Image credit: Michael Whelan
Think The Way of Kings cover features Dalinar? Think again.
There’s something magical about book covers. There’s a lot of work that goes into them, as they need to portray a lot about the story it’s telling. In many cases, they convey something of a feeling more than an actual scene from the book. But in many cases, fans expect to see glimpses of characters from the stories themselves. For that reason, it was pretty much always assumed that the cover of Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings featured the aging warlord Dalinar Kholin in Shardplate.
After all, Dalinar is the most prominent Shardplate wearer in that book, so it made sense it would be him. However, as it turns out, that wasn’t him. This came via an unexpected series of tweets from Michael Whelan’s official Twitter account.
“Just to clarify some misconceptions I’ve seen in Stormlight Archive discussions. That’s not Dalinar on the cover of THE WAY OF KINGS,” Whelan’s account wrote. “Michael has been dying to portray Dalinar in his shardplate [sic] since the very beginning. When I circled back to confirm with him who was on the cover, he expressed that much. The 1st cover assignment was a little different because the series hadn’t blown up yet. IIRC Michael hadn’t done a cover since Dark Tower 7. It took some effort to convince him to jump onto a 10 book epic. He hadn’t read Brandon at the time, but Tom Doherty was asking himself. As the story developed, the urgency to get the character portrayals on the covers heated up. That was part of why [Words of Radiance] got that bonus illustration of Shallan for the endpapers.
It’s great that she’s finally front and center on [Rhythm of War],” the tweet concluded.
Whelan went on to state that the image was not meant to portray any specific character. Instead, the goal was to portray the conflict on the Shattered Plains.
Okay, so it’s not Dalinar. Then who is it? Could it perhaps be Adolin — or even Dalinar’s frenemy Sadeas? The actual answer was actually a bit underwhelming.
“The film credits would read Left Handed Shardbearer #1,” Whelan’s account responded.
In other words…it’s no one special. This means that, after all these books, we have yet to see Dalinar grace any of the covers. Given that The Stormlight Archive 5 will end this arc of the series, I can only imagine we’ll be getting Dalinar this time around. Or so I hope.
But that’s not where the story ends. A couple of years back during an AMA on Reddit, author Brandon Sanderson all but confirmed Dalinar’s presence on that cover.
“With most books these days,” Sanderson wrote. “I suggest scenes and take a more hands-on approach. Michael Whelan, however, is one of those that I generally step back from and let him do his thing and try not to meddle too much. I DID note to him, though, that we’ve so far not matched the book to the character. (Kaladin’s book got Dalinar and Eshonai on the cover, while Shallan’s book got Kaladin.) So it made sense, actually, to have Jasnah [in Oathbring].”
So what does this mean? Are you disappointed that The Way of Kings cover didn’t portray Dalinar…or do you not buy Whelan’s comments? Sound off down below!
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