Saturday, 2 June 2012

The size of Westeros compared to the USA

Ever wondered how big the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos are compared to the real-life USA and UK? No? Well, disregard then. For those who have, this is a (very) rough image I knocked up to show the comparison:


Some interesting points: Skagos is the same size as Ireland, so not the tiny little island readers may be expecting from its size on the map. And Dany's journey in A Game of Thrones alone (not to mention the north-west length of Westeros) spans a greater distance than the east-west width of the United States. Also, the North is so huge it can swallow up the entire British Isles several times with room left over. And Catelyn's travels in A Clash of Kings were the equivalent of crossing Texas and back again with surprisingly little trouble.

14 comments:

Sunny said...

Great post! I've always thought the seven kingdoms were much smaller than that.

Doug M. said...

Curious what you've used from the books as a baseline "known distance" to come up with a common scale.

Raquel said...

Wow, Cat crossed texas?? As a native Texan who's actually driven across this state, I'm impressed!

Adam Whitehead said...

The scale comes from the Wall, which is (more or less) straight and apparently close to being exactly 300 miles long. GRRM confirmed you can use it as a scale bar a couple of years back. That also tracks with a number of other distances given in the books (such as the distance between Deepwood Motte and Winterfell given in ADWD etc).

Russ said...

I've never understood why GRRM made Westeros as big as he did. Love his stuff to death, but the size of Westeros has never worked for the level of civilization he's working with.

Kelly Sedinger said...

ADWD indicates that, as the crow flies, it is 300 miles from Deepwood Motte to Winterfell. Everything else falls into place then!

Xen said...

In response to Russ, I think it all depends on the infrastructure. Rome is of a size comparable to Westeros and relied on highways and the sea, whereas the Targaryens once had dragons, how does that compare for power projection? Though I wonder why the Targaryens never bothered to pave the entire King's Road like the Romans would have when the dragons failed.

Anonymous said...

So, if Skagos is the size of Ireland, how many Skagosians can Osha muster?

Kevin Jenkins said...

If you think the size is excessive, what about the timeline?
http://awoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/Timeline_of_major_events
On Earth, the dawn of agriculture was only about 10,000 years ago, and I doubt anyone has real evidence for their familial lineage going back even 10% of that. Westeros had bronze age tech 12,000 years ago, but has only progressed to late iron age by the time of the novels. Either their technological and cultural pace is extremely slow, compared to Earth, or their years are much, much shorter. Alternately, they may just be very, very mistaken about their timeline and at some point an error was introduced that magnified its length by an order of magnitude, so instead of 12 millennia, it's more like 12 centuries. With as unpredictable as the seasons apparently are, it's little wonder that massive mistakes in timing occur.

Adam Whitehead said...

Oddly enough, I have an article about that very issue published in BEYOND THE WALL, edited by James Lowder, a book of essays about the series

But the general feeling is that the dates given in the series are way over the top. In ADWD Jaime Lannister meets someone who points out that they can't tell any more if the Andals invaded 2,000 years ago or 4,000 (and the timeline in the first book says 6,000), whilst in AFFC Sam tells Jon that they're only guessing he's the 998th Lord Commander as they can only find reliable records for about half that.

I'm also convinced that the major families have not survived intact for so long. At various points they may have died our and distant cousins were then made the 'main' branch of the family again, as the name has significant power and meaning in its region (particularly the Starks, Lannisters and Arryns).

Dresdyn said...

Just to make a comment on your post Kevin: It's really only the near and far East and Europe that progressed any further than actually moved on from the bronze age. Indeed, today there's still isolated indigenous peoples around the world, highland tribes in Papua New Guinea come to mind, that have not advanced beyond the new stone age and continue live hunter/gatherer lifestyles. So the 12,000 year timeline, when put in that perspective, isn't really that much of a stretch. Two things tend to drive advancements in civilisation - war and agriculture. That seems to contradict my statement but just gives you all something to think about.

Kevin Jenkins said...

Yes, agriculture begets personal property, which requires protection. War ensues, leading to the development of metallurgy and other tech. It seems all that happened on the World of Westeros, but then it paused in the iron age, whereas Earth did not. Maybe it has to do with magic? If necessity is the mother of invention, magic could act as a retardant to the progress of tech.
With magic around, they can't even have an Age of Enlightenment, since the basal assumptions of scientific naturalism wouldn't be valid.
Yeah, I guess that works... and though it hurts a bit to say it, I'm glad magic is fictional.

Snow4Stark said...

You guys who have a problem with the technology and timeline don't seem to be familiar with fantasy settings. There is a trope called fantasy gun control. Excuse it however you like: Gunpowder tech is impossible(lack of salt peter on world), magic precludes it's necessity, they just haven't figured it out by chance, whatever. I LOVE how different the world there is. I love their strange orbit and inclination. And I love the way that everything is unique, up to a point where everything is suspiciously unique and original.

Anonymous said...

Here's a better one: http://rebekahjonesonline.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/a-song-of-ice-and-fire-mapping-westeros-and-essos/