Cover Reveal: The City Stained Red (a special guest post from Sam Sykes)

Gollancz is thrilled to be able to share with you the absolutely stunning cover for The City Stained Red the brand new novel from Sam Sykes.  Our cover was designed by the fantastic Benjamin Carrè.  

But wait, there’s more! We also have an exclusive guest post from Sam Sykes all about The City Stained Red


I like hooded men.

Hooded anyone, really: men, women, some with swords, some with magical spells, some fighting things.

I know that’s a terribly unpopular opinion these days, since we all know that hooded men don’t sell at all and literally no one has ever picked up a cover with a guy looking mysterious with a sword on it, but it’s true.

And it’s also true that I don’t typically like symbolic covers. Don’t get me wrong, I think they’re very handsome and I a lot of people that like them are very good friends of mine, but it’s very hard to find a cover of a sword or a landscape that wows me as much as someone holding it or walking upon it.

That is, until today.

city stained red viz 01_Page_1

Look at it.

Just look at it, will you.

I mean, take a moment to gush over the lettering (which is awesome) and then take a look at it. Note the small spatter of blood, as opposed to rivers of it: a suggestion of violence rather than an outright declaration. It looks positively lovely across the white marble here, really providing a picture of elegance that is just-so-slightly marred by the stain. And it’s because of that pristine contrast that the mere hint of violence is so much more effective than slapping the reader about the face with buckets of blood.

And it’s that hint, that suggestion that there is something just slightly wrong, that really makes this cover. And nowhere is it more apparent than in the halo at the center of it all.

The biblical connotation is kind of unnerving in and of itself to begin with, but it’s only when you look closer and see what it’s made of that things really get spooky. And looking at each serpent, each writhing coil, each fang piercing each hide, one really gets a sense of the violence-against-perfection, darkness-behind-the-ivory, in short, what this book is all about.

Which reminds me, I never told you I had written a new book, had I?

My bad.

The City Stained Red is the first chapter in my new trilogy, Bring Down Heaven. Set against the city of Cier’Djaal, economic powerhouse of the world whose horse-sized spiders produce the silk that every nation craves, it is a tale of collapse.

It is the story of how the morals of a society collapse before pragmatism, revolutionary cultists crowing the name of their god in hell as they throw themselves at the organized dynasty of assassins and thieves that have run the city since it began.

It is the story of how the ideas of harmony collapse before ideas of independence, with several races, human and monstrous, set upon a tiny spit of land and given just so many resources to share it and seeing how long it takes for one of them to pick up a knife.

It is the story of how gods collapse before mortals, when god cannot save a man languishing in the shadow of his wealthy neighbors and he finds himself putting aside prayer and picking up a blade.

It is the story of how things change between six people when they find themselves standing at the center of a field full of corpses and wondering just how the hell it happened that they can’t let go of the sword in their hands.

Maybe that explains it.

Of course, if it doesn’t, maybe these will.















The City Stained Red will be out from Gollancz soon.

I dearly hope you enjoy it.