Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Griffin cover art

Last night I had a Twitter conversation about my Griffin Mage covers and other griffin covers, so, since I’m not sure I ever did one, here’s a roundup of all MY griffin covers, which I’ll follow with a few of the very best griffin covers of all time.

So, first, the original paperback covers for the trilogy:

The UK versions were exactly like these, but, as you may possibly know, the reflection of the face in the eye was not present in the UK cover. Don’t know why. It’s a neat detail, though I don’t particularly like the actual face that is reflected.

Obviously this artist chickened out when it came to showing an actual griffin. That’s too bad, as griffins are certainly very suitable for fantasy covers and should, I firmly believe, be shown as often as possible.

The artist for Hachette’s omnibus also apparently didn’t feel up to putting a griffin on the cover:

Fire, yes; griffins, no; and a random person who does not look much like anybody in the trilogy. Despite these flaws, I actually am pretty much okay with this cover, I guess, but I wish there had been a griffin on the cover.

Next, the SFBC omnibus cover. I don’t care for that woman, who looks much older than Kes. Honestly, if it’d been me, I would have suggested to each artist that they quit putting girls or women on the covers and focus on the griffins.

Focusing on the griffins was actually the direction taken by the artist who did the audiobook covers:

The first one could be an eagle or hawk, so that’s cheating. My favorite of these griffins, by a mile, is the one on the cover of SANDS.

My favorite of the Griffin Mage covers were done for the German edition:

I have no clue about the Dominatrix Sorceress in the Black Cloak. But the griffin is wonderful and I love the landscape. I don’t care for the second one as much, but the third is good:

So, those are MY covers. Which do you think are the best?

But moving on, let’s take a look at some of the most spectacular and creative griffins that have appeared on book covers for other peoples’ work. Here, starting with possibly my favorite griffin. I admit I have never read this series, but you can’t beat this griffin:

I like everything about the above griffin. The artist did a fantastic job making this look like a real, plausible animal. Nice tail for a flying animal; that makes all the sense in the world compared to a simple lion’s tail, though that would have been all right with me too.

Here’s a comfortable griffin:

I’m not sure what I think of humanizing the hands. That does make it easier to hold a coffee mug, though.

Below is one of my favorite literary griffins. The Inspector General is a great character and, incidentally, my veterinarian gave a thumbs up to the veterinary medicine practiced in this series.

Here’s a different kind of griffin, an owl griffin:

Here’s another owl griffin I particularly like:

And I’ll finish off with the most exotic griffin I know of:

I doubt anyone recognizes the bird this griffin is based on. Or do you? Maybe it’s better known than I think? It certainly looks to me like it MUST be based on the African hoopoe, a quite wonderful bird I enjoyed very much seeing once when I was actually in Kenya.

If you’ve met a griffin you especially liked — artwork or character — please mention it in the comments!

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10 Comments Griffin cover art

  1. Vale Nagle

    Lots of good gryphon covers =] While I think she’s moved on to doing art direction for large companies, Leesha Hannigan is a fantasy artist whose fantasy, mammal, nature, and bird artwork is so amazing that it feels heartbreaking that no one has used her for gryphon covers yet.

    And yes! Crestfall is full of hoopoe bird/sand cat and sandgrouse/sand cat gryphons. They’re pretty birds, even if they’re kind of gross.

    Here’s an odd tidbit. You know Joe Nigg, who wrote several gryphon nonfiction mythology books? While his cover on The Book of Gryphons is a little wishy-washy, underneath its a beautiful black cloth cover with a silver foil-stamped gryphon on it. It’s a much prettier cover under the dust jacket.

    I’m also glad someone else knows the Inspector General griffin. I sometimes feel like, since they never had an ebook release, those books were lost to time.

  2. Kathryn McConaughy

    Mercedes Lackey’s books have some good gryphon covers (especially the Japanese editions!) The US paperback cover for the White Gryphon really intrigued me when I was younger, although now the “how did that thing get off the ground?” question bothers me now despite the fact that this is explained in-story with magic.

  3. Megan

    I want to put a shout out for the Summer King Chronicles whose cover you liked so much. I found that series through its cover too (I was looking through the artist’s gallery on DeviantArt) and ended up getting the book. The series is FANTASTIC. I LOVE what the author does with the gryphons (and later dragons), even though it took me a long time to get over how much I disliked how she spelled gryphon.

  4. Jenny Schwartzberg

    Richard Purtill’s The Golden Gryphon Feather. The Gryphon on the cover is too skinny but inside illustrations are better. Andre Norton has some Gryphon covers. George’s McHargue’s Stoneflight. Sarah Beth Durst’s The Stone Girl’s Story and Journey Across the Hidden Islands have griffins on their covers. A couple of Diana Dunne Jones’ books have griffins on their covers.

  5. Rachel

    Megan, I’ve now started The Summer King Chronicles. I’m not super, super keen on the beginning, but I will keep going because (a) great covers, and (b) your comment and other very positive comments.

  6. Megan

    Yeah, it took me a bit to get into it but she has such great character work so once it’s built up a bit it was hard for me to put down til I’d finished the series.

  7. Rachel

    Good to know, Megan! Right now I REALLY LIKE the gryfon who was exiled and I’m not very interested in the young gryfon who is going on a hunt for wild boar — you can see I’m right at the beginning. I got distracted by other things. But I will pick it up again.

  8. Megan

    Just wait til you meet some of the other characters. Shard takes a bit to become interesting, but a lot of the creatures he meets are great. Especially the lions. But those don’t come til like the third book.

  9. Kim Aippersbach

    I adore your German covers! Gorgeous! (Dominatrix Sorceress would have made a good Kairaithin—that’s who I thought it was at first glance.)

    All 4 books of the Summer King Chronicles are 9.99 on Kindle: I think I might pick them up. The description reminds me a bit of the Raksura books. They sound very much up my alley, at any rate!

  10. Rachel

    I never thought of the Dominatrix Sorceress as Kairaithin in human form. I’ll have to try to revamp my impression of that figure to see it that way, because that’s MUCH better than trying to make myself fell like the figure is supposed to be Kes!

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