Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten is the Top Ten Most Vivid Worlds/Settings in books.  This could be interesting–I have to admit, I’ve more than once imagined myself a sort of Mary Sue in various settings and worlds that I’ve read about.  I’ve been a Herald of Valdemar with Talia and Vanyel, a time traveller stuck in 1700s Scotland with Claire and Jamie, and many, many more.  I’ve always had a hard time falling asleep, and I’ve found that setting myself as a background character in some of my favorite stories helps send me to dreamland.  I’m also going to try to stay away from the “usual suspects” like J.R.R. Tolkien’s world, Harry Potter, and Westeros.

Top Ten Most Vivid Worlds or Settings 

1.  Valdemar–one day I took a chance on a book I found in the grocery store because the cover had a picture of a beautiful blue-eyed white horse on it.  It was Winds of Fate by Mercedes Lackey.  I fell in love instantly–horses that could talk directly into your mind?  YES!  Lackey is a master at painting a picture of wherever her characters happen to be, whether it’s in Valdemar, the Dhorisha Plains, or wherever.  Her husband, Larry Dixon, brings her characters to life with sketches inserted at the start of each chapter.  She makes you want to be bedded down next to Skif when he’s a thief, or Elspeth’s bosom companion growing up in the castle in Haven.

2.  The lands of the Wheel of Time series–I have to admit, I really love the sweeping epics that take a dozen books and thousands of pages to tell the entire story.  The later books in this story, especially the final ones, are not as good as the original ones, but once you’ve invested as much time into a series as those of us who love The Wheel of Time have, you just can’t give up–especially when the Last Battle is hovering just out of sight!  Since The Eye of the Storm, I have wanted to be an Aes Sedai and walk the halls of the Ivory Tower being mysterious.  I’ve chosen the color of my Ajah a dozen times–Blue, Green, Brown, and occasionally Red.  Blue usually is the frontrunner, as those are the Ajah most likely to do explore the world, but the lure of being able to bond more than one Warder is always intriguing, so Green is never far behind.

3.  The Land of Oz–talking animals, Good Witches, Bad Witches, a desert that turns you to sand if you touch it?  An Emerald City, trees that grown pails stuffed full of food?  There are so many things and wonders to love about Frank L. Baum’s magical kingdom.  While I haven’t read as many of the Oz books as I would like, I have still read quite a few.  I don’t think I ever wanted to be Dorothy (she was a little…annoying at best), but to be able to travel to a magical kingdom, win a pair of Ruby Slippers, slay a bad witch, and meet three wonderful new friends sounds like a wonderful time!

4.  Xanth–Piers Anthony’s mixed up version of Florida!  While the later books (anything past, oh, say #15) become increasingly pun driven and formulaic, the original books are quirky and fun, and the areas are *just* familiar enough that you can picture them in your head.  Lake Ogrechobee, the Kiss Me River (that became the Kill Me River when they pulled the esses straight), the With-A-Cookie-River, and my favorite, Lake Tsoda Popka, which is made of soda pop, and I think is the habitat of the Loan Shark.  You just never know what kind of pun you’ll run into just around the corner!

5.  Fantasia/Fantastica–from The Neverending Story.  I always wanted to ride Falcor!  This book also has an Ivory Tower, but instead of being filled with wise, magical women, this Ivory Tower is home to the Childlike Empress.  I admit, most of my thoughts about this book actually come from watching the movie over and over as a child–I didn’t actually read the book until about 5-7 years ago, when I managed to snag a copy from my favorite used book store, McKay’s.

6.  Alasea–The Banned and the Banished series by James Clements creates a dark and foreboding land controlled by evil.  I love the descriptive language used, and this is one of my all time favorite fantasy series!  Reading these books is somewhat like watching a Tim Burton movie, in the fact that the whole series is just very…dark.  The one beacon of light is the fiery red hair of the heroine, Elena.  Fantastic creatures populate the pages, from the wood nymph that accompanies Elena and her brother to the dead that seem pop up with scary regularity.

7.  Burning Fog Isle/Schooner Inn (Maine)–The setting for Caroline B. Cooney’s Loosing Christina trilogy.  Christina and the other island children are sent to the mainland for school once they reach 7th grade, and this year they get to board with the Mr and Mrs. Shevvington, who own the Schooner Inn.  This was probably my favorite trilogy in early high school–her descriptions of just about everything are fantastic, and make you feel like you’re drowning along with Anya, brave along side Christina, and as fragile as Dolly.

8.  The National Parks–Nevada Barr writes books set in various national parks, from Isle Royal National Park in Michigan, to Dry Tortugas National Park in the Florida Keys, to Yosemite National Park in California, to Ellis Island in New York City.  She’s a National Park Ranger, so her books are full of locations and descriptions that are more than likely taken from her personal experiences.

9.  Meg’s Childhood Bedroom–from a Swiftly Tilting Planet, Meg dreams about the past through her brother, Charles Wallace.  Charles Wallace goes to Patagonia, the distant distant past, the place where unicorns are born, and more as he tries to save the world from nuclear disaster.  I love Madeline L’Engle, and this is my favorite book.  You can almost feel Meg’s quilt around your shoulders as she snuggles down in bed on that cold winter’s night.

10.  New Moon (Prince Edward Island)–Emily’s father dies, leaving her in the care of her mother’s relatives.  She ends up on New Moon farm, which is a bit antiquated.  They still use candles instead of electric lamps, and skim their milk pans by hand.  L.M. Montgomery captures the quaint little farm perfectly, and you can almost see the shadows that Aunt Elizabeth’s candles cast as you make your way from the kitchen to your bedroom.

Runners Up:

Fear Street, from the Fear Street series by R.L. Stine, The Vale of the Unicorns of the Unicorns of the Ring, from The Birth of the Firebringer Trilogy by Meredith Ann Pierce, Camp Halfblood from the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, Cincinnati from The Hollows series by Kim Harrison, Arren from the Secret of the Unicorn Queen series by various authors, and Miami from the Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay.

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14 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I loved The Neverending Story!! And I like that Fear Street is one of your runners up! I actually read tons of those books growing up. I think they gave me nightmares though… I was only like 11!

    • I still read the Fear Street books. There’s a HUGE flea market about 20 min south of me where I can usually find fairly cheap YA books, and the Fear Street/Christopher Pikes tend to sell for $.25-50. Can’t beat that price!!! 🙂

      • Wow that’s awesome! Absolutely!!

  2. I almost picked Camp Halfblood too! Oooh…and Fear Street is a good one.

    • There are just too many good settings, I bet most of us could have probably made lists of 20 and still had leftovers that just didn’t quite make the cut!

  3. Oz is on my list, too. And, oh, yes–Nevada Barr! I *love* how she brings different real National Park settings to life.

    • My husband has a friend who has been working for the NPS since graduating college (and last year landed his first *permanent* job), so reading about the different aspects of the park that I’ve heard my husband and his friend talk about just makes it more real.

  4. Ahhh Fear Street, a place where I would not ever move.

    Seeing this reminds me that I really need to read further in The Wheel of Time and perhaps just spend more time with epic fantasy.

    My TTT

    • I think it really depends on where you stopped…there are a couple of books where…honestly, nothing happens. I think Knife of Dreams is the big offender. I’m so far into the series with only ONE book left to read (and that’s only because it hasn’t come out yet) that I can’t not finish the series!
      If you haven’t read A New Spring, it’s worth the read, and a lot shorter than the rest of the books. Plus, it features one of my favorite characters, Moiraine.

  5. Great choices! I’d have never thought of the Barr national park settings. And excellent of you to have stayed away from “the usual suspects.” 🙂

    Here’s my Top Ten Most Vivid Settings in Books.I’d love for you to stop by and see what you think!

    • I wouldn’t have had much on my list other than the “usual suspects” if I had chosen to do them! It’s not that I don’t believe that they’re vivid settings, I just wanted to pay homage to a few that might not be as well known as them.
      I’m starting to wish that I’d put fear street on the list, as a lot of commenters are commenting on it! 😀

  6. I love your list! I completely forgot about Fear Street and the Neverending Story, which reminds me of Stoneybrook from the Babysitters Club for some reason.

    • The Neverending Story reminds you of the BSC? 😀 I’ve got to know why!!

      • I think it’s childhood nostalgia more than anything else.


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