Hi everyone! Petrik from Novel Notions here.
We have an exciting post today. Novel Notions will be hosting the cover reveal to The Bladed Faith by David Dalglish! This is the first book in the upcoming new series, The Vagrant Gods, by David Dalglish. In addition to the cover art below, I also had the chance to chat with David Dalglish about some details related to the cover art and the premise of the novel. I won’t take too much of your time with my introduction. I’ve read and enjoyed The Keepers trilogy, and I’m so looking forward to reading this novel. Without further ado, here’s my conversation with David Dalglish, and also the cover reveal to The Bladed Faith!
Cover art illustrated by Chase Stone
Cover designed by Lauren Panepinto
Petrik: So David, The Bladed Faith is your newest upcoming fantasy book, and feel free to correct me here, this is your 28th novel already. That is an impressive number of books you wrote. But there seems to be a higher level of excitement from both readers and you yourself about this release. Why do you think that is? What is it about The Bladed Faith that excites you so much?
David: I’m going to assume you’re right because that’s a lot of counting to do to even check! As for excitement, I think part of it may be I’m ‘coming home’ so to speak. The first…19?…novels of mine were all set in the same world of Dezrel, a very traditional sword and sorcery setting full of magic, orcs, thief guilds, and the like. The most popular books by far were the Shadowdance novels, detailing a grim backstabbing underworld full of over-the-top sword fights and with even less of an emphasis on magic.
But after so many stories in one singular world, I really, for my own sanity, needed to stretch my legs. What kind of worldbuilding could I do if I wasn’t starting with a pretty simple base I created when I was quite literally in high school? This led to The Seraphim, a story of a civilization in the clouds, complete with aerial armies fighting with elemental magic. After that, The Keepers, a world with magic awakening in an instant, wherein I made a conscious decision to have nothing be immediately recognizable from ‘standard’ fantasy. So, psychic dream-weaving deer humanoids, shadow-walking bird assassins, time-manipulating onyx faeries, three-eyed hypnosis foxes. You know. The usual.
I’d like to think I’ve grown a ton as a result, in both world-building, and in the variety and depth of my characters. And now I’m taking what I’ve learned and returning to my more traditional sword and sorcery roots. It’s time again for that brutal swordplay, the twists and backstabs, and the more grounded characters, but now in a brand new world with just enough tweaks (particularly with the many gods) to make it feel like my own.
Petrik: Although I haven’t experienced the feeling of writing that many books in the same world, I do understand the feeling of wanting to take a break or step out of a world after staying too long in one. I haven’t read your books outside of The Keepers series, so in a way what I experienced is your newest works, and I’ve had a wonderful time with it. It’s so fun and exciting to see you return to your roots after improving your craft as a writer!
David: It’s incredibly exciting for me as well. The Vagrant Gods Trilogy feels like the culmination of everything I’ve learned from my various series, coming together with what I personally feel are my most enjoyable characters and some of the best writing I’ve ever done.
Petrik: Before we get to the cover art details, what sparked the creation of this novel? I remember the idea behind some parts in The Keepers series happened because you stared at a cloud, was there something as random as that again here?
David: Hah, nothing quite so random as that this time around. This new trilogy is unique to me in that I salvaged most of the main cast from a previously failed pitch. So for the first time, I began with the characters, and developed the world and its overall conflict around them from the very start. This is pretty different than my normal method, which is to form an idea for the world and then ponder what perspectives and characters would be most interesting to view its events and conflicts through.
Petrik: Oh really? That’s interesting to hear that this time you began with the characters first, and who knows? Maybe this indeed will be your best book so far! I think revolving the narrative around the characters often has the best result! And with that in mind, what is the premise of The Bladed Faith?
David: A massive empire invades Prince Cyrus’s island, executing his parents, slaying his island’s gods, and outlawing their religions. He’s held captive for years until, when presumed dead, he is rescued by insurgents who have sailed to his island to continue their years-long war against the empire. Given they are a group of outsiders, they ask Cyrus to become their figurehead for a new rebellion, a folk hero people can rally around, the slain prince now returned to reclaim his throne. It doesn’t even need to be real, if only he can pretend to be so skilled. And so Cyrus trains to become this mythic figurehead amongst a group of actual heroes, all of whom carry their own grudges and motivations against the empire.
Petrik: Oh my god, that’s an incredibly exciting premise. I am so pumped for this book! Alright, I think we’ve talked enough about the conception of the book. Let’s leave the rest for readers (myself included) to read! Now let’s talk about the cover art. Your books, especially (imo) Seraphim and The Keepers Trilogy have incredible covers. This one is not an exception. What do you think about it? I assume that’s Cyrus at the cover art.
David: Yeah, I’ve been pretty blessed by Orbit’s art department. As for this one? I love it, absolutely love it. That is indeed Cyrus on the cover, fully trained and outfitted into his ‘Vagrant’ persona.
Petrik: Did you have any influence on its creation?
David: I’m sure I have some, but more in that I’m giving the art team pieces to play with. At the start of a new project, I’ll send over a huge list of major characters, their weapons, their attire, etc. I’ll also describe some key locations, some story beats, and list of major themes and iconography and how they attach to specific characters (such as the symbol of a butterfly, tied to one of the island’s goddesses).
And so then over at Orbit, they take these things and then brainstorm what would best sell the series. They consider current trends, how they plan on marketing the book to its intended audience, and what artists make up their ‘wish list’ to convey these ideas. So technically I influenced the cover by having an assassin wearing a skull mask in my book, but I didn’t tell them “Okay, so I think you should have Cyrus on the front, doing this, in this location, with this color scheme.” I mean, I could try doing that, but they’d probably politely nod and pat my head and then continue on doing what they do best.
Petrik: That makes sense! Thank you for letting us know the process behind the cover art creation. It’s always interesting to me, especially for a striking cover art like this! And yes, I’ve been saying this for years, Orbit is the best in the cover art department! And once again they proved it!
David: They’re pretty damn good, aren’t they?
Petrik: They’re super awesome! Lauren Panepinto and Orbit Books are responsible for making sure that cover art in modern fantasy stays at top tier quality. I could talk about them all day, but I’ll save that discussion for the future. And well, I guess that’s it for today’s cover reveal and Q&A. The Bladed Faith will be out in April! Thank you so much to you and Orbit for allowing me to host this cover reveal. Any last thing you want to say to your future readers of The Bladed Faith?
David: Whether you’ve been reading my works for years, or coming in fresh with The Bladed Faith, I hope you have a ball, and find my stories worthy of your time. And, well, fingers crossed that at the least, I live up to the quality of that cover!
I want to give my special thanks to David Dalglish, Angela, and Orbit Books for allowing Novel Notions the honor and pleasure of hosting the cover reveal for The Bladed Faith. As fantasy enthusiasts and self-proclaimed connoisseurs () of book cover art, it means a lot for me and all of us here at Novel Notions to be given this opportunity. I’m so looking forward to reading what’s behind this stunning cover art!
Lastly, thank you to everyone for taking the time to read this post!
The Bladed Faith has a planned release date of April 5th, 2022.