The ways in which different artists visually interpret the same concept fascinates me. I don't put much stock in tarot card readings, but I like seeing different tarot decks so that I can see and compare differing visions of ideas like the lightning-struck tower, the hanged man, and so on. Lately I've been spending quite a bit of what little free time I have looking at the way that book covers evolve, both over the decades and across international boundaries. This post is a case study in that. I won't offer any commentary, but I will share several covers for The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe, the first in his Book of the New Sun tetralogy. Some of these are simply astounding.
I am fairly certain this was the cover to the first paperback edition, in 1980. It was, at least, the cover of the first version I read.
A 1983 paperback edition.
A mid-1980s omnibus edition of the first two books, The Shadow of the Torturer and The Claw of the Conciliator with art by Jim Burns.
The Science Fiction Book Club omnibus edition, collecting all four books. I have seen this one occasionally in a few used book stores. The binding has always seemed suspect.
A strangely re-titled edition. I don't know where this originated or why the decision was made to change the title.
A Gollancz edition from the United Kingdom. Fairly typical of that line.
An edition from the Easton Press. I'm very curious about whether there are any interior illustrations and if so, which artist created them.
And here are a handful of foreign editions. Some of these are almost shocking. First, I believe this is a Dutch edition from 1989.
A Spanish-language edition from 1984.
A French edition from 1985.
Finally, and by far the most jarring, a Japanese edition. Be aware that this is the cover for the novel, not a manga adaptation.
Special thanks to Samwise in Spain for connecting me to the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, a treasure trove of covers, reviews, and much more.