The moment I saw the map of Middle Earth illustrated in the first few pages of the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein, I was hooked. Fantasy world wall maps are available both online and in collectable retail stores like never before. Many collectors item versions of well known fantasy novels, such as Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia, even come with world wall maps to hang in your house.
Similarly, many popular video games on the market today come packaged with world wall maps of that particular fantasy realm. And if they’re not in the box, you’ll most likely be able to find them online. World of Warcraft is one such popular online game, commonly called a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game), that has numerous detailed maps of that fantasy world available for purchase. Other popular games with fantasy world wall maps include Everquest, Ultima and Star Wars Galaxies.
Is seems the more popular a fantasy world becomes, the more the corresponding fantasy world wall maps become available for purchase and those in high levels of quality illustration. Take for example what happened a few years ago when the Lord of the Rings trilogy of motion pictures hit the big screen. Suddenly, the level of quality and the quantity of available fantasy world wall maps of Middle Earth skyrocketed. It was a good time to be a Tolkein fan.
But whether it’s a video game, board game, novel or short story, fantasy world maps are a great visual tool to help track the character’s journey. For example, if you’re reading the Hobbit you can refer back to the map of Middle Earth and trace Bilbo’s path from the Shire, through Rivendell, over the Misty Mountains, past Mirkwoood, all the way to Smaug’s Lair in Lonely Mountain.
The maps can come in pretty handy if you’re following along with the story descriptions and get a bit lost. Sometimes, the author’s narrative of the places the characters are traveling can become hard to follow. I remember reading through the Shannara series of books by Terry Brooks and, although he’s an excellent author and great at description, there was a section in the story where multiple characters were traveling in different directions at the same time. Each chapter would switch over to the progress of another character till after a while I felt a little lost. Luckily, the books had a map of the fantasy world so I was able to refer back to it during the story in order to get my bearings. But besides that, and perhaps more importantly, it definitely made for a richer story experience.
Speaking of which, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon when world wall maps are created for a fantasy realm. It’s as if the map brings a new sense of legitimacy, or “reality” if you will, to the world. It makes it seem like that fictional world actually exists in some kind of alternate reality. It adds another layer of believability to the story and the fantasy world in which it takes place.
Of course, in the end we know these fantasy worlds are pure fiction but their world wall maps allow our imagination to soar and enable that sense of immersion into the fantasy world that makes the experience more enjoyable.
By pixel2013 from Pixabay