Top Ten Tuesday – World Building 101

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature run by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week you compile a list of ten books that fit with the theme. All the details and how to join are available here.

This weeks was something of a free pass. What text’s would be on your syllabus for teaching x 101? I went with the suggestion for world-building.

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1. Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett

This was always going to be on here. The sheer scope of the world this man created is immeasurable. Spanning 40 odd books, continents, centuries, gods and mortals in vibrant technicolour prose. I don’t know anyone else who has managed it on this scale without ever confusing or info-dumping me. The man was a genius.

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2. City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

I love this book and I’m really looking forward to the next two in the series. Very rarely is an author successful in creating a fictional city that is as much of a character as the protagonist (Ankh Morpork being a notable exception). The wider world is brilliantly constructed, but this strange, twisted city is the jewel so detailed is it in its depiction.

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3. PC Grant Novels by Ben Aaronovitch

The world as we know it, but nudged just out of line. Magic somehow slipped plausibly into police procedural with a heck of a lot of back-story simmering below the surface. The world is steadily expanding with every book Aaronovitch writes. Getting richer and richer all the time.

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4. Matthew Swift Novels by Kate Griffin

This series is so steeped in London it’s all but swimming in the Thames. Yet Griffin adds so many different dimensions to it. This is not Gaiman’s Neverwhere (another near contender for this list) where it is viewed through the eyes of an outsider. Swift is deeply entrenched in this world and it’s a delight to learn it through his eyes.

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5. Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

I’m only partway through this novel but it deserves its place on this list. Spellbinding. A world that has sunk beneath the waves where land is considered a privilege allowed to only a few. Floating circuses, Gracekeepers and a dancing bear populate this intriguing landscape. I’m looking forward to diving back into it.

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6. His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman

This series was pivotal to my childhood and to what I understood the genre of Fantasy to be. There was no way I could not put these books on this list. By far his best work for me. Planning to re-read them this summer.

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7. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

A book where you can feel the work that has gone into every page. A huge volume that still seems to fly past as it paints an incredibly vivid picture of a world where history is turned ever so slightly on its head. The resulting world-building, intertexts, footnotes etc. are joyous to read.

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8. Harry Potter Series by J. K. Rowling

I know, I know. Far from an original choice. But this series deserves to be on this list. Rowling’s worldscape is utterly immense and I’ve always believed that it’s this detailed foundation on which a masterpiece was built. I’m a 90’s kid at heart and these books will always have a special place there.

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9. Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud

The society that Stroud describes in the Bartimaeus trilogy is, in many ways, a little like Clarke’s world in Strange and Norrell. A familiar section of history that has changed by the existence of forces outside our world. I loved this series so much and it made a big impression on me.

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10. The Oversight by Charlie Fletcher

I loved Fletcher’s children’s lit and I really enjoyed his first adult novel, especially as it allowed him to explore the world he had already set out through different eyes. The concept of Glints and the world of the Oversight is fascinating. I’m really looking forward to how he develops it further in The Paradox.

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3 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday – World Building 101

  1. I LOVE world-building ♥ Definitely Harry Potter and His Dark Materials!! Great picks! I still need to read Discworld, Bartimaeus and Matthew Swift though but they’re on the tbr shelf 🙂 Awesome picks^^ x

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  2. Yeah, I agree one of the strongest points in ‘Harry Potter’ is world building, who didn’t imagine Diagon Alley as something as real as Trafalgar Square in London? ‘His Dar Materials’ is a trilogy that blew my mind when I read it, I was ten years old and I loved the mixture of fantasy and realism. And ‘Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell’ has also something special, you really feel ‘with the characters’ when you read it.

    I have to read something by Terry Prachett though, so many people seem to agree he was such an amazing writer. And this book you write about, ‘The Gracekeepers’ sounds very interesting…

    As I writer, one of the things that worries me most is world building, because I find that as a reader the books that tend to stay with me longer are those in which I felt ‘inside’. I have to keep reading authors who have mastered this technique!

    Thanks for writing! I like your blog 🙂

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