I was honored to paint the cover image for the final book in the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, but it was a daunting prospect given the massive backstory of 14 books written over a span of 20+ years.
Each volume, illustrated by the late Darrell K. Sweet, had a similar look and feel. I decided the last cover should retain a sense of continuation while bringing the epic to a close.
I usually insist on reading the manuscript, but it wasn’t possible this time. The author and publisher selected the cover scene in advance. My compositional ideas were limited to depicting—in the best way I could—the brief episode provided. Many websites and blogs devoted to the Wheel of Time books provided details of character appearances that the scene lacked.
After studying the covers of the earlier volumes, I elected to bring the protagonist Rand forward to dominate the front book jacket. I was torn whether to show Rand and his companions outside or inside the cave; I attempted to visualize both. Eventually, the “powers that be” selected the approach and I was on my way.
About the author
Since 1980, Michael Whelan has been one of the world’s premier fantasy and science fiction artists. He is currently working full time on his fine art paintings, but in the past three decades he has created more than 350 book and album covers for authors and artists like Isaac Asimov, Anne McCaffrey, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Stephen King, the Jacksons, Sepultura, and MeatLoaf. Read more on Michael's Biography page.