times when I look at the maps of great fantasy novels, I do feel a bit
let down. My undergrad degree was geography, with my primary track being
urban geography (and transportation geography), and physical geography
(and meteorology) as my secondary track.
Many of these maps are
not possible in the natural world, and if they were formed by magic,
the weather patterns must be dictated by magic also, because in a natural system, there are patterns that could be very beneficial to a plot.
Not only that, there are patterns to the distribution of settlements,
many of them related to the land itself, but most of them relative to
each other. These patterns influence the relative importance of every
In many novels, there are vast spaces, slow
transportation, yet little difference in the culture and language from
one end to the other.
In other words--authors, I can give you
good, smart, meaningful maps, that will be as realistic as the language
you have worked so hard to invent.