the finished book:
Deirdre Baker has some pertinent thoughts (from "Musings on Diverse Worlds," Horn Book Magazine, January/February 2007):
In some cases, where the politics of inclusivity is not in the foreground of the story, the racial attributes of nonwhite heroes are rendered virtually invisible. Both Ged of Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea series and Eugenides of Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief and sequels are described explicitly as "dark-skinned." Indeed, in conversation Turner has said that the images in her head of the Eddisians were "deeply influenced by the people of the Himalayas." But the brown skins of Ged and of Eugenides are downplayed by the books' current cover art, which shows Ged to be as bronzed as a white surfer (The Tombs of Atuan, 2001 edition) and Eugenides to have a noticeably pink and white complexion (The King of Attolia, 2006). While the texts give nonwhite readers the opportunity to see themselves reflected in these heroes, the cover art is telling them something else.
I'm glad this cover art changed its mind!