Not all fantasy books need maps but when you start creating a massive epic high fantasy world it helps… a lot.
If you are creating your own world as opposed to basing your story on this planet, you cannot just cruise Google Earth or go retro, get your local maps out and check that one village is indeed south-west of another or that there is no unexpected mountain range between your two warring villages.
Epic high fantasy is fantasy on an epic level – you are creating a whole new world for your readers to explore. This is fine when you begin your story but half-way through unless you have a least stretched out a map you will not remember whether to go east to Mivir or west to Hwaerte Castle. You may not think it matters, but if your warlock is travelling in the wrong direction at least one reader will work it out and it will completely spoil the world building for that poor person.
So map creation from the very beginning of your story will save you a lot of time. Additionally, world building maps are works of art. They are beautiful. I cannot imagine many people who not recognise a map of Middle Earth.
This leads to one of the major map building issues of high fantasy. It cannot look like Middle Earth! Everyone has to create a map in their own style. My map style is pictorial I like to portray how the citadels and mountains actually looked, which was a big undertaking…
My daughter created mine from my scribbles on scribbles of how each great citadel looked in Torcia and exactly where it was positioned. The result an was an instant overview of the two lands of Mivir and Torcia for the reader to track the travels and battles on and perhaps even use to create their own adventures…
Visit The Torcian Chronicles.