So as part of my world-building challenge, I’ve compiled my first list of books that I think display excellent world-building in at least one form or the other. And these aren’t just any books, these are some of the ‘older’ books I’ve read and come to love. Books I read before I even really understood YA, or book hype or anything. These are books I think we can all learn from. So without further ado…
Just about anything written by Tamora Pierce. No lie. I;m talking about her song of the Lioness series, her Daughter of the Lioness books, the Beka Cooper trilogy, The Immortals series, and the Circle Reforged books. Honestly, these are beautifully written book with a beautifully written world. Most of her books tell stories which take place in the world of Tortall and feature carefully crafted societies, a well-developed history and the author’s ability to keep it all together. Then add that to the fact that she adds the element of magic to the mix and makes it seem totally realistic… well that just makes these books ridiculously awesome. These are definite must-reads.
The Uglies series by Scott Westerfield was pretty great. It’s one of the ‘older’ dsytopians and I feel like it really gives us a look into how people are motivated, which is a big part of world-building. A story can seriously fall apart if the characters seem like they’re doing things just for the sake of doing them. In books where there is more world-building, the setting tends to be different from our reality and showing personal motivations etc can make that entire world just come alive.
So, 1984. One of the great grandfathers of dystopian novels. A definite read because it shows how society has just diverged off the path reality took and how our world ‘could’ be. In the world of George Orwell’s 1984, he had to create a new government, a society that ran differently, the motivations that guided everyone, and he had to make sure it was all interlinked. This story should be read, at least for the way it shows how one factor or aspect of society, affects another, and another, and another. Read it to understand that ‘no man is an island’, that nothing exists in a vacuum.
J. R. R. Tolkien. The master of world-building. No really. Who creates entire languages? Like seriously??? I mean I’d like to but honestly… Dude. Just dude. Now. I was only able to finish and truly enjoy The Hobbit. But I recommend attempting to read his books. One or two etc. A chapter here and a chapter there. This man did it all. He created a world from scratch more or less and he built it into a truly complex thing. Something that could live on its own, evolve on its own. It’s scary in a way, but also very beautiful. Bite your tongue and push through this. Trust me.
So he didn’t love the His Dark Material trilogy by Philip Pullman? Once again, this is a world similar to our own and yet very different. Hence the writer had to examine these differences to create a believable set of people. It’s really a good book for examining people’s motivation as well as looking at how some differences can affect an entire society. I especially loved that they explore ‘different worlds’ within this story. It just helps to reaffirm my point that you guys need to read these books.
What do you think? Which of the older books are great examples of world-building?
K, the Popinjay.