Maps are at the heart of my fantasy reading experience. From Tolkien to Brooks to Anthony, maps were de rigueur in the old days. I remember rushing home from the store, jumping on my bed and cracking open my latest purchase (the new book smell? How can anyone forget that?). The first thing I would do after absorbing the cover, before reading a single word, was pore over the map. The map was what first immersed me in the world, the prep-work needed to begin my journey in Middle-Earth, or Narnia, or Xanth.
You see less maps these days. That might have something to do with the increase in popularity of “urban fantasy” which is usually set in the well known modern world. You don’t need a map in your novel when your reader can just crack open their Rand McNally Road Atlas. It also might be due to this sort of sentiment (although Joe does have maps in his later books). I always wanted a map in my SHADOW OPS books, but faced the challenge of visually depicting a landscape that spans two loosely orbiting worlds.
But challenges are just that: challenges. With the right help, you can master them. Enter the fabulously talented Priscilla Spencer, who has done maps for fantasy luminaries like Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne and Saladin Ahmed. Suffice to say she was more than equal to the task.
Click on the map to see it full sized! Priscilla’s map lays the groundwork for FORTRESS FRONTIER and gives us our first rough sketches of the creatures that live in the Source. It’s the sort of map that a hard-bitten SOC operator might make as he tries to make sense of the alignment between the planes in his efforts to track down the fugitive Oscar Britton.
Fantasy maps had such a huge impact on my reading experience growing up, and I can’t tell you how jazzed I am to finally have one of my own.