To get where you are going, it’s usually important to know where you are starting out. It’s the same if you are gearing up for a road trip, going to a house party, or crossing swords with the armies of an evil general—maps are key to the success of any critical mission. As such, it should come as no surprise that a lot of our favorite fantasy series have included amazing maps. Below are a few of our favorites.
Thrór's Map from The Hobbit
If you are planning to retake Erebor and defeat Smaug, you’d better hope someone in your party is packing this handy map (and the key to the secret door wouldn’t hurt anything either). Created by the Dwarven king Thrór and put to good use by his grandson Thorin Oakenshield, this map was actually drawn by J. R. R. Tolkien himself for the original book. We expect this classic is going to be getting a bit of screen time as the new Hobbit film trilogy gets going next month.
Florin and Guilder from The Princess Bride
Alright, so the Princess Bride isn’t actually a series, but it’s a truly unusual fantasy novel that spawned a classic film, a regrettable video game, and persistent (but ill-founded) rumors that a remake is just around the corner. The original map from the book is a colorful diagram of all the locations (both major and minor) that featured in the adventures of Wesley and Princess Buttercup. Not only does it include such crucial locations as the Cliffs of Insanity, the Fire Swamp, and the R.O.U.S., but also helpful labels like “the rope,” "wheelbarrow," and "sharks."
Westeros from A Game of Thrones
When you play the Game of Thrones, you bring a playbook or you die. Even if you only know the series from the HBO show, you’ve probably noticed that George R.R. Martin doesn’t screw around. He uses tons of characters, tons of houses, tons of events, and tons of places. If you try to tackle the 4000+ page (and counting) saga it’s pretty fantastic to be able to see where King’s Landing is in relationship to Winterfell, which coast hugs the Iron Islands, and so forth.
Hundred Acre Wood from Winnie the Pooh
While Christopher Robin never had to slay a dragon or face the machinations of the incestuous Lannisters, he did go on more than his fair share of surprising adventures, and the map he made of his environs is one of the most famous in all of fantastic literature (also among the most valuable—the original sold for about $100,000 three years ago). The map's childish misspellings and whimsical labels immediately pull the viewer in and remind us how pleasant it is to spend an afternoon with a tubby little buddy all stuffed with fluff.
Marauder’s Map from the Harry Potter series
On this list, it's the map that covers the smallest area, but there's little doubt that it's the most powerful of them all. This is the stunning work of four teenage wizards who proudly slapped their names (or at least their pseudonyms) on the front with the legend, "Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief-Makers are proud to present The Marauder's Map." The map's ability to keep track of not only locations, but of the people moving about those locations helped Harry and pals get out of (and into) more than their fair share of trouble. It's a tool all of us could find a use for from time to time.
What are your favorite obscure fantasy maps (And what series do you hate for being under-mapped)?