Book Cover Pet Peeve: Hooded Figures

Did a Google search. Notice something?

Hood_Book_Covers

I do not know what the deal is with hooded figures on book covers. I really don’t. Right now, they are a plague. I have seen so many books with more or less the same damn cover. Whenever I see a hooded figure on a book, aside from cringing internally, my kneejerk reaction is assuming this book is going to have either these as the protagonist:

  • I-am-a-tormented-assassin-warrior-man
  • I-am-a-mysterious-powerful-awesome-over-the-top-mage

Sometimes a combination of the two. As far as advertising goes, spot-on. [Insert tirad of curse words here]. But there are a number of reasons why it grinds my gears.

Are the above mentioned tropes bad? Well, they can be but they do not have to be. It depends on what the author has done with them. However, one of the most glossed over details of the hooded cloak is that if you are wearing one…

Your peripheral vision is null.

NOCAPES
I agree edna! No Capes! Hoods!

You cannot see ANYTHING beyond the straight line right in front of you, and sometimes not even that if the hood is pulled low. A hooded figure making their way through a crowd would at most see a bunch of boots and legs. So, unless your mysterious protagonist can somehow see through solid textiles via magical means – ditch the hood. Not to mention that having your hood drawn that low would be more likely to draw just the kind of attention your character is likely trying to avoid. If your character is only concerned with hiding their face, great! Hood All the Hoods!

On the other hand, if we are only after the mysterious flare, I am sure there are much better ways of going about it. Be a little creative! Give your character a cool hat or something. That way, the characters will actually be able to see where the hell they are going.

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Look Further Than Your Own Back yard

In my personal experience it has been difficult to study fantasy without considering history. Perhaps not strange, given that most western authors seem to set their work in something spun out of a fantastical medieval Europe. Not to mention the amount of borrowing that has been done from Norse mythology. That said, there is so much more to the genre than “Eurofantasy” and history is not the enemy here, no, I consider it a great ally. What better way to open our eyes to something new than looking at the history of someplace foreign?

As far as storytelling goes, there are a number of very old stories that have been retold time and again. In fantasy I suppose that would mean the Tolkien-esque stories, high fantasy paired with that sense of wonder brand of magic. To be frank though, I am no longer interested in stories about The pretty Elf of the Woodland realms with AHmazing archery skills or the burly Dwarf under the mountain with a bad Scottish accent.

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(I haven’t forgotten about you either, Mr. tall-dark-sexy-brooding-mysterious-hooded-assassin-protagonist. Nope.)

By no means are these stories bad! *cough* They have their place and their audience, and that is awesome. For them. No, seriously.

What I would love to see, is that more authors in the west (read esp. Europe, the U.S. and Scandinavia) would study other cultures and be inspired by them. Show better representation! The main characters do not all have to be 2o-something white males. Add a bit of spice! But don’t go all dune on me, or actually, why not? Let’s travel the universe. Better yet, I would love to see more fantasy work translated from other languages available in the local stores. Well, just seeing more fantasy in the stores at all would make my day!

spice_must_flow

Then again, perhaps I am wrong! Perhaps there is plenty of novels out there and I am just looking in the wrong places. But seriously though, let us all look a bit further than our own back yard.

More cultural diversity in fantasy!
In my mind, there is no better genre for it.

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Lives

Iron shackles, calloused hands,

Rowing, drums, and splinters.

Sky-sent fire, ancestors rumble,

Spear and howls,

Rain and thunder.

Lives, lived and lost.

But fragments still linger.

I am as we were, as they were as I am.

What use have we of gods? 

We who came before.

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Communicate 

There are times when I need to be alone,

When even the noise of nothing in particular,

By someone very specific,

Which I have come to love ~

Become too loud.

The moments are rare and far between,

But every once in a while,

I need absolute quiet to smile.

We have learned, she and I,

To communicate, and in spite of my need for silence,

We always talk.

Respite comes only after,

And disaster never follows.

So do as she does, and as I do too,

Fear not confrontation,

It can be very good for you.

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Reader’s Greed

Give me something fantastical, epic, and with a hint of strange.

Tell me a story of not only Sword and Sorcery, but of life, love, and everything between.

Show me characters of the fascinating variety, and make me care!

Make my heart bleed and make my eyes water, make my eyebrows rise, and make me smile through laughter.

Satiate my hunger, cater to the passionately curious, and give us new perspectives.

Enlighten me to flaws I didn’t know or realise I had.

But if you only ever do one thing for me, my dearest Genre, Fantasy ~

Tell me a story.

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Too Loud

There is too much noise,

Too much interference.

I can’t hear it at all,

Through all the static.

What’s on my mind, how am I, what am I thinking?

Your guess,

Is as good as mine.

Knowing you, probably better!

I need the isolation, the silence, and the dark,

Not all the time,

But just enough to start.

The words never stop,

But through the static,

I can’t hear them.

They linger,

And demand to be heard.

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Work Work

As Tomorrow declares war,

On the sought-after midnight roost,

I dread the inevitable incursion of Dawn.

But as my alarm rings, and I hit snooze,

For the fifth time ~

I know I should count myself among the fortunate few,

Who are able to count an early day at work,

As the greatest of their tragedies.

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