Maps in Fantasy

MattKnott

Knows the real name of Lower Corte
#21
I love maps.

I spend ages poring over them and wondering what's happening in the woods or mountains. They're not necessary, but they're a part of the long term experience with a series in my view. ASoIaF has one of the best for that kind of wowza moment.

You don't need them at all. They just enrich the experience and build on the imagination for readers.

I've actually had Photoshop for a few months now and have been playing around. I managed to follow a tutorial to sketch some pretty nice mountains but I'm no cartographer.
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#22
OK, how I got started using maps so much. It was a dark and stormy night and I was reading WOT and the maps are absolutely required to keep the story straight IMO. I mean I pored over that map and I still have it clear in my memory banks.
 

Haven

Became a Faceless Man
#23
Ebooks need to have a better way of presenting maps, because the way they are right now, they do absolutely nothing to help

That is all.
 

Danica

Queen of the boards!
Staff member
#24
I think if you're an author. Spend time on a good map and put it in. It can't HURT (unless it's crap) and people who don't use it (like me) don't care if it's in there. People who do use it, care when it's not.

It's pretty clear to me!
 

atheling

A Poet of the Khaiem
#26
I love maps. I hardly ever look at them in fantasy novels. They are wonderful, and almost always totally unnecessary
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
#27
I love maps. I think its highly useful to know how far away different locations in the story are from each other and where things are located in relation to one another.
 

Kalavan

Journeyed there and back again
#29
OK, how I got started using maps so much. It was a dark and stormy night and I was reading WOT and the maps are absolutely required to keep the story straight IMO. I mean I pored over that map and I still have it clear in my memory banks.
I concur, while I was reading WOT I even had a map of the Westlands as wallpaper for my laptop.

Anyway, I agree with many of you, maps for me are a nice plus, but they are rarely necessary. But if they are present, they must be accurate, few things irk me as much as an army marching south, towards a destination that on the map is definitely not south of the starting point
 

wakarimasen

Journeyed there and back again
#30
I like maps. Occasionally i check them out in fantasy novels. They're an integral part of understanding Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire setting for instance.
A lot of the time they show up how cliched a novel is before you start... Oh look - mountains to the north, desert to the south, vast ocean to the west, interminable plains to the east. Yawn.

They aren't needed, and it gets dull if you just do them for the sake of it, but they can be a great addition to the lore.

Side note - about to draw a map for my own WIP because I need to work out consistent travel distances between locations.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#31
I like maps. Occasionally i check them out in fantasy novels. They're an integral part of understanding Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire setting for instance.
A lot of the time they show up how cliched a novel is before you start... Oh look - mountains to the north, desert to the south, vast ocean to the west, interminable plains to the east. Yawn.

They aren't needed, and it gets dull if you just do them for the sake of it, but they can be a great addition to the lore.

Side note - about to draw a map for my own WIP because I need to work out consistent travel distances between locations.
Be sure to put a desert in the North, mountains to the south, some interminable plains to the west and an Ocean to the east.
 

YordanZh

A Poet of the Khaiem
#33
Be sure to put a desert in the North, mountains to the south, some interminable plains to the west and an Ocean to the east.
You're joking but that's a valid concern. :p When I was first drawing the map for my world several years ago I kept changing the order of the continents for months. And no - "some interminable plains to the west and an Ocean to the east, etc" doesn't work either, because then it's obviously the exact opposite of the cliché, so it's a cliché again - "Oh, look, he's put the grass plains to the west, how original." :D
Building your world to avoid resemblance to other worlds is a pain! ;)
 
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Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#34
You're joking but that's a valid concern. :p When I was first drawing the map for my world several years ago I kept changing the order of the continents for months. And no - "some interminable plains to the west and an Ocean to the east, etc" doesn't work either, because then it's obviously the exact opposite of the cliché, so it's a cliché again - "Oh, look, he's put the grass plains to the west, how original." :D
Building your world to avoid resemblance to other words is a pain! ;)
I thought the First Law world map was quite cool, with continents arranged in a circle. The Malazan map is also amazing, but that it mainly due to the fact that there are just so many vast continents there. Erikson can just experiment anew with each new continent that is introduced. Also, the continents in Malazan are subject to change, as the time-span is so mind-bogglingly big.

I know what you mean with cliché-maps though. The ones in LotR and WoT are very cliché (with the evil empire conveniently closed off by mountain ranges for example).

@Anti_Quated has some nice maps on his website to accompany his Anaimon novels. might be worth having a look if you need inspiration (I'm at work, so I don't have the link to the site here, but perhaps Anti can provide you with it).
 

YordanZh

A Poet of the Khaiem
#35
I know what you mean with cliché-maps though. The ones in LotR and WoT are very cliché (with the evil empire conveniently closed off by mountain ranges for example).
Yep, they and many others. ASoIaF has a very clichéd world as well, even if we ignore the fact that a large portion of it is a copy/paste of Britain. :p
We have to at least forgive LotR, since back then it wasn't a cliché yet, but newer authors - there's no excuse, unless they are going for a meta-look at the genre.
 

Khartun

Journeyed there and back again
#36
Count me as one that loves maps!

I will search the internet for maps if the one(s) that are provided suck.
Same here. Malazan is a great example. The maps with it are pretty bad and I don't remember if there is an all encompassing map but I found some that fans put together online that really helped understand where are the different areas are.
 

Anti_Quated

Journeyed there and back again
#37
I love maps, even the quasi-historical ones that are blatantly incorrect or less than subtle pastiches. It's always nice to have a visuo-spatial reference point, and I find myself scanning the ephemeral, far-flung wilds and wondering what (or whom) might reside there. The limes of Rome (and the borders of any empire for that matter) are alluring, far more so for my part than the cities and 'civilised' metropolitan areas ensconced behind said walls and fortifications, so I appreciate a map that features necessities (main areas) along with the more exotic and ephemeral to tease the imagination.
For those interested I've a few on my Anaimon blog/site here - cheers @Silvion Night for the nod :)
 

moonspawn

Journeyed there and back again
#38
When writing maps for my worlds I don't even think about whether or not their cliche. I just start doodling and see what I end up with. I have mountains to the north, mountains to the south, a forest in in-between, a desert to the east and an ocean to the west.
 

Silvion Night

Sir Readalot
Staff member
#39
When writing maps for my worlds I don't even think about whether or not their cliche. I just start doodling and see what I end up with. I have mountains to the north, mountains to the south, a forest in in-between, a desert to the east and an ocean to the west.
This makes me wonder... How do maps turn cliché? Like @wakarimasen's observation (mountains to the North, ocean to the West etc)? Can it be that subconsciously the maps we draw stem from some collective memory? And I wonder, as most fantasy authors most of us here on the forum have read are from the Anglo-Saxon world, we stumble across the same clichés. Do fantasy map clichés then vary around the world (I'm not that well read so I haven't got a clue)?

Might it be that, just like the great floods that permeate the legends of many peoples, and that are thought to date back to some cataclysmic flood in proto-Sumeria, that these fantasy maps with their cliches also hail back to a certain point in our (collective) past?

Or is this just a load of hogwash and should I grab my morning coffee before I start posting on the forum?

Questions, questions....
 

wakarimasen

Journeyed there and back again
#40
Not hogwash @Silvion Night - I think we have a vary euro centric take on fantasy in general, and in that world view there IS desert in the south and an ocean to the west.
The idea of Northern barbarians is probably a hangover from every empire in Europe, it's colder in the North, people wear more furs, that marks them out and gives an excuse to label them as more animal.
Quite often there is a unknowable land far to the east, much like the orient was Roman/medieval times.

We have no way of knowing, but if fantasy was born as a genre from Australia then jungle might be to the north all the time with Desert all around and huge oceans...