Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mapping Vengeance

I love maps with a passion. I've got hundreds of them here, plus oodles of atlases and books of ancient and historical maps, geological maps, bathymetric maps, atlases of history. Any fantasy novel that doesn't have at least one map – and some of my books have had pages of them – feels deficient. A fantasy novel without a map has an empty dimension; it's an opportunity wasted.

Having said that, the map from Vengeance is a little sketchy. Surely there's more to the place than this?

Well, yes, there is and will be. A lot more.

Vengeance, Book 1 of The Tainted Realm, is a big story but it takes place in a small area, and this was deliberate. All my Three Worlds books roam over vast areas – continents, in some cases – and people occasionally pop through a portal to briefly rummage around in another world, before retreating to safety, greatly scarred by the experience, ha! 

It's the same with most of my Runcible Jones YA fantasy novels, and even in the Grim and Grimmer humorous books for kids. I enjoyed writing those tales, and the long journeys, too, though this time I wanted to do something different. I wanted the focus to be more on places than journeys.

Almost all the action in Vengeance takes place in a few small areas in the centre of the island now called Hightspall, a once great realm now crumbling under its own decadence and a series of natural disasters. These areas are: 
  • Cython, the secret underground realm of the bitter, dispossessed and vengeful Cythonians;
  • The Seethings, a blistering geothermal plain dotted with boiling mud pools, geysers and poisonous ponds, next to a trio of active volcanoes called The Vomits;
  •  The wrythen's lair at Precipitous Crag; and
  • Palace Ricinus in Hightspall's capital city, which is called Caulderon, on Lake Fumerous. 

Alert readers may notice a passing similarity between Central Hightspall and the central volcanic plateau of the North Island of New Zealand, and they'd be right. My first degree was in geology and I'm still fascinated by volcanoes. Where better to look at them than this part of NZ, which is one of the most volcanically active places on Earth, and the site of more of the most disastrous volcanic eruptions of the past million years than anywhere else, I spent a lot of time studying the geology and geography before creating the map, though it's inspired by the area, not based on it. But I'll talk more about world-building in another post.

The second and third books of The Tainted Realm will be called Rebellion and Justice, respectively, and our much put-upon heroes and ruthless villains will be roaming far more widely. More maps to create.

I can't wait.

If you have any geographical fascinations – or exotic locales you'd love to read about in fantasy – I'd love to hear about them.

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