Have a High Fantasy story of a group of heroes traveling the world in order to fulfill their quest? Then you must include a map!
Maps of fantasy worlds have been a feature of Fantasy books ever since L. Frank Baum's Land of Oz. A visual reference can be very handy. Often drawn in elaborate script, pointing out the Doomed Hometown, The Kingdom, The Empire, various Fantasy Counterpart Cultures, each of the Five Races' lands. Also marking out many of the Wacky Wayside Tribes, the dangerous Forbidden Zone (Mordor) and other Lost Woods. Diana Wynne Jones's The Tough Guide to Fantasyland has a few things to say on the subject of maps, including the fact that if you're on a quest you may expect to visit every single placemarked on them.
Fantasy world maps will often have roughly the proportions of a standard book page so that all the places in the fantasy world can fit conveniently on the map - the Law of Cartographical Elegance. Really deluxe worlds are proportioned like two pages side by side, thereby indicating they rate a hardcover edition with endpapers. Fantasy world maps sometimes also have a tendency to make it seem as if the world is literally flat.
If the ocean is on the left side of the map, then it's a Left-Justified Fantasy Map.
When the map is particularly badly done and makes no sense, it's a Patchwork Map. A variation occurs when maps of real places are included in a novel where it helps follow the intrigue.
Sometimes complicated by opaque library book covers that cannot be removed from the book. In that case, there will forever be one side of the map that you cannot see without breaking the book cover, though if you're lucky the map will be on the inside of both the front and back covers, covering up the left and right sides respectively. This may help explain why (with a little monster-powered-by-evil-source-you-are-getting-closer-to-in-order-to-remove Hand Wave explanation) you can't just aquire a boat and kill the sea monster now that the sea storm that it entered by is over.
Also frequent in Tabletop Games for gameplay reasons, and, occasionally, in anime series. For Video Game sub-tropes, see Overworld Not to Scale, Point-and-Click Map, and "Risk"-Style Map.
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Perhaps because of its novel origin, The Twelve Kingdoms very frequently show the map of the world in order to the situate the action. Also to remind you of what the names of all the countries and cities are, since there are so many to keep track of.
Slayers occasionally shows a map of the world, especially during the opening.
The original manga version of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind has a pull-out map section in each volume. They're surprisingly unhelpful in determining where everything in the After the End setting is in relation to the current world.
Rave Master features an impressively vague map, showing little more than the outlines of continents and locations the characters previously visited, on a single page in one volume halfway through the series. Topography is clearly not Mashima Hiro's strong point.
In Mahou Sensei Negima!, during the Magic World arc various maps of the Magic World (global, regional and local) get shown, sometimes with the map of Japan superimposed for size comparison purposes.
In Queen's Blade, a map of The Continent (the land when the whole story takes place) appears at the beginning of each episode, at least during the first season.
The map of Amestris and surrounding areas in Fullmetal Alchemist are an important part of the plot later on.
Bone has had two different maps of the Valley included into the graphic novel editions: the standard map and the one that appears in story that was drawn by a young Thorn (though this one was limited to the earlier volumes).
ElfQuest published full-color insert maps of the World of Two Moons (Abode) and its solar system in the 1980s. (They can probably still be found on the ElfQuestwebsite.)
The Mouse Guard TPBs provide the reader with a map of Mouse Territories
Long before the official map of Equestria came out, a particularly epic map of Equestria and the surrounding world has been under development for an upcoming fanfic, Where the World Ends. It uses locations that appear in other fan works such as Gildedale. Many of the map's fantasy elements originate in the lore pertaining to the story it's written for. Needless to say, the map is significantly more detailed than the official one. See that small green country near the lower right corner? That's Equestria.
In the Lone Wolfseries of solo game books, each book includes a map of the region where it takes place, justified as the protagonist having been given just such a map as part of his starting equipment. How useful such the map is varies tremendously from book to book.
The Silmarilion also includes a map, although there was at least one other, quite different, version Tolkien created for Beleriand besides the one actually published.
Viciously parodied in the 1969 paperback Bored of the Rings by the Harvard Lampoon, whose map of "Lower Middle Earth" includes such features as "The Legendary Drillingrigs", "The Land of the Knee-walking Turkeys", "The Islets of the Langerhans", "The Tiny X-Shaped Forest", and a body of water shaped like the profile of Richard Nixon called "The Bay of Milhous". It also includes a compass rose with the directions Up, Down, Right (pointing left) and Left (pointing right). (This last may be an intentional Shout-Out to the original maps of Oz — see below.) Fortunately for the competency-challenged cast, they didn't have to visit every labeled spot on it, and those they do visit don't have to be in geographical proximity.
The former page quote (now on the quotes page) from The First Law trilogy is spoken by a character reading a fantasy novel (in a bleedin' fantasy novel) as a not so subtle Take That to the entire trope. (Or, possibly, to Lord of the Rings).
The Wheel of Time has one for the Westlands, and the Westlands only, as about 99% of the story takes place there. A Manual text was released that includes a map of the whole world. This map is useless to the actual story, but looking at it does reveal that the planet is Earth after massive geographical change, and the Westlands are in what used to be Europe.
Malazan Book of the Fallen likewise has several, although it's not always clear how the different continents relate to each other.
A fan (and troper) created a map showing the continents in several different configurations and Steven Erikson eventually confirmed one as mostly accurate; it can be found on various fan sites.
The Belgariad is especially symptomatic of the "must visit every places on it" syndrome. David Eddings, in The Rivan Codex, argued that an aspiring quest author needed to draw a map or they'd get lost.
He also mentions that he started with the map before he wrote a word of the story. Indeed, the map was the inspiration for the story, because he started out doodling a random fantasy map during breakfast with gibberish names for the countries. After cleaning it up a bit, he decided to write a story set in it.
He also references the first part of the Tolkien quote above regarding this decision, so the comments on this page about Eddings being responsible for the map-first idea are a little off-target.
Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Trilogy has a map showing various parts of the archipelago. Certain editions will include close-ups on the map when the characters are spending time in that particular reach (very very useful!) Her more recent YA series, of which the first is entitled Gifts, also has such a map, but notably the characters in Gifts only ever occupy a small upper-right hand corner of the map. Presumably they'll venture forth in the sequels.
They do, but in Voices the action is confined to the bottom left-hand corner, so there's a city map as well. In Powers there's much more travelling, but no map at all in the British edition (not even a reprint of the large map from the first two books).
Watership Down has a map, and is fantasy, but it takes place in England and the map is of a real area.
The Discworld eventually had several maps made of it, as did the city of Ankh-Morpork within, even though Pterry said that he never envisioned a map of any kind when writing. (Some of the earlier publications even have quotes from him explicitly stating that "There are no maps. You can't map a sense of humor.")
Pratchett has stated that he purposely avoided making a map of Ankh-Morpork until the publication of the Discworld Mappe, ostensibly because the city's layout changes so often that it would be impossible to keep an accurate map. However, he now plots Ankh-Morpork stories with the help of both the map and the limited-edition 3D model of Unseen University. In Night Watch, during the rooftop standoff at the beginning of the book, all the sight-lines are purportedly consistent with the model.
He's since said that the problem with most fantasy maps is they seem to have come first (*coughEddingscough*). Ankh-Morpork and Lancre were made up as he went along, just like real places are (well, more or less like real places are made), and then Stephen Briggs came along and measured everything up, once it all "existed" sufficiently to be mapped.
He's also said that he didn't think about how Anhk-Morpork would map out, but that apparently his subconscious was helping him out, because it does, in fact, map out neatly and logically (for a given value of logically, admittedly).
Fans who have studied the Discworld Mapp in detail and/or used it for plotting fanfic have pointed out lots of inconsistencies and scale problems. Rehigreed, noted as a province of Agatea, is as far away as you can possibly get from the Agatean mainland; Lancre is far too near Ankh-Morpork; the Central Continent appears too big and Howondaland is far too small; Genua appears to be further away from A-M than stated in the text; and so on. Since the name "C.M.O.T. Dibbler" appears on the map, there is of course a Watsonian explanation.
Raising Steam eventually did the classic map-in-the-endpapers format, with a railway map of the Sto Plains and surrounding lands.
The Redwall books always have a map of the journey that the heroes will be taking. The map generally includes every place they'll be visiting along the way.
It's interesting to compare the variations of the maps' depictions of Mossflower Wood (the location of Redwall Abbey) over time. Some general ideas remain consistent, but others (such as how big/powerful the River Moss is) vary, and the further away from the Abbey things get more impermanent (such as the mountain range between Mossflower and Salamandastron, or the giant lake located far in the south).
The biggest offender for inconsistency are the maps from Mattimeo and Loamhedge, which depict the abbey ruins as being on a huge plateau to the southeast that is nowhere to be seen on other maps. Even those two maps have trouble deciding which side of the ravine has the bell and badger rocks.
The Sword of Truth had one... because the publisher insisted. Goodkind didn't see the need. He drew the map himself, updated it once for the second book, and never changed it again even when the story went way beyond its borders.
The Well World novels by Jack Chalker are a sci-fi example, but also something of a subversion as the Well World is composed almost entirely of tessellated hexagons, the edges of which define not only the borders of the various "nations" but also the larger bodies of water.
This is common in Alternate History, as it's a helpful way of letting the reader know exactly how the world is different in the novel's timeline. Fatherland, to quote one other example, has both a map of the Nazi-dominated Europe and a map of the central district of Berlin as it would have been had Albert Speer got his opportunity to rebuild the city in his and Hitler's image.
Not really needed in his Fantastic Civil War series, which is just a retelling of the ACW in the west from Chickamauga on. Once you realize that the directions are reversed and all the place and character names are replaced by groanworthy literary references and puns, you can follow along with a real guide to the campaigns at hand. Selma, Alabama, for example, is renamed Hayek, and General Rosecrans is renamed Guildenstern.
Parodied in Piers Anthony's Xanth books by using the state of Florida as the map of Xanth.
He went on to use Italy, Greece and Korea in later installments in the series, which was hand waved with the explanation that Xanth connects with the real world at multiple places and time periods, but most of the novels use modern Florida as the point where Earth connects to Xanth.
The Tough Guide to Fantasyland notes that if you see a map at the start of a novel, you can expect to "go to every damn place on it." The book itself has a map which is very obviously Europe upside-down, with all the countries given anagrammatic names.
Brin's Uplift series is another science fiction example.
Orson Scott Card's The Tales of Alvin Maker books all include a map of the wildly alternate early-19th-Century North America in which the novels are set.
Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic series has its own map showing the location of Winding Circle Temple as relative to nearby cities, but not a perhaps more useful map of Winding Circle itself. The Circle Opens quartet each have a map of the city they take place in as well, and The Will of the Empress has a map, although not a very detailed one, of Sandry's home country of Namorn.
Her Tortall series also have maps, with the first one provided with the Song of the Lioness quartet never changing until the final book provided the (incomplete/unmarked landmarks) map of the eastern continent where the Roof of the World and the Dominion Jewel could be found.
The map of the Land of Oz is one of the earliest examples of this trope. Since each succeeding book visited a different part of Oz or its environs, the map got an annual update with the release of each new book. Unfortunately, Baum messed up the map's directions, putting West and East on the wrong sides of the map. (While this was corrected in later books, devout Oz fans still embrace the swap; for example, in Robert A. Heinlein's The Number Of The Beast the world-jumping main characters use this feature to confirm that Oz really is Oz when they visit it.) The unique colors of the map of Oz forms the basis for the flag of Oz.
This was once explained in-universe as inadvertent copying from one of Prof. H.M. Wogglebug, T.E.'s magic lantern slides that happened to be flipped.
The simplest solution seems to be reversing the compass needle itself: the Munchkins should be in the East, colored Blue, but the flag (which reflects the four quadrants of the land) has Blue on the left. Hence make East point left and West point right.
Related to, inspired by, and roughly resembling this map is the one included in Wicked and the books that follow it. As in the Oz example, the maps change focus and are updated with each volume.
Each of the five books in Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain features a map at the beginning which is relevant to the plot of the story. Since they take place in different parts of Prydain, the map naturally changes; the map also notes what happens where. It should be noted that this map bears an obvious resemblance to that of Wales, though "Prydain is not Wales—not entirely, at least."
There's a map in Anne Bishop's Tir Alainn books which has a note underneath it reading, "This map was created by a geographically challenged author. All distances are whimsical and subject to change without notice." Inverted in her Emphera books: you couldn't draw a map even if you wanted because two different people can end up in two different places by going through the same gate depending on where the "heart resonates" with.
The Shannara series has maps, which show places destroyed in earlier books or, in one of the prequels, a place that didn't exist then.
Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger books have a map. At first it covers only the Bellwoods and immediate environs, with an added portion east of Zaryt's Teeth, because that's where the story is focused. (And true to form, while not every place on the Bellwoods map is visited, almost all the ones east of the Teeth are.) Book three introduces a whole new expanded map of the whole world which afterward never changes—although each subsequent book usually includes a secondary map showing what's 'just off the edge' or expanding on a small region.
The Chronicles of Narnia also inverts the "map came first" notion of David Eddings, since none of the books included a map until they were first bound together in one Doorstopper. As a result, as with Pratchett the land and its environs 'grew with the telling' and were all worked out in the text, so that the map could be drawn with great accuracy and even beauty. The gorgeous artwork of Aslan's face must be seen to be believed.
Robert E. Howard included a map with the Conan the Barbarian stories, though given Howard's rather slam-bang style of world-building, it wasn't so much a physical map as a series of political borders. It's mentioned at one point in "The Phoenix on the Sword," where King Conan adds the northern lands where he came from to the maps of the Aquilonian court.
Inverted in Hal Clement's science fiction novel Mission of Gravity. Clement created a globe of the planet Mesklin and wrote the story around it, but the book didn't include a map.
P.C. Hodgell includes many maps in her Chronicles of the Kencyrath series, drawn in a consciously Tolkien-influenced style, as well as plans of many of the cities and fortresses encountered. The most recent book, To Ride a Rathorn, has four pages of maps in the front and eight pages of more detailed maps in the back.
Wilbert Awdry, creator of Thomas the Tank Engine, was forced to map out Thomas's 14-mile railway line to prove to his children that a story involving a race between a train and a bus had an equal number of obstacles to both parties. Realising it could be useful as a means of enforcing continuity he kept it, and decided to expand on it, resulting in him dropping approximately 3000 square miles of fictional island (the Island Of Sodor) into the Irish Sea off the coast of the UK. He then spent decades creating a complete political, social, geological, industrial and linguistic 'Tolkien-lite' history of the Island in collaboration with his historian brother (just for fun!)... and then they got said history published as a book over which collectors now fight to the death. Awesome.
Lois McMaster Bujold's The Sharing Knife series of books contain maps of The Wide Green World, becoming grander in scale in each book as the characters do more and more travelling. The maps are based on, but not particularly close to, the eastern half of the USA, particularly Ohio.
The Phantom Tollbooth — particularly apt, as the map exists in-game as part of the mysterious tollbooth's appurtenances.
By the end of 90s, the Star Wars Galaxy had received a map that established the key regions and locations for a couple dozens of major planets. By the end of the 2000s, Star Wars Galaxy had received a full Atlas, with over 60 astro-maps and precise locations of over 4,500 planets.
The New Jedi Order series included a galaxy map marked with key star systems and regions in its hardcover editions. The black swathe showing the Yuuzhan Vong conquests was updated as the series progressed.
A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge. While a science fiction novel, it has a map of the galaxy done in fantasy style. It includes a delineation of the "Zones of Thought", which regulate FTL travel, as well as the path the protagonists' ship takes.
The Name of the Wind has a map, but does not follow the "if it's on the map, the characters will go there" rule of most fantasy; many places that are mentioned or visited are not detailed on the map even if they're in the geographic area.
The Steerswoman books have a world map, as befits their fantasy trappings. Since those trappings cover a chewy science-fictional center with lots of exploration, the map gets more filled in as the series goes on.
Andre Norton's early Witch World novels had a small world map drawn by Jack Gaughan, showing the three main kingdoms with the ocean to the west. In some of the later novels there are two maps covering a much wider area, one of which depicts the lands on either side of the western ocean, and the other depicting the rest of the eastern continent.
Though not a fantasy series, each book of the Red Mars Trilogy comes with a map of Mars with the locations of various towns mapped out. The map also updates from book to book, showing the changes wrought by terraformation.
The original releases of the The Adventures of Samurai Cat books featured a map of the areas visited in the book, showing them in relation to each other; they also all including an area labeled 'Vermont,' with a spot marked 'Author's House.'
Erin Hunter's Warrior Cats and Seeker Bears series both have two two-page maps per book: One is the "animal view" map, which is more decorative, having houses and trees and everything drawn out, and labeling it with the animals' names for landmarks. The second is a "human view" map, which labels the landmarks with human names. It also looks more like a proper map: rather than drawing the forest, there is a map key, and it just uses the symbol for "tree" lots of times.
Notably averted in The Witcher series: no canon map of the Continent has ever been released by the author, so the large number of maps found on the net are all fan-made approximations based on the geographical detail given in the books. Not even the maps featured in the videogames are canon, though Word of God is that they are "reasonably accurate".
Fiona Patton's Tales of the Branion Realm contains a map in each book, which unmistakeably depicts the British Isles. Due to alternate names such as Albangate for St. Albans and Halmouth for Falmouth, it's possible to follow the protagonists' journeys even without the maps (which is good as the maps are small and only show major locations).
The Noob novels. The only media of the franchise that shows the whole thing.
Live Action TV
The 10th Kingdom also has a map thoughtfully provided for the viewers' enjoyment, on the wall of Snow White Memorial Prison, so that both the hapless heroes Trapped in Another World and the viewers can learn exactly what the Nine Kingdoms look like. Unlike most versions of the fantasy map, it displays places which are never visited in the miniseries, since the story remains confined to the Fourth Kingdom (with brief forays into the Third and Ninth). It also has the amusing location marker "You Are Imprisoned Here" — this becomes a slight Running Gag in the Novelization with a map in Kissing Town marked "You Are Romantically Here" — and has the interesting feature of being remarkably similar in outlines to Europe... a feature which has led to some interesting Epileptic Trees among the fandom, ranging from the Nine Kingdoms having diverged from our timeline centuries ago to our world being a nonmagical, cursed offshoot of the Kingdoms.
Game of Thrones shows a map of Westeros in the opening credits each episode. Although the map doesn't change, the particular places the camera focuses on do depending on where the characters are for each episode.
The Legend Of Dick And Dom shows a map of Bottom World (conveniently 4:3 shape) over the opening credits, and also uses it during episodes form time to time- both in a mundane way to show where the protagonists are going, but also used for jokes, like Lampshade Hanging when they can't afford to film anything and doing a little animation on the map instead.
Obviously you can't actually include a map in a radio show, but Radio Times published a spoof map as part of a feature promoting The BBC's fantasy parody series Hordes of the Things. When the series was eventually issued on CD it included all of the Radio Times material including the map as a fold-out insert.
The maps of the Mystara setting are notable for almost always being covered in a hexagonal grid to assist the Dungeon Master in determining travel times, or something like that.
The maps in the Greyhawk boxed set were made on a hex grid. The maps in the Forgotten Realms boxed set had no grid on them, but did come with transparent plastic overlays with a hex grid on them.
Back in the '90s, Wizards of the Coast released several maps of the world of Dominaria, the main setting of Magic: The Gathering, focusing on the continents of Aerona, Terisiare, and Jamuraa. There is also a globe of the entire world hidden away somewhere in WotC HQ, though no one outside the company has ever seen it. Since then, however, the only map they've published is a very sketchy one of the continent of Otaria. Today they just throw out a new setting every year with no indication of what's where in relation to everything else.
Pete Venters (creator of the aforementioned globe) did release a map based on it◊. It only shows one hemisphere and there's a few clouds, but Aerona and other land masses are recognizable.
It's also worth noting that there is no complete map of Dominaria. Almost all the maps show a single continent, and the most comprehensive map we have shows only a part of the northern hemisphere. Then there are the continents with no map at all, which we have to rely on the background story to fathom where they're located. Damn you, Pete.
Thoroughly deconstructed by Rich Burlew of The Order of the Stick fame in his (sadly unfinished) The New World series, where he worldbuilds from scratch, basing his map on real rules of geology and then allowing its geography to influence the cultures and countries he overlays onto it.
Warhammer has a truly massively detailed one◊ that also looks oddly familiar
Each Warhammer Armies book also contains a more detailed full-page map of the homeland of the race it covers (The Empire, Ulthuan, Naggaroth, the Mountains of Mourn etc.). Even the Daemons of Chaos book has a stylised madman's envisioning of the parallel-dimension hell-realm where daemons come from, which cannot be mapped normally as it does not conform to the usual laws of space and time.
Likewise, Warhammer 40,000 has plenty of galactic maps and a few maps of individual planets or areas thereof. Most detailed perhaps being the ones of Armageddon's two main continents in various Armageddon War-related materials. The Horus Heresy novel Mechanicum has a map of the (real) Tharsis region of Mars, with all its (fictional!) 31st millennium locations marked.
Unlike most roleplaying games, most Fire Emblem installments (With the exception of Sacred Stones and Fire Emblem Awakening) don't let you move around the world map yourself, so when it shows you the map it obeys this trope.
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Adventure Mode: The Subspace Emissary includes a map that shows which stages you've cleared, with the option of going back to repeat those that weren't wiped out (although all stages can eventually be replayed after one completes the Subspace Emissary for the first time).
World of Warcraft makes frequent use of the map of the world (in addition to always being able to pop up the map of the area you're in, when you use the flying taxi service you click on your destination in a map of the whole continent). Each expansion has changed the maps, with Cataclysm replacing the maps of the original two continents and all the others adding a continent-sized area.
The Diablo series, also from Blizzard Entertainment, has the same problem — the map, which is supposed to be of the same continent over a span of about thirty years, changes rather drastically from one game to the next.
Myst features a profusion of maps and designs describing its miniature worlds, which are themselves literary descriptions made reality.
Guild Wars has three separate maps, one for each of its stand-alone campaigns, with the Eye of the North expansion nearly doubling the size of the original Tyrian Map. Each map has its own separate continent, and players switch from one to another when they travel from to different continents. Each full-sized map only shows an apparent section of the continent (and only half of that is actually explorable) suggesting that the world is actually very large (and leaving room for infinite expansions).
All Final Fantasy games have maps wherein, due to the linear plot, you are forced to visit almost every location on it simply to accomplish the story. The few places you don't visit can be found with simple exploring once the world becomes a Wide Open Sandbox.
Many of the games in the Ultima series included actual cloth maps of the world as Feelies. Useful for navigation in-game, but they were labeled in a pseudo-runic cypher.
Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy has a poster map/game manual in one. The map is bordered with a long passage written in the in-game writing system; those who bother to translate it will find it's full of references to the first game and future storylines.
Dragon Age: Origins has a map that you use whenever you choose which location you want to go to next. It's not a real world map, since it only shows one country (Ferelden), which is part of a much larger world (Thedas). BioWare also released a true world map that shows all of Thedas (see it here◊), but this map does not appear in the game itself.
The limited edition also has a Feelie map printed on cloth.
ZanZarah: The Hidden Portal has a variation: the in-game map is presented as an actual paper map, of which you initially only have the bottom-left piece. As you progress through the game, you recover more pieces that are attached to the map in a jigsaw puzzle manner until it is complete by the endgame. A marker on the map additionally tracks your current location, but only if you have the corresponding piece, otherwise you are wandering through terra incognita (conveniently, though, the map piece depicting each region can be found very close to your most likely first entrance point to said region).
The Golden Sun games have a world map you can access by hitting R while outside of cities and dungeons. The Lost Age was sold with a paper map of Weyard and a character relationship chart. Golden Sun: Dark Dawn's map of Angara contradicts most of what was established in the first two games, due to the events of the first two games causing the world to change rather drastically. It's still changing 30 years after the fact, which is when Dark Dawn takes place. Judging by the shape of Angara and surrounds, Weyard is slowly becoming Earth.
The Gamers Alliance has had many world maps due to the stories taking place during different eras. The map of the world during the most recent Third Age can be seen here.
The map of the Pokegirls world qualifies, despite technically being Earth 300 years in the future. Due to the horrendous Revenge War in the early 21st century, and later happenings: Australia has been fragmented; something did one hell of a number on Africa; Europe & Asia are barely recognizable as such; North America has been split in two, lost the southeast US and most of Canada, and has been separated from South America; and South America has had a huge chunk blown off. The map can be seen here.