Considering my penchant for exceedingly specific drinking games and recent redesigns on my cover, it was only a matter of time before I combined the two into this unholy abomination known as the Fantasy Cover Cliché Challenge. However, I would like to point out that I consider this more a “challenge” than a “drinking game,” as in it’s something authors and reviewers alike can aspire to win.
Because, like it or not, we Fantasy fans are awash in covers covered in clichés, and I believe it’s time we harness them (along with some humor and alcohol) when pitching/ reviewing our favorite genre.
So my Fantasy Cover Cliché Challenge goes a little something like this:
Count up the clichés on a book’s cover. Each cliché = 1 point.
For each point, consume a unit of alcohol AT YOUR LEISURE (can/ bottle beer = 1, pint =2; glass of wine = 2; shot of liquor = 1).
30 minutes AFTER sipping the last of your alcohol, tell us about the book. If an author, pitch your novel. If a reviewer then… well, review it.
Please note: I am not suggesting you consume all this alcohol in one short sitting, hence “sipping” and “at your leisure.” We’re all adults here, so be responsible as to your imbibing. Also, the clichés are broken up into types, and since they’re so prevalent on our covers, limit yourself to just one per section if you feel so inclined.
And now that my half-ass disclaimer is out of the way, on to the clichés…
Cloak or cape
Obscured facial features (faces are hard to draw after all)
Characters’ backs turned to the audience (I mean, really, faces are hard!)
Magical effect (yes, glowing counts!)
Huge sun or moon
x2 if upturned and embedded in a block
A beard (clear sign of a dwarf)
Mostly white background
A badge/ coat of arms
Overly ornate font
A word inside a letter (usually “of” or “the” inside an O)
Clearly a photo of a real-life model
x2 if you recognize the model from a DIFFERENT series.
Quote from another author/ publication
x2 if quote ends in “.com”
x5 if from George R. R. Martin
And before Lawrence fans get mad at me, I should probably point out I specifically googled "best fantasy cover" and King of Thorns was the first hit. Anna Smith Spark I've been following for a while, and has gifted us with her own personal playlist on this site (oddly enough, her US cover still scores five points on the FCCC), while Erikson is too busy squinting hard enough to see singularities to care what I write here. Also, the wondrous The Last Assassin of the Unseen Throne comes directly from the AMAZINGLY funny How to Make a Clichéd High Fantasy Cover from the always entertaining Thoughts on Fantasy.
And if you can think of any clichés I missed (skulls, thrones and bikinis are currently under consideration, as are long dresses and bodices if I ever branch out to Historical Fantasy clichés), please leave some suggestions in the comments.