Ten Books With Gloriously Crafted Worldbuilding || Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If You Taught Worldbuilding 101

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

1. Sabriel by Garth Nix.

This one took me by surprise! I went into it expecting an epic/high fantasy… which is was, but with more early-20th century England technology — which I LOVED.

2. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.

Want to write a book based on Russian mythology? READ THESE. Okay, so yes, aside from this series’ amazing worldbuilding — it’s pretty epic generally. And the Darkling? Yeeeeees please.

3. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch.

I’m really looking forward to seeing how Sara Raasch builds the world in the upcoming sequel Ice Like Fire, but gosh, what I loved most about Snow Like Ashes’ worldbuilding was that it was SUBTLE. And not completely in-your-face.

4. J. R.R. Tolkien.

Literally ANYTHING by this guy. Beautiful, wonderful, elegant worldbuilding.

5. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh.

This is one of my FAVOURITE novels I’ve read this year, and gosh, the details were beautiful. (Also? HEAPS of mentions of food. Because who doesn’t like descriptions of exotic foods!?)

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6. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.

GAH. These books. You know I adore them dearly, and each book, the world has expanded even further. I can’t wait to see what Queen of Shadows has in store for us.

7. A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Schwab.

This boooook. Historical. Magical. Beautiful.

8. The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.

It’s been years since I read this book (and still, I haven’t had the chance to finish the rest of the series…) but I remembered one of the things that stood out to me was the unique worldbuilding.

9. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor.

Another series that has my heart, and consequentially, I love the worldbuilding. Think: epic fantasy meets real-world Prague. TELL ME, WHAT IS NOT TO LOVE ABOUT THAT? Gah. This is the book that makes me want to go to Prague.

10. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin.

The first book that came to mind when I was writing this post, because I will always believe that the A Song of Ice and Fire series has BRILLIANT, detailed, just downright EPIC worldbuilding.


Confession: oftentimes, worldbuilding is one of my FAVOURITE part of a fantasy novel. What are your favourite books with epic worldbuilding? What books have I missed from my list? Also: link your top ten tuesday below!

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42 thoughts on “Ten Books With Gloriously Crafted Worldbuilding || Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If You Taught Worldbuilding 101

  1. I love when a book has good worldbuilding – it reminds me of why I love fantasy :) Something I’m really trying to work on in Wanderland, haha (FANTASY IS HARD). Definitely agree with a lot of these – Sarah J Maas, Tolkien, VE Schwab, Leigh Bardugo…all fantastic. And I REALLY want to read Snow Like Ashes.

  2. YES TO THIS. I am a completely left-brained person, so my brain drives on logic and facts; which makes it really difficult for me to read fantasy. I always end up wondering if I’m reading about an external world / just a fantasized version of our current world / etc, etc. (If that makes any sense…LOL).

    This being said, despite everything, I really did like the worldbuilding in the books you’ve mentioned – Snow Like Ashes especially. Thanks for sharing this and, as always, fabulous post! <3

  3. Ooooh, I love your topic! Worldbuilding is the most important aspect of a fantasy novel, in my opinion.

    And you’re right. Literally anything by Tolkien. I love how much effort and work he put into Middle Earth! A language, complete with grammar. Maps. Backstories, legends and heroes. I love every aspect of it. Some of my favorite fantasy books are on your list, like Throne of Glass, Shadow and Bone, ADSOM, A Game of Thrones and The Final Empire. So I’ve decided that I need to save your list and read all the others on it that I haven’t read yet.

    Great list!

  4. Great List! I agree with Tolkien, Martin and anything Sanderson, I worship their writing. :) I also love Daughter of Smoke and Bone’s setting, how it was combined with the real world (it would be surreal to see angels dropping out of the sky)

  5. This list is perfection. Definitely agree with Tolkien and V.E. Schwab- I feel so wrapped up in their worlds when I read them, if that makes any sense! Reading their books is a writing lesson in itself. Great list! :)

  6. World Building is so utterly important! I love your idea for a class based on this. Such great picks too!! I didn’t enjoy DoS&B (I know! I’m sorry!!!!) but Shadow and Bone was incredible. I also haven’t read the Throne of Glass series yet (Again – I KNOW!!!) but I will be starting it in the next few weeks. Great topic!! :)

    • GASP. YOU HAVEN’T READ THRONE OF GLASS? OR LIKED DOSAB!? Glad you liked Shadow and Bone though — that book was BRILLIANT. And I’ve so been meaning to reread it lately too. Worldbuilding is SO important, especially in fantasy. It’s often a make or break part of the novel for me.

  7. Eeek I have Throne of Glass on my shelves right now and I’m SO excited to read it. V.E. Shwab bdw is an excellent writer. :D Love the list! And I probably could have guessed you’d write about worldbuilding considering how many times you’ve gone on about it! :D

  8. Okay, I’ve read almost all these books and now I’m going to basically agree with you on all of them. But especially: I agree that the world in Snow Like Ashes was subtle and not shoved in my face, but I didn’t love the book as much as I hoped I would. // Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are basically the epitome of fantasy world building. I do prefer the movies, though. // The Wrath and the Dawn I mainly just liked for one of the most amazing romances I have ever read about. // A Darker Shade of Magic! Was so unique and so cool. I love multiple/parallel worlds, which I think I first ever discovered in The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman. // Daughter of Smoke and Bone’s mythology is absolutely amazing and the book just blew me away. // I have not read Sabriel, The Final Empire, or A Game of Thrones, but I need to because people rave about Sabriel and The Final Empire. I watch GoT the TV show so I probably won’t read the books until the show’s over, but I do really want to see what all the fuss is about. Great list, Kara! ;)

  9. Some great choices! Daughter of Smoke and Bone made me want to go to Prague as well and I actually made it there last year. I was hoping to spot an angel in the sky or a door with a hand print on it but sadly this did not happen lol.

  10. Yes this list, all these books excel in world building.Daughter of smoke and bone is one of my favorite series to date, as result of it ability to have immersed in this wonderful world.

  11. Leigh Bardugo = the best world building! She did fantastic with it in Six of Crows as well! <3 Same goes with Snow Like Ashes, Throne of Glass (not so much with the first book, though), and Daughter of Smoke and Bone. And I should REALLY read The Wrath and the Dawn and ADSOM already!

  12. *One day* I will read Game of Thrones! I love books with fantastic worldbuilding, and with so many characters and settings to take care of, in a novel like that making each place distinct would be essential. I really need to read A Darker Shade of Magic as well – I’ve heard ALL THE GOOD THINGS about it :)

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