If there’s one great thing about reading, it’s awesome fantasy universes in literature. They fuel our imaginations, taking us to places we’ve never been before. There’s no other feeling like it. From worlds that are opposite of our own to those that are eerily similar but with a shadowy presence, fantasy universes give readers a thrill and temporary escape from reality.
With the power of imagination, audiences use the words to create their own magical images. This is why many are disappointed with their favorite book’s movie-makeover; it can never compete with their imagination. It’s never like you envisioned. From novels, to picture books, to children’s stories, here are 25 Awesome Fantasy Universes in Literature.
Middle Earth, Arda
Arda is home to Middle Earth and central to much of Tolkien’s universe. It was artfully created to leave just enough to the imagination. His books cite many details like the flora, the fauna, creatures of all kind, and even venture beyond the planet to describe the celestial bodies and activities. There are few literary examples that can compare to the Tolkien universe!
The Wizarding World
Filled with seemingly “normal” things like owls, trains, books and shops, the Harry Potter universe is close enough to our own world that everything presented seems possible, but with an abundance of the supernatural and fantastic.
The Stephen King Universe
In case King’s stories weren’t terrifying enough, all of his books are connected. Each work is independent but many noticed that several villainous characters make appearances in other books, like Easter Eggs. The Dark Tower is the epicenter of the Stephen King universe and is where the curtain is pulled back on the multiverse he created.
The worlds, monsters, and systems across his books are complex and expansive. Although it dips into both sci-fi and fantasy, this universe is so incredibly twisted, in perfect Stephen King fashion, that it had to be mentioned.
The Known World
“The Known World” is similar to our own with islands, seas, continents and ice caps, but the author of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series of books indicates his universe was intended to be completely separate and alternate from our reality. It is far different in many ways, including that the seasons are governed by magic, dragons are real, and two-headed men exist!
Unending parallel worlds define the Amber Multiverse from Roger Zelany’s “Chronicles of Amber.” Some worlds have blue suns, others green skies. If you have the right magic in your blood, you can will things into existence around you as you travel from one world to another. The possibilities are endless.
The enchanting land of Fillory from “The Magician” trilogy by Lev Grossman is often compared to that of Narnia. The main character loves this magical land because it was in the books he read as a child. He then grows up to learn that Fillory is a real place and he has the magic to get there! It’s every child’s dream and a true respite from the urban world the character knew too well.
The land of Terabithia is an imaginary kingdom ruled by friends who were simply playing in the woods, oblivious to the tragedies and cruelness of life. A land of imagination created by children and used for their own escape and to create a bond of friendship.
The Land of Oz
Each territory of Oz is marked distinctly by its own color and is overflowing with wealth. Witches, flying monkeys, mean sisters and weird ways to die are all a part of the realm that Dorothy was transported to. Many ordinary things that do the remarkable live in Oz. Of course, if you have only seen the movie, there is so much more to see of this wonder-filled place!
The Golden Compass Universe
The Golden Compass universe is only one of several that Philip Pullman reveals to his readers. It is home to humans like the 12-year Lyra, but also to witches, gyptians and giant polar bears. The children have spirit-creatures that depict their internal state. The fantasy deepens in subsequent books of the series!
Originally released as a picture book, Jumanji leads your imagination with its black and white illustrations. Your quickly drawn in to the home of Judy and Peter, but the stark drawings leave out enough detail to allow your mind to paint wildly in the gaps. The Jumanji game unleashes several mischievous jungle inhabitants into our world and the adventure begins!
Any land with an umlaut in its name deserves some attention! But once you read the series, you’ll find it to be rich and full of wonder: elves, dwarfs, and dragons!
Narnia had children everywhere checking the back of their wardrobes (or closets) for the cold draft of the snowy entrance to Narnia. We hoped, of course, to find Mr. Tumnus and he would invite us back to his cave to warm up with a cup of tea.
Shangri-La was first introduced nearly a century ago, but it has become an icon of paradise and utopia. It is a gentle oasis thought to be inspired by the lush mountains of the Tibetan landscape.
Less about being wonderful and more about the wonders that lie within, Alice’s Wonderland is a peculiar place where things are never quite what they seem.
This place is even more appealing as an adult than it is as a child! The magic of flight through happy thoughts and fairy dust takes you to an island lagoon where adventure awaits around every turn. Feasts of imaginary food and fights with pirates are not unusual activity for Peter Pan, the Lost Boys, and their guests.
The Island of Lilliput
Gulliver unintentionally visited the island of Lilliput that sits not far from Australia. There he had a long nap and an abrupt encounter with its six inch tall inhabitants!
A Wrinkle in Time
“A Wrinkle in Time” is heavily focused on light versus dark, but there are few other fictional universes with quite so much electricity and exuberance. Only here will you encounter the three celestial sisters that travel through the fifth dimension to save the universe, and meet furry beasts that care for strangers.
Chivalry and equality are alive and well with King Arthur and his knights of the round table in the land of Camelot. It’s an earth-like world where love and ideals remain true, and magic is still very, very much alive.
Asgard has appeared in many works since ancient times. It consistently houses powerful gods, like Odin and Thor, and offers a heavenly reward to slain warriors in Valhalla.
A fair in the town of Vanity told by John Bunyan that hosted all things ostentatious and extravagant. The same theme was carried on in the later work of William Thackeray not-so-plainly entitled “Vanity Fair.”
“The Neverending Story” is a book-within-a-book that features the creative land of Fantastica. Remember, they are still depending on your imagination and belief in your own dreams to keep their world alive!
Centre of the Earth
The Centre of the Earth is a subterranean world of adventure and unexpected encounters. Jules Verne’s science fiction classic is filled with giant mushrooms, its own ocean, and ferocious beasts.
Some fictional universes span hundreds of galaxies, while this one is so itty bitty the whole town can fit on a speck of dust on a clover that Horton found. They’re a full-blown town with grocery stores, a mayor, and great furry neighbors in Dr. Suess’s Whoville!
Wonka's Chocolate Factory
Grab your golden ticket and head to Willie Wonka’s factory! There you’ll find edible wallpaper, golden goose eggs, and a river of liquid chocolate! While you gorge yourself on all things sweet and edible, the Oompa Loompas will serenade you with moralizing songs.
While this heavenly place was Roald Dahl’s fantasy, you can make it a reality for only $224.6 million dollars.
Hundred Acre Wood
In Milne’s 1926 classic, “Winnie-the-Pooh,” introduced us all to the Hundred Acre Wood, one of the first fantasy universes children meet. While the landscape mimics the Ashdown Forest in Sussex, England near the writer’s home, the idea that toys can come to life and have a world all their own, is a natural fantasy for most children.