Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!
This week’s topic: Top Ten Most Vivid Worlds/Settings In Books
Great question this week! In no particular order:
Minas Tirith, Middle Earth
01. Middle Earth (J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings ed alt. (review)) — Middle Earth is hands down for me the most vivid world/setting I have ever encountered in literature. Tolkien created a whole history to the setting complete with the rise of different peoples, cultures and civilisations (see The Simarillion) which over time becomes myth and legend. The detail he puts into the life of hobbits, the songs sung by the elves and even the little information we know about the dwarves is just amazing and inspiring. And then of course there’s the fact that he created two languages, Quenya and Sindarin, to go with the elven culture. Yeah, I’d totally live in Middle Earth. It feels like coming home.
Map of Winterfell, Westeros
02. Westeros (George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (review #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5)) — The second most elaborate, detailed world I’ve encountered in literature. GRRM impressed me with his detailed schematic of the houses of Westeros, right down to their retainers and bannermen, the hearldry, their lands, their history. It really reads out of a medieval history textbook but it feels so real, like these houses and this history actually happened.
03. Barcelona (Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Cemetery of Forgotten Books cycle (review #1, #2 and #3) — The Barcelona that Zafon describes in his books is not necessarily the one you see when you travel through the famous tourist spots. Zafon’s Barcelona is more mysterious, more in tune with its rich and sombre history. I loved the Gothic atmosphere that the novels inhabited, especially in The Shadow of the Wind, it was just such an experience. I also loved the concept of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, I wish it was real xD
04. Alternate England (Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (review)) — I don’t read alternate history novels very often but Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is an example of a well done alternate history. The detail about the faeries and the study and use of magic operating behind the scenes was so detailed, it was both interesting and dark, portraying both the curious nature of the power as well as the dangerous aspects of it. Clarke also wrote the novel like it was written by Jane Austen or another author from the period which really added to the overall experience of living in that world.
05. Final Empire (Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series (review #1, #2 and #3) — Another one of my favourite settings that I’ve come across in the fantasy genre, Sanderson does such a wonderful job in bringing to life and explaining the magic system that inhabits this world. The Final Empire is a curious world with the aristocracy resembling something of 18th-19th century continental Europe and then there’s everyone else struggling to make do. The state of the world is also curious and really adds to the tension and problems escalating as the story moves forward.
06. Camorr (Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora (review)) — Camorr is reminiscent of Venice in my mind with the canals and close quarters. It’s a city that meshes both the upper and lower classes, of rich aristocrats and criminal guilds. The reader is given a glimpse of both worlds that occupy Camorr thanks to Locke Lamora’s work and in short, the city really does feel like a character of its own.
07. The Solar Systen/The Expanse (James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse) — I loved the world that James S.A. Corey created for their Expanse series because of it socio-political-economic structure and the complex relationship between the inner planets and the ‘Belters’, those who live outside. It’s that realism and complexity that led me to adding it to the list; the set-up feels like a possible future. And all of the conspiracies that are abound in this setting? Yeah, I can totally picture that happening. (I also used a quote from the first book for my Teaser Tuesday)
08. Discworld (Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels) — Discworld is just such a fantastic and zany world. I mean, a flat world balancing on four elephants standing on the back of the massive turtle, Great A’Tuin, while floating through space is just unique and awesome and totally reflects the hilarious satire that goes on in the novels. Populated by a slew of different characters representing the different parts of Ankh-Morpork’s society, Discworld is a fully-realised world and a lot of fun to revisit time and again.
09. The world in Deborah Harkness’s The Discovery of Witches (review) — I don’t read much from the urban fantasy/paranormal genre but I thought that the world that Harkness created underneath the veneer of our world, a world populated by witches, vampires and daemons, was pretty vivid, integrating history and lore together. The daemons weren’t explored as in-depth as the other two but I love how much detail was put into the way that the witches and vampires conducted their own societies. I’m excited to see how the next novel in the trilogy further expands on this world.
10. Fairyland (Catherynne Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (review)) — Ahh, Fairyland, a magical world where children with their own desire for adventure would go to. The premise is familiar and yet the world that Valente weaves is immensely unique, sometimes a little dark but lush (I love how the capitol was made out of cloth, it sticks out in my mind). I think I’ve mentioned it in my reviews of her novels but she really has a unique imagination and the fairytale setting allows that imagination to flourish in a way that the readers are along for the ride and perhaps would like to dwell longer in.
And that’s my list for this week! I’m sure I missed a few but these ten were the ones that came to mind when I made the list xD What worlds/settings made it on your list? =)