Title: the Princess Bride
Author: William Goldman
Locations of note: various locales around Florin, including the Cliffs of Insanity, the Fire Swamp, and Florin City
Urbanist Review: First of all, if you were not aware that the Princess Bride was a book prior to its adaptation into one of the best movies of all time, I recommend remedying this egregious gap of knowledge through an immediate trip to a local bookseller/library. You won’t be sorry.
And on to the urbanism. Most books that manage to create a distinct and unforgettable place do so through the tried and true method of brilliant narrative description. Adjectives are used well, observation is meticulous. The end result, hopefully, is a world that feels alive in its concrete details: plausible, even if wildly fantastical. The Princess Bride takes a totally different tack. Florin is basically a generic European storybook background, brought to life through a thoroughly unorthodox, gleeful accumulation of totally inane facts, of the sort a very bored fourth grader might pull out of an encyclopedia for a last minute class paper. Even better, we are informed that a treasure trove of additional minutiae has in fact been excised from the manuscript prior to publication. Forget adjectives–nothing makes something seem more real than an overload of data. By the time you get to chapter three, the multiple introductions, interjections, and side-notes will have you almost double-checking Google to make sure that the kingdom of Florin really is make-believe. (Note to aspiring fiction writers: use this technique with care, and with tongue firmly in-cheek.)