: the books are probably Magick Tomes, and the “teakettle” is his hat. I’m not drinking tea made in a mostly-nude barbarian’s hat. Still, the books prove she’s civilized.

    His pose isn’t quite Escher material, but I don’t fancy his shoulder and arm mobility if he’s in it for a while.

    I guess she’s activated the sucky sword wrongly — barbarian seems to be pretty well braced, but the horse looks to be mid-vacuuming. Not quite sure how her cape is going the opposite way to everything else, though.

    @Tat: Topical GSS! I (and everyone else) immediately wondered if that coach was only pawn in game of life.

  33. Bruce A Munro Says:

    “We’re down the well, and the shiuan is rising fast!”

    @GSS ex-noob: man, I must have been really tired when I posted about the tea kettle. Probably could have used a cuppa.

  34. GSS ex-noob Says:

    @Bruce: It took me a second to see what you were saying so it’s an easy mistake. The purpose of a GSS-worthy cover is to baffle us, anyway.

    But I wonder if she’s got a kettle on the other side of her saddle? To help balance out the weight of the books, and to have a cuppa while reading them.

Leave a Reply