Wish my eyesight was better : ) I thought it was the sea in the background! Love the lightning and the new moon and I'm looking forward to the dragon's part in the story. The shield is wonderful as is the tree.
I do not think better eyesight would have made a difference, although the pictures are very small. The background is blue, reflects the gold of the clouds and we can see streaks of earth in it, I also though it was the a large body of water like the sea. Either it is a flood or maybe it is just the ice reflecting the colours of the sky. If I had not seen the sketch I think I would have arrived at guessing it was Scarpdale only by Janny telling us which of our guesses were wrong. I would have gone through just about every slagged scarred piece of Paravia on the coast first.
Happy dance, happy dance - haven't even been lurking for ages and I drop in to find recent wonderful art and Janny has started on Destiny's Conflict. Love the pictures, so glad you did the research Annette! Though I can't see anyone crossing the river.
Thanks Janny for keeping us all interested and up to date.
I agree Annette, this reaction is much too quiet - let's drop a few random ideas in - this artwork starts so much speculation - for example, all the Havish themes.
Perhaps the tree is in the Havish King's Grove, or some other sacred tree like Thembrel's oak in Rathain (is that in the Rathain King's Grove?). Also, Asandir wakened the trees in Selkwood - perhaps this is a 'king' tree. Or perhaps it is the last of those tree which were alive when the Sorcerers sent the call to Kharadmon in Marak - and when it goes then the link to Marak will die - hence the seasons to indicate passing time - but I think that's too simple.
And why the scythe? Death? or peaceful Havish harvest symbol?
Speculation from sneak previews
Could Daliana's job be to deal with Lysaer's plans to invade Havish? For example, maybe now Arithon has finished dealing with the wraiths from Marak, so he is released into the world and the curse resurges in Lysaer. Or the religion wants to wipe Havish out and Lysaer can't stop it any more.
Though neither of these deal with a drake above scarpdale.
Any clues from Dakar's prophecies? which are left? There's the one of Arithon playing for years and years, which seems to have come to fruition in the sneak preview.
Spoiler for Stormed fortress follows
Despite the fact that what Dakar sees is not necessarily true, I'd put a lot of trust in the ones Janny captures. I'm re-reading Traitor's knot, and one of Dakar's prophecies/prescient visions there (of the death of Feylind) comes true in SF - almost word for word, just a year later.
Sorry, I meant Caithwood, not Selkwood
I would say the scythe definitely meant death was coming to Havish, we have the sunwheel helm and lance, which would seem to represent Lysaers army of fanatics. I doubt they will be showing Havish how to cut grass, it will be something else they will be trying to mow down. I have yet to work out what Janny means with all the trailing ribbons, but at least these ones are Lysaer's colours.
Now the tree was a surprise, was not expecting something like that at the start of the new arc, no it is not a real physical tree found somewhere in Paravia. Real trees do not show that many seasons at the same time. We can see summer, autumn and winter presumably spring is on the other side. We have green grass on the left, fallen leaves in front and snow on the right. It is day on one side of the tree, and night on the other with a full moon. For those thinking of moon symbols the full moon would represent the mother aspect, the new moon in the background image represents the maid, I doubt Janny chose them randomly she already threw a hint out to make us suspicious enough to look for those things. The Raven in the tree is bound to be female, and would be the one we have already seen, who I take it is something to do with mother dark. Janny never said, but I still say the bird waiting at the bottom of the tree is a black falcon (but I could be wrong, could be a different type of bird) but why he is there remains to be seen, perhaps he is after knowledge, wisdom, how everything connects, dropped off for a rest, bite to eat or maybe he just wants to ask if Raven would like to share her tree. I was hoping a few others might come up with some suspicions about that tree and what it means. Knowing Janny it could be just about anything. It seems to be an oak tree, if that is any help.
The figure in the water in the background image is behind the icon in the final cover, so we will not see what it is anyway. But that is the part of the river to look at for those who want to take a guess.