Book Review: World-Building for Beginners by Karla Erpenbeck

worldbuildingAfter several other fantasy authors praised this book to the skies, I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve pretty much already built my world, but I’m always open to some new tips and advice. The first few chapters were probably the most helpful in a general sense, although not for me personally. It was all about building a world from scratch, and the things you have to consider about climate and geography. The author also has a cool trick for figuring out where to put rivers and mountain ranges using dice and string. Since I’m not building my world from scratch and simply pasting it over Early Modern Europe, with perhaps a few slightly magical variations, it wasn’t altogether useful to me.

If you need help with maps though, there are a lot of good tips and tools and it’s probably this book’s greatest strength.

Beyond that, I ended up skimming over most of the rest of the book. Partly because it wasn’t relevant to me- I’m not creating completely new flora and fauna- and partly because of the way the information was conveyed. A lot of it was done in a list form: “do this, then this, then this,” but not really formatted well, so it wasn’t easy to read. Maybe it was just the ebook version, but the book was overall poorly formatted and put together, and there were a lot of typos and errors. If the author is a professional novelist, I hope she puts a lot more care into the finished product than she did in this one.

If your story involves a lot of magical creatures and spells, there might be some useful information there. I was more interested in setting up realistic battle scenes, but there was little to no help in that direction. There was a laundry list of medieval weaponry and the demonstrably false statement that “collateral damage back then was much like it is today,” at which point I stopped reading that chapter.

So, this book was a combination of a poor fit for me, simply because of what I’m writing and where I am int he process, and overly general, poorly presented information that at most should inspire someone to research further on their own.


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