Friday, April 8, 2011

Worldbuilding A to Z: G is for Geography

Greetings, all! I am excited today because yesterday I was finally able to order myself a Kindle. (It's my birthday present. No doubt it will be very precious to me.) I've been wanting one for some time now. Since joining the blogosphere I've heard about so many self published books that I really want to check out. Now I'll be able to. Yay!

And on to today's topic. Geography.

Readers of fantasy like to be able to visualize the secondary world that the book takes place in. To that end developing the geography (and preferably including a map) of the world is important. When I sat down to think about these aspects I was faced with a hard question:

Since everyone knows what the geography of Egypt is like, how closely do I want to mimic it in Akhet? Do I want to use that familiarity to my advantage to make people comfortable with the setting? Or do I want to avoid too much similarity that might make Akhet feel like a carbon copy?

In the end I decided on a compromise. I am adopting some aspects of the real Egypt and changing others. The most famous geological feature of Egypt is, of course, the Nile River. Not only does that Nile provide virtually all the water supply there, but it's annual floods fertilize the land making it possible to farm. The Nile is the lifeblood of Egypt and as such a feature that I felt it would be a mistake to do without. So the Nile will be making an appearance in Akhet under it's ancient name of Iteru. However, since I decided to make Akhet more naturally lush than Egypt (there will be clouds and rainfall there, unlike the real thing), I can de-emphasize the annual floods. A mixture of rainfall and flooding will make for a more stable environment.

Egypt is a land surrounded by desert. However, for Akhet I have conceived of a new feature. On the western side of the river there is a sheer cliff face that comes down right into the water and forming at the top an extensive plateau. The rock it is composed of is a unique white stone which the Akhetians will quarry for use in their temples, tombs and monuments. At the time of my current WIP the Akhetians have never managed to scale the heights of the cliff face to explore the plateau. They live entirely on the eastern side of the river. To the east is the desert, a vast uncharted expanse. To the south is the sea, which is a large inland sea. Near the mouth of the river is an island on which the temple complex of Re is located, and where my characters live. To the north... no one knows yet.


  1. Super cool! I love ancient Egyptian stuff. And your story sounds intriguing already, just hearing about these untraveled areas. What else do they find on top of the plateau? So many possibilities.

  2. Happy birthday!

    I like creating fantasy situations, but they usually take place at real locations. I try to pick places I know pretty well so the details are authentic. I do change certain things to suit my needs and sometimes because I don't want to make particular places obvious.

  3. Fascinating! I've obsessed over Egypt since grade school. I wrote a paper on Nefertiti, spelling her name in hieroglyphics. I was so proud of myself.

    Your combination of real and imaginary makes for a rich and exciting world, so much to explore. I would love to read an excerpt! Good luck with the challenge!

  4. I'm a geographer so I just LOVED this post! I loved how you used Egypt as an inspiration for Akhet but added your own fascinating touches like that unscalable cliff!


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