Westeros: As Real as It Can Get

This elegant, yet fantastical map might be familiar to fans of George RR Martin’s A Game of Thrones. It is a map of Westeros, and such a wondrous place does not exist in real life. Upon closer inspection, one can even say that it is quite similar to a mirror image of Great Britain, sans Ireland. The map is a reference map of prominent places and capitals, first and foremost but it can also double as a topographic map.

It’s obvious that the map-maker gave a lot of effort to make it appear real and almost majestic, even if some parts are geographically and geologically impossible (some rivers just appear randomly). At first glance, you’re greeted by a map of cool colors dominated by blues, greens and grays, lacking balance but succeeding in giving it a somber feel. What the map maker did to compensate for this was to put those patches of intense color next to the more neutral shades  so that there would not be too much going on. The important places and capitals are highlighted by vermillion points and the roads are those semi straight lines connecting these places. The map is elongated, which posed a problem because the map maker did not bother to put additional elements to its sides.

The labels are somewhat small, but appropriately colored. The legend might easily get overlooked because it is not prominent enough. The legend and scale can be found on the upper right corner of the map and a compass is put on the right center part. It conforms to the principles of design. Some parts are missing like the title, source and number but since the map is made to merely supplement the readers of the book, those parts, when included, will be unnecessary. The map borders double as grid measurements and are just the right color.

I admire how the map can pass for a real one instead of just being a virtual one. In the book, Westeros has a varied climate and terrain and lands were divided based on this. These were well represented in the map. The territories or provinces, however, are not clearly delineated. The reader may have a hard time in distinguishing places with the type of terrain that characterize the place.


5 comments on “Westeros: As Real as It Can Get

  1. Geography’s role is vital to Westeros; 7 kingdoms one throne to rule them a all (yes this map is quite familiar) in explaining why these kingdoms, and coincidentally the families who rule them, exist to guard and protect certain features of the area. These orographic features are essential that they somehow maintain the balance and distinction between the kingdoms, the climate distinguishes one kingdom from another and that’s why the topographic map is very useful as well. With the mountain ranges and river systems as boundaries, you exactly know which areas you should not cross lest you would rather walk beyond the wall and experience winter for the rest of your life.
    Though it might seem that the river systems appear at random, let’s not be so quick in judging these occurrences as “geographically and geologically impossible” after all land and water formations change over geologic time; what we see as reality today may have been impossible at a certain point in history.
    And I concur, this map is truly wonderful, and it not only supplements the existence of a world that you can spend days reading into and exploring, but also adds to the excitement that there is this visual representation of something so grand and well thought out.

    • Hello Mr/Ms Anon. You’re right in saying that I shouldn’t be too quick to judge some rivers appeared randomly. After all, Mother Nature is full of mysteries and anomalies and girly hormones. I just remember staring at some of them wondering, how’d that one get there? It’s just that I might have relied too much on the “hillshade” and I keep forgetting that dragons and witches and mini ice ages exist in this place. So if there’s a beach on top of a mountain, we shouldn’t find it too incredible. There is one thing that the map-maker could have added: the family crests of the clans that dominate Westeros strategically placed to encompass (not extensively) their respective territories. Thank you for your comment, it is much appreciated, specially since you’re familiar with GoT, too. I’d like to say keep warm ’cause Winter is coming, but it’s too hot here in the real world. 🙂

  2. First of all kudos to the title of this essay. Westeros is very much real to me as I have spent many hours living beyond the wall.

    The topography and climate of Westeros not only provide the boundaries of the Seven Kingdoms, but also helps in creating the character of the cultures located within them. With that said, it is essential that a topographic map supplements this ‘reality’ presented by the novels.

    If we were to explore Westeros,using a map to do so, would not necessarily need to be complete in terms of titles and such. In that regard, we think about what the situation calls for and what is it we want to show. What is the ‘reality’ or reality that we want to present? This should be a concern among map users and most importantly map makers.

    • Mr Garcia, if it’s GoT’s reality that had to be represented, it would be of where and when and how the best characters died (kidding). Well died is a kind word, since being killed off is more accurate. George Martin can be so heartless sometimes. But if we think of this map as something for the non-readers or those who haven’t watched the show yet, what would they get from it? I imagine it would just be like every other map for them, though I doubt that the map-maker made this with them in mind. As for us fans of the books and show, we’d skip the introductions and criticisms and jump right into our own little worlds. As you said, the topography and climate of the kingdoms make them unique and distinguishable. We’d conjure up the castles, landscapes and characters in our head as our eyes scan the map from place to place. I believe it’s a map that triggers one’s imagination, and the marvelous design of it sets the initial spark. Much thanks for the review!

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