Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. It was a little difficult for me to decide what topic to focus on for this week but I decided to Worldbuilding 101 because I love reading books that let me sink into their world. If I ever teach or join a worldbuilding class as a student, I would love to read and discuss the books in my list below. I feel like they represent books or series that have detailed, imaginative and intelligent worldbuilding.
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – This series was a huge part of my teen years and I definitely loved the magical world that Rowling created. Although I was past the right age, I wanted to receive an invitation to attend Hogwarts!
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis – Another magical world which I loved reading about as a child. Who wouldn’t want to spend time in Narnia, with all its magic and talking animals and Aslan?
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – How can a class about worldbuilding not have Tolkien in it? Such a classic example of intricate worldbuilding that includes history, language, and everything else.
Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner – One of my favorite series of all time, I feel like I keep mentioning it in my TTT lists. But it’s really appropriate for this one because MWT created an amazing world reminiscent of ancient Greece, complete with gods and goddesses who influence major events but in such subtle ways.
Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews – I really like the magic vs. tech background of this world. And I like how each book deals with a different kind of magic and mythology originating from various countries. (Bonus: I’m also a fan of the worldbuilding in the authors’ Burn for Me, with the mafia-like magical families.)
Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore – Technically these two books are set in the same world but they’re so different. I liked both kingdoms that had different sorts of people with magical abilities – in Graceling, they have a special skill called a Grace while in Fire, there are radiantly beautiful (and colorful) animals and humans called monsters who can control minds.
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley – One of the first YA fantasy titles that I fell in love with, I really enjoyed being immersed in this world. I liked that Harry is a character from a world similar to our own, with a magical world bordering it. Aside from the magic, I liked the tension between the two cultures and how it represents colonization. (Bonus: I also loved the worldbuilding in McKinley’s Pegasus. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll get the sequel for that soon!)
Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith – This is actually just one of the titles set in Smith’s fictional world Sartorias-deles. She’s been writing that setting ever since she was a child and I like how her books are set in different time periods of the same world, so that it keeps building the history. There’s a little bit of magic in this book but focuses more on court intrigue while a new government is being built after the fall of previous ruling family.
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman – I remember being amazed that the two main characters came from parallel worlds, and the series of events lead them together. I was really impressed with Lyra’s world and intrigued by humans and their daemon counterparts.
Touchstone trilogy by Andrea K. Host – I had a hard time choosing between Host’s Medair and Touchstone because both have excellent worldbuilding. I’m going with Touchstone for this list because I liked that the heroine was just walking home from school one day when BAM, she makes a turn or something and steps into an alternate universe that’s way more technologically advanced than our own. I also love that she’s from Australia.
If you taught or studied a Worldbuilding 101 class, what books would you include?