Tuesday, May 14, 2019

5 Favorite Fantasy Cities

Inspired by this post for Wyrd & Wonder by Lisa at Dear Geek Place. This is also my challenge entry for Bout of Books Day 2: Bookish Favorites.    

1. Ankh-Morpork on the Discworld by Terry Pratchett

The major city of the Discworld series. It divides into the affluent Ankh, on one side of the River Ankh, and Morpork, the poor part of the city, on the other. 
"Ankh-Morpork had dallied with many forms of government and had ended up with that form of democracy known as One Man, One Vote. The Patrician was the Man; he had the Vote." -- Mort (Discworld #4) 
"Poets have tried to describe Ankh-Morpork. They have failed. Perhaps it's the sheer zestful vitality of the place, or maybe it's just that a city with a million inhabitants and no sewers is rather robust for poets, who prefer daffodils and no wonder. So let's just say that Ankh-Morpork is as full of life as an old cheese on a hot day, as loud as a curse in a cathedral, as bright as an oil slick, as colourful as a bruise and as full of activity, industry, bustle and sheer exuberant busyness as a dead dog on a termite mound." -- Mort
Check out the Ankh-Morpork Anthemperformed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (via Wikipedia) -- if you have read the series, this might amuse you. 😁

2. Minas Tirith in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The capital city of Gondor. It was once Minas Anor, the Tower of the Sun, and counterpart to the ruined Minas Ithil (the Tower of the Moon). After the fall of its sister city, it was renamed Minas Tirith (the Tower of Guard), to indicate its role of guarding Gondor against Mordor. (Minas Ithil is known as Osgiliath by the time LotR takes place.) The Minas Tirith chapters are some of my favorites.  

I would see the White Tree in flower again in the courts of the kings, and the Silver Crown return, and Minas Tirith in peace: Minas Anor again as of old, full of light, high and fair, beautiful as a queen among other queens: not a mistress of many slaves, nay, not even a kind mistress of willing slaves. 

3. Bain in A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar

The beautiful capital city of Olondria. We learn more about it during the Feast of Birds, a celebration dedicated to the goddess Avalei.
"As I was a stranger in Olondria, I knew nothing of the splendour of its coasts, nor of Bain, the Harbour City, whose lights and colours spill into the ocean like a cataract of roses. I did not know the vastness of the spice markets of Bain, where the merchants are delirious with scents..."
4. Berenice in Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

Invisible Cities is a book of fables about different cities. (All of the cities are women's names.) This is a strange book, and I will have to revisit it eventually. Here is what I wrote about it in my review: 

My favorite of the cities was probably Berenice, the last one. In Berenice, the unjust city, there is a hidden "city of the just," created by dissenters. Eventually, the inhabitants of the hidden city become so certain of their own rightness, "and of being more just than many others who call themselves more just than the just," that the hidden city of the just gives rise to another unjust city. It turns out that: 
"... the real Berenice is a temporal succession of different cities, alternately just and unjust. But what I wanted to warn you about is something else: all the future Berenices are already present in this instant, wrapped one within the other, confined, crammed, inextricable."
5. The City in The Just City by Jo Walton

In this novel, people from different eras, including a pair of gods (Apollo & Athena), attempt to realize Plato’s Republic, with the aid of time travel. The results are interesting, to say the least. Is this SF or Fantasy? I'm not sure, but on GoodReads it is tagged more often as fantasy, so I will just go with that. There are two more books: The Philosopher Kings and Necessity.
"Our souls know harmony and proportion before we are born, so although I had never seen anything like it, my soul resonated at once to the beauty of the city."

Do you have any favorite fantasy cities? Let me know in comments! 


  1. I think all of Tolkien's cities are incredible. I love the quotes that you gave for these! Happy reading!

  2. Great list. I love Ankh-Morpork too. And Minas Tirith is so pretty.

  3. Oh my gosh - I love LOTR so much, so who wouldn't want to chill in Minas Tirith?! I'm down with hanging in the shire, too, though. Or anywhere in Middle Earth...


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