Cold Trail book cover with Yamabuki on her rearing horse and Tomoe Gozen in snow

Cold Trail, by Katherine M. Lawrence

Cover design for a book series requires attention to, in addition to the usual cover design concerns, two aspects:

  • Do the different books look like they’re in the same series?
  • Do any of the books look too much alike?

This series by Katherine M. Lawrence lives in rather particular subcategories: Historical Fiction > Japan and Fantasy > Historical > Japan.

Even though we were straying away from the typical shiny three-dimensional representations popular in historical fantasy, we felt that the covers helps convey two important aspects of Katherine’s books:

  • That these books are meticulously researched and favor authenticity of life in 12th-century Japan.
  • The action and gravitas of the story(ies).

We drew from the thousands upon thousands of historic Japanese woodblocks in the public domain for iconic imagery, but isolating and stylizing the figures to give them an updated feel.

Cold Saké book cover with Yamabuki seeing a ghost in the night
Cold Saké: Yamabuki vs. the Undead was Katherine M. Lawrence’s first Yamabuki book.

Cold Saké: the Beginning

We set the general look of the series with a novelette released before that introduced Yamabuki.

The design concept was to draw from historic Japanese woodcuts. We bought a font for the main titles, and improvised the rest. Because the Sword of the Taka Samurai series featured the same character—albeit younger, some years earlier—we decided to stick with the general approach.

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Cold Blood cover with Yamabuki in full armor on her rearing horse

Cold Blood: Yamabuki vs. the Sword Master

Book 1 of Sword of the Taka Samurai, by Katherine M. Lawrence

Cold Rain book cover with Yamabuki galloping on horseback

Cold Rain: Yamabuki and the Warlord Prince

Book 2 of Sword of the Taka Samurai, by Katherine M. Lawrence

Cold Heart book cover with Yamabuki wielding a naginata in combat

Cold Heart: Yamabuki vs. the Shinobi Priest

Book 3 of Sword of the Taka Samurai, by Katherine M. Lawrence

Cold Trail book cover with Yamabuki on her rearing horse and Tomoe Gozen in snow

Cold Trail: Yamabuki and Tomoe

Book 4 of Sword of the Taka Samurai, by Katherine M. Lawrence

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The last three books in the series are yet to be scheduled for pre-order. The designs here represent semi-final versions that I am able to show here by permission from the author.

Cold Fire cover with a woman living within a blazing fire

Cold Fire: Yamabuki vs. the Gods

Book 5 of Sword of the Taka Samurai, by Katherine M. Lawrence

Cold Steel book cover with Yamabuki on horseback fighting off an attacker

Cold Steel: Yamabuki vs. the Emperor

Book 6 of Sword of the Taka Samurai, by Katherine M. Lawrence

Cold Fate book cover with Yamabuki on her horse gazing at Mount Fuji

Cold Fate: Yamabuki vs. the Taka

Book 7 of Sword of the Taka Samurai, by Katherine M. Lawrence