September 29, 2011

Why Fantasy Maps Rock

Total Read Time: 2 minutes

Whenever I find people discussing this topic online, it seems like there’s no middle ground. People either love having maps included in the books they’re reading, or they hate them.

When Maps Matter

Now when I’m reading straight up fiction, it doesn’t really matter to me whether a map is included. The only time it might interest me is if location and geography are a major part of the story. (Like in Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons, for example.)

But when it comes to fantasy, I’m all about the maps. Since the world you’re going to immerse yourself in is usually a complete figment of the author’s imagination, I feel like including a map makes it feel more real and authentic.


I remember the first time I read Lord of the Rings and there were all these maps, family trees, and historic timelines, which made it feel as though all the events had really happened in some existing alternate universe. They added a whole other dimension to the story for me.

Visual Connection

As a visual person, I also enjoy using maps to follow the hero’s journey from one location to another. I’ll often flip back to reference the map as I’m reading. As the book goes on, I’ll become increasingly familiar with the geography, and the imaginary location solidifies in my mind as an existing place.

Memorable Reading Experience

My parents were visiting a little while ago, and my mom was admiring this framed map I have of Middle Earth. She started asking where certain landmarks were, and I could tell her without even looking. I know the landscape of Middle Earth at least as well as that of the real world. (Which is a little scary when you think about it.)

Your Opinion

Where do you stand? Do you enjoy having maps included in the books you read or are they a distraction?

(If you’re a writer, I’m also going to cover software tools for designing your own maps in Tuesday’s post.)

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