Top Ten Tuesday - Settings

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and The Bookish

This Week's Prompt is:

Top Ten Settings in Books

I'm sorely tempted to list broad setting categories like "High Magic Fantasy World", but instead I think I'll try to be super specific with fictional places that work really well for their stories.

1: The World (Not Actually Mercury), The Worm Ourobouous

For a genre lover like me, the first known alternate fantasy world (i. e. not ancient Earth, but an alternate world) holds a special place in my heart. See my review here. Even a year after reading the book, I can picture the castle of the Witches, the forest stronghold, the mountain pass to the magic caves, and more. I found it an extremely evocative world.

2: Middle Earth, The Lord of the Rings

It may not be an absolutely complete, plausible world, but it comes really close. Again, the individual cities and places stay with you, and the experience of traveling through them is central to the plot.

3: Mid-World, The Dark Tower

Many series in which the plot centers around a journey have great settings. The post-apocalyptic western fantasy horror world of the Gunslinger is certainly one of them. From the deserts and the mutants' caves, to the endless beach, to the ruined city, to the rustic settlements; Mid-World is in such flux it doesn't matter much that the different places within it don't always fit together. All the worlds turn about the Dark Tower, after all.

4: The Elemental Worlds and The Labyrinth, The Death Gate Cycle

This series was structured around a world fractured into its components (a world of Fire, of Air, of Water...) so a strong sense of place is inherent in the premise.

5: Gotham City, Various Comics

Split between slums, prisons and high-rises, the City of Gotham provides both home and motivation for all the Batfamily. Practically a character in its own right, the battered but unbroken city looms over its corner of the DCU. Every so often writers try to take some of those characters out of Gotham, give them other cities, but it never quite sticks.

6: Redwall Abbey, Redwall series

Another clue to a strong setting is when the series is actually named after the place. The books may have gotten repetitive, but the walls of the Abbey-thick red stone protecting the inhabitants, secret passages and grand banquet halls-remain strong in my memories. (Review here)

7: The Downs, Watership Down

Another journey novel, the characters in Watership Down don't travel very far in a human scale, but the novel easily conveys what a terrifying journey it would be to rabbits. The vivid descriptions of the various warrens as well as the other terrain they pass through mean this book deserves to be on this list. (Review here)

8: Neverland, Peter and Wendy

The Neverlands are dream realms of childhood adventure. That's definitely good enough to make the list.

9: Elfland and Erl, The King of Elfland's Daughter

Review here. All other fantasy realms pale a little in comparison with Dunsany's masterwork. The poetry of the writing describing both the human kingdom of Erl and the lands 'beyond the fields we know' is marvelous.

10: Can't pick... Honorable Mentions: Krynn, Pern, King Haggard's Castle, Valdemar, Barrayar, Holmes' London, The Hundred Acre Woods...

I guess I lean toward fantasy when it comes to settings. I love to read sci-fi, but generally the places aren't as evocative on the page (on film is a different matter).


Trish said...

Yes, #7! I've always been fascinated by all the underground tunnels and burrows that rabbits live in. So cool.

Anonymous said...

I really can't believe I forgot about Neverland! It would be delightful to live among pirates and mermaids and indians.

However, I am amused by Gotham City! I'm a huge comic fan, however I think I'd be hesitant to go and visit, too afraid I'd get caught up in something bad :-(

Lindsay said...

@Bibliothec: Oh, I wasn't listing places I want to go, but rather settings I thought were well done, or well suited to their stories. I mean, I actually have no interest in visiting Neverland (it's incredibly violent) but it's a really interesting place to set a story. :)

kayerj said...

fun list--I especially liked that you included The Redwall books and Neverland. Two of my favorites but I didn't even think of them. Kaye—the road goes ever ever on

gabrielreads said...

I completely forgot about Redwall Abbey. Great choice and one that I wish I'd remembered.

TG said...

Now I can't believe I didn't include Neverland, Holmes' London and Gotham City. Great choices; you make me want to revise my list.

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