Earth is a huge planet, far larger and impossibly more complicated than any fantasy realm. Its vastness is often concealed from us, particularly in the way that common map projections section the Pacific Ocean and stretch and warp Asia. One region has the opposite problem—common maps make it look far larger and wider than it is. The Arctic Ocean is the world’s smallest, surrounded by landmasses so close together that, in colder times, every one of them was linked by a single mass of ice. The eastern Arctic is defined by Russia steamrolling over a multiplicity of indigenous peoples speaking languages from numerous families. The western Arctic, by contrast, is the story of two specific tribes expanding, colliding, and deciding how best to maneuver around one another: the Norse and the Inuit.
And because North American map-readers can’t seem to make heads or tails of that one huge island next to Canada in particular, it’s worth a look.