Friday, October 19, 2012

BOOKS - Next Stop, Adventure!

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I love saving book-related comics that I come across throughout the week. This one, from Adam @ Home, is especially fun because it points out a truth that all avid readers acknowledge. Books can take you to some fantastic places.

Sometimes the place in question is as wild and foreign as another world or outer space. Sometimes it's a place as off-kilter yet familiar as a normal world fraught with paranormal creatures or an alternate reality. And sometimes it's the uncomfortable space inside another person's skull.

The best places are the ones that feel real. That doesn't mean that the best places are automatically based off of real places, such as a high school or Paris. Actually, those places sometimes veer sharply into flat and vague, merely used as cardboard backdrops for the plot and its characters. But you know you've come across a really great setting when you find yourself thinking or saying things like "Man, I'd love to visit there" or "This is great! I wish it were real!" or making jokes about hopping into an IKEA wardrobe to find it.

... No? Just me?

Here are some places that I'd add to my travel bucket list.
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Take me by wardrobe, painting, magical ring, train, I don't care! Just get me to Narnia! And when I say Narnia, I don't just mean the relatively small country with cute, talking animals. I mean the whole of Narnia, Calormen, the Seven Isles in the Eastern Ocean, and beyond, all the way to the gigantic standing wave that separates the sweet sea from Aslan's Country. Based on the maps Lewis included with his books, there was so much we didn't get to see that existed beyond the seven books.

Also, I'd like to visit Charn, the dying world connected to Narnia through the Wood between the Worlds. It's a right scary place, seeing as it's the home of Jadis the White Witch, but I think it'd be nice to swing by while she's still asleep, before Digory rings that bell...

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Ah, Middle-Earth. Like most people, I'd love to visit the peaceful, happy Shire. I'd hobnob with the Hobbits, eat lots of good food, and dance beneath the Party Tree. But I'd hardly stay there, no sir. The Grey Havens, with their reverential sunsets, are a must-visit, as are Rivendell and Lothlorien. They're the happy elf places, whereas thoughts of visiting Mirkwood give me the heebie-jeebies. Gondor and Rohan are also musts. They're the kingdoms of men, industrial and valorous. Said men are rather hunky, too. And just because they aren't featured in the movies, don't think I've forgotten the sandy dunes of Haradwaith, the coasts of Umbar, or the uncharted winterlands of Forodwaith

In between the kingdoms are the hidden places - Beorn's den, Bombadil's cottage, the Dwarven realms. I'm sure there are more out of the way places I'd enjoy but just don't know about, seeing as I never did finish The Silmarillion.

Lastly, I'd love to visit the dark and scary parts of Middle-Earth, such as Isengard, the Mines of Moria, the Lonely Mountain, or even the heart of Mordor itself. But only if I had some kind of guarantee that I wouldn't die.
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This choice is inspired by the comic at the top of the post. Captain Nemo is a nutjob, but think of all I could explore! The hidden depths of the ocean are still such a mystery to scientists. I'd want to see the bottom of the Marianas Trench, the wreck of the Titanic, and the fabled ruins of Atlantis. I'd discover new species and see things that no one ever has before. And if I just happen to pick up some sunken loot along the way, so much the better.


P.E.I. is a great example of a (then-)contemporary setting that takes on a life of its own. A real island off the coast of Canada, it has captured the imaginations of Anne Shirley fans around the globe. I wouldn't want to see the "real" Prince Edward Island, though. I want to see what Anne saw - the Lake of Shining Waters, the Lovers' Lane where she and Gilbert walked, Windy Poplars where Anne lived and Gog and Agog sat guard, and Green Gables itself.


Camelot! Knights of the Round Table! Dragons and dwarves and giants and sorcerers, I want them all. I would probably have to disguise myself as a boy or risk being marginalized by the knights... unless I met Morgan la Fey first, and she made me her apprentice. I'd be okay with that, too. Either way, adventure would abound!

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Specifically the steampunk Europe described in Scott Westerfield's Leviathan series. Real history and early 20th century aesthetics mixed with sci-fi mechanics and fabricated beasts? Yes please. I'd strap on a pair of leather boots, an air-gun, and a pair of goggles, and we'd be off.


The countries created by Megan Whalen Turner are like a second home for me. I want to visit Gen's childhood home, see the volcano mentioned in the end of The Thief, breath in the sweet mountain air of Eddis. Then Sophos and the magus could take me on a tour of Sounis, its capitol and olive groves, before shuttling me off to Attolia.  And there in Attolia I'd stay, because everyone knows that's where the fun is.

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Tamora Pierce's Tortall practically defines detailed world. All of her books are set here, and I'm always learning something new with each book. I can't even begin to consider where within Tortall I'd visit first. I'd love to visit the Coopers, of course, and hobnob with George's cronies. But going back in time to visit Beka's slums and Port Caynn would be amazing as well. Then again, who visits Tortall without stopping by the Copper Isles to visit the raka and the bird-people? (Okay, okay, I'd really go to visit Nawat.)


Technically, the Borrowers' world is our world, just a different view of it. I'd love to be able to sneak between walls and under floorboards. The simplest of items would take on a whole new use. A needle isn't just used to darn clothes; now it's a sword! A thimble is a helmet, a button is a serving plate. That tiny, unfulfilling Hershey's Kiss on my dresser would suddenly be the size of my head! Sure, there would be dangers from rats and vacuum cleaners and curious cats, but hanging out with Arrietty and her family would more than make up for it.


The England of Mary Poppins is a magical place in general, but its sidewalks function as another form of the Wood between the Worlds, thanks to Bert's sidewalk drawings. I'd want to visit each drawing, but I'd start with the most famous, the fair. Bert, Mary, and I would ride on the magic merry-go-round, eat cotton candy, and join the ragtag band for a round of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" before having lunch served by penguins. (I have a thing for penguins.)


I've actually been to Sherwood Forest. It's a very... green place. But I'd rather go to the Sherwood of the fictional past and cause trouble with Robin Hood and his gang. We'd eat venison and wear appropriately green clothes and have knife-throwing contests! It'd be grand.


Okay, the Magic Tree House is a bit of a cheat, as it's more like a portal than a place. From TMTH, I could visit literally any of the places above and then some. It's like rubbing a genie's lamp and then wishing for more wishes!

***Honorable mentions go to: The Dells from Fire, Ravka from Shadow and Bone, anywhere Kat Bishop plans a heist (from Heist Society), Mr. Popper's Basement (from Mr. Popper's Penguins), Grave Mercy's Brittany, Joya d'Arena from The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Oz from The Wizard of Oz, and many more.

Your turn. Where would YOU visit?