Scott Marlowe
Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Map Reveal: City of Brighton

Last time I revealed the regional map which goes along with my new steamfantasy novel, The Nullification Engine. Now, it's time to take a look at the second map.

I give you, the city of Brighton.

City of Brighton

Brighton is a city where three rivers—the Silvercross, Whitecrest, and Highbrook—converge. Its residents took full advantage of this by re-routing the rivers into waterways which flow throughout the city. It should come as no surprise that Brighton contains a great number of bridges and, much like our own real world Venice, finding your way around its streets and alleys, when you have the additional obstacles in the form of rivers and waterways, can make for a difficult time getting around, especially for newcomers.

Aaron, Serena, and Ensel Rhe arrive at Brighton's gates fresh from their ordeal in The Five Elements. As one might expect from my writing, right away things go south for them. I'll say no more, other than that you can pick up a copy of The Nullification Engine at all major online retailers. I hope you'll give it a read.

Map Reveal: Earldom of Kettering

I've gone on before about how important maps are to fantasy novels. So important, I commissioned a regional map for my first novel, The Hall of the Wood, and again for the first book in The Alchemancer series, The Five Elements.

The Nullification Engine, which was just released a couple of days ago, is no exception. In fact, this new book has not one map, but two!

Here is the first one (with the second to follow in a near future post). I give you the Earldom of Kettering.

For those who read The Five Elements, you'll no doubt notice the presence of Norwynne Keep, which is where the story in that novel begins. Much of the rest of the places from The Five Elements are 'off the map' (see the map for the Barony of Fallmere), because now our players are heading north. Where, you ask? All the way up to Brighton, which is a city that sits at the intersection of three rivers (The Nullification Engine actually begins with our heroes already having made the journey). There are a lot of hamlets, other cities, and geographical features called out in this map. Not all are touched on in The Nullification Engine, but will become more relevant as the series progresses.

Next post I will reveal the second map, which is of the city of Brighton itself.

You can purchase The Nullification Engine at all major online retailers.

Map Reveal: World of Uhl

Without further ado, I give you, ladies and gentlemen, the world map of Uhl.

World of Uhl map

The one thing that's immediately noticeable is how hard it is to read some of the names! That's why, if you click on the map, you'll be taken over to the World of Uhl web site where you can view a larger version. Even on that larger map it's a bit hard to pick out details. I think what I'll wind up doing is sectioning the map off into quadrants and putting those up. Alternatively, if money wasn't an issue, I'd have my mapmaker break out each kingdom and we'd drill down from there, highlighting each area in greater detail. But, there is that money thing, so that's probably not going to happen anytime soon.

I realize these places don't mean much without their being some context or relation to my books. So, let's drilldown a little.

The Hall of the Wood tells the story of a patroller returning home to the Simarron Hall. That Hall (it's actually one of three) is here:

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In The Five Elements, I jump over to Seacea and the Dormont Forest.

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The shoreline and the forest are really the only points of context here. No Norwynne Keep, no Wildemoore Manor, no witch's house. You'd have to jump over to the map of the Barony of Fallmere to see that level of detail. Therein is one of the problems: detail is nice, but it also clutters up the map. So, I tried to generally stay high level here.

So, that's it. What do you think?

eBooks, eReaders, and Maps

I recently added a map to the front matter of The Hall of the Wood because I think maps are an important part of the fantasy reading experience. One of the first questions my illustrator, Jared Blando, asked me was if I wanted black & white or color images. Because I wanted to use the map on the World of Uhl site and because lots and lots of people now have color eReading devices, of course I said color. If needed, I can easily convert the image to black & white myself.

I anticipated problems. Not with Jared or the maps themselves but with eBooks and the devices we read them on. Sure enough, after adding the map to the Kindle eBook version and viewing it on my Kindle 2, I saw right away that the map was next to useless. It’s simply impossible to read.

Here’s a couple of images which attempt to demonstrate the problem. It’s unfortunately very difficult to take a picture of a Kindle screen. (Try it if you don’t believe me. Maybe if I took in in full sunlight, but it’s too darn cold out right now.)

Anyway, check these out and believe me when I say the map is unreadable.

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However, when I brought the same eBook up on my iPad and viewed the map…

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I guess this image isn’t the best (again, taking a picture of one of these devices ain’t so easy; lots of glare, for ex.) but the map is very viewable in all its glory. One of the best things about viewing it on the iPad? Pinch and zoom. You can zoom in, pan, zoom out, and swipe away. The higher res image really shines here when you get close up.

Which is all fine and dandy if you own an iPad or similar device. But what about those who prefer traditional Kindles or other b/w eReaders?

My solution is to offer a link to the World of Uhl site where the map is viewable full-size. To that end, I put this disclaimer into the eBook:

A friendly note from the author about maps: Maps, eBooks, and eReaders do not always mix well. If you have difficulty viewing this one or simply wish to see a larger version, I encourage you to open your favorite browser and visit the World of Uhl map section (www.worldofuhl.com/maps.html).

In the eBook, it looks something like this:

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While my primary motivation for including this extra option is to make things easier on my readers, I’m also trying to preemptively avoid any 1 or 2 star reviews because someone couldn’t read the map on their Kindle or nook. If you think that someone won’t do that, I have some primo beach front property to sell you here in Dallas.

I think this is an adequate concession and hopefully accommodates everyone.