What Is The Name Of The World In 'Game Of Thrones'? George R.R. Martin Answers

The known world during the events of 'Game of Thrones.'
The known world during the events of 'Game of Thrones.' HBO

Westeros, Essos and Sothoryos, the three continents in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, are so steeped in lore that HBO is in the process of developing five more shows in the Game of Thrones mythology. Even after The World of Ice & Fire and The Lands of Ice and Fire, Martin is busy at work on a third reference book, this one a comprehensive history of the Targaryen lineage, which he has dubbed Fire and Blood, or, the GRRMarillion. But for all that worldbuilding, the actual planet has never been named. On what world did Robert Baratheon take up rebellion against the Mad King, leading inexorably to the War of the Five Kings and Game of Thrones ? George R.R. Martin finally has an answer: Earth.

Or, some equivalent to Earth. A commenter on Martin’s latest LiveJournal post asked, “Incidentally, are you ever going to give a name to the World of Ice and Fire?... if you were to sit down with a Maester and ask him what planet he lives on, he would have an answer, right?”

“He would probably call it Earth. Of course, it would not be that word, since he’d be speaking the Common Tongue, not English. But it would mean Earth,” Martin replied, under his screenname grrm.

Martin essentially argues that proper nouns in the A Song of Ice and Fire series have all been transliterated from some unknown language into the languages of Earth as we know it. We don’t know the words of the Common Tongue, so we can only know the translated planet name.

Martin has spoken at least one other time on the subject. In a section of the Westeros.org fansite, where people submit correspondence or transcriptions of in-person Q&As with GRRM, Martin is quoted saying, “Yes, the world is round. Might be a little larger than ours, though. I wa thinking more like Vance’s Big Planet… but don’t hold me to that.” That certainly sounds like Martin — he writes about Vance often.

Big Planet was the setting for two Jack Vance novels, Big Planet and Showboat World. It’s just like Earth, right down to the same gravity, except way bigger. But its lack of resources and sprawling population made it a technologically backward place. It seems the only similarity it shares with the world of Westeros is its size, with Westeros itself often compared to a 15th century British Isles (Game of Thrones is based loosely on the War of the Roses), stretched to the size of South America.

But really, this new answer from Martin indicates we shouldn’t be looking for answers or insights into the world via more fantastic extrapolations and guesses about the world’s astronomical identity. For questions without answers, the world of A Song of Ice and Fire should be presumed Earth-like. One sun. One moon. No weird orbital explanations for the funky seasons. Martin’s answer also has the opposite implication. In describing his world as Earth-like enough to be called Earth, but not actually Earth, Martin chooses a different answer than The Lord of the Rings, set during our planet’s prehistory.

All that said, if you want to think of The Winds of Winter as taking place on Earth, it sounds like Martin would tell you to go right ahead.

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