It’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?