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I was just wondering if anyone else enjoys looking at the maps that are frequently included with fantasy novels? When I start a new novel, I take the time to look at the map in the front and really pay attention to the layout of the lands, waterways, oceans, borders of countries, major roads, etc. Some of these maps are beautifully drawn...and others seem to be hastily done. Also, as I'm reading the novel and come across geographic entries in the text, I immediately flip back to the map so I can get a better mental picture of where that particular scene is taking place. Anyone else out there do the same?
I do. I sometimes feel it brings an extra dimension to the stories. Even though I do have an imagination and can "imagine" the lands described, I still like flipping back and forth, to follow the progress of the characters.
Depends on the type of story. An epic tale of wars between huge armies, like Lord of the Rings, benefits greatly from a quality map. A more character-driven story doesn't necessarily need one.
I'm currently finishing up Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy, and the included map is both terrible and completely unnecessary. I'm sure it was thrown in as an afterthought by the publisher, as I find it hard to believe that an author who spent all that time crafting a world would include such a half-assed, incomplete map.
I always spend a disproportionate amount of time studying maps in books that provide them. As a kid, I would spend weeks at a time studying atlases, and maps in encyclopedias; and if I had the necessary fine-motor-control, I might still be doing cartography today. Regardless, I'll still pull out a topographic map every now and then, and if it's an area I've been in before, I can remember exactly how the place looked because I can visualize the terrain by the clues on the map.
My second-favorite author is Stephen R. Donaldson, who wrote (and is still writing) The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. I've got the maps permanently etched into my brain.
A couple of years ago, MrsHouseLibrary was in a quandary as to what to get me for my birthday. It was obviously going to be a book, but it was more a question of what ~kind~ of a book. She serendipitously found what she was looking for about ten seconds into her search, not having even considered that a book like this might exist -- http://www.librarything.com/work/2615406 -- The Atlas of the Land. The author has done this with at least four other epic fantasy series.
*Nuts! I can find and select the correct touchstone reference, but after hitting the Submit button, the touchstone disappears, so I've added the work reference/pointer thing.
Yeah, I love maps. Like the OP, I jump to the maps first to get a fix on the geography first, then find myself constantly flipping back to the maps as I read.
My all-time favorite map is the big fold-out one in the Lord of the Rings hardback publications...or at least it used to be included in there - not so sure about the current LOTR formats. I recall spending hours as a teen studying that map, tracing the paths of the characters...and wondering about the lands off to the east, beyond the map.
Yes, I love the maps. My windows desktop background is a map of Hyboria.
I'll be the dissenting voice and say no. I think they're boring, pointless, and almost never look like any kind of real map.
They only include things that are important to the story, which is ridiculous since I'm sure the fantasy world has places that aren't involved in the story. The geography frequently makes no sense - it's just where the author wants stuff to be, not where it would make geological sense if it were real.
I'm sure everyone wants to jump to the defense of their favorite book-map and say "but this one does x, y and z right!" but come on. Just because two or three of them are almost like actual maps, that doesn't make the rest of them any less ridiculous.
I don't base any judgment on a book on whether or not it has a map. I've heard people say that they never read a fantasy book that includes a map, I've also heard people say that they only read fantasy books that include maps. (No, seriously. I've really heard that.) Both views seem unnecessarily rigid to me and a good way to miss out on lots of worthwhile books. I just ignore maps. If it's a supplement to people who like that sort of thing, that's fine, but if the story requires it, then it wasn't a well-written story.
I'm going to try this post again - I got cut out from my internet the last time and I was really thinking good too!! This should be a "rats" post.
I love maps, I always use maps to follow characters around whether fiction or non-fiction. I have a basket of maps upon which I sat a fat white stuff bear wearing a blue satin hat with flowers on it and that's my mother, who gave me the world.
I find wondering if I'm seeing the right things in my mind to be very distracting while I'm reading so I also study the covers of books if I think they are representative of the story. For this reason I also like it when pronunciations are available for names.
Gee I sure hope this one works.
I like maps, too! Especially for epic fantasy. One of my friends refuses to read fantasy without a map. She doesn't think the author can have done a very good job of developing a whole world without making a map :-)
Very much depends on the story.
If our heros spend much of their time on a Grand Trek, or if the party gets split up between a few locationsn, then it's sometimes useful to have map to keep track of where every one is - I certainly don't bother to try and remember place names. But for many stories, especially where locations aren't revisited, maps arent necessary and I hardly look at them.
that said - I buy paperbacks, and a map there is usually just a blurred black mess, with unreadable names. And as bluesalamanders says in #8, often they aren't very good anyway.
Only some very exceptional stories actually have a functioning world, that hasn't been built around the heros, with incidental history and an econmy that you can imagine working for more that a year or two. I get especially peeved by maps that don't even show the rest of the continent, as if a tiny country exists independantly of everything happening around it.
But some are great.
I never ever look at them. For some reason, I just bypass the maps and get on with the story.
I think maps are necessary in many stories. Providing scale.
The First Law series is in dire need of a map. I am so lost not only with the many character viewpoints, but also with the size of this empire and the many enemies.
I usually prefer a map. However, I find maps of cities totally useless, as it does not portray size vs distance very well and most of the city is blacked-out in any case. I like to formulate my own mental picture of what the city looks like based on the description of the author.
I usually ignore maps. I don't have any rules about reading or not reading books that have them, but I do tend to get bored with stories that feature lengthy treks from place to place, so I might be a bit biased toward the no-map side.
At least half of the novels I read have maps (and some of the rest I wish did).
While I can see some of them not being useful, there are others which are works of art (not being useful, the first example that comes to mind is By Heresies Distressed by David Weber. I can't find a single place in the story In terms of works of art, the map in Storm Breaking is spectacularly done).
Overall, I like having them there, even if I don't use them for a lot of detail.
I do look at them, but I think the only ones I ever spent much time really poring over were the maps in the Earthsea books (all those islands!!) and the maps in the Shannara books--because I was trying to figure out where in our world the places corresponded to, seeing as how the conceit of the Shannara books is that they are set in on our planet, but eons after our own time.
But really, I usually glance over them, orient myself generally, and then hardly ever look back at them.
I've actually been making a conscious effort to look at maps more lately. I think part of the reason that I tend to ignore them is that I am terrible about geography in general - I have no spatial reasoning skills, so I never really know where I am or what is north or how to get somewhere I want to be - I just really can't picture directions in my head. For years, I was the same way with fantasy books, but lately I've been trying to get better at it. It's easier with things like Tamora Pierce books; I've been reading things set in Tortall for over a decade, so I've glanced at the maps over and over again, and my sense of place has developed slowly and naturally.
While I don't avoid fantasy books without maps, I do certainly prefer them. I am somewhat of a geography nut (I own several atlases that I actually enjoy "reading" from time to time) so I guess that explains a lot of my personal preference, but I still believe maps help a reader to better visualize the world that the author has created in his/her own mind.
With that said - George RR Martin's map of Westeros and city map of King's Landing are my favorite (and most helpful!) maps that I've yet encountered. Check out a copy of A Game of Thrones.
I thought that as the tale ventured out into the land between the wall and the capital, where a great deal of the story of A Game of Thrones takes place, that the map was rather nonspecific. I guess I'll have to get it out again and look
I'm weighing in on the love maps trend as well. Also love casts of characters - especially if there are a heap of them - am inclined to forget who is who and how they are connected.
I don't consult them as much now - nearly ignored the ones for the Mistborn trilogy entirely - but I've often felt they provided something tangible that makes the imagined world more real.
I would have liked to see one for the Mordant's Need duology, and Prydain. When geography's frequently mentioned, maps save me the trouble of trying to orient it all so I can just get on with the story.
I like maps - they help me figure out how away things are and mainly allows me not to remember explanations about what is where exactly - it's definitely easier to look at a map than to remember that 300 pages earlier there was a note explaining that city X is between the cities Y and Z (and sometimes this small fact is important for the story).
24> I would have liked to see one for the Mordant's Need duology
Yes, that drove me crazy! All the talk about which Care bordered which, and the travelling through them, but never a visual to nail it down for you. In an email to Donaldson, I (playfully) accused him of toying with the reader by omitting a tangible map while giving so many geographic hints that readers would be flipping to the start of the book looking for the map they overlooked. He replied that he actually had a sketchy map for his own use, but nothing suitable for actual publication.
Seems like most of my favorite books have maps. My favorite genres; fantasy, historical fiction, and history all seem to lend themselves to a good map. I enjoy following along by flipping back and forth, but what's even better is if I can find a jpg online that I can print out. That alleviates the flipping problem!
I'm a visual-spatial learner, so definitely like decent maps! Many fantasies I can read without them, but when there is a body of work relating to a whole series of ethnicities, as in Wrede's Lyra series, having a map is a big help to understanding the interrelationships among them. I don't think she had the map prior to The Raven Ring, but it certainly helped then. Wizard's Shadow by Susan Dexter is another book that related back to former books and involved a lot of travel which benefitted from a map. And of course, regardless of what you think of the books, The Belgariad was enriched greatly by the use of maps.
I usually glance at the map before i start the book but unless the story is confusing I never go backa nd look at them after that.
Okay, I admit it, I'm a lover of maps and atlases, and (irrespective of genre) I regularly refer back to any map accompanying a book I am reading. At times I even print out copies of such maps to make referring to them easier while reading.
Of course, referring to such maps has it's frustrations, some of my pet hates being:
* badly-printed and/or barely legible maps - such as when a map originally planned for a hardback edition is reduced too far in size for a paperback edition.
* maps with most of the place-names missing.
* poor-quality maps in otherwise great books.
* great maps in pathetic books.
* inadequate, even lousy naming skills for fantasy realms.
Sometimes, too, a total non-artist, non-cartographer like me feels compelled to scrawl his own sketchmap to make it easier to follow the action.
Does anyone else here also have a fascination with the plans of buildings etc, from Robinson Crusoe's cave to the several floors of a mage's tower?
Most definately - especially when there is a quest involved (which there so often is). I really find a map helps to give you a spatial sense of the progress in the story.Connects you somehow.
In that case, we definitely need a place in which to put up our favourite maps/plans associated with invented places, or, failing that, links thereto....
Can see several snarly problems:
1) To be of wide interest and use, such a resource should, ideally, not be restricted solely to the FANTASY genre, so where do we put it?;
2) Before launching such a thread/board here, it would be best for us to seek the advice of a librarian with a law degree, specialising in copyright issues, otherwise it could be unsafe to venture beyond member-drawn maps/plans or just listing published texts containing maps/plans....;
3) What is the best way in which to formally acknowledge the artist by properly attributing any item?
Okay, who do we contact here for advice on this?
‘Aurélien Arkadiusz’*Draping a cold, wet towel over aching brows* makes a fast exit from the scene......
If it's created or published after 1923, you can generally consider it hands-off - it's copyrighted.
What has always especially bugged me is that when works in the public domain are reprinted the publishers claim a degree of copyright protection....and I'm not talking about the copyright they have of new elements such as scholarly introductions.
Would anyone here take the view that uploading a single map from a fantasy book to the web, and posting a link to it on this thread would constitute an actionable breach of copyright?
# 37 I would say thats a breach of copyright, but then I'm not a lawyer. However -
http://www.ursulakleguin.com/EarthseaMaps/index.html (Le Guin)
http://www.wotmud.org/directory/maps.php (R. Jordan)
http://www.pvv.ntnu.no/~madsb/home/read/asoiaf/maps/ (GRR Martin)
http://www.narniaweb.com/news.asp?id=258 (CS Lewis)
Here are links to maps of some of the most famous worlds of fantasy. The only one I looked for and didn't see straight away was Lackey's Valdemar.
@ #37: Yeah, I'd say that scanning and posting maps would pretty much constitute copyright breach.
#37 - actionable? well maybe not. But it's definetly a technical breach.
However as #38 does, linking to existing sites especially when they're the authors is fine.
Janny Wurts' Athera
Thanks for the weblinks, Musereader.
Sad if we can't go a step further and upload here a single map from each of a range of fantasy books. One would think that, so long as such maps were correctly attributed, the publicity would be welcome.
I am not enthused about going through the confusing and lengthy process of applying for written permission from a publisher or other copyright holder.
Ah well, there's always member-drawn maps.
#42 Thanks, NightHawk, as they say,"All contributions gratefully received".
One of the first pieces of advice that David Eddings gives to aspiring fantasy writers in his book The Rivan Codex is to draw the world's map BEFORE starting to write the story. He points out that any geographical discrepancies will be noted numerous times by avid readers, and that having a map beforehand helps keep you from writing this type of mistake into your manuscript. Given this take on fantasy maps, one might even consider the map to be a sort of 'Works Cited' or 'Bibliography' section, showing that the author has done his/her legwork. This fits in well with BlueSalamander's earlier assertion that they're boring -- after all, who wants to look at reference materials (except for those who need that reference)?
In my current fantasy series The Laurian Pentology, I found a map downright essential to keeping characters and plot in line. The three middle books of this particular series are synoptic but are told from the viewpoints of characters spread out over three continents, and making sure that everyone could be where they were supposed to be in relation to everyone else at the correct times was quite a task! I decided to put the map into the first book, Ending an Ending: First Book of the Laurian Pentology for those individuals who need such references to help them keep the story straight.
...and for those of you mapaholics, here's a link to a small version of the Laurian Pentology's world map. #37, AurelArkad, you may look at it with my blessings and no fear of copyright infringement whatsoever: Laurian Pentology Map
That piece of advice goes with what I've read about Tolkien and the maps/dates/moon issues he had when writing the Lord of the Rings.
Also on her blog, Elizabeth Moon has made similar comments about the writing of her newest book to come.
I don't think that it is just an observant reader pulling things apart, but having gone to a map which the author does not reference correctly, I flip back and forth many times trying to make heads or tails out of what the writer was trying to convey. If they aren't sure, how can we follow along?
I LOVE maps, when i was yuong i copied every fantasymap the books I read contained, enlaged them, and put colurs and the apropiate little pictures of forest and mountains, and seamonsters and dragons on them.
i have this problem, I don't really understand distances, so if i dont have a map, I end up thinking something like: why are they going east, well I guess the world is round, but but going west would only be a couple of miles. so if there isn't a map i often make one as i read, and i have found mistakes in a few stories, so authers should make maps, just so they know where they actually are in their own world.
>19 & 20 I didn't pay much attention to the maps in Game of Thrones until further along in the whole Song of Ice and Fire series. When people really start moving around, fighting and fleeing, trying to get from place to place, defending holdfasts are getting stuck in the middle of the Dothraki sea, it helps to get some perspective. So, it was great to have it to refer back to. The Wall is a really, really long way from everywhere. I wouldn't want to be there, nope not me, not for all the direwolves in Winterfell.
Clearly there's a tendency for those who love maps, independently of reading, to love them in fantasy.
But also it helps us to follow the worldbuilding and become immersed in it (in SF as well as fantasy).
It IS annoying when they have flaws. Even the much-loved Middle Earth maps in LOTR (I speak as a lifelong Tolkien fan) have implausible aspects. They seem to have started a tendency in many fantasy maps of having mountain ranges which conveniently outline kingdoms, rather than following any geographical rules.
I agree with Aurelien that building plans can also be fascinating (though maybe sometimes impossible; who can imagine a map of Ghormenghast?).
That gets back to the worldbuilding. I enjoy all kinds of graphic supports -- tables, for instance.
Speaking of graphic information, what about the SF flowchart by Ward Shelley that was cited on one of these lists:
The History of Science Fiction.
I didn't find a fantasy one on his site, but that kind of thing would be fun.
I love maps, both in fantasy and other genres. I also collect maps of countries.
My problem with a lot of fantasy maps is a) The quality and small size of production b) The places I'm looking for are always missing c) Nearly every country appears to be Wales in disguise d) Some world builders have a tendency to ignore the rules of geology and end up with rivers running the wrong way, etc. I have the feeling that "watershed" is a word missing from their vocabulary. Perhaps I should never have taken A level Geography some fifty years ago!
The right way for a river to run is right only in our reality - with differently set Sun orbit, Earth orbit, poles and what's not, they can change. :) I usually will not in passing that this is weird but if it is so in this world, then it is the case.
>50 Their small size, and the failure of rather too many maps in fantasy books to show the location of 4 out of the first 5 places mentioned in the text bug me too, Cimorene. A pity that more fantasy writers and their fans don't host webpages of detailed maps to accompany certain books.
Geography and maps are an interest of mine - NZ is a great place in which to study the basics of geomorphology - but I didn't take these subjects past upper 6th Form level.
Deserts and swamps lying alongside one another on fantasy and sci-fi maps do bug me a little.
Absolutely. Whenever I read a "secondary world" fantasy novel that doesn't include a map, I'm always disoriented and confused. At least *sometimes* this kind of disorientation is exhilarating. But there's something about gazing on those maps that is stirring. Like a lot of fantasy fans, I played Dungeons and Dragons . I remember staring at the maps from that game and just allowing my imagination to run wild. It's nerdy, but I've drawn a few fantasy maps myself.
I could generally care less about the maps. I'll look at them but I rarely, if ever, find it necessary to go back to them. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't even notice if they weren't there.
>53 & > 54
One is either a map person, or one is not. No shame in either case, and no need for we true fantasists to apologise for our habit of drawing maps, whether to accompany books we read, or entirely from our own imagination.
Ditto plans of buildings, etc.
I don't generally look at the map, but in some cases, the book gets too confusing and you need to get back to the map to understand what's happening. That I don't like, I feel a book should be clear enough to be understandable without a map...
I love maps in general and I rarely like maps in genre novels. If they are done properly, they take something from the fun in figuring out where is something or how away it is. If not done properly, they stick in my mind and when they contradict the text, I get... unhappy (I am a visual person - the best avenue for me to learn something is to see it -- one of the reasons I do not like to watch movies a lot -- there is no way to make my imagination work if there is a picture that comes back every time I think of a name/place/action).
Which does not mean that I do not make mental maps of any novel I read (sf/fantasy or not) -- and if sometimes the book is unclear without a map -- how is this different from reading a book about England and France and talking about the Channel - anyone knows what and where it is because it is our world; in a different world people would know where the Big South Sea is (for example). Although there are subtle ways to put it in words -- and from different clues to figure it out. :)
Steven Erikson's Malazan series (beginning with Gardens of the Moon) is in sore need of an atlas that brings all the continents together in relation to one another. You have to do serious research on the Internet to have any real clue, and even the best sources I've found admit they're merely guessing at most of it.
But isn't it the charm in the whole thing? Anyone having their own ideas where something is :)
The Malazan series has so many mysteries that are a lot of fun to piece together as you read; where the different maps/continents lie in relation to each other is just another one.
I have read all Terry Pratchett's Discworld series and he has printed separate maps for each section on Discworld which I would love to get framed for my walls :) so I love the maps to!
>62: One of my friends does have a couple of the Discworld maps on his wall!
I love looking at good maps, but their presence or absence is never part of my decision whether to read/buy a book. Some maps are so poor that I wonder why they are even there - for example, the one in Name of the Wind is pretty superfluous. (Maybe it will be more useful in the later books, but I doubt it.)
We've been treated to a number of different reader reactions to maps - or their lack - in fantasy books. Now let us consider the argument that every fantasy writer must, at the very least, draw his/her own maps of their invented world. Even a writer who feels that anything as prosaic as a map will choke off their creative flow should have some way of keeping his/her geography straight as their characters move across the landscape.
We readers cannot turn to a real-world atlas to check out the layout of mythical realms and regions.
Would anyone here like to share examples of fantasy authors whose books failed to keep the geographical layout of events straight?
I *LOVE* maps. When I was a child I spent a long time drawing maps and creating fantasy lands. :o)
I love books that have detailed maps, and like you I spend a long time analyzing these maps and learning them, until I feel part of the land. My greatest disappointment is when an author creates a nice 'world' and never really uses it or makes it 'alive' - it's simply a 'background information'. It has no personality or culture of its own. *sigh*
I love the Middle Earth map and the maps of the Black Trillium series. I will read a book without maps, but I think they are an enjoyable part of the experience. I wish that Dune had a more detailed and fancy map!
@ ‘Aurélien Arkadiusz’: Hum... yes. The Darkover series by Marion Zimmer Bradley has this problem sometimes. Marion never created a map herself, and said a real map could only be done when the series was complete. Now she's *ded*, the series was never quite completed and the messy became messier specially when other authors contributed. Look at Darkover maps and you'll see they all disagree - and none of them are official.
AUTHORS: Map first, please. Thank you.
The second time I read a book (if I like it) I'll compare the story to the map to see if they were accurate in their travels. Star Wars has been the greatest offender.
#66 Rozax, I always got the impression that the Star Wars had a lot of meddling in it. I mean, too many people writing so the universe is no longer very coherent. :/
Are there official maps for the Star Wars books?
I don't know of anything official, and I can't say I'd trust an official map very much. Where would they get their sources? I remember having a map on the inside of every copy of The New Jedi Order, though.
@66-68: About a year ago, Tor.com did an informative post regarding maps of the SW galaxy.
The map doesn't really explain why they'd land on Tatooine in The Phantom Menace if they were on their way to Coruscant. Seems a little out of the way.
Don't mind me, though. I'm just a jaded Star Wars fangirl.
Warps in space so when you are flying, you do not actually use the direct path?
That's kinda what they used to retcon Han's line in the first Star Wars when he said that the Millenium Falcon "made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs". A parsec is a unit of distance (as is a lightyear), so whoever retcon'd it was helping the original writer save face.
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