Hand of Isis is the next book from Jo Graham that we are repackaging for the mass market version. If you’ll recall the cover launch for Black Ships, Mario Pulice and Debra Lill had designed lovely covers for the original trade paperback version, but we wanted to go with a more traditional fantasy look for the new versions and commissioned new artwork from the famous, and fabulous, John Jude Palencar.
Black Ships and Hand of Isis definitely go together, but I wouldn’t call them a series, exactly. You can read either first, but as you read more of the books (I am lucky enough to have already read the next book, Stealing Fire, which comes out in 2010) you will realize that while the characters are different, the souls of the characters appear again and again. But you don’t need to know anything about that to enjoy any of the books alone. They’re just fabulous historical fiction, with a fantasy leaning. If you like Mists of Avalon, this is definitely up your alley. Jo Graham’s great accomplishment on these is the very personal perspective her characters give you on famous events everyone already knows the story to.
Where Black Ships was a loose retelling of the Aeneid, Hand of Isis is a retelling of the Cleopatra story, told through the eyes of Cleopatra’s half-sister and chief handmaiden, Charmian. I don’t want to tell you any more than that, but trust me, even thought you know how the story ultimately ends, you can’t help getting wrapped up in the story and hoping for the characters to find a way out of their destinies.
John Jude Palencar again did a gorgeous job portraying the character for the cover illustration. I love how it echoes the cover for Black Ships yet reveals how different Charmian and Gull are. Gull was a powerful priestess, commanding and imposing, while Charmian is softer, and sexier, helping from the shadows, and is ultimately a more tragic character.
Obviously, I love these books, because I can’t stop nattering on about them!
Below is the original art as it was sent. So beautiful! I am totally lucky because I get to frame these and put them in the Orbit Offices!