Fantasy Maps

Dr Perdita Phillips, who is a professional artist, pointed my way to the book below, which refers to one of my fantasy worlds, and the maps that Perdy did for the Isles of Glory trilogy. (She does all my maps.)

The book is:
Here Be Dragons
by Stefan Ekman

The back blurb says he “provides in-depth discussions of fantasy maps and how to read them” and “shows how fantasy settings deserve serious attention from both readers and critics”.
 The Isles of Glory map is reproduced in his book as an example of something which is not all that common in fantasy mapmaking. In most fantasy books with maps, there is no unknown world to discover beyond the edges of the map. Sometimes there is only water; at other times the secondary world beyond the edges of the map is simply unknown and unexplored. What Ekman found interesting about the Isles of Glory is that the world beyond the Isles is actually the known world, while the Isles are the newly discovered world. The map makes this quite clear. 
Ekman is intrigued by the idea that “Known and unknown are turned around here, the well-known residing off the map. Wherever the political, financial, and cultural centres are to be found in this secondary world, they belong in the regions beyond the map’s margin – the Isles of Glory, in the middle of the map, are part of the world’s periphery.” 

It’s an interesting book, and an easy read. It’s also loaded with lots of examples. How common is it for fantasy novels to contain at least one map? Of the 200 novels in his sample, 34% contained one or more maps, the incidence being more than double that number if the world portrayed was not the one of the writer and reader, but of a world that we would not recognise — what he calls a secondary world.

The book is published by Wesleyan University Press ISBN 978-0-8195-7323-0

And here’s today’s totally unrelated photos, from the “primary world”:

Where our daily walk took us on Friday
The view from our front windows this morning


Fantasy Maps — 2 Comments

  1. I don't remember the map in Isles of Glory, it's a while back since I read it. One of these days I will buy the books, have all your others. I love the map in Havenstar, studied it quite a lot. Same with the Watergivers and the Mirage Makers. I used to draw maps as a youngster, it was fun to do.

    Particularly love the rainbow.

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