International covers of His Dark Materials

Updated: Oct 18

Previously I've looked at the progression of Philip Pullman's Northern Lights through editions in the UK, and then in the US (where it is known as The Golden Compass).


Today I'm going to look at some of the history of how the book has appeared in non-English-language versions.


First, I think it's worth recapping at the top what books exist in the wider His Dark Materials publication history and what years each came out in its native territory:



The His Dark Materials series

Northern Lights/The Golden Compass 1995 (paperback 1996)

The Subtle Knife 1997 (pb 1998)

The Amber Spyglass 2000 (pb 2001)


Lyra’s Oxford* 2003


Once Upon a Time in the North* 2008


The Collectors* 2014 as audio/ebook; (physical edition 2022)


The The Book of Dust series

La Belle Sauvage 2017 (pb 2018)

The Secret Commonwealth 2019 (pb 2019)

(Forthcoming final installment)


Serpentine* 2020


*These are the ‘small books’, physically small books each containing a single short story or novella, sometimes alongside additional ephemera from the wider world of the series.



I will mostly here being paying attention to the main series but there are also examples below of the Book of Dust books, which have also had a wide array of unique covers. The small books are slightly less widely published as they rely on a fairly robust His Dark Materials readership in a market to sell, and within that they have overwhelmingly been published with artwork unchanged from the original UK publications – presumably because these small books contain illustration throughout and not just on the binding. But I have turned up one or two interesting instances worth including below.


My list is of His Dark Materials covers is, I think, pretty thorough within its criteria, but not aiming to be exhaustive!


A popular choice for packaging books in translation is of course to simply use the artwork from its original marketplace. Existing art is both a proven quantity and saves paying for new artwork too!


It’s also worth noting that some countries simply don’t have a strong motivation to translate English books to a local language because English is so widely spoken in that country that they can simply import the English edition. There are dozens if not hundreds of sets of these books across the globe which have come out in versions of artwork familiar to English-language readers of these books.


(The popular choices for artwork to be reused have been the artwork from the original UK publications which are of each book’s central object (alethiometer/knife/spyglass) done by David Scutt; the artwork from the original US publications by Eric Rohmann (Lyra riding Iorek/Lyra and Will with leopard-Pantalaimon/Lyra and Will in the world of the dead), and more latterly the artwork from the mid-2000s UK editions by Helen Crawford-White, which also centred the objects but in a vector graphic rendition, with animal silhouettes and swirlies around them.)


Then there have been the points in these books' history - including right now - when they have spawned major screen adaptations and the standard covers across most countries have defaulted to tie-in editions.


I’m not going to catalogue these covers because it would be repetitive and endless, but concentrate only on original covers.


But I did want to provide one example of re-used artwork to give an idea and since I find Italy’s first editions an example of this approach which has a few interesting notes to it, I have started my coverage there.


Moving on from there, I'm going to take a broadly West-East direction in my coverage starting from Western Europe and moving all the way across to South America.


Without further ado, let’s take a look!



Italy


As I say, I wanted to start with once example of familiar artwork, and chose to use for this purpose the covers in which the books first came out in Italy. These editions, which Salani started putting out from 1998 use the artwork by Eric Rohmann which was created for the books' original US editions.


Or rather, they reuse the US artwork for the first and third books of the trilogy, but one reason I wanted to show these editions is that this set’s The Subtle Knife actually uses an unfamiliar piece of art. It looks like it was also painted by Rohmann (either that or someone doing an impressive impression of style), and my guess would be that if so, it existed as a ‘killed’ cover (i.e. a cover direction that publishers ultimately decided against in favour of another) in the possession of the US publishers, and the Italian publishers happened to prefer this to the option that their US counterparts ultimately chose.



A slight trend with non-English editions is to find matching editions of Northern Lights and The Subtle Knife, without a matching - or without a fully matching, as seen above - edition of The Amber Spyglass.


In non-English markets, Northern Lights came out at least a year or two after its original English publication and by the time most markets were putting the book out they were in a position to plan The Subtle Knife at the same time. But with The Amber Spyglass, not only did it have a couple of years’ more gap until its publication, but it also somewhat repositioned the whole series.


In its native land, the publishers of His Dark Materials were able to, and motivated to, plan well ahead for the forthcoming trilogy. There was a direct and good relationship with the author in place which gave them a lot of nuanced insight to what Pullman foresaw with the project. They also clearly had a good deal of confidence in the work resulting in real investment, and might have made sure to contract the first illustrators for multiple volumes, ensuring a uniform look.


In non-English markets, Northern Lights came out at least a year or two after its original English publication and by the time most markets were putting the book out they were in a position to plan The Subtle Knife at the same time. But with The Amber Spyglass, not only did it have a couple of years’ more gap until its publication, but it also somewhat repositioned the books.


Meanwhile for publishers in other countries which had less of that relationship with the author and context on the books, as well as different cultural positions on certain themes and content, might have been somewhat blindsided by the final installment of the trilogy which was longer, more adult, and attracted a lot of attention and controversy.


Anyway, coming back to Italy, the current standard Italian paperbacks are of the 'pretty deeply boring' design school so I won't bother to show them, but they also have these hardback editions published in 2020:



The first cover is again a version of artwork from a US edition (that market's 20th Anniversary edition), which is after all by an by Italian artist - Iacopo Bruno.


The covers of the other books here though are by UK artist Kay Baylay.


This is the first instance we’ll see of another slight trend across international editions, which is that one choice sometimes made is to commission brand new artwork, but from an illustrator who has already worked on the books in their original market


Baylay’s first association with His Dark Materials as to illustrate the cover of an omnibus edition, published in 2011 for both the UK and US markets.


I have never found that cover quite to my taste, but I find Baylay's Beardsley-nouveau style working much better here - especially in La Lama Sottile/The Subtle Knife. I just wonder why neither artist was given the full trilogy to cover.



France


The French editions follow a similar trajectory as the Italian:


Earlier editions used the Eric Rohmann artwork, and just as in Italy, when, more recently, original covers were produced they too employed an artist already utilised in the English-language market.


For the below 2017 editions publisher Gallimard Jeunesse used art by UK artist Chris Wormell, whose work currently adorns the standard paperbacks in that territory of both His Dark Materials and The Book of Dust, as well as his being the artist for the illustrated editions of the first trilogy.



Personally I much prefer these French covers to Wormell’s UK covers of the same books. The latter feature on each cover that book’s central fantastical object – the alethiometer, the knife and the spyglass respectively – which is a popular choice which sometimes has gorgeous results but has also resulted in some really boring covers (more on which below). Wormell’s covers are far from the dullest but I do find his UK Northern Lights lacking in atmosphere. His French covers are way more to my taste and the decorative work done by the designer is very well-devised to frame his careful woodcut lines with something more airy and lively to give a greater overall attractiveness than I believe the UK covers quite manage.


France also have their own editions for the Book of Dust books. I don't think these are by Chris Wormell, but I think the illustrator has been selected for a similar aesthetic and I appreciate how they match in while having their own vibe. The shared composition of having the protagonist/s placed centrally and heading straight for the viewer gives a great propulsive feel.




Spain


Spain has opted for original artwork from the start. In 1997 publisher Círculo de Lectores put out this edition of Northern Lights and matched it in time with one for The Subtle Knife.



There's clearly some care and skill in the painting and text treatment, and I would be happy to put the 'floating city' image down to metaphor rather than a confused understanding of the 'city in the sky' concept from the novel, but it's a shame that the 'city' is so obviously referenced to the famous Mont Saint-Michel.


Really lovely covers weren't far behind, though. From 1998, these were put out by Ediciones B first as hardbacks and later paperbacks:



These are longstanding favourites of mine for their style being so different to the usual illustrative approach to His Dark Materials while still feeling apt and evocative.


As may have come across in my coverage of UK editions, I err more towards youthful/lighthearted than dull in my tastes for these books. I’d sooner have covers which are a little too junior feeling than covers which make the books look worthy and dull. These are children’s books and there’s something very magical to me about having such rich texts contained within a package that really looks like a children's book.


Another set came out in Spain in 2007 from Círculo de Lectores:



They're not as finely rendered but I find these oddly charming in their interpretation of the book’s images.


Spain's editions for The Book of Dust are interesting. They both have original artwork but in totally different styles.


I haven’t included Spain’s current editions of His Dark Materials because they are just versions of some UK editions; specifically the covers designed by Helen Crawford-White which were the standard paperbacks in the UK from abut 2010 – 2018. It is these editions that this The Secret Commonwealth, below, clearly matches, but this cover is artwork not seen in the UK. I wonder if Crawford-White also created this piece? It’s a very good match for her work on the trilogy if not.


It’s odd that there isn’t a matching edition of La Belle Sauvage though. I did wonder if I have misunderstood and these Catalan editions are actually from two different Spanish-speaking countries but as far as I can tell they are both from Spain.




Portugal


Portugal started out with reused UK artwork and their current editions do the same, but in 2001 Portuguese publisher Editorial Presença did put out a unique set:



I find the loose watercolour aesthetic and bright palette unique and quite charming.



Germany


Germany has opted for original covers from the start, and they really nailed it from the start. Even though Germany started publication as early as 1996, they stuck to their original design direction so by 2000 there was a perfectly matched trilogy.


So various versions of these covers, published by Heyne, have been around in Germany from the off:



In depicting the popular Lyra-riding-Iorek subject, some versions (like Eric Rohmann's) are so effective by framing the action head on, and frame-fillingly large. This edition pushes the other way, emphasising the vastness of the environment by having Iorek and Lyra in a long 'shot'. It's a trick carried effectively across the subsequent books of the trilogy in this set, and it makes these books feel suitably grand in scale and intriguing by placing their subjects as small and vulnerable in big landscapes.


In addition to these beautes, Germany has seen another couple of sets with original artwork.


I wasn't able to find a lot of clear information on the following set. It's one of those for which as far as I can tell no matching edition for The Amber Spyglass ended up being published. My guess is that the above covers were originally published as hardbacks with these as the corresponding paperbacks during the later-90s period when the books were still emerging.



While the hardback direction felt adult enough to encompass the final book, this fun and cartoony paperback direction might have been felt too light for The Amber Spyglass so the direction was dumped and a new paperback direction was devised for the whole set.


Again, I personally really enjoy the cartoony style which is in such contrast to most approaches to covering these books. I find it surprising too that this subject of Will stepping through the world-window isn't more popular on covers, as it's an image that so invites one in to find out what he's seeing on the other side.


Another set of editions with original artwork came out in 2002 from Carlsen.



I like the Northern Lights, but I think the quality of these drops off slightly in the subsequent books (the face on The Amber Spyglass who I presume to be Mary Malone even looks like in could be a reuse of Lyra’s face from the first) and it might not even be the same artist across all three.



Netherlands


The Netherlands have had various mismatched editions over the years, of which I've included a few here.



I like this Northern Lights, published 1996 by Bakker, which I think looks somewhat influenced by the UK's first paperback, and its art by Stuart Williams.


For a country with a slightly haphazard approach to His Dark Materials itself the Netherlands has strikingly gorgeous covers for The Book of Dust:



These use a woodcut aesthetic (possibly literal but my guess would be digitally realised here) which is a popular choice for these books. While it’s a very apt look, it’s possible for the approach to end up looking too staid or stuffy or dull of palette - for my tastes at least. But these are beautifully balanced, with the oblique title typography bringing a lot of energy and romance in.



Denmark


Denmark is a country which has mostly opted for editions which reuse existing artwork, but have had one set with unique imagery. These came out in 2001 from Gyldendal.



I can't decide if I mind or not that, though the layout and starry background strongly uniforms the set, each has such a different approach to its featured illustration.


The title text being vertical certainly gives this set a distinctive look and I wonder if it’s a popular choice in book cover design for languages like Danish which because of the cumulative mechanism in the grammar tend to generate long words compared to a language like English. Longer words are of course hard to fit across book covers which are taller than they are wide, so this is a useful solution.


More recently, in 2017, the publisher put out this set:



I like these but they feel as if they could be tightened. I think it's because on each cover, every one of the elements - byline, title, object illustration, circular vignette thing - all have about the same visual weight so one's eye drifts a bit listlessly across it all. A cover like this could rely instead on the intricacy of its details for effect but the flourishes are all generic and unchanging across the covers so it lacks that sense of careful craft that could make them really special. The little lenticular vignetty things are a bit odd too and feel like a vote of no-confidence in the overall style by crowbarring in an illustration.



Iceland


Iceland is another country which has mostly imported artwork for its editions, but did have one set of original covers published in 2000 by Mál og menning.




Norway


Norway has had a mixture of covers that reuse the UK artwork, and original editions. With thanks to my Norwegian correspondent Martin, firstly we have a set which started out in 1997 and never quite made it to a third from Aschehoug:



I am able to provide a rare credit for the creative team. These were put together by Substrata with illustrations by Ruben Eliassen who as I understand it is also a children’s author in his own right!


These make me nostalgic for late-90s book design which would often have so many layers of illustration and decoration to be intrigued by before reading the book, and pore over after.


There is also a set from 2003, published by De norske Bokklubbene which take quite a different direction.



I feel as if these might be influenced by my favourite US editions which came out a year before these, which use antique-style constellation illustrations featuring Ursa Major, Gemini and winged Virgo respectively. I love the atmosphere.



Sweden


I’ve omitted from this list a couple of sets from various countries which I consider really dull even if the artwork is technically original, but I thought these were on the borderline of being worth showing, if only to have an example of the ‘so respectable they're boring’ school of design. These, published by Natur & Kultur in 2005, are at least nicely laid out.



The same publisher did something much more fun in 2018 with this set:



I particularly like the illustrations for The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. One of the pleasures of looking at international editions is getting to see different moments depicted, or moments depicted through different interpretations. This is a beautifully eerie Cittagazze and a very evocative vision of the World of the Dead respectively.


There are also matching editions for the Book of Dust books:




Finland


Finland have some unique editions published in 2018 by Otava:



I had to double check that I had the books in the right order because the cover of the Amber Spyglass is much more redolent of the choices familiar to covering Northern Lights – a white and blue palette, the Iorek and Lyra pair, the aurora-like light in the sky. But I like these very much, enjoying the unusually abstracted and artsy approach to the illustration, the translucent layers of colour and the dreamy atmosphere.



Lithuania


Lithuania has had three editions of the trilogy as far as I can tell – one set of film tie-ins; the current set which uses Russian artwork (shown under that country’s entry a little further on); and before both of them a unique set which Tyto Alba embarked on in 1997:



The familiar Lyra-riding-Iorek subject is given an entertainingly metal - literally - treatment here and there's some pleasing creativity to the subject choice of the other covers, with a real Moebius aesthetic to The Amber Spyglass.



Poland


Like Lithuania’s, Poland’s first publication of Northern Lights and The Subtle Knife were with unique covers, though these didn’t quite make it to the third. They were published in 1998 by Prószyński iS-ka SA:




I like the Northern Lights in particular, which works similarly to the German edition I praised earlier by placing Lyra and Iorek as small distant figures against a vast sky.


The next set, published in 2004 by Wydawnictwo Albatros, has just about snuck past both my ‘reuses UK art’ and ‘is a bit dull’ filters because I think the cut-through device makes these more unique and interesting than they appear at a glance. We also see again the ‘constellation’ motif used, presumably influenced by those lovely 2002 US editions and it really lifts the covers.



The current editions, published in 2018 by MAG, are similarly near that borderline of potential dullness.


There’s a slightly recurring problem I’ve mentioned before in depicting an alethiometer that looks at a glance like a normal compass, or even just depicting a literal compass.



A compass dial is a relevant enough object to depict, this being a book all about heading north, but the problem is that a compass dial is such a generic image and just feels cliparty. Of this set, the other volumes have far more specific character that might actually draw in a reader.


A much more personal niggle is the crossed lines across each cover. To my designer’s eyes those look like the lines on a graphic in the process of being resized!


This style works really well as the direction is continued with across the books of The Book of Dust:




Czechia


Some extremely striking editions came out of the Czech Republic in 2002 from Classic:



I rather like the first jacket. It’s generally well-painted and imagined. The full jacket artwork, below, does have one really comical portrayal, which is a the Suffragette-looking Mrs. Coulter and her orangutan daemon but I wonder if this is a mistake in the text’s translation rather than artist confusion since there’s clear care and accuracy seen elsewhere in the art.



The sequels get progressively wilder, and use not-very expertly-done montage rather than original painting. I rather enjoy how very late-90s/early-200s the The Subtle Knife looks between the yin yang and Lyra’s vest – though in fairness the book does prominently feature the I Ching and I think that lizard motif is in fact Pantalaimon!


Lyra being carried by a harpy with all the convingingness of a Terry Gilliam animation on The Amber Spyglass is also great.



Slovakia


Slovakia has mostly gone for UK-artwork-using editions, but also have a set with original imagery which were published by Ikar in 2003:



Though the covers have dated (the the faces are a weak spot – Lyra’s too young, Lord Asriel is Professor X and Will is Haley Joel Osment) they're not sloppy.



Hungary


Having previously had covers which utilised UK graphics, in 2017 Hungary got some fabulous original editions from Cicero publishing:



It’s another example of the popular woodcut trend, and I think these are hard to beat in that category. The potentially staid look of the style is balanced by some lovely flowing shapes to the background.


What's more, this look was carried straight across Hungary's editions of The Book of Dust:



The one thing that's a shame is that it looks like the same artist wasn't able to return for The Secret Commonwealth, meaning it has a slightly different look which is particularly felt in the way the sky area is handled.



Croatia


Croatia got in early with a matched set, with SysPrint publishing Northern Lights in 1998 in the cover below and completing the set (though with a new artist as far as I can tell) in 2000.



Northern Lights with its by-now-familiar head-on framing of Iorek is the most effective as a cover but the busy action of The Amber Spyglass, and its Germanic Iorek, is fun.


Croatia more recently issued really nice covers, though, with Lumen putting these out in 2017.



For me The Subtle Knife is particularly effective. One small detail I really like on Northern Lights is how the aurora is forming roof shapes at the top of some of its 'sheets'.



Serbia


Apart from editions which directly import UK artwork, Serbia also has the set below which have a slightly less direct UK origin and were published by Laguna in 2018.



These closely resemble what were the standard paperbacks in the UK for a long time, the ones designed by Helen Crawford-White. My guess would be that she didn't also design these herself since the stylising is a little less consistent than her own. I noted when I talked about UK coves that those UK covers felt a little 'cliparty' to me, but if that was just a feeling there, it's certain here - the Halloween witch silhouette on The Subtle Knife is a very funny detail that rather gives the game away!


Serbia is also a country with much less attention paid to its editions of His Dark Materials, slightly oddly, than its editions of The Book of Dust. These are also published by Laguna, and once again successfully employ a ‘printed’ look but in this case more of an etched or lithograph look than a woodcut.




Romania


Romania has had a couple of its own sets, both of which are slightly on the duller side, but nicely executed. Firstly these in 2014 from Arthur publishing:


And these in 2017 by the same house:




Ukraine


Nebo Booklab of Ukraine published a set of pretty special editions, starting in 2019.



For once I can name an illustrator: she is called Nadiia Doicheva and she is not only responsible for the covers but much more because these are fully illustrated editions. The full set of illustrations she created for Northern Lights can see seen here, on her Behance: https://www.behance.net/gallery/78852365/Nadiia-Doicheva-Book-illustrations-Northern-Lights.


As far as I know, Ukraine's editions of the books of The Book of Dust aren't illustrated and the covers aren't quite as beautiful but they're not bad at all:




Russia


Russia sure didn't start strong, with the first editions being these ones published in 2005 by 2005 by Росмэн (Rosmen):



But in 2016 ACT improved vastly upon these, with hardback editions featuring work by Андрей Ферез (Andrew Ferez):



The look is perhaps fluffier than the trilogy's exact tone but it's pretty irresistibly sumptuous.


I have the Northern Lights edition in my collection, so I can also attest that it has some lovely extra touches, with endpapers printed with gold ink, and a dust-cover that folds out to a poster of the Alethiometer:




The publisher extended the look across the Book of Dust, seen centrally and to the right below. The cover of The Secret Commonwealth with Pantalaimon amongst roses is probably my favourite of the whole set.


They also published a volume called Lyra Belacqua which is a bind-up the earlier two of the ‘small books’ – i.e. Lyra’s Oxford and Once Upon a Time in the North - seen here on the right. The illustrator for this appears to be a different one from the others but I also really like the slightly more storybook look chosen for this content.



And though it's beyond the remit of this write-up, I also love the Russian edition of Daemon Voices which is a collection of Pullman’s writing on the subject of writing, stories and imagination: https://aldebaran.ru/author/pulman_filip/kniga_golosa_deyimonov/



Turkey


For Turkey I have some ebooks to show, a format I've mostly omitted but these are great and have an interesting history.



The art was created as a fan work by US book designer M. S. Corley in 2009, reimagining the books in the style of classic Penguins. To be honest, I'm not wholly convinced the Turkish repurposing is even authorised by the artist and the changes aren't done with Corley's standards - the Turkish titles are inserted with no adherence to the Marber grid or fonts that make the Penguin look.


But the original design is great. It's easy to get some very boring or confusing results going for a minimalist look without real expertise, but these show how much a skilled practicioner can conjure with just three colours and a few lines.



Israel


The books were published in Hebrew in 2003 by Keter Book.



I really like these designs, especially the Northern Lights one which has a lovely palette, and features another cool presentation of the city/aurora image in the background.


The publisher hasn't opted to match these at all with their Book of Dust publishing (and as yet hasn't published The Secret Commonwealth).





China


China has had a few unique editions. I don’t have a date for the first set but I know they were published by Muse:



I like these, even with the literal compass illustration on Northern Lights. The delicate style allows for subtler intrigue, I think.


2019 saw two different new sets. Firstly these hardbacks by 麥田出版社 (Wheat Field Press):



These are perfectly pretty and look especially handsome seen on physical hardbacks, but I think their matching Book of Dust volumes improve the format, with the background images being specific illustrations rather than generic texture.



The other editions, which 文汇出版社 (Wenhui) put out the same year, are paperbacks but rather ‘prestige’ ones which have several full-colour illustrations inside as well as maps and a character sheet. These also have matching Book of Dust editions, though this version of the Secret Commonwealth has not yet come out.



The artwork takes liberty with literal detail, with Lyra riding a leopard in the second cover and a harpy in the third. There is of course no leopard in The Subtle Knife except Pantalaimon taking that form – but we see Pan in his ermine form also in the illustration.


My impression of the Chinese relationship with these books, based entirely on guesswork, is that they weren’t much regarded until the 2008 movie which did pretty well in China. Thus the reference point for the series is very The-Golden-Compass-focused and thus each cover evokes the movie poster of the little girl riding an exotic beastie.


It's also interesting and not perhaps unconnected if I'm at all right about that to see the Carnegie Medal being printed on the covers, which I don't believe I've seen since the first UK paperback of Northern Lights and I wouldn't have thought would carry so much weight outside the English-language market. Is it prioritised here to back up the movie tie with some literary bona fides? Ater all, it's printed on every cover not only Northern Lights which was the book that actually won the prize (one can see the bit of additional text on the other books above the medal presumably clarifying the point).



Interestingly, La Belle Sauvage is simply sold here as His Dark Materials 4 rather than under a new series name.



Vietnam


Some of my favourite editions of the books belong to Southeast Asia. I have had little-to-zero exposure to the book design of those regions before and the care and beauty seen in Vietnam’s and Indonesia’s editions of these books makes me keen to see more book design from those countries.


The Vietnamese editions published in 2019 by Wings Books go for a version of the careful woodcut aesthetic that has been popular.



The choice to centre each of the mystical objects which belong to the three books has been a popular one, but never done better than here, I think. I love how each background is a different elemental environment - ice, clouds and sea - each setting a different colour palette. I adore 'night mode' alethiometer. I love the sun rays on The Subtle Knife. I just love them!


The artist who created these covers is called Bảo Anh, and a little more of his other book covers as well as a glimpse into more Vietnamese book design can be seen here: https://nguvan-vn.translate.goog/nhung-hoa-si-ve-bia-sach-noi-bat-tai-viet-nam.html?_x_tr_sl=auto&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=wapp


There are also lovely Vietnamese editions of the Book of Dust books, which have their own styling but I think are by the same artist. The covers are above, followed by the slipcases that a limited run came out with:


Some details I really love are the author byline with its tallest letters extending past the bleed, and the haze of gold Dust at the top, and also how the gold lines that frame the title disappear behind elements of the illustration like the train’s steam.





Indonesia


Completely different but also very impressive are the Indonesian editions published in 2018 by Gramedia Pustaka Utama.



One could describe the style as woodcut-esque again but to me its more redolent of something like early photography or lithography.


The Northern Lights cover is so evocative of the atmosphere of mystery and even ominous horror which is such a part of the book. The framing of Lyra and Iorek as distant, ambiguous figures, semi-obscured by atmospheric interference feels inspired by the description near the beginning of the photograms Lyra sees in the Retiring Room. Like those are to her, it’s an image that is both unsettling and compelling. Once wants to know more but is a little afraid of what that might be. What a great idea for a cover image.


Indonesia also has lovely editions for The Book of Dust, which to my eyes look like maybe the same artist but working in different palettes:




South Korea


I’ve chosen to break my rule of omitting covers that reuse UK artwork and show the following South Korean editions because I think the way an East Asian publisher uses the artwork is different enough from a Western one to be worth including.




Japan


Japan has had some really nice editions - and what's more, the market often split longer books like these over two volumes, so we get twice the number of covers! As well as editions which utilise the original US artwork, we got these in 2003 from Shinchōsha:



These are ‘bunkobon’ format, meaning small (A6-sized) cheaply printed paperback books.


I like these but not as much as like the next set of editions which are in a larger, more prestigious printing. There are some nice interior touches to these, like each chapter starting with one of the symbols from the alethiometer:



There's also a more recent set of bunkobon editions which have lovely covers:



These also continue into The Book of Dust, with covers for La Belle Sauvage existing - I hope we see one (or, rather, a pair) for The Secret Commonwealth presently too.





Brazil


For our final country we hop across to Latin America and look at a set of editions that Objetiva published in Brazil in 2002:



It's a shame I can't find better images because these seem rather nice. The cover for The Subtle Knife uses the knife from the original UK edition painted by David Scutt but incoorporates it well, and the other books seem to have original depictions of their objects which I'd love to see more clearly.


More recently, the country has really lovely original editions for The Book of Dust.



I particularly like what these covers do with the text. The decorative touches to Pullman's byline are lovely.