In celebration of my birthday week (and because there are 5 Wednesdays this month), this is my gift to you. Pick any topic you want this week! We have years worth of archived topics you can look through if you are having trouble deciding.
My choice is a topic of a few years ago, Fictional Cities, which is one I’ve wanted to do for a while.
The “favorite fictional cities” topic is one I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and Ketterdam from Six of Crows was always the first city I thought about. One of my favorite things about Leigh Bardugo’s writing is that she always takes the time to develop the setting as much as the characters, and Ketterdam is the best example of this. Crooked Kingdom is completely set in this city, and I feel like you could set many books more in it. It’s corrupt, it’s dark, it’s a reminds me of historical Genoa (with worse weather and less stairs), and every place is described and has its own feel – the Barrel, West Stave, the Church of Barter, the harbors, the islands – and all of this makes Ketterdam an awful, colorful place and a great setting for a book. (Do I want more of it? Yes)
Iria is my most recent favorite city, from Winterstrike by Yoon Ha Lee (free to play online). It has fallen under a magical winter – the game says it’s “winter-locked” – for unknown reasons. I have discovered that the “beautiful, fallen city” aesthetic appeals to me a lot and Iria itself is the main reason I like this game (/story?).
It’s a city where humans live side by side with fox people and insectines, full of mysterious places and objects (weapons like roseate pistols and scintillant guns, but also magical ink and old books and a fledging ironbird). Iria is also a place of magical duelists, roving markets, and artists partying among the ruins. Everything is so beautiful and mysterious. I love this place.
The main reason I like this city is its mystery. It’s a city that was considered lost or even fictional, whose name has been erased by everyone’s memory and books. It has the best atmosphere, and I feel like having a magical citadel floating over the buildings makes for a… remarkable setting?
The history of Weep is a very bloody story of people being wronged on both sides and young people and children taking the worst of it. I love when the setting’s backstory is tied to the character’s, and I care about what’s going to happen to “Weep” in The Muse of Nightmares as much as I care about Lazlo.
In my review, I described Daevabad from S.A. Chakraborty’s City of Brass as an “awesome powder keg” that I can’t wait to see explode because it will be fun, and I stand by that description. It’s a magical city inhabited by Daevas, whose lives span centuries and who are divided into factions. There’s a lot of infighting and old grudges and all of it is a perfect recipe for disaster. I want more, also because the atmosphere is wonderful and the descriptions made me feel as if I were there (I actually don’t want to be there at all, but was it pretty).
The Gomorrah festival was my favorite aspect of Amanda Foody’s Daughter of the Burning City. It’s a traveling circus big enough to be a city, with a mysterious history and an atmosphere I loved – yes, the atmosphere is always what makes me love fictional places. Also, it’s always shrouded in smoke and full of illusions, murder and mysterious tents. How cool is that.
(This, by the way, is what I wanted Caraval [the place] to be).
What are your favorite fictional cities?