I have this fantasy of a map room, loaded up with stacks of well-thumbed paper showing the different worlds I’ve lived in as a reader, large versions splashed across the walls. In my little fantasy, cabinets full of lovingly rolled maps are ready for exploration — like I could walk into the map room and select my favourite place for the day and jump right in. I live in a shoebox flat, so there’s no hope of a whole room dedicated to this, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have at least a few fantasy maps.
Some people are really against maps in fantasy/sci-fi books, and some people say the maps are pretty much the best bit. N.K. Jemisin, when she released The Fifth Season, posted a beautiful map from the novel on her blog, which was unusual because she had previously stated her own distaste for maps in fantasy books; she noted that she needed a map for this book because the geography is almost literally a character.
I don’t think I’ll ever love maps like I love the maps from Tolkien’s world — the careful font choice, the sweeping lines — but equally, I never referred to them when reading. The Wheel of Time saw me referring to the map almost constantly, and when I read about Panem in The Hunger Games, I didn’t feel I needed a map but plenty of fans made their own.
Long story short: if you like maps, here are some swag-y maps. If you don’t like maps, you won’t ever be sad when you can’t have a map room.
Let’s get to the cartography.
A really lovely scroll map of Garth Nix’s beloved Old Kingdom, featuring very fancy burned edging and wooden ends. $38
I want at least two of this one! This is Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea, loaded with fine detail on A3. Those burnt edges win me over every time. $38
Inconceivable! Guilder and Florin face off on either side of the Dread Pirate Roberts in this charming recreation from The Princess Bride. $27
The Wheel of Time is a rather topical choice but always a personal favourite of mine, and this version has a lovely focus on geographical features. A3 for $70.
Twin Peaks deserves a place at the book table as far as I’m concerned. Plus, this is a gorgeous, jarringly suitable portrait, so you’ll thank me for it. Unframed A3 for $38.
The northern hemisphere of Arrakis in 10,191 AG, where the events of the original Dune novel begin. I mean, it’s just gorgeous; I don’t need to justify it to you, fine cartographic mind that you are. A3 for $28.
A lovely grey and gold representation of the Grishaverse. I really love how the Fold cuts across the landscape here: it looks vicious. A3 for $20.
A delicate pastel map showing the various places featured in the world of Pride and Prejudice. It’s still England, but very much a fictional England, so I’m counting it in this list. A3 for $37.
Dante’s poem of the soul’s journey to salvation is fantastical in every sense. This map is a reproduction of a plate by Michaelangelo Caetani from the 1800s. $12
The Witcher has benefitted hugely from the wonderful visuals of video game adaptations, but there’s no canon map. Regardless, this is a stunning piece of work; check out that detail! A3 for $8.
The Hunger Games Exhibition finally gave fans a map of Panem, but I love this variant, of enclaves in a post-climate crisis world. Digital download for $5.
That’s it, cartophile book lovers: a perfect selection of items for your new map room, map wall or — most likely in my own case — corner stash with maps in it. If you actually do have a fiction map room, please get in touch: I’d like you to consider adopting me.