I need a print and ebook cover for my new novel, just simple letters, my name smaller than the book title. I want to publish it as a Paperback via Amazon Create Space (5 x 8 inches/12,7 x 20,32 cm; templates at the end of this page).
My Low-Fantasy novel "Eine Heimat des Krieges" deals with the nature and consequences of war and its impact on the lives of different families.
The mysterious Grey leave the Grovoll-Mountains in the south of Vernland to wage war against humanity. Their reasons are unknown (I later reveal, that the Grey are on the brink of extinction due to the flora of their home - the Grovoll-mountains - and that they have to look for a new place to settle). Villages burn down, as the Grey fight their way towards the cities of men. Villagers flee. They hope to find refuge in the North where the Etarians live, humanoid lizards that rule over Vernland after they defeated the human army in a religious war, killing the human king in the process. After the victory, the humans aren't allowed to exert their religion. No new king has been crowned, and the defeated army has never been rebuild. Fourteen years have passed since the war between mankind and the lizards, and the military state of the Etarians rules over the human citizens with strict laws, controlled trade and contracts, which regard nearly every aspect of life. In one of these contracts, the Peace Treaty, the Etarians promised to protect the realms of Men with their armed forces, if the humans abide by etarian laws and regulations and recognize the sovereignty of the lizards. That promise is the reason, why the refugees turn to the Etarians for protection. But the Etarians won't help them. Most of them hate humans, and are afraid that their own culture will be suppressed by the morals and believes of men. Nevertheless, hundreds of refugees flock to the city of the Etarians.
The huntsman Roren is among the refugees. He travels through Vernland together with his family (wife and daughter), constantly fearing the Grey or their allies (renegade Etarians that have been banished by their own nation because of crimes against the military state). Roren loses his right hand during a fight with renegade Etarians. But he survives. Crippled and homeless he travels north. On the road, the other refugees grow hostile towards him. He eats and drinks, although he is unable to hunt for food (hunting was the only thing he has been good at, and now he can’t use a bow). After raiders steal their provisions, aggressions and hunger thrive among the refugees. Weeks later, Rorens nine-year old daughter dies, and he distances himself from his grieving wife. He feels betrayed by destiny and develops resentments towards refugees, Etarians and the god that took his daughter away from him.
Meanwhile, the mass of refugees weakens the defense of Etovernem, the capitol of the Etarians in Vernland. The eight lords of mankind see their chance. Under the leadership of Lord Tiogan Aureld, who lost his only son in the religious war fourteen years prior, the army of Men marches toward Etovernem to end the rule of the Etarians. The army of the lords consist of farmers and blacksmiths and younglings. But the need for revenge drives them forward, and the fate of Vernland will be decided in front of the gates of Etovernem; while the Grey get closer to the weakly guarded cities of men, and Roren, his wife and all the other refugees struggle to survive in the wilderness. Little do they know, that they are precious prey for the Grey and that a devastating war awaits at the end of their journey. A war that will tear families apart and test the will and morals of everyone.
There's a lot more of course (it's a 600 page novel) but that's pretty much the basis from which everything evolves.
The novel is focused on personal conflicts of the protagonists (Roren; Lord Tiogan Aureld; an etarian warrior named Atoz; and Saoana, Tiogan's daughter and only heir). The synopsis above pretty much covers everything there is to know about the "big picture".
Roren struggles with his crippling and the loss of his home and the death of his daughter. He distances himself from the world, seeks solace in religion. An essential pillar of this religion is the believe, that one will see ones beloved again after death; so Roren thinks, he'll see his daughter and his happier wife of times long past when he dies. So you see, a death wish isn't far ... but he wants to "free" his wife from the grief and sufferings of life first.
Tiogan is filled with the wish for revenge, after his son died in the religious war. He had been slain by the military leader of the Etarians, and Tiogan dreams about killing this leader. But Tiogan is sick (lung cancer), and he wants to avenge the death of his son before he dies. While marching north, he starts to miss his home Austadt and his wife and daughter. He is torn between the longing for revenge and the longing for a peaceful death among family members, but the war has been started and there is no turning back.
Atoz killed the human king during the religious war. His is haunted by nightmares of dead humans (I guess, you would call it PTSD nowadays), and Atoz thinks, he is responsible for the desperate situation of the humans. He wants to help them, but his etarian people despises the refugees, and Atoz is considered a national hero. And this hero is needed. Atoz has little choice but to fight and kill again, and while his sympathy for the humans grows, his hate for his own kind and especially the military leader of the Etarians (yeah, the one that killed Tiogan's son) grows day by day. His significant other, Zana, is laying an egg, and while Atoz and Zana wait for the egg to hatch, the army of the Lords is coming nearer and nearer.
Saoana remains in Austadt while her father marches north. She has to rule over the city, although she is young and has no experience. Her people are hungry and depressed, because there is no trade during war. And a murderer roams the city. He kills in the name of the Etarians, but in fact he wants to weaken the city for the Grey. Soon, Saoana has to realize, that a nice and pretty girl doesn't make a good ruler. She yearns for peace and a simple life without the austerity of a leader. And as the Grey reach the gates of Austadt and bring war to the city, the blithe and naive days of youth are over for good.
I really have no definite idea of what a cover could look like, so I gave you a quite detailed synopsis of my novel. It really is low fantasy. I have the Etarians and the deformed Grey and that's it. No magic, no dragons, no elves and dwarfs. The continent Vernland isn't colorful. The cities are just cities made of stone and wood, very medieval. There are a lot of forests and mountains and in the north, where the Etarians live, there is an expansive desert (the war takes place there).
It's a bleak and very serious novel, and I want the cover to reflect that.
The main topics are war, home/family and religion. The latter as a tool to persuade and control others, as a way of finding solace in difficult times and a way of finding hope when there seems to be none, even when this hope ends in blood and death, as it's the case with Roren.
Last but not least some ideas of mine for the cover design.
1. The national symbol of the Etarians is the sun with jagged rays. Maybe you could do something with that.
2. Atoz and the leader of the renegade Etarians which support the Grey are black scaled and have golden eyes. They are the only two lizards in the world who look like that. It's an important part of the plot and maybe a black Etarian would look nice on the cover (They look like "human" velociraptors without the long snout.)
3. The crest of house Aureld is a golden grain ear with black background. The sigils of most houses are quite unimportant. Only the white tower on black background (house Ilarovich), the red eagle on white ground (house Feskott) and the decapitated human head on grey ground (House Hoh) are relevant for the story.
4. The topic of family is present in every chapter of the book. It's the recurring theme, shared in every storyline. Maybe that could inspire you. Maybe a design with Roren and his daughter and his wife (maybe silhouettes of the three of them, Roren one handed and the little daughter in the middle of the family. Just an idea I have).
5. The Grey are omnipresent, too. They are only "active" in three of 34 chapters, but everyone is constantly talking and thinking about them. They are the driving force behind all the conflicts, the mostly invisible antagonists. Everyone fears them but without quite recognizing their existence (they are considered myths, a fairy tale old women tell). The color grey is very important, for it symbolizes the war. Tiogan is grey-haired and grey-bearded, the Grey are ... grey, and the cities of men are grey, and the military leader of the Etarians (the one who killed Tiogan's son and is forcing Atoz to fight) is grey-scaled. Having the color on the cover could be a nice touch.
I hope I gave you a decent overview and that you got a feeling for the tone of the novel.
I'm really excited to see your designs, and I hope you have fun.