How to Judge a Fantasy Novel Without Reading a Sentence (Part 2): The Page-To-Map Method
Missed the first installment? See Part 1.
What’s the best way to judge fantasy book in the most scientific way without reading a sentence? It’s a method called Page-To-Map (PTM). This method takes into account how long it takes for a map to appear in the book, whether 2 pages in, 10 pages in, or none at all. The sooner the map appears, the shittier the book.
We’ll go through the list of fantasy novels from when they were first released. We’ll be able to document whether the PTM has gotten better or worse as time went on. If the novels are part of a series, they will be judged based on the first installment. Now, before we begin…
Two additional notes:
1. This is all based on the versions of the books I have. These could all have been different in both the first printing and latest printing. This is not a definitive study. It’s more of an experiment.
2. In-universe fiction quotes and maps are not bad or good just by themselves. We’ll discuss this further in Part 3.
Here is the way the scoring works:
Any instance of a map is an automatic fail. For other offenses, they are scored thusly:
Map – Automatic fail. At this point, PTM (Page-To-Map) determines how much of a failure the book is. The Map counts as a single (1) offense. Each additional instance of a map (before the start of the book) is an additional (1) offense.
3 – Three Offenses: Fail. For example, a fictional quote, a prologue, and a glossary.
2 – Two Offenses: Fail. For example, a fictional quote and a prologue.
1 – One Offense: Fail. For example, a fictional quote.
0 – No Offense: Pass! (Or at least, a very negligible offense).
Onwards unto science!
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Published 1954 and 1955
First Book: The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)
PTM (Page-To-Map): 16
Other Offenses: The map is a two-pager on pages 16-17. There is a fake quote in the beginning before the foreword. After the foreword is the table of contents, which is followed by the map at pages 16-17. A Prologue follows the map, and before the book finally begins for real, there’s a second single page map. This is probably where all these fucknut fantasy authors stole their shit ideas from. It might have seemed cute here the first time, but if you’re still ripping this shit off fifty years later, you seriously need to re-evaluate what you’re doing with your life.
Overall Score: Automatic Fail (4) – Two page map, a second single page map, fake in-universe quote, and a prologue. Thank fuck there’s no glossary.
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever Trilogy by Stephen R. Donaldson
First Book: Lord Foul’s Bane (1977)
PTM (Page-To-Map): 10
Other Offenses: The map is actually two pages, 10-11! Not only that, but it’s listed in the goddamn table of fucking contents! Additionally, there’s an embarrassingly long glossary in the back, especially considering this is the first book.
Overall Score: Automatic Fail (2) – Two-page map and a glossary.
Dragonlance Chronicles Trilogy by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
First Book: Dragons of Autumn Twilight (1984)
PTM (Page-To-Map): 2
Other Offenses: Incredibly, the map comes before both the title page and copyright information! Jesus Christ! This one is seriously fucked. The very first page of the entire book is a glossary of the cast of characters! The story starts off with a three page (!) fictional in-universe poem before segueing into a very short prologue, and then into the main story proper.
Overall Score: Automatic Fail (4) – Map in two pages, fictional quote, prologue, and a glossary.
Memory, Sorrow and Thorn Trilogy by Tad Williams
First Book: The Dragonbone Chair (1988)
PTM (Page-To-Map): 12
Other Offenses: The “Foreword” is just a single page fictitious in-universe quote. Shockingly enough, there’s actually a SECOND map on page 18, after the fake quote, and before the story has even started! The “Appendix” at the end is the granddaddy of all Glossaries. It includes a fucking pronunciation guide, and a pathetically long list of made-up words and phrases in a bunch of nonsense fantasy languages. It doesn’t have as many offenses as the Dragonlance Chronicles does, but of the offenses it does have, it goes way fucking overboard, to an embarrassing extent.
Overall Score: Automatic Fail (4) – Map at page 12 (another at page 18), fake in-universe quote, and “Appendix” at the end
The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind
First Book: Wizard’s First Rule (1994)
PTM (Page-To-Map): 8
Other Offenses: Two-page map on pages 8-9. However, there are no other offenses. No fictitious quotes, glossary or prologue at all. So close, yet so very far away.
Overall Score: Automatic Fail (1) – Map at page 8. No other offenses.
The Witcher Saga: Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski
PTM (Page-To-Map): No map!
Other Offenses: This one nearly squeaked by. There is just a single half-page fictitious in-universe quote before the first chapter. Otherwise, that’s it.
Overall Score: One offense. Fail. (1) – Fictional quote.
His Dark Materials Trilogy by Philip Pullman
First Book: The Golden Compass (1995)
PTM (Page-To-Map): No map!
Other Offenses: The only real offense here is the John Milton quote from Paradise Lost on Page 9. It’s a penalty, but a classy one. I’m willing to waive the penalty here because it’s a quote from a real book, and there’s no other screw-ups.
Overall Score: Pass! (0)
Since I don’t have the first four books of A Song of Ice and Fire in my possession, we’ll have to make due with the latest one:
A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin
Latest Book: A Dance with Dragons (2011)
PTM (Page-To-Map): 0
Other Offenses: Sweet Tapdancing Christ. How is it possible to get a 0 for PTM? Well, the map is actually printed on the inside cover! The first page of the actual book is just the second page of the map! My God… this is an abomination. And I’m not even close to getting started. Pages 11, 13 and 15 all have different maps! That’s a total of four maps, one of them two pages, before we get even to the first page of the story. Might as well mention too that it starts on a prologue. Should I even bring up that the Appendix is 53 fucking pages long? I guess it also goes without saying that the same map on the inside cover and first page is also mirrored on the last page and back inside cover, bringing the total map count to five (7 pages). This is the end of days.
Overall Score: Automatic Fail (7) – Five maps, a prologue, and one bloated appendix
Based purely on the numbers and my own imagination, I’d be willing to surmise that Tolkien started off the whole nonsense. Around the seventies, there wasn’t as much adherence to the “unwritten fantasy rule” of bullshit maps, and it was a lot more “experimental.” It wasn’t about aping Tolkien. Then, in the 80s as Dungeons & Dragons came into the forefront of the fantasy genre, maps, glossaries, and fake quotes came back into full fucking force. However, as recent fantasy seems to attest to, there is less and less reliance on the old standard fantasy tropes and genre conventions to make the books look “respectable.” Except…
Well, except for that fuckturd load of a book “A Dance with Dragons.” I can’t even begin to understand how that fits into anything. The excesses of irrelevant bullshit that book contains borders on complete madness.
Stay tuned for the final installment, Part 3!