This week’s topic was all about place but we had a bit of a freebie to choose the location – Top Ten Books with ? Setting. I went for cities as there are some really good ones in Fantasy Books! I’m rather late too…
1. Ankh Morpork – Discworld by Terry Pratchett
Possibly the best realised city in the whole of fiction. It’s a character all of it’s own, from the bizarre combination of architecture and eccentric characters to the river that oozes it’s way through the middle of the twin cities. The concepts of the Guilds is just brilliant too. But for the books with their pulse completely on the streets your really need the Watch series, Sam Vimes has Ankh Morpork in his bones.
2. Ketterdam – Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
We didn’t spend that long in Ketterdam in the first book but what we did see was utterly fascinating, the concept of the Barrel and the complexities of the gang structure reeled me in and the character interaction finished the job. I would happily read a sheaf of pages just about the political structure of this city. Bardugo has some great world-building, excellent place names and I hope we get to see more of it in the next book.
3. London – Neverwhere/PC Grant/Matthew Swift
There’s a lot of fantastical versions of London but these are by far my favourites. London Below is wonderfully whimsical and needs about another 2 books to do it justice, the Rivers of London and their wonderfully diverse deities are utterly fantastic. But I have a huge soft spot for Matthew’s city and the strange and wonderful creatures we find there.
4. San Francisco – Frog Music by Emma Donoghue
Donoghue does an excellent job evoking the period of this novel, but she really excels in her description of San Francisco, particularly the area around Blanche’s building. You feel just like you’re walking through the sunbaked streets with her as she flees from a killer.
5. Moscow/St Peterburg/Leningrad – Catherynne M Valente’s Deathless
I had this on my library pile for ages and I’ve been looking forward to reading Valente’s wonderfully lyrical prose. What I wasn’t expecting was to fall in love with the city she evoked, a city which changed names and rulers nearly as often as it changed the seasons. Beautifully done.
6. Gujaareh – Dreamblood by N. K. Jemisin
Jemisin is a class act when it comes to world-building, she evokes a really interesting city where everything is steeped in the importance of its dream goddess. The intricate politics of it’s layers of class, state and religion are fascinating and it’s similarity to the Nile’s floodplain s fascinating.
7. Darrington City – Faraday Files by Katie McIntyre
Faraday’s city is highly unusual, the technology is of a sort of steampunk blended with bound spirits. It’s also a place that’s grown up around the site of the Floating Castle disaster and is irrevocably marred both physically and mentally. We see more of it in the second book as Chris starts to move out of his normal sphere and I hope we see a bit more in the third.
8. Amsterdam – The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
I had never read anything set in the Netherlands before, so The Miniaturist was something of an eye opener. It was fascinating to read something set in its capital city at the height of its trading empire and from a very unique point of view.
9. Bulikov – City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
An incredibly inventive creation, a city distorted in time and space, a former colonial capital now suffering under it’s own colonial overlords. Cultural erasure is rife amongst a society already struggling to remember it’s history.
10. Spire Albion – The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
A city spread across many levels on a spire of rock jutting up from a decaying planet. There’s some fascinating world building going on there isn’t there? It only gets better with talking cats, invaders from other spires and some mysterious political goings-on.