Wed
Mar 6 2013 12:30pm

How Big is the Planet that Westeros is On?

How Big is the Planet That Westeros is On?

After exploring an epic fantasy realm for years it seems only natural—especially in the down time between books—to want to know what exists beyond the borders of the story in lands only hinted at. George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series accomplishes this in a wonderfully classic way, portraying a world that gets cloudy at the edges and hints that “here be dragons” while also literally pointing out... here be dragons.

The release of The Lands of Ice and Fire map book in the fall of 2012 finally gave us a beautiful, clear, and official picture of “the known world” in the series. So let’s see if we can figure out how large the entire world is and what percentage of that is the Known World.

When the series first started, George R. R. Martin had envisioned the lands of Westeros as residing on a “super Earth,” a terrestrial planet with more mass than the Earth, more gravity, and a larger surface area. Martin hasn’t repeated this statement recently (in fact, I can no longer find the interview online in which he said that) leading one to think he was just thinking out loud and that this is not a hard and fast rule. Martin also had Jon Snow claim that Westeros was 10,000 leagues long in one of the early books, a number which the author himself has since debunked, so it seems that the distances and geography of the world haven’t actually been pinned down until recently.

Current understanding of Westeros and its size puts the distance between the Wall and the south coast of Dorne at 3000 miles (or 1000 leagues). Now, thanks to the revelation of the Known World map, some comparison to Earth, and some speculation, we can try and pin down just how big the planet is.

Let’s begin, using a handy tape measure and the real size map of the Known World. (Which is, of course, hanging on my wall at home because OOH, PRETTY.)

In inches, the distance from the wall to the south coast of Dorne is a very convenient 12, making each inch equivalent to 250 miles. The Known World map is 2 feet and 11 inches wide, minus the ornamental borders, totaling 8750 miles from east to west and 5750 miles from north to south.

The next thing we need to do is decide where the equator is on Planet Westeros. For the purposes of the forthcoming measurements, I’ve chosen the former site of the city of Valyria as being right on the equator. The lands to the north and south of it are clearly equatorial desert, jungle, and savannah, and there’s a certain poetry to having Valyria—the former center of civilization in A Song of Ice and Fire’s developed world—be literally in the center of the world.

(Also, we’ll redo the calculations later with the equator as the southern edge of the map.)

We now have a useful grid that we can overlay on the Known World, but we need one more arbitrary line to put an outer bound on that grid before we can estimate how big the planet is. Since the Known World map shows us the Shivering Sea and the Land of Always Winter, let’s decide where this planet’s “Arctic” Circle will be.

On Earth, the Arctic Circle is a a little north of the 66th latitudinal parallel, and as you head north the ecosystem is primarily comprised of tundra, then treeless permafrost, then ice. Since the Arctic is marked for its lack of trees, we’ll put Planet Westeros’ “Arctic Circle” at the northern edge of the Haunted Forest beyond the Wall.

For the purposes of this speculation, I’m assuming that the amount of polar ice in the world is equivalent to the amount present in Earth’s pre-industrial society, barring any Little Ice Ages. How extended winters and summer would affect Ice Ages, coastlines, and climate on Planet Westeros is a fascinating tangent to think about, but not entirely relevant to determining the size of the planet.

So this is our map:

How Big is the Planet That Westeros is On?

The distance between Planet Westeros’ “Arctic Circle” and equator is 4125 miles. On Earth, the distance between the Arctic circle and equator is 4608 miles (give or take).

If you accept the equator and “Arctic Circle” where they are, this means that the planet that Westeros is on is smaller than Earth! To put it in numbers, Planet Westeros is only 89.51% the size of Earth.

With this percentage in hand, we can now figure out just how much of the world is “known” in A Song of Ice and Fire.

But first, some incidental numbers: On Earth, the distance from the Arctic circle to the North Pole is 1600 miles (roughly). 89.51% of that is 1432.16 miles.

Dropping the .16 for the sake of some more straightforward whole numbers, this makes Planet Westeros 5557 miles from equator to pole, which equals 11,114 miles from pole to pole. Earth is 12,416 miles from pole to pole and its equatorial circumference is 24,901 miles. Since Planet Westeros is 89.51% the size of Earth, its circumference is most likely 22,289 miles (rounding up).

The Known World map is 8750 miles across by 5750 miles tall, depicting 50,312,500 square miles. On Earth, you’d be depicting 25.54% of the planet, but Planet Westeros is smaller, so the Known World map is actually depicting 28.54% of the planet that Westeros is on.

The Arctic takes up 8% of the Earth, so let’s double that for the South Pole and say that Planet Westeros has 84% of mappable and explorable land. We’ve seen 28.54% of it, which means over half of the planet that George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire takes place on is still unexplored.

Lots of places for dragons and other terrors to hide, aren’t there?


Okay, as promised before, here’s how it works out if you put the equator at the bottom of the Known World map but keep the “Arctic Circle” line where it is.

If you move the equator south, that makes 4813 miles between Planet Westeros’ equator and its “Arctic Circle,” which makes the planet that Westeros is on 4.4% larger than Earth. That means the Known World map is depicting 24.4% of Planet Westeros.

So even if the planet that Westeros is on is actually larger than Earth, we still haven’t seen more than half of it!


A note on the calculations: Maps of spheres are tricky beasts, and spheres that get bulgy in the middle and flat on the top, like our awesome planet, are even trickier. In addition, the Song of Ice and Fire map of the Known World is a flat rectangular projection that is not a mercator projection, i.e. distance and land are not distorted as they travel away from the equator as they would be in a mercator. The two don’t quite fit together, so I kept the comparison between them simple (with the math remaining purely back-of-the-napkin). I still ended up with some surprising results, though! I’m curious what others might come up with in regards to size and area comparisons.

And... I wonder what’s on the other side of the world from Westeros?

 

The Lands of Ice and Fire Known World map is by Jonathan Roberts and is copyright © 2012 George R. R. Martin. For larger map images and details on how Roberts crafted this map (and many others in the world) visit his site Fantastic Maps.


Chris Lough is the production manager of Tor.com and claims this land for him.

63 comments
Halibulu
1. Halibulu
Geeks are the most awesome people ever. I'm not too into math, and while I love maps, I never would have cared about any of this, but even still I found myself riveted. Awesome work guys and keep fighting the good fight.
Halibulu
2. WilliamP
If you really pay attention to the GoT series opening credits you'll note that it kind of looks like everything is on the inside of a sphere, not the outside. That combined with the talk of Long Summers and Long Winters makes me think we are dealing with a constructed world of some sort
Halibulu
3. solarsoul25
Holy crap, this is the kind of stuff that keeps me firmly glued to this site. No matter how many times I think I am out living my own inherent geekness as I grow older (almost 30) something like this puts me firmly back in my place.

Well done sir, and thanks for the reminder!
Mordicai Knode
4. mordicai
YESSSSSSSSSSsssssssss.

Chris, how long is a year in Westeros?
lake sidey
5. lakesidey
@2 William P: You said "...makes me think we are dealing with a constructed world of some sort"

You don't say! :D >:) And here I thought it was a naturally occurring world and not the construction of one Mr Martin...

~lakesidey

P.S. I did get the point you were trying to make....but I find it hard to envision a world on a giant astrolabe...I guess that is just a fancy way of portraying it (and possibly the way the Westerosi visualise their world)
Clay Blankenship
6. snoweel
On the real Earth, deserts are mostly at around 20-30 degrees latitude in the subsiding branch of the Hadley circulation, with jungles in the "deep tropics" (say 15 degrees latitude or less). So based on that map I would put 20N about where your Equator is. That supports your second assumption with the Equator along the southern edge of the map.

Of course the whole circulation could change based on rotation rate of the planet, gravity, distribution of land masses, and whatever weird effect causes the climate oscillations.
Kevin Maroney
7. womzilla
WilliamP @2: There are a lot of physical effects one would see from being on the inside of a curved body instead of the outside--most obviously, the lack of a horizon, but also the Skylands effect. So it's pretty unlikely.

The "3000 miles from Dorne to the Wall" estimate still makes no sense. The travel times that would go with those distances are incompatible with the actions of the novels.
Chris Lough
8. TorChris
@4. Long enough, Mordicai.

Actually, I stumbled across this while researching the geography. According to GRRM, the denizens of the planet measure time and the passing of years via astronomy, so there's a definite measurement. We just don't know how long their year is in comparison to ours. It could probably be teased out, though, from other details in the series.

@2. I love the idea that it's all in a Dyson spehere. (But then where'd the red comet come from?)
Halibulu
9. Steven D Russell
Chris,

I think you should credit the cartograph Jonathan Roberts under these image as you lifted them straight from his blog, and also note they they are copyright George R. R. Martin (it shows so in the imgae).

You should also link to Jonathan's Blog as a simple courtesy, since again you lifted them from there.

I would hate to see Jonathan have to hand you over to the legal department at Random House for not doing some pretty basic stuff.
Halibulu
10. KJ
My understanding is that the hollow world concept with the sun at the center for the opening credits was something done with some artistic license by the art production team for the series and it isn't something indicated in the books by GRRM. It looks cool and could possibly represent the medieval mind-set of some of the Westeros inhabitants but it is not necessarily "true" to the fictional cosmos of the books or HBO series.
Mordicai Knode
11. mordicai
I thought I'd read somewhere that Westeros-- the landmass-- was roughly the size of South America? That was the rubric I'd been using in my head.
Chris Lough
12. TorChris
@9. Steven. You're absolutely correct. I'm currently in touch with the artist and we've added the necessary credits and links.

Relatedly, ya'll should really check out Jonathan Roberts' Fantastic Maps site for details on how he created the Song of Ice and Fire world maps, what came from GRRM and what he had to flesh out.
Aeria Lynn
13. aeria_lynn
And... I wonder what’s on the other side of the world from Westeros?
Easteros?
Fredrik Coulter
14. fcoulter
@6. snoweel: "On the real Earth, deserts are mostly at around 20-30 degrees latitude"

This ignores Antarctica, which is a pretty large desert, far from 30 degrees latitude.
George V. Reilly
15. georgevreilly
Given that Winter can last for years, I've always thought that they might be in some kind of binary star system a la Helliconia, with a small year and a great year.
Mordicai Knode
16. mordicai
13. aeria_lynn

Isn't the continent that Dany is on already called "Essos"? Then to the south Sothoryos, & then on the other side of the world Assai is on the Shadow Land?
Sharat Buddhavarapu
17. spinfuzz
This reminds me of Dante's cartography of Hell, which chains to basically thinking: "Made up maps are the best. Made up maps with stories and cultures tied to them are the double-best. Ergo, Fantasy is the BEST!"
Paul Weimer
18. PrinceJvstin
I do think the Equator assumption is what leading you to come up with the answer that you do for the Equatorial Valyria. There is no evidence one way or another on that, though.


With the Equator at the "Bottom" of the map, the world is substantially larger, but we do seem to have a whole hemisphere of parts unknown.
Halibulu
19. Steven D Russell
Chris,

Stand up job on doing the right thing

Your a good man charlie brown.

Steve
Halibulu
20. Addison Duke
Anyone have the calculations on how this all would effect gravity on the planet? One would think that this would then have some effect on travel time.
Chris Lough
21. TorChris
Hehe, "Easteros."

Mordicai, Asshai is on the eastern edge of the known world, but if you go by my assumptions as to what the map covers, then Asshai is only about a third of the way around the world from Westeros. (Imagine Westeros and Asshai as points in an equilateral triangle, basically.)

georgevreilly, there's a couple of pretty good pieces that have tried to provide scientific explanations for the seasons here and here. The forums at Westeros.org revisit this question every so often as well. The Helliconian model you propose is fascinating! A constant, wobbly slingshot of an orbit.

Addison, re: different gravity. It's tough to say since mass is affected not just by size but by density and other factors. Here's my thinking-out-loud answer:

If Planet Westeros is smaller than Earth, I think it's still possible for gravity to be equal to Earth if the planet is more dense. (This is very tentatively possible. A denser terrestrial planet would have a thicker crust, making volcanic activity less frequent but far more catatastrophic. Hellooooo Doom of Valyria?)

If it's not more dense but still smaller than Earth, that makes it somewhat comparable to Venus, in which case the gravity on Planet Westeros might be 90% of what it is on Earth. I imagine Planet Westeros being a few percentage points larger than Earth would swing gravity the other way? Gravity that's 104-110% of Earth's would probably make Planet Westerosians a little stronger, little tougher, and a little shorter in order to withstand the forces, but it wouldn't be impossible.
Mordicai Knode
22. mordicai
21. TorChris

Maybe there is a "Martian gravity" effect at play, & the reason there are Super Badass Tough Fighters Who Can Kill An Improbably Number Of People Despite This Being a Gritty Story is because they have a loose John Carter syndrome!
Chris Nelly
23. Aeryl
Exact time frames aren't really given in the books(except that it was Joff's birthday right before the trip North, and his birthday again at the beginning of CoK), so we really don't know how long it took to get from King's Landing to Winterfell, but I could go with 3000 from The Wall to Dorne. It obviously took over a month to travel along the King's Road in a slow caravan, and KL and Winterfell are some distance from the southern and northernmost points.
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
24. AlirozTheConfused
Really, must one go to the trouble to derive the size of the world from a hack who can't tell whether his fantasy continent is the size of England or the size of South America?

Look, this is a guy who completely fails at physics (700 foot wall of ice; cooking fire hot enough to liquify gold); agriculture (there is simply no way that winemaking works without short seasons; and none of the rest of the agriculture works either) and logic (throne made of swords! Swords that are still sharp! A throne that kills kings! Also, giant vertical tower with lots of holes and inclined floors that somehow is still structurally stable).

The guy can't even get the size of his Continent straight in his head; how are you to derive the size of the entire world.

Next you'll be deriving a whole new branch of chemistry to accommodate the melting gold; and a new branch of physics for the architecture; and an entire ecological biosystem for the plant and animal life.

Sorry that I didn't rhyme this time.

I'm just sick of Gurm's Grime and Crime.

Oh well, you can continue reading your series written by a man who spent more pagespace and effort describing the feminine mammaries of a Dornish Princess than making a self-consistent geography.

There's simply not enough thought put into it for the kind of analysis you guys are doing. There are authors who put a lot of stock in their maps and who base the character's actions on the maps; and who make self-consistent worlds that can hold up under heavy analysis; but this is not one of them. Gurm is an author concerned mostly with telling a story as opposed to worldbuilding.
Mordicai Knode
25. mordicai
24. AlirozTheConfused

As a wise man once said: "h8rs gunna h8."

Yeah, sorry, the "wise man" was an internet troll.
You know how it goes I'm sure.
Halibulu
26. Halibulu
24. AlirozTheConfused

You mad bro?
Halibulu
27. a1ay
And... I wonder what’s on the other side of the world from Westeros?
Easteros?
Wester Ross.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wester_Ross

Easter Ross.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_Ross
Halibulu
28. a1ay
cooking fire hot enough to liquify gold

It's a charcoal fire. Could easily be hot enough. Glass melts at a higher temperature than gold, but I've seen glass bottles melted by being left in an ordinary camp fire.
Halibulu
29. Piruett.se
Remember: The world is inside the eye of a giant, according to Old Nan.

Also, GRRM has stated that the weird seasons has a magican explanation, not a astronomical one.
Halibulu
30. felix2
The dreaded "North" is a bit pitiful. I've seen better Norths. Also the rest of the world design is not the most elegant. It's just alarge chunk with the most important basics, and he seems to cram all the stuff in there that comes to his mind at some point.
(This is not some merciless trashing, it's just not automatically assuming that he's more perfect than he gives necessary indication to be.)
Chris Nelly
31. Aeryl
@29, Pretty sure its related to some hibernating ice monsters, and their natural born enemies, fire breathing dragons.
Adam Whitehead
32. Werthead
GRRM has actually said how large the world is: bigger than Earth. In fact, at least at one stage he was thinking along the lines of Jack Vance's Big Planet (which is about three times the size of Earth) though he seemed to settle on 'a bit bigger' than Earth instead.

As for how the people of Westeros count the years, they do it by counting the orbits of the moon and the positions of the stars and other planets. The maesters - whose astronomical skills are vastly superior to our own in the medieval period - have this down to a fine art. There's also the very strong suggestion that the seasons 'were' normal once, but were thrown out of whack by the Long Night and the War for the Dawn 8,000 years (allegedly) before the series begins, and are related to the existence of the Others. Since GRRM has confirmed that the long seasons will be explained in the books, that suggests to me that if the Others are defeated, the seasons will return to normal. Though how people on a world used to the crazy seasons would adapt to that would be quite interesting.
The "3000 miles from Dorne to the Wall" estimate still makes no sense. The travel times that would go with those distances are incompatible with the actions of the novels.
The only occasion which looks a bit dodgy is Cat's journey from Riverrun to Storm's End and back again in ACoK. Otherwise everything in the books pretty much checks out. The books span a large amount of time (three years, possibly more, by the end of ADWD) and the dates and travel times given are pretty vague, which allows him to handwave away a multitude of dubious travel times.
Adam Whitehead
33. Werthead
I thought I'd read somewhere that Westeros-- the landmass-- was roughly the size of South America? That was the rubric I'd been using in my head.
The continent of Westeros is about the length of South America. South America is about 4,100 miles long north to south. Westeros is 3,000 miles from the Wall to the south coast, meaning that there's room for another 1,100 miles to the north, beyond the Wall. The maps extend up to about 700-900 miles north of the Wall, so that actually checks out.

What Westeros definitely isn't is the area of South America. It's a much thinner continent (SA is about 3,000 miles wide at its widest point, Westeros is only about 900-1,000, and is frequently a lot narrower) and in terms of area is nowhere near as large. In terms of land area it's probably a bit more than Europe.
Adam Whitehead
34. Werthead
Food for thought:

Westeros compared to the USA and UK.

Westeros compared to Europe.

The Europe comparison is actually a bit small (the south coast of Dorne should be in central-southern Morocco, not northern), but it gets the idea of the size of the continent across quite well.
Halibulu
36. Rodney The Yeti
I'm pretty sure Westeros is balanced on the backs of four great elephants who stand on the back of the great sky turtle A'tuin. Or was that something else....
Halibulu
37. mutantalbinocrocodile
I think tarring @24 as a "hater" is a bit unfair. It is easy, for those of us who have decidedly mixed feelings about GRRM, to get frustrated with all the exposure that he's getting, and arguably taking away from more talented writers. There's a lot that is worthwhile in ASOIF, but the criticisms of the worldbuilding that @24 makes deserve attention, and I suspect that he/she is right that a lot in this world won't hold up to the scrutiny that fans like to apply to their secondary worlds in general.
Halibulu
38. Ludwig Van
@24:
"Gurm is an author concerned mostly with telling a story as opposed to worldbuilding."

And thank whatever gods may be for that!

Every fantasy fiction reader of taste shudders at the thought of yon "great clomping foot of nerdism", as Mr Harrison so aptly described 'world-building'.
Mr Martin is a great crafter of characters and plots - you know, the stuff that's important in literature...
Zorila Desufnoc Eht
39. AlirozTheConfused
Yes, he is a crafter of characters and plots; not of worlds.

Thus, I think that sophisticated analysis is more suited to said characters and plots than the world.

I don't think that the worldbuilding of mister Martin's series really holds up under intense scrutiny.

There are other series that would be better served by geographical analysis than this one.
Adam Whitehead
40. Werthead
GRRM's worldbuilding is certainly adequate for the story he is telling, and extends beyond that to working on a historical basis: the history of the world is fairly compelling. Some of the other criticisms are odd: the Wall exists because of magic, exactly how a lot of stuff in the backhistory of other settings (Erikson, Tolkien, Jordan) are only possible because of magic. So is the issue with the seasons, which are totally magical in origin. Yeah, it may be a lazy handwave, but it's one that every other fantasy author of note has used as well.

The one area I agree is problematic is not following through the impact of the unpredictable seasons has on all walks of life. It's actually very hard to have any kind of civilisation when you don't know how long it'll be before the snow falls, and I think GRRM underestimated this in the early books. The later books do see some improvement on this, such as with ADWD showing how the Night's Watch can store food for potentially years ahead (using the Wall as a giant freezer is quite amusing), but some of the other problems with grape-growing and so forth aren't really dealt with. If we knew that the seasons had always been out of whack we could say that plants and animal life had adapted to it, but I'm not sure if 8,000 years (even if that figure is accurate) is long enough for that kind of adaptation to have taken place.

The 'changing size of Westeros' thing is unfair though. AGoT tells us how big the Wall is, and you can work out the rest of the size of the continent from that. GRRM also said that Westeros is 'roughly' the size of South America right back then, and never really varied from it after that. The only change was a couple of years ago, when he went from saying that the maps weren't necessarily 100% to scale to saying they were, pretty much. Certainly Westeros has never been said to be the size of Britain.

The only fantasy authors I know of who have exhaustively made their geography work 'properly' are Ian Irvine and Russell Kirkpatrick, and both are authors squarely in the 'okay' bracket of fantasy writers. I don't think it's really possible to spend vast amounts of time getting the geography 100% right as well as writing a compelling narrative. Even in SF Frank Herbert screwed up (forgetting to work out where Arrakis's breathable air came from) and Brian Aldiss's HELLICONIA TRILOGY only works because Aldiss outsourced a lot of the actual worldbuilding to his local university's departments as a project whilst he focused on the characters, themes and plot.
Halibulu
41. wkwillis
I thought that the "winters" were caused by Valyrian volcano emissions causing variable global cooling. The volcanos are noted as being more or less continous.
Adam Whitehead
42. Werthead
The Doom of Valyria was only 400 years 'ago' (before the start of AGoT). Before then the Valyrian volcanoes were dormant or only slightly active. The seasons have been out of whack for at least 8,000 years and possibly longer. GRRM has also been pretty firm that people drawing charts of the planet's orbit (including unseen brown dwarf companions and black holes) or trying to find geological explanations are barking up the wrong tree. The explanation is magical.

I do think there may be something in that story Daenerys heard from her Dothraki handmaids in Book 1 however: there were once two moons and one shattered, bringing dragons and dragonfire into the world (and presumably magic as well, if magic and the existence of the dragons is as tied together as it appears). If that was thousands and thousands of years ago, this could have been the event (alongside the Long Night) which threw the seasons out of balance.
Kevin Maroney
43. womzilla
Travel times: Winterfell is approximately 1500 terrestrial miles from King's Landing. It's hard for me to believe that Robert's round-trip took a full year within the novel, but that's what a 3000-mile trip by a royal court would likely take.

(I'm assuming Westeros small years are approximately equal to terrestrial years, because of the character ages, especially the ages at which women reach puberty.)
Halibulu
44. mutantalbinocrocodile
I think the problem may be one of genre. I completely agree that characters and plot are hugely important to novel-writing (though I think the complexity of many of GRRM's characters is overrated). However, if you aren't also interested in consistent cosmological speculation, then alternate-world fantasy is perhaps not the best genre to work in. If you are asking your audience to suspend disbelief, then they need something that can sustain belief. There are many other ways to write a novel that either don't require magic, or can more easily contain the sort of imagistic, irrational scenes that GRRM loves without requiring this kind of scrutiny.
Adam Whitehead
45. Werthead
"It's hard for me to believe that Robert's round-trip took a full year
within the novel, but that's what a 3000-mile trip by a royal court
would likely take."

The whole novel of AGoT covers about a year (about 8 months or so for Daenerys's storyline alone after she gets pregnant, not counting the months before that), so yes, the trip to Winterfell and back does take a substantial amount of time (not to mention the time it takes for Robb's army to assemble and march). Not a year, but some estimates put it comfortably at 4 months or so. Even that seems a little fast, because GRRM does put an enormous amount of attention on Cersei's ludicrous wheelhouse and how slowly it travels. The TV show, with its much more sensibly-sized carriage, is altogether more realistic in this regard.

And actually, I do wonder if TV Westeros is smaller than Book Westeros. The trip from KL to Winterfell only takes a month, and we are told that Torrhen's Square is only 40 leagues (120 miles) from Winterfell, when on the book map it appears to be a fair bit longer than that.
Halibulu
46. boredme
Based on the known historical influences and general level of technology, Westeros and Essos can be squarely placed in the equivalent of our 15th century. During said century, roughly half of Earth was "undiscovered" by Europeans and Asians as well. I suspect that this is not a coincidence.
Graham Hattersley
47. GrahamH
GRRM gave us another data point to work with, in the behind the wildings video he compares the land above the wall to be about the size of Canada. He also refers to it as part of Westeros. It's obviously not that big in the maps, I wonder if it reaches the pole or the other side of the world?

http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=plcp&v=VyG1rk1XgT4&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Halibulu
48. Gweilo
The position of the Arctic Circle is determined by the inclination of the planet's axis to its orbital plane. So using that to calculate the planet's size is assuming the inclination is the same as Earth's, 23.5 degrees, which is an unfounded assumption.

I read a bit of GRRM's early stuff, though not ASOIAF, just watching the TV version of that, but he did do some some conventional world building. His first novel was "Dying of the Light", set on a rogue planet that temporarily came close to a star and was terraformed for a festival, then gradually froze as it drifted back into outer space.
Halibulu
49. Wemon
Good article in general , but assuming this world has an arctic circle just like earth is just unfounded.
We have it because the planet leans 23.5°, but that angle is different for every planet.
jazz tigan
50. tredeger
Well, to pick a nit, you've yet to account for a major clue from the TV series. When Ser Loras was discussing with Sansa how he always pictured his wedding, he mentioned wanting French cuffs. So, Westeros is large enough to have its own France. Just try and retcon that into your map. :)
Adam Whitehead
51. Werthead
Well, to pick a nit, you've yet to account for a major clue from the TV series. When Ser Loras was discussing with Sansa how he always pictured his wedding, he mentioned wanting French cuffs. So, Westeros is large enough to have its own France. Just try and retcon that into your map. :)
Fringed cuffs, not French.
Halibulu
52. DancingBear
When leaving King's Landing, Yoren states it is "1000 leagues from here to the wall". How does that change the equation , now that we have an actual measurement?
Halibulu
53. qboro
Chris good job on the calculations. I like the second theory that their world is bigger than ours because it gives us more to discover in the future. @42werthead I hope you're rite about the two moons that would be a crazytwist. You critics need to stop hating on GRRM. He has done an excellent job with this. By far the best fantasy story I've read. With all the backround stories for every house and just about every character we meet a touch of magic so he can go outside the box and the storyline I'd give him three thumbs up if I could. If theres a better story out there please let me know.
Boquaz
54. boquaz
I'm going to echo some of the recent comments on the obliquity (axial tilt) problem. It was painful for me to read through this as someone who once taught Introduction to Astronomy to Humanities majors. I'm imagining my students out there writing similar stuff and I'm just crying inside. This is bad physics here guys. Sorry. I understand why you did the calculation this way, but you're making up a lot more than you think you are.

Ok, that out of the way, if we're going to do really bad physics... I think where you're putting the arctic circle and the equator is appropriate. I would assume that with longer, harsher seasons, the arctic circle (the location the sun would be set for one full day in the winter) would be at a much lower latitude than Earth's. This assumption is probably more relevant to the end result than all the discussions about how far apart things are on the map.

As an example, if we assume that the distance between the arctic circle and the pole is twice the distance from the equator to the arctic circle (which would be my choice), you nicely get a Westeros planet size which is almost exactly twice the diameter of Earth.
Halibulu
55. Athreeren
I just began A Feast for Crows, and I had to stop at the prologue to make the calculations myself. Apparently, it's possible to see the Wall from the Hightower of Oldtown. The Wall is 700 feet high, the Hightower 800 feet high, and on almost opposite sides of the continent: there's no way you can see one from the other at such distances. Unless:
- there are really weird mirages;
- the world is flat (on top of four elephants that are carried by a turtle);
- the world is so big that it can be considered almost flat for thousands of miles (but then the gravity would crush people);
- miles in this world are much shorter, and feet much longer. A 700 feet high Wall in the imperial system was already straining my suspension of disbelief, a higher building would be absolutely impossible.

My opinion is that the people of Oldtown are stupid and cannot see the difference between clouds or a trick of the light, and a giant wall on the other side on the continent. And these are the wise men who are supposed to guide the lords of the Seven Kingdom... No wonder Westeros is a deep mess.
Adam Whitehead
56. Werthead
Apparently, it's possible to see the Wall from the Hightower of Oldtown,
It isn't, you can't even see the Wall from Queenscrown. That's a popular myth amongst the more ignorant people, propogated only because only the Hightowers and their servants are allowed to visit the very top of the Hightower.
Halibulu
58. Adria_ct
Thank you to take time to do these calculations!

I'm searching for a big map but I couldn't find it. Anyone knows a website?
http://novedadesonline.es
Halibulu
59. Jordan Rutledge
The Geopolitics of Westeros don't really make any sense, there must be some kind of size error.

The book talks about the Neck as this narrow swampland, so narrow that there is literally one usable road through it. And yet, if the numbers in this article are correct, and the wall to dorne is as many as 3000 miles, then the width of the neck would be some absurd distance like 200 miles or something, comparable to width of Great Britain in our world, it doesnt make sense that you could hold the Neck with one fort on one road if the Neck was as wide as Great Britian

Likewise, Westeros is just way too damn big to be ruled by this one, nearly unified aristocracy. Now the map does have quite a few cities, so there is a lot of stuff in Westeros, but it's as big as South America, by the numbers, and yet from the plot you would have to assume its barely twice as big as the UK.

In my opinion a more accurate estimation of the distance from The Wall to Dorne would be like 1200-1500 miles, although that would still leave the Neck as too wide, to be honest the scale of the Neck on the maps and its plot description are somewhat at odds. Thats reasonable considering these are supposed to be medieval, inexact maps
Halibulu
60. Chuck Shingledecker
Martin has said over and over again that the seasons being out of whack has nothing to do with astronomy or science. It's simply magic.
Halibulu
61. Phaelin
*groan*

The Neck is all swamplands. A small group may be able to cross from one side to the other safely (assuming the lizardlions, giant snakes, and crannogmen don't kill them) without the use of Moat Cailin and the Kingsroad, but you are not getting an army through there.

Your attempts to measure the size of the Neck from east to west are pointless, because if it were ten times as large as it is, it would still be all swamp. The kingsroad goes through the safest route, and Moat Cailin is strategically placed to be the Gate to the North, that wasn't just by luck.

tl;dr No matter how wide the Neck is, an army isn't crossing a swamp.
Halibulu
62. TheDoctor
I thought the world of Thrones was inside a blue eyed giant named Macumba?
Halibulu
63. beastofman
maybe Middle Earth is on the opposite side of the planet?

I say this only because I think it's funny to have the Elves arrive in Essos and think "Oh shit!"
Halibulu
64. JH
Since there is clearly a single large moon in "the lands of ice and fire" that has phases identical to earth, you could use the calculations in this article to figure out the size and distance of the moon. Then you could use the distance betweent he planet and the moon to calcultate the distance to the star system's sun just as astronomers on earth did.

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