In the meantime, some folks have asked if I could put up the images of the illustrations so they can look at them properly instead of on a tiny e-reader screen. I am happy to oblige! So here are the five illustrations that the talented Kristina Carroll did for the book, complete with a few words from me about each one. (Kristina was wonderful to work with, by the way. Organized, responsive, and patient when I dithered over which of her concept sketches to choose for an illustration!)
If you haven't read the book yet, beware spoilers...
Click on the images to see larger versions.
Illustration 1: Dev scouting the Khalat
I knew right from the start I wanted one of the illustrations to feature the Khalat, which is a citadel atop a massive butte in the desert city of Prosul Akheba. The Khalat features heavily in the first part of the book, so I thought it'd be nice for readers to get a visual. Originally I considered asking for an illustration of Dev climbing the Khalat, but then I decided I wanted a wider view, and instead chose the scene in Chapter Eight where he is scouting the Khalat from atop a temple in the tent city that surrounds the butte.
|Prosul Akheba and the citadel of the Khalat
Illustration 2: The red-horned hunters
Spoiler time! When the red-horned hunters come after Kiran and it results in Veddis's death, that's such a pivotal moment for the characters that it was another no-brainer choice for an illustration. (Plus, how could I not ask for an illustration of creepy demonic leviathan-things roiling in an eerie fog?) Kristina provided 3 very different concept sketches for the scene, covering moments both prior and after Veddis's death, and it was super hard to choose because I liked them all. In the end, I went with the sketch portraying the characters right after Veddis's death, because the sense of grief and helplessness in the image really stuck with me.
|Demonic hunters in the fog
Illustration 3: Ruslan rescuing a young Kiran from the veiled temple
This one might be my favorite of all the illustrations! The relationship between Kiran and Ruslan is such a driving force behind the story that I love seeing this moment when to Kiran he was a saving angel, not the far darker figure in Kiran's life he would become. Kristina did a wonderful job of capturing Ruslan's arrogant confidence, and the wings of fire, and the temple roof breaking apart - oh gosh, I just love everything about it.
|Ruslan rescuing Kiran from the veiled temple
Illustration 4: Ashkiza's Labyrinth
You can thank my critique group members for this one - I was dithering over which scene to ask Kristina to illustrate in the latter part of the book, and they said, "Well, you HAVE to include an illustration of the labyrinth. I mean, it's in the title of the book!" Haha, I don't envy Kristina having to take my description of this massive, intricate structure of constantly moving magical fire and translate that into a static image - but I think she did an awesome job.
|Kiran sees the Labyrinth of Flame
Dev, Kiran, and Cara have spent so much of the last 3 books in desperate straits that I wanted to celebrate them finally having achieved safety and happiness together. I wanted the illustration to be a kind of farewell and thank you to the reader - like after you've climbed some crazy difficult peak and made it all way back to the trailhead, and are saying goodbye to your climbing partners before you all head off to your regular lives. That shared sense of quiet, contented satisfaction and camaraderie...that's how I feel, having completed the series at last, and I hope you feel something similar!
|Kiran, Dev, and Cara, happy at last