Fantasy authors and their maps!

Let’s face it, people. Most fantasy authors loooove their maps. Me, personally I’ve been avoiding them like cholera, mostly because I tremendously suck at drawing them (and because I’d still get lost even with a map. Honestly, I’m helpless).

But then again, the mood (and the need to know where in the Seven Hells my characters are and where they are going) strikes oddly sometimes and so I find myself attempting to draw a map of Helos this morning, because after all, it’s all outlined in my head, I just need to get it onto paper to lessen the general confusion of places, etc. Well, let’s just say this was an experience of mixed success. I did a map of Illyria and an outline of the Shadow before and it was okay-ish, but not great. Same with the map I drew this morning. I begin to wonder if it’s just generally disoriented me, or if I’m just not getting the principles of map-drawing right.

Anyway, now I’ve been all but poised for ranting this morning and then I hit a post on Don’s blog about map-making software. Apparently Lior’s Map Creator looks nifty and something I’ll give a try when I get home, but what else is out there? I’m a geek, but in no way opposed to a simple hand-drawn map, but I simply am not all that great at it. Any thoughts and tips?

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3 Responses to “Fantasy authors and their maps!”

  1. misterbooks Says:

    Oooowweee….I’m a firm believer of Fantasy=Maps novels. Guess it has to be because I was weened on JRRT. My tip, try your hand at it, look at other books and see how simple their style really is, then press forth.
    Peace and happy writing.

  2. nymeria87 Says:

    Yeah, looking at the software, I’d definitely go with hand-drawn maps as well (they’re just sooo much prettier :p) and that was an approach I was going to take anyway, looking at other examples, pick what I like and what I don’t. For the start I’ll need a city map more than a world map, but will probably do both 🙂

  3. Cirdan Says:

    I’m also a huge fan of fantasy maps, some advices from me (mostly as a reader):

    1) Take an effort to make your maps in line with the descriptions in the books… I would not expect 100% accuracy of a fantasy map, but it happens too often that maps are way off the books, eg one place is south of the other in the books, but west on the map, or in the book, someone needs 3 days to travel from place a to place b and 5 weeks from b to c, but both distances look the same on the map (and there is no explanation like swamps or a mountain range). If I’d write a book, I’d definitely draw a map before writing the final version (not necessarily a map I want to publish, just one to make sure that descriptions of the geography works out).

    2) If you consider to continue writing in this universe, take care of how detailed your maps are… you might need additional places in future books, and they must either be already there or there must be free space to place them… the 2 best options are imho either to make the scale of a world map big enough to leave most details out or make a detailed map of the/an important region only, or maybe both

    3) somewhat the opposite of 2… I usually like maps better that include things that are not part of the novels… one big complain I have about Chris Tolkiens otherwise amazing LOTR-Map is that there are hardly any places not visited in the books, and therefore you have Brie (should be a smalltown at a crossroad) and several other settlements in the shire, which ought to be forgotten by men, but you’ll have a tough time finding the actual settlements of men… there are more regions on that map than cities, which is even more true for regions not visited in LOTR or the Hobbit. A possible solution would be a map which is decidedly only about movements/incidents described in the books.

    Apart from that, I’d like to mention that my favourite fantasy maps are usually from rpgs rather than books, basically because the worlds are described in greater detail and thus the maps are fuller. My absolute favourite are Ina Kramers regional maps for “the Dark Eye”, which are probably over the top for any novel (both in style and in detail), see http://www.aventuriens-welt.de/aventurischer_atlas.php (click on any part of the map to get to a regional map, then click on it to enlarge).

    I also like the style of their city maps (eg http://www.dasschwarzeauge.de/fileadmin/downloads/offiziell/Gareth_Stadtplan.jpg ), which might be more helpfull to you, even if they are a pain in the ass to draw for a big city (since you draw each house individually), but if it has to fit into a book, you can’t draw that much of a city anyway, and it doesn’t need too much skill… have drawn some in that style myself for rpg campaigns.


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