Fantasy maps represent a world of imagination, perhaps taking natural geographical features and creating unique environments. Many are incorporated in fictional works to represent that world in a visual form, enhancing the readers’ experience and understanding of the story.
“I made the map of the island; it was elaborately and (I thought) beautifully coloured; the shape of it took my fancy beyond expression; it contained harbours that pleased me like sonnets; and with the unconsciousness of the predestined I ticketed my performance Treasure Island. I am told there are people who do not care for maps, and I find it hard to believe The names, the shapes of the woodlands, the courses of the roads and rivers, the prehistoric footsteps of man still distinctly traceable up hill and down dale, the mills and the ruins, the ponds and the ferries, perhaps the Standing Stone or the Druidic Circle on the heath; here is an inexhaustible fund of interest for any man with eyes to see, or tuppenceworth of imagination to understand with. No child but must remember laying his head in the grass, staring into the infinitesimal forest, and seeing it grow populous with fairy armies. Somewhat in this way, as I pored upon my map of Treasure Island, the future characters of the book began to appear there visibly among imaginary woods; and their brown faces and bright weapons peeped out upon me from unexpected quarters, as the passed to and fro, fighting and hunting treasure, and these few square inches of a flat projection.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
What may be considered a tradition was started by Stevenson when he created Treasure Island in 1883. Many writers, Rider Haggard, A A Milne and J R R Tolkein to name a few, incorporated mapping into their craft. The map increased reader involvement and understanding of the tale being put before them.