Thursday, January 7, 2016

More Worlds Fantastic and Strange

A few years ago I wrote a piece titled Worlds Fantastic and Strange fantasy maps. Just this past Tuesday, I wrote a sequel over at Black Gate called Guides to Worlds Fantastic and Strange with more ruminations on maps at the front of fantasy books. 

The thing about maps and fantasy is there's an endless supply of them, at least it seems that way. So, here's a bunch of especially good ones.


P.C. Hodgell's maps of Rathilien. Hodgell's an artist from a family of artists. Her maps are clean and elegant, with attractive fonts for the titles. There are also detailed 3-d style maps of various buildings in many of the books as well. Good stuff. 


Pauline Baynes, illustrator of the Narnia books, also ended up doing artwork for several of Tolkien's books. She did gorgeous maps of both author's worlds. Both of these would make wonderful wall posters (hey, that's an idea).


Drawn by Cliff Bird for REHupa #34 in 1978, I wish this map of Charles Saunder's Nyumbani had an outline of modern Africa behind it just like the one of Hyboria. Alas, it doesn't, and we just have to enjoy it for what it is: a guide to Imaro's travels. If that's not good enough for you, I've got nothing else to say.


  1. The maps were what first drew me into Tolkien. I'd just come back from two weeks of backpacking in New Mexico. In reading his letters, I was surprised to learn how he adjusted geography to suit the story, and not the other way around.

    I seem to recall seeing a large poster of Pauline Baynes' Narnia map hanging in someone's house a long time ago. I wasn't aware that she had done Tolkien maps. I like the way the inset circles combine the story with the geography.

  2. And of course that makes perfect sense when you say it, but Middle-earth succeeds so well as a created world, it always felt like the maps came first, illustrating a real, tangible place. The story's events are tailored by the geography, not the other way round.

    Those inset illustrations are wonderful. I never really saw them until the other day.

  3. These maps remind me of when I first started reading S&S in the late 60's and through the 70's. The maps that appeared in Conan,Brak, Thongor, etc. were all part and parcel of the background to the stories.
    I recently re-read a book Called "The Bane Of Kanthos" by Alex Dain. The author had apparently lost he original hand drawn map, so they used what was obviously a scan taken from an old and most likely discolored copy of the ACE Double paperback it originally appeared in.
    I remember feeling cheated if I didn't get a map in one of the old S&S novels.
    Ah, the good old days.

  4. Yep, that was how I felt growing up. I'm more forgiving when there isn't one these days.

  5. Bah and humbug I say! No Map? Time to grab a pitchfork, storm the castle and hang the rascal! LOL!! ;-)