Episode 15: Game of Thrones



By: KEN FILLER, Austin Raimond, additional Illustrations by Sean Konig

Dany’s March Across the World

The Game of Thrones is played on two continents: Westeros and Essos. Westeros is a tightly defined, familiar island ruled by families who tend to fight sometimes. Essos is a sprawling, elongated land mass with diverse city-states and partially undefined regions. This west-east perspective is part of a long-standing Western storytelling tradition: define everything possible in the places that feel like home, and keep the “other” a place of endless possibility for hope or terror to arise.

We are joined by friend of the podcast, Sean Konig, to discuss the intricate GoT map - it’s real world influences, how GRRM may have gone about creating the world, and ultimately how the characters are positioned to interact within the world.

We dive into Dany’s march across the world by tracking her tumultuous path to Cersei - trying our best to quantify her exact number of forces along the way. The diagram below is influenced by the famous Napoleon’s March diagram made by Charles Joseph Minard, depicting Napoleon’s brutal Russian campaign of 1812.

Dany’s march across Essos is immediately aided by the 70,000 Dothraki followers of Khal Drogo. Although they are not loyal to her, whispers of her presence start being heard by the lords of Westeros. After the death of Khal Drogo, her forces are diminished back to a few close guardians, before she finally reclaims full strength in Meereen with the Dothraki, The Unsullied, The Second Sons and three (!) fully grown Dragons.

This powerhouse is eventually “halved,” as the showrunners put it, after the Battle of Winterfell, and Dany is primed for a much more equal showdown with Cersei in King’s Landing. In the end, one Dragon seemed like all she needed.


Stark Family Timeline

This diagram is an exploration of the Stark family member’s place in the world, as it relates to their home base: Winterfell. The relationship between the Stark siblings is one of the primary drivers of the plot, even when they are separated for a majority of the story.

In an article published by The Ringer, GRRM’s original outlines for the show define Arya, Bran and Jon (along with Dany and Tyrion) as the main characters in the show. They are the “younger generation” that will see the mistakes of their parents, and hopefully be able to make their own deduction of the world at the end of the story.

The “older generation” (Ned/Cat/Rob) fall victim to the politics of Westeros - with Sansa uniquely positioned to learn from their mistakes, while the other Stark siblings embark on unique experiences that help them form their true adult identities (sorry Rickon). While Jon/Bran learn from their struggles in the North, Arya/Sansa learn from their experiences in the South/East. When they finally rejoin, the Stark super-team aren’t just siblings at home anymore, but important players on the world stage.


Westeros Family Alliances

What are the motivations behind GoT’s famous back-stabbings? How often do the great houses align for a common cause? Can enough gold really make a difference? The video below (produced by Sean) tries to make sense of the complex relationships tied to each ruling family in Westeros.