What is it with Those STOOPID Darrel Sweet Covers?

This was formerly section 6 of the Wheel of Time FAQ. Since it only changes when a new book comes out, I decided to save the space and make it a separate document.

Contributors: Roy Navarre, Thomas Petersen, John Hansen, Joe Shaw, Erica Sadun, Pam Korda, Don Harlow, etc.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden (pnh@tor.com) wrote: Darrell Sweet is a careful reader and an intelligent man who skillfully paints what his clients ask him to paint; please don't blame him for the decisions of others.

Well, who can we blame for the cover fiasco, then? :) -- Geoffrey Wiseman


The Eye of the World : The Gang Heads off to Taren Ferrry

Roy's analysis (with additions by Pam K.):

  1. Moiraine the Midget and Moiraine's Horse the Dwarf Pony (The text refers to the lad being amazed at the sight of the huge horses (plural) ridden by Lan and Moiraine--the biggest he had ever seen.
  2. Moiraine's dress is supposed to be a darker blue than her cloak.
  3. Lan with a Mustache and Goatee?
  4. Lan in Seanchan armor? Lan isn't wearing his color-fading cloak and instead is wearing plate mail. Lan should not be wearing plate mail.
  5. Lan with TWO swords? Who does he think he is, Gaidal Cain?
  6. Moiraine is really UGLY and is wearing White eye shadow to boot - ugh!
  7. Moiraine's hair is light brown--not dark.
  8. All the horses are wearing ornamental bridles/saddles-what nonsense!
  9. No saddle bags on any of the horses.
  10. Everyone is wearing particularly STUPID clothing -- Rand with that weird Robin Hood collar, Moiraine in that awful blue cloak, Perrin's feather!?, etc.
  11. Rand's face changes from the cover to the inside picture.
  12. Egwene on the outside cover is blond. (Everyone except Rand from 2 rivers has dark hair, dark eyes).
  13. The Draghkar is just a bat.
  14. The moon is portrayed with far too many degrees of arc for the sky.
  15. Thom (little itty bitty Thom) is wearing multicolored clothing but NOT a cloak!
  16. Perrin's ax (see inside picture) is the wrong shape. (See the description in the first chapter: two/halfmoon-blade counterweighted).
  17. Egwene's hair is wrong (should be braided), and so is Moiraine's (should be loose, not in that elaborate 'do).
  18. There's an extra guy in the party! Who is that fellow way at the end? Jain Farstrider? {M. Hunter, at a signing reports: "The covers aren't as bad as we thought they were. The 'extra' character in TEotW really was in the book, but was cut out later, because he had too little to do. His parts were distributed out to the other characters, but they never got around to cutting him from the cover."}

Timothy Bruening: On the front cover of tEotW, Moiraine is sitting crosslegged on a horse. How does she stay on?
Patrick Nielsen Hayden: Remember all that glue we saved by not attaching the covers firmly enough? Well, it had to get used somewhere.

The Great Hunt : Recapturing the Horn

Roy's analysis (with additions by Pam) :

  1. Rand (changing his face again) is way way too short and stocky. He is also wearing a really gaudy sword belt. His hair, for some reason has gotten a lot of body (perhaps all that Clairol) and seems almost curly,and it is not red. His clothes are totally wrong, too. The sword is supposed to be curved, as is the Shadar Logoth dagger.
  2. Loial's ears are not hairy, way too large and Loial himself is only about four feet tall!. His boots are just awful: what if it rains? He'd walk around with about a gallon or four of extra water in the decorative birdbaths of those boots.
  3. Selene (Lanfear) is wearing one of those dopey dresses -- this one with a ton of elastic banding. Do they have elastic in the third age or is this another lost art of the Age of Legends. She is not very good looking.
  4. Assuming that this is the scene where Rand steals back the horn from Fain, (a) where is the sniffer? (b) why isn't the horn in a box? (c) where is the (big enormous) box? (d) why has Loial brought some pleasure reading for fighting off Trollocs (maybe it's Dickens) (e) Why are the Trollocs humans with horns on their helmets? C'mon! (f) Why are Trollocs so short, well armed and well armored? (g) Isn't it the wrong time of night to have just gotten the horn back anyway?

John Hansen adds: This can only be the scene where Rand steals back the horn. When he and Loial arrive back at their camp, Rand sends Hurin off the "outcrop" to look at the activity down below. The horn is in a large ornate gold chest that is strapped to the saddle of Loial's huge fetlocked horse. Selene reaches up and opens the chest pushing the lid up and letting it fall open. On her tip-toes she reaches into the chest and Rand quickly reaches over her shoulder and lifts the horn out of the chest. It is full night and the moonlight glimmers on the horn (which looks like it was drawn correctly). No Trollocs are anywhere near at this point. After a moment Rand returns the horn to the chest and after further discussion about the curved dagger, he puts it in as well and closes the chest. So, the scene (if accurate) should have a large horse and a gold chest in it.]

The Dragon Reborn : Rand Pulls the Sword From the Air

Roy's analysis (w/ additions by PK):

  1. Rand (hair and face changed once AGAIN) is standing in the middle of a large hallway where Callandor hangs mid-air. Isn't this just a little inconvenient? What about dusting the sword or people wandering by every now and then? Don't you think it deserves a room or a niche of its own rather than hanging in the middle of the hallway?{Actually, this is right. It is described as hanging right in the middle of the Heart.--Pam}
  2. Perrin (straight hair now, hair too light, held back in Rambo style but muscles correct) is holding yet ANOTHER axe -- this a little more correct. Mat in really sissy clothing and wrong hair is looking on as well. Pardon me, but weren't these guys doing something else when Rand was picking up the sword? Weren't Be'lal, Moiraine and Ba'alzamon on hand for the Young-Arthur imitation?
  3. The Aiel here look pretty classy, but the buckler in the book is strictly leather and not this copper stuff. Also, this Aiel has black hair! C'mon: Perrin with light hair, Aiel with black hair and dark complexion?
  4. On the very side of the book is a picture of I suppose Ba'alzamon. Boy is he ugly or what? And wearing that Blue and Purple hat? I wonder what he had to do to pick out something that matched his glowing teeth so well. Why would anyone's teeth glow? Too much fluoride?

The Shadow Rising : Breakfast at Rhuidean

Roy's analysis (w/ additions by PK):

  1. Rand's now wearing Perrin's headband and has tied his jacket to his shoulder. Boy that must be uncomfortable! And must keep those orthopedic and reconstructive surgeons real busy. He is again really way too short, AND has yet another face.
  2. Mat has picked up archery again along with a different face. Archery?
  3. The peddlers seem to have stolen a tinker wagon.
  4. Who's the ugly babe making dinner? Aviendha? Wrong hair. Who else would wear a dress? A blue dress? NO! SAY IT ISN'T MOIRAINE!?!!!! Cooking dinner for the Boys?! Sheesh. (It could be Isendre but she is way way way too ugly for that). Anyway, she looks like a monkey.
  5. Who's that leather guy on the left of the wagon? Where did all that leather come from out there in the desert? And check out the toy Trolloc that someone has stuck in the rocks above Rand's right hand shoulder.

The Fires of Heaven : Fun in the Sun at Caemlyn

Erica S.: Well look at TSR. Mat & Rand seem to have switched roles again. At least Aviendha does look pretty pretty but her hair is way way too long. What's the DEAL with the foxhead. Only one eye please and about the size of the palm of the hand. Worn against the skin too so we're not seeing it. Rand is way too short and he's been at the Prell or VO5 again... Mat does NOT have red or reddish hair. EVERYONE (except Rand) from 2-rivers has dark eyes, dark hair. Why are tricksters always supposed to have red hair? Does Mr.Sweet ever read a book?

Pam K: Of course the cover art is truly awful; although Mr. Sweet finally got the coats right-ish. Rhuidean doesn't look TOO bad; and the Trollocs actually look beast-ish, as opposed to men-with-horns-on-their-helmets (TGH). but, all the people look goofy, esp. Mat w/ his Clint Eastwood hat. Rand's been to the plastic surgeon again.

Jenny Foss: What is that hat Mat is wearing? He looks like Crocodile Dundee. "That's not a spear! THIS is a spear!"

Lord of Chaos : Passion of the Aes Sedai

David Wren-Hardin: I looked at the cover of LoC in Locus. I think it sucks. It looks like a romance novel. Passion of the Aes Sedai, or Untamed Aiel or something.

Various comments off of r.a.sf.w.r-j. Specific attributions are lost in the mists of time.

  1. The flying being in the upper right remains I would vote for (a), but, given the influence of Jurassic Park this past year, I would not reject (b) out of hand. {Note that whatever it was, it was NOT in the depicted scene--pam}

  2. From this picture, we can conclude that Rand

  3. The emblem on the back of the black cloak is obviously

  4. The woman, one supposes, is one of the AS swearing an oath of fealty to Rand. However, she looks more like she is sniffing and calling him a wool-headed, hairy lummox of a man, thinking with the hair on his chest, than like she is swearing eternal obedience.

  5. Looking at the cover, I felt the title should have been The Green Ajah's Burning Desires or something. The way those two are looking at each other I keep expecting to read about 'smoldering eyes' and 'throbbing loins' and whatnot.--Julie Kangas

  6. Rand is posed like Elvis. Imagine a microphone is his right (clenched) hand, and you can just see him waggling his pelvis. His facial expression even looks like he just said "uh-huh". And Kiruna the Groupie is swooning over the King.--Keith Casner

  7. The back of the cover, however, is way cool, with all the dead guys and burned wagons. Kudos to Sweet for that one. Tor Should've put that one on front.

    A Crown of Swords : Shadar Logoth by Night

    John Novak: Rand's is more than a little goofy. It is completely and utterly moronic. He's standing there buff and pumped, taunting Sammael by making jerk-off motions with his fists.

    And the most distinguishing characteristic about Rand, other than his height and hair, are the Dragons on his arms. What is supposed to be a pair of very large tattoos covering him all the way up to his elbows are reduced to gold bracelets.

    And worst of all, this is the seventh Rand we've had! He doesn't look _anything_ like _any_ of the characters on previous book covers! Rand is on every goddam cover of every goddam book, and every goddam incarnation of Rand is distinct and different! They don't even _resemble_ each other!

    No truce with the Shadow. No excuses for crap.

    Don Harlow: I think you are missing the point, John. The character on the cover is not Rand; he is obviously Sammael. Those things on his arms are not intended to be dragons. They are tattoos that he got when he was a sergeant in the AoL army. They are words in Old Tongue curliglyphs. One says "hot" and the other says "cold." I think that Sweet was showing great daring and originality when he proposed this cover to Tor.

    Pam Korda: What I love is that "Rand" has this Conanesque musculature on his arm, and these teeny-weeny, skinny little legs. (That's what happens when you only work the upper body.--Novak) And what is that glowing hole in the ground supposed to be? I can usually respect Sweet's depiction of non-human things; he usually does a decent job with landscapes and buildings. However, SL on the COS cover looks like he recycled it from his cover art for Asimov's The Currents of Space.

    Airmech@worldnet.att.net: I'm no expert on birds but it looks like Rand is about to be attacked by a large Wren. Maybe the Aielman with the eight foot spear will help.

    More on Rand's buff arms:

    The main thing that caught my attention was the size of his arms. If he is that big, Perrin wouldn't even fit on the cover. I think Sweet could at least be consistent; in the other covers, Rand was nowhere near that big. I suppose while Rand was waiting for aCoS to be written, he went to Gold's Gym and worked out every other day.--Matt Stabile

    To me it looks like he is saying "Which way to muscle beach?".--Bob Mahoney

    And the "dragon tatoos":
    [The guy on the cover is] Rand. Look at the wrists. (Of course, those could easily be mistaken for golden geckos, not the dragons they are.)--Nathan Lundblad

    And the goofy arm pose:
    Mason Houtz: Overall, I don't like the painting much either. But, it's well done and conveys a properly spooky mood, even if Rand is jerking off two of his invisible giant friends.
    Alistair YoungOh no! It's the Ogier and pedophilia thread again!

    David Watkins: Question: what the hell is Rand carrying in his hands on the cover? It looks like he has something that he's grasping with both hands, but I don't remember any mention of him carrying anything in the book. Any ideas?
    Evan "Skwid" Langlinais: ObLoy/Beavis&Butthead: Lews "Long Dong" Therin's Reborn Schlong. HTH

    Tony Z : This whole cover art thing has been bothering me since I first lay eyes on the cover of TEotW. Darrell K. Sweet had always been my favorite cover artist! He's done covers for the Lord of the Rings (2 different editions, both which I liked), 2 editions of Thomas Covenant series (all 6), the second of which I thought were incredible; he's done all of Terry Brooks' stuff (I think--most of it anyway). My point is, what's with him? I can hardly tell it's by the same guy! Does anyone know anything about him, and why his work is degenerating so?

    For more groovy D.K.Sweet cover art, check out some Piers Anthony books, L. E. Modesitt 's "Recluse" books, some Barbara Hambly books, some Pratchett books (US editions), The Riddlemaster of Hed books, the man is everywhere!