Tough Travels: The Big City

tough travelsSo I’m participating in this week’s Tough Travels meme again – hosted by Nathan of Fantasy Review Barn, this is one great way to explore Fantasyland and create lists, YAY! Don’t forget to go and check out what other participating bloggers have put on their lists – my tbr expands every week because of them! :)

Join us on our quest today because we’re having fun in THE BIG CITY: there has to be somewhere in Fantasyland where everyone comes together. All roads lead to Rome, after all! A place where traders prosper, politicians scheme, and criminals thrive.


Ooh, I love a well-constructed city. I had to decide on epic fantasy only (as in, only fantasy that takes place in a secondary world) because including urban/paranormal fantasy would basically mean enumerating all the major cities in the US and some in the UK and we’d be done with it. Not that I don’t love those – urban/paranormal fantasies are the reason I want to travel to some of those places. Someday soon, I hope! But these would be on my to-go list if I could get there:

  • Camorr from The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. Well! This one made the top of my list easily. I’d have to be armed – heavily – to venture there, though, because thieves and other unsavory characters roam the streets. But I’d love to float down the smelly canals, watching the terraces with alchemically enhanced orange trees, listening to the merchants haggle over their wares. Camorr seems to be inspired by Venice, which is only a 3-hour drive from where I live. It’s a pretty amazing city.
  • magicians-guild-trudi-canavanImardin from The Black Magician trilogy by Trudi Canvan. Oh, I binge-read this series several years ago and I liked it quite a lot! Not very imaginative but great fun nevertheless. Sonea lives in Imardin, which has a huge slum and then it has this rich part where the nobles live, and a whole section which is reserved for the Magician’s Guild. There’s a lot of running around in secret tunnels which connect much of the city, and the thieves are prosperous there.
  • Tronjheim from The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. I know it’s not exactly a metropolis but this dwarvish city is located inside a mountain so high, even dragons can’t fly into it from the top (the top is hollowed out like a volcano if I remember correctly).
  • hunger-games-suzanne-collinsKing’s Landing from The Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin. This is the real deal – it has everything from the palace, the sept, the brothels, the street urchins, the city watch… And it’s really hot and sweltering, so tempers run high and everybody sweats a lot.
  • Capitol from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Eh, this one strays from the “epic fantasy” rule a bit but never mind. Capitol is the embodiment of Panem’s corruption. Its inhabitants are spoiled, pampered, and favor really weird fashion choices. The parties are extravagant, the colours bright, but its underbelly is darker than it seems.


Which great city have I missed? 

I’d love to hear from you! :)


Don’t forget to check out my giveaway!

  • bookwraiths

    Never having read The Hunger Games (I’ve seen the movies.) the Capital totally slipped my mind, but it really is a great pick. The high technology of it compared to the rest of the country really makes it a clear choice. Amazing work as always. :)

    • Yeah Capitol… I was the most impressed by that one scene where Peeta and Katniss have to go to a banquet and realise people throw up in order to eat more food and I found it to be a really powerful comparison to our reality with social differences getting larger every day… WHEW that got dark fast, sorry :)

      • I really liked Hunger Games. The sequels? Not so much. But book one is wonderful.

        • I like the story the rest of the books told, but not particularly how the story was told.

          The Capitol is a great choice though!

          • I disliked how Katniss was reduced to a mascot and how her choices were taken from her. PTSD is a terrible thing and I wish it wasn’t the cause of Katniss’s decline from the public life…

        • I was *so excited* when I read book 1 because I thought I finally found a YA series with a girl main character that I could like AND respect at the same time (in terms of gender roles and social issues) but the sequels, especially Mockingjay, ruined it for me :(

  • MaddalenaSpaceandSorcery

    I would never have thought about the Capitol, but on hindsight it’s a great choice: the glittering exterior that covers the evil underneath…

    • Yep, that was my line of thinking, too :) Especially in Mockingjay, with those tunnels – but in the social sense as well, with all the corruption!

  • Lynn Williams

    The Hunger Games is a really good choice. And of course Camorr.
    Great list.
    Lynn :D

    • Thanks, Lynn! Camorr is the best. I had to choose, though, because every Lynch’s book features one great city :) Can’t wait for Emberlain!!

  • The Capitol! As cool as it is to read about, I don’t know that I’d want to visit…unless I was the 1% I guess. Life seems pretty good for those people, as long as they don’t care about things like human rights and ethics. I REALLY need to read those Scott Lynch books. I have all three of them, for crying out loud! Hopefully I will do a marathon read of them before grad school.

    • Well if you have the books already… :) I hope the series will live up to your expectations – it’s certainly one of those I try to push on to everyone because I love Locke & crew.

  • Really excellent choices! I wish I’d thought of Capitol City.

    Tiara @ Bibliosanctum

    • Thanks, Tiara! :) Capitol seemed pretty horrifying to me when I read the books. So much corruption…

  • Come to King’s Landing and sweat a lot! Then visit our numerous brothels! Camorr is a fun choice as well. Especially if you got to hang out with Jean and Locke!

    • I’d get Jean and Locke (and the Sanza brothers) to make me one of their delicous dinners in that vault of theirs :)

  • The Capital in the Hunger Games and King’s Landing are fantastic choices. The real deal, as you say :)

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    • Thanks, Mogsy! :) If I could choose where to go in Westeros, I’d probably stick to the North – the South is much too corrupted for my tastes.

  • I completely forgot the Capitol! Good one!

    • Thanks, Jenn! :)

  • Capitol is a great choice! I have Lynch’s book in the TBR pile; maybe I should nudge it at the top.

    • Oh, you should, you definitely should! It’s one of my favourite fantasy series of all time.

  • Maraia

    This was a fun post! I love fantasy world cities. Camorr is such a great setting – I wish I were street smart enough to survive there, but I’d be eaten alive, haha.

    To your list, I would add Corus from Tamora Pierce’s Tortall world (old favorites of mine – I grew up on these books!) and all of the cities in the Lord of the Rings. Especially Lothlorien and Rivendell, if you count those as cities. Hobbiton is definitely too much of a stretch, but WOW can Tolkien write worlds!

    Other than that, I can’t think of anything else right now. I have terrible book amnesia, so place details don’t tend to stick in my head.

    • Oh, I’d definitely escape Camorr after a week – I live in quite a small town so my survival skills aren’t nearly developed enough for a city like that! :)
      I’ve had Tamora Pierce’s books on my tbr for a while now – ever since I started participating in these Tough Travels memes. I’ll get to them eventually!
      Oh, yes, Tolkien’s world is amazing. Minas Tirith was a popular choice this week!
      I never remember the names of characters/places so I have to Google them as I assemble these lists every week. I have a hard time remembering real people, let alone fictional ones O_o

      • Maraia

        Whoa, your blog changed. I love it!

        Yay, I hope you love Tamora Pierce. I first read them as a kid, but my dad read them at the same time I did (he even re-read them every time I did, haha), so I think you’ll still enjoy reading them for the first time as an adult. Are you starting with Alanna’s books?

        • Ugh, so the “big reveal” was supposed to happen tomorrow, obviously something went wrong! But I’m glad you like it! :)
          I don’t really know where to start yet, so are Alanna books a good place to begin?

          • Maraia

            Oh no, I’m sorry! I was wondering why it suddenly changed with no fanfare.

            Her original three Tortall series are the best, and Alanna comes first chronologically. I actually read Daine first, because that’s what my oblivious dad picked out for me, and it was totally fine. But there ARE minor spoilers if you read them out of order. I would recommend Alanna, then Daine, then Keladry. If you like those, Trickster’s Choice/Queen are good, too. Tamora Pierce’s newer series are actually painfully boring, unfortunately, so I wouldn’t recommend starting with them.