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The Rhythm Of War Cover Finally Puts This Stormlight Archive Character Front-And-Center!

Rhythm of War — the fourth book in The Stormlight Archive — finally has a cover!

It’s kind of crazy, but after three books, one of the main three characters has yet to grace the cover of a novel. In fact, even in the novel where she was the focus, Shallan Davar was not on the cover. Instead, on the Words of Radiance cover, we had an integral moment between Kaladin and Szeth. Artist Michael Whelan did give a loving nod to Shallan in the interior color page of the hardcover, but an actual cover featuring her eluded her. Until now.

Rhythm of War is the fourth novel in the Stormlight Archive, and it looks to finally give Shallan time to shine. In the cover, we see a beautiful image of her seemingly stepping away from the world of Roshar into Shadesmar — where the spren inhabit. She has her satchel slung over her shoulder and is ready for adventure. 

Art by Michael Whelan

Personally, I think this is a gorgeous cover. that being said, it does feel a bit…off to me. Perhaps it’s the way Shallan is drawn, or even the colors, but the style feels very un-Stormlight Archive to me. Then again, given the introduction of Shadesmar in this cover, perhaps that’s fitting. Regardless, it sounds like Whelan had a great time interpreting this aspect of the story.

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“From my earliest days I’ve been drawn to the idea of ‘other worlds,’” Whelan told “And couldn’t read enough F&SF stories, seeking to be transported to strange new realms of the imagination. That overriding impulse has remained constant throughout my life, and lately has seen its greatest evocation in the works of Brandon Sanderson.

“I haven’t experienced such a sense of living in a complete and wholly integrated other universe as I have in the Stormlight books! It was both a dream assignment as well as a monumental challenge to attempt to visualize Shadesmar for the cover of Rhythm of War. Choosing an approach to focus on wasn’t easy because of the myriad possibilities beckoning me in Brandon’s wonderful story—but I hope I captured a glimpse of the strangeness of the place in my illustration.”

But, of course, the front of the cover isn’t the whole cover. We can’t forget the spine and back, which continues the image. 

Art by Michael Whelan

In the image, we see what could be Adolin taking a knee. It’s hard. for me to tell, but I don’t think Adolin is in Shadesmar in this scene — unless the entire image is within Shadesmar. Based on the imagery, it almost looks like Shallan is stepping into Shadesmar. But, I suppose we’ll have to wait and see how Rhythm of War plays out this cover scene.

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Of course, author Brandon Sanderson is more than thrilled with the end result. He’s always been a huge Michael Whelan fan, and it’s clear a lot of love and care are put into these covers from both sides.

“One of the highlights of my career is getting to work with Michael Whelan,” Brandon Sanderson added. “I would’ve been grateful for just one of his cover illustrations, so I feel incredibly lucky that he continues to work his magic for Rhythm of War. I think it’s the best Stormlight cover so far. The colors are beautiful and vibrant. It’s without a doubt a masterpiece, and I am in awe of it.”

Do you agree with Sanderson that Rhythm of War is the best Stormlight Archive cover to date? Is it the most beautiful, as Sanderson says? Sound off in the comments down below!

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