At Tor.com, Simon Jimenez talks about the map that accompanies his upcoming epic fantasy novel, The Spear Cuts Through Water. It’s not a map that follows the default fantasy map design by any stretch. He starts with the map, drawn by Chris Panatier.
There is no compass rose for orientation, no place names, no handy scale for distance ratios so that a reader might be able to tell how far one location is from another. There are barely even locations. Even the perspective is different—not a bird’s eye view, but something closer and more intimate, for a better view of the imagery that leans away from literalism and more towards the metaphorical, and the eerie.
Because of all of these choices, it is not a particularly useful map. One would be hard-pressed to use it as a reference tool as they journeyed with the characters through the book. This is by intention.
Jimenez explains how he grappled with the idea of mapping, and of fantasy mapping, when decided whether, and how, to include a map in his book. Very insightful and worth reading (and I’m not just saying that because he name-checks me at the end).