As a kid I didn’t really acknowledge the usefulness of maps provided in the front of books; these maps were designed to help navigate innovative new worlds but I was sure I’d never need them. I was confident in my own skills of imagination and wanted the world to be as much my own as it was the author’s. However, over the last 6 months or so of reading I’ve come to really appreciate them – structuring a character’s literal journey has become a much bigger deal for me. I don’t know if that’s because I’m writing now and am giving the smaller details a bigger importance or if it’s something else entirely. Either way I’m sure I can’t be the only one. Cue: Map appreciation Post.
Here are some of my favourite literary maps.
Whilst fragments of the story still flit around in my bookish box of memories, it has been many, many years since I read the Septimus Heap books. I remember my siblings and I all got rather caught up in the series over a few months and it was one of the few children’s books in which I actually referred to the map. The hero was travelling through some marshes and I had no recollection whatsoever of the journey he’d taken to get there. Instead of backtracking and re-reading I flicked back to the map quickly to refresh my memory – it was BEYOND useful.
The book itself has had a mayor cover overhaul since I read it and all I can really remember is that I found it intensely funny at the time. I picked up a copy in a thrift store recently and am well overdue for a re-read. I got as far as Queste before the dramas of school discos and friendship groups got me all distracted – but I’ve totally just got myself all excited to read this series as an adult!
Has anybody else read this series? I feel like it’s one I’ve fangirled over all by myself (in internet terms). I read it before I knew of the bookish internet *shudders* – it was dark times I tell you.
A Court of Thorns and Roses
Whether you love her or hate her, if you read YA Fantasy you will have heard of Sarah J. Maas. If not for the ACOTAR series (how have you not heard of this yet???) then you’ll undoubtedly have heard of Throne of Glass (this series also features a map I believe but I haven’t read it yet. Sorry, not sorry.)
A Court of Thorns and Roses tells the story of a typical underdog character, Feyre, and her ‘Beauty-and-the-beast-esque’ abduction into the faerie realm. A realm which, conveniently enough, comes kitted out with a pretty handy map for our convenience. Does anyone else think that left part looks a lot like the UK? Just me? Alright-y then.
I love this series and the second book is probably one of my favourites ever. As with a lot of ACOTAR fans, the Night Court/ Court of Dreams is currently my favourite (though that could change with upcoming books!) You can get a feel of the court by checking out my Get the Aesthetic post from a few weeks ago, my Spoiler filled discussion post or by checking out my respective reviews here, here and here.
Lord of the Rings
I refuse to believe there is a reader alive today who hasn’t heard of this series. Like, it’s just not possible for Tolkien to not have even crossed your radar. You must at the very least have come across a ‘one does not simply..’ meme back in the day? No? I still don’t believe you.
There are other maps in additional books from the series too and it’s incredible the depth and vastness Tolkein was able to generate. He created not only an enormous new world but also a whole new language to boot! (Elvish) *phew* #ThingsThatTerrifyNewWriters
“Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems…”
Caraval was released earlier this year and is Stephanie Garber’s stunning debut about a carnaval-esque island with mysterious goings on. You can find my full review here.
The map above shows a good chunk of what we could see if we somehow scored an invite to the fabulous Caraval. We follow the story of one sister trying to find another in this emotional tale and are left questioning the truth of everything that happens. Well worth a read.
Also, did I mention that it’s only £0.99 on Kindle at the moment? [03/07/17] (Click the book image if you don’t believe me.)
The Chronicles of Narnia
The world of Narnia was one I was completely convinced by growing up. I would regularly find myself trying not to think about it with a flicker of hope that I might find it the next time I opened a wardrobe or hopped on a train. Alas, thus far, no such luck.
Narnia was a world that grew as the story did and I never had any idea where anywhere was supposed to be (told you I ignored the maps!) – even lost I was completely entranced by the idea of the place and its a map I definitely need to go back to. Or, maybe, I’ll just wait till I find the right door and figure it out myself…
Game of Thrones
I’m a bit hesitant to include this one on my list as it’s a series I’ve *wanted* to read for a few years now. Despite this, I’ve yet to make it more than half-way through the first book! However it’s one of the most detailed and useful maps I think I’ve ever encountered. With the series for a sort of frame of reference it’s easy to find yourself swept up in the drama and ferocity of life in Westeros.
Even the non-readers out there who just adore the tv series can benefit from the map illustrating R.R. Martin’s complicated and political landscape – it’s a valuable addition to the text as well, which sometimes takes a lot of concentration to keep up with.
Winnie The Pooh
The map of 100 acre wood is one I saw for the first time ever just yesterday. Isn’t it the most adorable thing you’ve ever seen in your life? It’s proof that maps can feature in any genre and still ooze character and information. Perhaps we can find a way to use them in new and innovative ways. The next book on the list certainly attempts to do so.
This book is packed full of diagrams, notes, maps, report files and everything in-between and definitely deserves a mention on a list such as this. Kaufman and Kristoff really play with the structure of the novel insofar as making it not wholly about just the words. They map stars, spacecraft and events in a sophisticated and artistic way that really adds to the story they tell. It’s completely addictive and I can’t wait for the release of the 3rd book in the series.
I mean just LOOK at those covers. Each book is presented as a ‘dossier’ of sorts telling the story of a space war like no other. Sci-fi and maps collide in this series and if you’re looking to try something new and different I’d highly recommend it. Particularly to YA readers. You can find my review for Illuminae and Gemina by clicking on their names.
I really, really wanted to list Harry Potter’s Marauders Map in this list but I think it’s only printed in the illustrated edition? Potter heads please correct me if I’m wrong! There’s only so many times I can google ‘marauder’s map printed in book’ before the pinterest results start to consume me. There’s a risk of me drowning in fanart for the rest of my natural life and whilst I’m all about that life, I’ve got bills to pay and things to do (Hahaha, I’m so unproductive it hurts).
ANYWAY, that’s the list, many of which are firm favourites of mine. It’s by no means complete and I will no doubt add more as time goes on (I’m already debating adding Stardust, Throne of Glass and Eragon!) Let me know if you think of any more and we can add those in too. Happy reading!
– Cat –