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Thread: Maps in books (and author worldbuilding skills)

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  1. #1
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    Question Maps in books (and author worldbuilding skills)

    Surely many of us are also fantasy readers (an assumption, sure, but I bet it is a fairly good one).

    What author presents the best maps in his books?

    Who does the best job of world building, creating a vibrant, interesting, and fully realized world?

    As to maps, most maps in books need to be simple due to limitations on the size and (often) black and white nature of book maps. I always liked David Eddings maps, simple, but often with a more detailed snippet at the start of a chapter. Raymond Feist books present clean and effective maps, as do Robert Jordan's and George RR Martin. I could go on, but maybe later...

    As for actual world building, I have to give the hat tip to Robert Jordan. Love him or hate him, he has clearly created a world with well defined cultures, politics, demographics, etc. I suppose have a dozen 700 page books to work with does not hurt!

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    It's been a while since I picked up the books so I can't comment on the maps but I'd definitely say that George RR Martin has my vote for world building. As for maps, I always had a soft spot for Earthsea - so many islands....

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    Quote Originally Posted by torstan View Post
    It's been a while since I picked up the books so I can't comment on the maps but I'd definitely say that George RR Martin has my vote for world building. As for maps, I always had a soft spot for Earthsea - so many islands....
    Hmm... I've always seen Martin as more of a character writer, the cultures of the world and its geography seem to be left rather vague. Also, he has issues with his maps and what is in the books. Example, there is a statement about being 10,000 leagues from the wall at one point. 30,000 miles? Small nit, but George seems to struggle with determining the size of things and consistency.
    More than makes up for this with his amazing characterization, great plot, and solid writing skills though!

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    Fair enough. I haven't read them for a while so I'm only going on a 4 year old impression. I have a clear mental image of his world, which doesn't necessarily equate to clear world building skills. Perhaps it was due to the vagueness you mention - it allows the reader to extrapolate the details?

    Another nice example of providing a clear concept of a world is Guy Gavriel Kay in A Song for Arbonne. He did a good job of giving his world (just 4 nations) a clear character and a sense of reality. Again, I can't say anything about the actual accuracy of his world, but it gave the impression of being real and detailed.

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    Believe me, I'm not knocking Martin, or dismissing your thought. I think Martin has ended up with a world that we do fill in a lot of details ourselves, making it very rich. I also think his exceptional characterization gives us some ability to make determinations about culture and peoples. So we do find ourselves with a feeling of a fairly well realized world.
    Some authors just 'get there' and others really seem to work at it. Worse yet are those that mistake world building for story telling!

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    Though I don't particularly like the books or his writing style, Terry Brooks (Shannara stuff) has some really nice maps in his books. Robert Jordan's are neat, too, but with such a large world, I could use smaller detailed maps over large world maps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richardb View Post
    Believe me, I'm not knocking Martin, or dismissing your thought. I think Martin has ended up with a world that we do fill in a lot of details ourselves, making it very rich. I also think his exceptional characterization gives us some ability to make determinations about culture and peoples. So we do find ourselves with a feeling of a fairly well realized world.
    Some authors just 'get there' and others really seem to work at it. Worse yet are those that mistake world building for story telling!
    Martin's maps certainly leave something to be desired. I'm actually considering doing my own version of the map of Westeros at some point. However I feel his world building is amazing for what it says and clever for what it leaves up to the reader. We have Westeros, which has a rich history and well developed culture and then the mysterious free cities that he slowly reveals through Daenerys (and later, Arya). The Dothraki and other cultures across the narrow sea are exotic and yet realistic without seeming to just be a real-world ripoff like Jordan tends towards. I'm a verifiable Martin fanboy though, so don't mind me. =)

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    If you look at the post dates - this is a really old thread. I haven't seen RichardB in the guild since that time. Most likely the site that was posted at is long gone. I don't think we can help you.

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    Still around... just not checking in much. Still mapping - getting better all the time!

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    Good to see you RichardB - hows CC3 mapping going for you, or are you still using CC2?
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