My Top Five Fantasy Worlds

19/12/2015 Lists, Reading 10

My Top Five Fantasy WorldsIt’s no secret to my regular blog readers that I adore fantasy: I just love how through it we can leave behind the mundane world of jobs, schools and grimy towns to discover new, fantastical worlds where magic is rife and literally anything could happen.

In fact, the vividness and inventiveness of the world in which a fantasy story is set is one of the primary ways I judge it, whether that world is colourful and enchanting, or gritty and dark. Hence why I thought doing a round up of five of my all time favourite fantasy worlds would make a pretty fun post!

So here’s my five, and I’d love to know yours!

1. Middle Earth from The Lord of the Rings etc. by J.R.R. Tolkien

No list of the best fantasy worlds could ever be complete without Tolkien’s Middle Earth, featured in The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and The Silmarillion. No fantasy world could ever be so complete or rich as the one that Tolkien spent most of his adult life creating, inventing everything from languages to histories, and even a creation story for the world – just check out The Silmarillion for a complete history of Middle Earth!

2. Westeros from the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin

Whilst Westeros is definitely not a world I’d like to live in (I rather like my head being attached to my body!), it sure makes for a gripping read. I love the varied geography of it, from the cold, barren lands North of the Wall, to the warmer climes of Dorne in the South, and the politics and intrigue that come along with it are equally fascinating as everyone fights for the Iron Throne. Not to mention that Westeros is actually just a continent in an even wider world that contains such cities as Meereen and Braavos, not to mention the ruins of Valyria which I’d really love to see more of!

3. The Wizarding World from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Whilst some High Fantasy fans might scoff at this one, the world of wizards that exists alongside the ‘Muggle world’ of Harry Potter is one that has captured the heart of millions of people like no other. Complete with its own ministry, own mythology, its own education system and even its own train platform, no matter what anyone says, I think the world of Harry Potter is a feat of great imagination!

4. The Final Empire from the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson

I recently read Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, and one of the things I loved most about it was the originality of the dystopian world it takes place in. Unlike in most fantasies, the Dark Lord has already won by the start of the first book, and the world of the story is tellingly bleak: ash falls from the sky and plants scarcely grow (the idea of plants being green is actually laughable to the world’s inhabitants), and anyone who doesn’t belong to the nobility are known as ‘skaa’, and are basically peasants who live hard lives at the mercy of their cruel overlords. As bleak as it is, I love how different it is to the usual medieval-style worlds of most fantasy, and I really like the equally unique metal magic system.

5. Kelewan from the Empire trilogy (and featured in the Riftwar Saga) by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts

Kelewan is the world that exists beyond the Rift in the Riftwar Saga and is the setting for the Empire trilogy which I’m in the middle of reading (and absolutely loving!) at the moment. Like the world of the Mistborn trilogy, I love the way it differs from your usual fantasy: Kelewan is based more on Asian cultures than the usual European-style cultures that you so often see in fantasy (eg. Middle Earth, Westeros and Midkemia – the primary world of the Riftwar Saga). The cultural emphasis on honour (to the point where loss of honour means you have to kill yourself) and the dangerous politics of the world are unlike anything else I’ve ever seen in fantasy, and certainly raise the stakes for the main characters.

So what are your favourite fantasy worlds?

10 Responses to “My Top Five Fantasy Worlds”

  1. Resh Susan

    This is so cool. I love Harry Potter and Lord of the rings. Nevr could convince myself to read Game of thrones. I take the easy way out and watch the series

  2. Silvara

    I agree with Tolkien and Harry Potter. I also love the worlds we’re introduced to in the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. Valdemar and the Hawkbrother Vales by Mercedes Lackey. The worlds in the Black Jewels books by Anne Bishop, and Caelena’s worlds in the Sarah J. Mass Throne of Glass universe.

    And my guilty pleasure world is the one from the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton. *grins* I love how she writes shapeshifters and vampires, even if the series took a nosedive after book… 6? 7? Something like that.

    • Laura

      I have never read the Dragonriders of Pern series, so I’ll have to check that out!
      I love the world in Throne of Glass, and I also really liked the fairytale-style world Sarah J. Maas created in A Court of Thorns and Roses, even if it didn’t enjoy the story as much as Throne of Glass.
      Vampire and shape shifters are awesome! I often find that with long running series though – they tend to go downhill the further on you read.

  3. Cait @ Paper Fury

    YES I AGREE ABOUT WESTEROS. I would not like to go there….nopity no. But it’s one of my favourite fantasy worlds to read about! THE DETAIL. I’m always awed! there’s like backstory for the backstory…and gah, it’s so big and vast and just unique and…I love it. xD
    I also really enjoyed The Final Empire! I want to read more that series FOR SURE. (I loved the magic system the most.)
    And I adore Hogwarts. <3 I'm reading BK 7 right now and I just looooove it. *happy sigh* I love the wizarding culture.

    • Laura

      The detail in Westeros is incredible, and I love all the little bits of backstory you get dropped in every now and then about all the past kings and legendary figures (and obviously all the dragons!) etc.
      I hope you enjoy the rest of the Mistborn books! Personally I thought the series got better as it went along, so you have some great stuff to come (and the world of the story gets even more intriguing!).
      I totally adore Hogwarts too. So gutted I never got my acceptance letter! 🙂

  4. Jolien @ The Fictional Reader

    I love this list! Middle Earth would definitely be on all of my favorites-lists too, along with The Wizarding World and Westeros. I would want to live in the first two, definitely not in the latter. Like you said, I quite like my head to be attached to my body. I’m reading the Mistborn trilogy now (I mean, I’ve read book #1 and want to read #2 soon) and I already love the magic system and world too.

    I really want to check out the Empire series you mentioned! Do you think I should read the Riftwar saga first?

    • Laura

      I hope you continue to enjoy the Mistborn trilogy! The world of the story gets even more interesting later on as well, as you start to learn more about the back story behind it.
      I would seriously recommend both the Empire series and the Riftwar Saga! They are amazing! I wouldn’t say you necessarily have to read the Riftwar Saga first, but there might be slight spoilers for some of what happens in the first book by the time you get to the second book in the Empire trilogy. They run along parallel timelines on the two separate worlds on either side of the rift, so it’s quite good when you read both and can see what was happening at this point in the other series 🙂

  5. Kaja

    Oooh, yes, Middle Earth and Harry Potter’s world would definitely make my top 5 fantasy worlds as well. I admire Tolkien for his attention to the worldbuilding, it’s so complex!

    And yeah, I’d gladly visit Westeros if I could be sure I’d survive the trip. I’d love to see the Wall even though I’m pretty sure I’d soon end up going south for more warmth.

    • Laura

      Yeah, Tolkien’s attention to world-building is insane – there’s pretty much no aspect of it not covered really!
      The Wall would be an awesome place to visit, although it would be pretty cold (plus I wouldn’t want to risk coming across any white walkers!).

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