Maps in Fantasy

ABatch

Ran bridges next to Kaladin
#1
I'm conflicted. As a life-long D & D player (basically since its inception) and Tolkien fan, I have always enjoyed maps and actually make a pretty mean one, myself. However, when I started reading Malazan, years and years ago, I noticed some of the books (though not all) did not have especially meaningful maps. And then I thought of my favorite author, Shakespeare. I've never needed a map to enjoy the action in Illyria (Twelfth Night), or Bohemia (Winter's Tale). In my first series, I have opted not to include maps. There's also a story-based reason for not having a map. But I'm wondering how you all feel.
 

Griffin

Journeyed there and back again
#2
I for one like maps. Certainly when there's a lot of traveling in the story, more so if the route is chaotic. It's not as necessary when the traveling is fairly straightforward. Nonetheless, I never mind maps, they are always fun to look at.

On the point of your books, I didn't find them especially necessary. Everything was sketched out nicely and the traveling part was never an important roll.
 

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#5
I love maps. Maps were the main reason I refused to read fantasy books on my kindle for so long, because they're small and not good to look at. Now I just print them out and keep copies tucked in my kindle cover. So yeah, they definitely add to the reading experience in my opinion. I love maps.
:)
 

Sneaky Burrito

Crazy Cat Lady
Staff member
#6
I don't look at them or refer to maps at all when I am reading.
 

Amaryllis

Journeyed there and back again
#7
Depends on the quality of the map. If it looks like something somebody shat out in an hour, I probably don't like it. If it seems to have nothing to do with the story, or is utterly unhelpful in finding story locations (arguably the entire point of having it), I don't see the point of it. I think ASoIaF has good ones, but ASoIaF also revolves heavily around major locations that are easy to find, and even tiny, obscure locations are based on their proximity to recognizable things. A map which lists 'Donegal's Hamlet' (population: 87), but seems to have no major cities not visited in the story, including those that might be NAMED in the story, I get frustrated. If the map appears to contradict descriptions in the story (Soldier Son by Robin Hobb had this problem, as far as I read), I stop looking at it.

I love maps. I save stuff like this in my pictures just to admire them. But if they add no narrative clarity, I don't think they are indispensable, and may even be annoying.
 

Shorty

Philosophizes with Kellhus
#9
Like them a lot. Especially if you have different partys at different locations (for example dagger and Coin) or develpment in the world (for example codex alera) they are very helpful for me.
 

GreyMouser

Journeyed there and back again
#11
Am I misremembering, or does the Elric Saga not have maps?
I'm pretty darn sure the Elric saga didn't have maps.

Although I don't believe they are necesary, I got started in fantasy with Robert E. Howard's Conan books and loved his Hyborian Age maps.
 

Cyphon

Journeyed there and back again
#13
I rarely ever look at maps or consider them. Sometimes I will check them out if there is something specifically intriguing about them but normally they might as well not exist for as much as I pay attention to them. That isn't a knock on maps, I have just never had any interest in studying routes of characters and what not.
 

Danica

Queen of the boards!
Staff member
#14
I love maps. Maps were the main reason I refused to read fantasy books on my kindle for so long, because they're small and not good to look at. Now I just print them out and keep copies tucked in my kindle cover. So yeah, they definitely add to the reading experience in my opinion. I love maps.
YOU.ARE.SUCH.A.NERD, in a great way.

I never use maps, I barely even glance at them
 

Danica

Queen of the boards!
Staff member
#16
I already decided to print all the maps of mazalan once I pick the series back up
How often do you think you will refer to them?
@TomTB how often do you actually look at them?

I find going back to the front to look at a map makes me lose the immersion in the book
 

TomTB

Super Moderator
Staff member
#18
I refer to them quite a lot actually, especially when I start with a new series, progressively less so as I get towards the end. I just like to know where places are in relation to each other, and it helps me to remember other elements of stories too (my memory is shit, I need all the help I can get!), for example, where characters are from, their relationship to other characters etc.
 

paul james

Mixes poisons and sharpens knives with Kylar
#19
I love maps and refer to them a lot whilst reading. Loved the character list at the beginning of Gardens of The Moon and referred to this a lot.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#20
I created a thread about this last summer, which can be read here.

In summary:

I freaking love maps. I look at them all the time, especially in books where geographical locations and the relationship between certain locations are very important. This is the case in all epic fantasy, what with battles, sieges etc going on all the time. If a book doesn't have a map I look it up on the internet (most series have maps available on the web).

If a book/series that highly leans on the reader having to know the geographical location doesn't contain a map, it significantly lowers my esteem of the book/series or I will stop reading it altogether.