Let’s play, Which Is The Worst Tamora Pierce Cover? I feel like the biggest compliment I can pay the series is that the books are as good as those top two covers are bad.

1. We have a winner: The problems with this cover have been discussed (or shouted angrily) many times. Quick precis: Song Of The Lioness is not Twilight. Why are they in modern clothing? Why are they all about 16? The characters are older than that by this book. Why is Alanna’s stone blue? It’s an amber. Just what the hell is going on with her body anyway, and while we’re on the subject her skin has had any texture at al cloned right out of it…

2. Coming in a close second: How is Beka expected to achieve anything with her spine so obviously broken? Photoshop strikes again, this time plonking a leather tabard onto a model whose pose it fails to match at all. Also, since the dog is so obviously a stock photo dropped in, couldn’t they at least have got one that matches the description of Achoo in the books? None of the elements in this half-arsed montage even match in resolution. Ugh.

3 and 4. OK, I have a soft spot for these terrible covers, since they were what I first read Alanna in. They were also published in the early 90s, before Photoshop and good design had been thought of, so they can’t be held to as strict standards as the previous two. But can you see Thom on the ‘Lioness Rampant’ cover? He is literally wearing a pointy hat. I’m not entirely sure what Alanna’s fighting on the other cover. But at least she’s DOING something rather than just posing, so points for that. They’ve also made a valiant effort to disguise the fact that they apparently couldn’t find a model with red hair but over-saturating the covers.

5. I don’t know if its a product of bad composition in the original painting or bad cropping by the designer, but there seems an awful lot of dead space, particularly in the bottom third. Why do we need to see the side of the table? Couldn’t the image have pulled in closer to fill the cover with actual people? I say ‘people’ rather than ‘the characters’ because - and I know this is highly subjective - these really don’t look like Daine and co. The candles also confuse me. They looks like they should be evenly spaced, to match the centred composition behind. But they’re not. Ugh.

6. From the same set as (1), this isn’t nearly so bad. Alanna is at least wearing something that looks like you can’t buy it at Primark, and if her horse is the wrong colour - well I can see why a big white shape wouldn’t work well in the design so I’ll forgive it. The orange glow is both inexplicable and Photoshop overkill, and Alanna’s skin is again weirdly waxy. but the thing that tips this one for me is the pose: day one of knight training was probably which end to hold the sword by, and why the kind of pose Alanna is rocking will probably turn your previously useful appendage into a distressingly bloody and fingerless one.

7 and 8. Oh, how can I hate these? They! Are! So! 80s! and to be fair, the artist has made an effort to get details about the books right - while obviously ignoring the one about ‘Alanna wears clothes on top of her underwear’ because, fair enough it IS clearly ridiculous to have a heroine who dresses practically. I particularly love (8) because I like to imagine that this is exactly how Alanna dressed at court for her 8 years of knight training, and the court were just too dim to question her assertion that she was male.