Every Thursday, Nathan over at Fantasy Review Barn hosts a weekly party where blogs set out with Diana Wynne Jones’ hilarious book The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The Essential Guide to Fantasy Travel in hand to explore all the tropes from their favorite stories. So sit back and enjoy the fun.

30th April, 2015 – THE BIG CITY

There has to be somewhere in Fantasyland where everyone comes together. All roads lead to Rome after all. A place where traders prosper, politicians scheme, and criminals thrive.

There are too many of these to list, so I’m going to narrow it down to those cities which played host to significant events in the story line.


MINAS TIRITH Does this city even need any introduction?

Well, it shouldn’t to any fantasy fan, because the white city is at the center of events in the Return of the King. It could even be said that the fate of Middle-Earth hinged on what happened before its mighty walls. Sure, Frodo’s quest to destroy the ring is the ultimate objective in the war, but if Sauron’s forces had captured this fortress-city, killed Aragorn, and routed the remaining armies of the free people of Middle-Earth, I doubt very seriously Frodo would have reached Mount Doom, and if he did, there wouldn’t have been much left to save back home.

Buy The Lord of the Rings: One Volume at Amazon.


REVELSTONE This city of the Lords of the Land was carved by the Giants of old from the very cliffs of the mountains. It has stood unconquered by its enemies for a millennium, safe behind inside its sheer mountain fastness with a fertile plateau behind it capable of feeding the city during any siege. Even Thomas Covenant is rendered speechless when he first beholds this great city, which is pretty amazing since Covenant generally bitches and whines about everything.

During the three series, more important events happen in Revelstone than I can even begin to list. It might not be the heart of the Land, but it definitely the head of the Land.

Buy Lord Foul’s Bane (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Book 1) at Amazon.


Amber Amber: the one true world from which infinite, parallel worlds have sprung. From this amazing city rules a superhuman royal family, who can travel freely through the “shadows” (alternate worlds) of the universe. Standing opposite in the multiverse of is The Courts of Chaos, which is situated in Shadow at the very edge of the pit of Chaos itself.

Now, I realize Amber is considered a “world,” but in the chronicles, Amber is also synonymous with the city of Amber, where lots of important events take place, so I’m putting it on this list whether it strictly fits or not.

Buy The Great Book of Amber: The Complete Amber Chronicles, 1-10 (Chronicles of Amber) at Amazon.



While Rillanon is the capital of the Kingdom, Krondor seems to be where everything important always happens — at least in the Feist series that I’ve read. Situated in the western part of the Empire on the Bitter Sea, it is usually the residence of the heir to the Kingdom and is the seat of power for the governance of the Western Realm of the Kingdom. Plus, it is where Jimmy the Hand was a thief, so that means it is really the most important place anywhere on Midkemia. 🙂

That beautiful image of Krondor is by Miguel Coimbra found here.

Buy Magician Apprentice – Volume 1 (Magician Apprentice (Numbered)) (v. 1) at Amazon.


THE WALLS OF AIR In this world, the legendary Dark have risen from the bowels of the world and begun to eat all the humans they can find. Civilization has collapsed. Cities have crumbled under the onslaught. Kingdoms annihilated. Humanity itself on the verge of extinction. But there remains one place where the refugees of humanity huddle together and hope for salvation: The Keep of Dare.

This ancient edifice rises like a multi-storied obsidian cube from the side of a mountain, nestled in a forested vale far from the major cities. Legend says it was built with magic and technology from the old world before the first rising of the Dark, and that seems surely true because the smooth, dark surface is unlike anything built by human hands.

No matter its origin, however, this is basically the last city in the northern part of the world, and most of the stories in the series take place (at least in apart) within its walls. So it has to be on the Big City list.

Buy The Darwath Series: The Time of the Dark, The Walls of Air, and The Armies of Daylight at Amazon.



This city is the capital of the Kingdom of Gwynedd. Within these hallowed walls all the political intrigue of a nation seem to seethe. Royal plots against royal. The church plots against the crown. And a young king tries to find a way to remain true to his believes yet rule a nation at war with a whole group of its own people.

As I’ve mentioned before, the Chronicles of the Deryni remind me of an old school Song of Ice and Fire. Others might not agree with me, but I’ll always compare the two. And just like King’s Landing in Westeros, Rhemuth is the hub of all the great struggles in Gwynedd.

Buy Deryni Rising (Chronicles of the Deryni) at Amazon.


KRISPOS RISING Mr. Turtledove might be more well known for his alternate history novels, but he also has published several series set in a fantasy world centered around the great city of Videssos and its empire. Now, for any history buff, it is obvious that Videssos is basically a fantasy version of Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire, but be that as it may, these series are entertaining fantasy romps with more than their share of magical twists and turns.

Yeah, I guess you could categorize these novels as alternate history fantasy, but they are still fairly entertaining reads where the city of Videssos is usually the center of the action.

Buy Videssos Cycle: Volume One: Misplaced Legion and Emperor for the Legion (The Videssos Cycle Book 1) at Amazon.



Well, I began this list with a city that really needed no introduction, and I’m going to end this part of the list with another: King’s Landing. This capital city of Westeros is so well known by this point I really don’t see any need to belabor the point.

Buy A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1) at Amazon.



Most of my real life friends know that at one time I was a World of Warcraft addict. I played the game every spare minute of every day, was a dedicated officer in a raiding guild and was even a raid leader for a short time. And during those years spent in this great MMO, my favorite big cities were Ironforge in Vanilla WOW and Dalaran during Wrath of the Lich King. Those were the places to go to rub elbows with your fellow players, check out their uber gear, and (in vanilla anyway) form some raid groups. Yeap, those were some good times, but eventually, my time in WOW ended about the same time as the pandas invaded.


Buy World of Warcraft – PC/Mac at Amazon.

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  1. Strangely enough, I was thrilled to find the WoW reference at the end. While reading the post, it occurred to me that most of the cities that sprang to my mind were from games.


  2. Minas Tirith and King’s Landing are getting the lion’s share in this week’s meme, but I was greatly intrigued by the cities quoted from World of Warcraft: even though I’m not a gamer I’m aware of WoW and I found the images (especially the first one) quite compelling.


  3. Jenn says:

    I’m adding the Kurtz and Hambly to my TBR list!
    I love it when people include gaming examples…. always makes me happy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. lynnsbooks says:

    Krondor – what a great choice, I wish I’d thought of that. A great list and some lovely City pictures.
    Lynn 😀


  5. Kaja says:

    Is it bad if I say I only recognize the obvious ones? :/
    I would hate to live in King’s Landing but I could be talked into going to Minas Tirith 🙂 All those tiers, though… No wonder people went everywhere on horseback.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yay for King’s Landing! Or should it be “boo”? I certainly wouldn’t want to live there. Seems like many of its citizens have very short life spans.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nathan says:

    I played WoW for about two years. Way before any expansions. I don’t regret the time spent on it at all, even though I spend more time manipulating the marketplace than actually questing (I was a rich, rich, sword bearing rogue).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. digitaltempest says:

    Admittedly, I’m only familiar with the WoW locations and King’s Landing, but I’ll definitely be looking into the ones that are new to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wendy B says:

    Amber. Well done. *applauds*

    Liked by 1 person

  10. rudejasper says:

    I’ve only read the first in The Chronicles of Amber but definitely want to continue – such an interesting universe!


  11. Oooh, I remember those days were Dalaran and Ironforge were the place to be! It’s changed so much now though, until recently it was Stormwind. I don’t know if you’ve heard what Blizz has done to SW now, but it’s craaaaazy. Of course, now that everyone has their garrisons that’s where players are hanging out and cities are practically obsolete.


    • Bookwraiths says:

      I haven’t heard much about WoW since Pandaria dropped. All my friends left the game. I thought about trying out this recent expansion, but haven’t found the time. Is it worth the time sink anymore?


      • Well, it depends. I personally think it’s quite worth it, precisely because it’s no longer the time sink it once was. Hardcore players can still sink every free moment into the game if they want to, but for those of us who can’t, no longer do you have to put inordinate amounts of time to be able to experience all the content and get decent gear. With the new baby, my husband and I only manage to get in an hour here and there, but we’re still able to raid thanks to the new LFR feature. Heroic dungeons and raids no longer take half the night, usually we are in and out in about 15-30 minutes, coming away with our epic loot. I’m really liking the game now, because they have made it accessible for everyone. Whether I have five hours or five minutes to spend in the game, there’s always something for me to do.


  12. mervih says:

    Amber is one of my favorite worlds, too. Great list!


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