Friday, December 18, 2009

World Building in the Three Trilogies

I remember at the beginning of the semester, we discussed the importance of world building in fantasy novels. It’s odd too look back on all the books we’ve read and the various ways that each author chose to construct the worlds in which their stories take place. However, I can’t tell if it’s just my own personal bias that influences which worlds are in my opinion the best, but they happen to fall in the same order my favorite trilogies for the semester.
First. His Dark Materials
Pullman engages the philosophical thought experiment of possible worlds and builds an excellent story around it. Though I feel that if he wants to ever publish any sequels, that he will have to declare a finite number of these worlds, otherwise we can have evil doppelgangers of will and lyra freeing the authority from a different world, and starting the novel all over again, in a different possible world of course…) Although this could provide to an interesting set of novellas, unless this is his intention he ought to address that immediately in the next novel. Other than that, the world building is truly spectacular. Setting up worlds like lyra’s which has magic and the aliethometer to communicate with the dust, against will’s world which uses technology to do so is brilliant. It is also excellent the way that Pullman makes each new world as important as the next, and I also love the way he has all characters from all worlds end in the same place, after death. It really ties everything together in a fascinating way.

Second. The Lord Of The Rings.
Also a very well developed land. I always have loved how Tolkien presented us with so much diversity, on only one continent. He has even more types of creatures than Pullman does, who has the power to create a new world where anything exists. The only thing that held this story at number two for me was the lengthy quests through mountains and forests. To me it felt no matter where they were going, that they were in the exact same place the whole time. I never got that feeling with Pullman and that is why this is number two and that is number one.

Last. Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever.
I wish that we had read more books this semester just so I could put this book further down the list, and as much distance as I can between this garbage and the other two excellent trilogies. His style is derivative and annoying. His world building is worse. Dream worlds? You have to be kidding me. I don’t even want to talk about it. If there was a place below last, it would easily go to this.

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