How you doin’ guys? Today I’m here for a new Top 5 Wednesday. This week’s topic is Book List for Class in… Fantasy Worldbuilding. So without any further ado here are my picks for books I’d recommend for those who want to write captivating fantasy worlds. I’m only choosing from books that I have already read, so no Game of Thrones for example, since I’ve only watched the tv show.
1. Wizarding World (Harry Potter series) by J.K. Rowling
That’s not a surprise. You probably expected the incredible world J.K. Rowling created to show up in this list. Everyone and their mother love this series and the magic in it. Although this is Urban Fantasy, we spend so much time surrounded by the captivating yet dangerous magic that we hardly even remember the muggle world out there. To be honest, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what draws people so much (myself included) to this world. Wizards have no regard for child safety, and magic can do some pretty crazy things, but it’s so enchanting that we can’t help but wanting to be part of it. No wonder it got an actual theme park. I also think Rowling is really good at making strong parallels with our own world and society, and that brings everything she creates closer to us.
2. Middle-Earth (Lord of the Rings) by J.R.R. Tolkien
I’m referring to the whole Tolkienverse as Middle-Earth to make things easier, so bear with me. This is the father to all fantasy worlds. No matter if they came before it, it was Tolkien‘s work who defined the genre from that time on. His narrative skills might’ve been a bit over descriptive
or a lot, but the decades he spent creating every corner of this, made it reach an insane level of reality that you’ll hardly find anywhere else. It started with made up languages, and then it evolved into a fully established universe. Even though it has elves, and dwarves, and hobbits, this reads more like history than fantasy sometimes. Needless to say this should be mandatory research material for fantasy worldbuilders.
3. 4 Londons (Shades of Magic) by V.E. Schwab
Worldbuilding is one of the main highlights of this series. In this universe, magic is dark, dangerous, and always has a price. Each London setting was deeply affected by its relationship with it and how they developed from that is very interesting. Grey London, similar to our own from the 1800’s has little to no enchantement; Red London, is flowing with magic, full of vibrant colors and life; White London, hostile and full of ash, with everyone grasping for a taste of power; Black London, pretty much a void after it was totally devoured by magic. I like how V.E. Schwab took a simple idea here and expanded on it. The world is creative, alive, and it seems like a good subject for studying in a fantasy class.
4. Ghishaverse (Grisha Triology) by Leigh Bardugo
This is not as fleshed out in some aspects as the others, but it’s still extremely interesting. Leigh Bardugo seemed to inspire her grishaverse on Imperial Russia, and she mixed that atmosphere with magic and powers. In the country of Ravka, the Grisha, people born with “bending” abilities (like controlling fire, or air, or even blood), usually serve in the second royal army led by the Grisha General, The Darkling. In Ravka you can also find the Shadow Fold or The Unsea, which is a swath of thick darkness that crosses the entire country’s extention and is full of human flesh eating monsters, the volcra. The whole concept of the Fold and how it weakens the nation (that is in the brink of war with its border neighbours), since it keeps the biggest part of the population away from its port and the sea (therefore from supplies), which forces people to try to cross the impenetrable darkness full of monsters, is kind of fascinating. And creepy, but worth analyzing. The author even wrote more stories set in this world, like Six of Crows, and The Language of Thorns (which is like the Tales of Beedle the Bard for the Grishaverse).
5. Shadow World (Shadowhunter Chronicles) by Cassandra Clare
Well, I’m not exactly a super fan of the books, but the world (and Malec) keeps me reading them. Cassandra Clare clearly took some elements of worlds like Harry Potter, but by now she expanded it enough to make it her own. Actually what she did most was expand on it, since there are at least 3 series set in this universe, and more to come. This is also Urban Fantasy, and I think it’s worth analyzing how the author sewed together so many different creatures’s lores into a single universe, like Rowling did. I like that Cassandra highlights and gives plot relevance to the Shadowhunters history and society prejudices, even creating a native country for them and everything. Considering the popularity of the stories connected to this world, I felt like this was a fair entry for this topic.
You can find the Goodreads Group for T5W here.
So, how about you? Do you have any cool fantasy worlds you think are worth studying?