1.1: What is "A Song of Ice and Fire"?
"A Song of Ice and Fire" is an epic fantasy series of books. Currently there are four published books in the series: "A Game of Thrones" (AGOT), "A Clash of Kings" (ACOK), "A Storm of Swords" (ASOS) and "A Feast For Crows" (AFFC). There are three more books planned in the series (see faq 1.3 below for more details). This animated timeline map details the events of the books (although currently I am still working on the events prior to the start of the books (see faq 2.2 below for more details).
1.2: Who is George R.R. Martin?
George Raymond Richard Martin (GRRM) is the author of "A Song of Ice and Fire". He is a highly respected writer in the field of science-fiction and fantasy and has won many prestigious awards since he began his career in the 1970s. "A Song of Ice and Fire" is considered George's "masterpiece" but his other great works include "Dying of the Light", "Fevre Dream" and "Tuf Voyaging".
You can learn more about George R.R. Martin on his official website and by following his blog which is ironically named Not-a- Blog.
1.3: What is "A Dance With Dragons"?
"A Dance With Dragons" (ADWD) is the highly anticipated fifth book in the "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. This will be followed by the sixth book "The Winds of Winter" (TWOW) and the final book "A Dream of Spring" (ADOS) will close the series.
The writing of ADWD has been in progress for over six years now and there is still no release date announced. While many are critical of the long delays between books George is at a place in his career where he can set his own work schedule without pressure from his publisher. In any other line of work he would probably be enjoying a nice early retirement by now and yet he is still working hard on these books. However, he does not let the demands of his work affect his quality of life, George takes the time to enjoy the fruits of his success because he quite rightly feels he has earnt the right to do so and I don't believe it is fair for so-called "fans" to demand he work faster sacrificing his quality of life and compromise the quality of the writing in the process. As Neil Gaiman famously said "George R.R. Martin is not your bitch".
Part of the reason that the books take so long to write is that George is an absolute perfectionist for details and he works hard to make sure nobody can catch him out on something he might have overlooked, and let's face it we would not love these books so much if this was not the case. I think this timeline will attest to the incredible level of detail that "A Song of Ice and Fire" contains.
But a larger part of the reason for the delays is that originally there was a planned five year gap between ASOS and AFFC but George decided to scrap this idea because he realised there was more story he wanted to tell in between. However this has changed many of his original plans for the story and has caused huge problems with his timeline plan which is the reason he made a blog post that prompted the making of this animated timeline map (see faq 2.1 below for more details).
George also has other writing and editing interests to pursue. He has recently finished a third "Dunk and Egg" short story for inclusion in "Warriors" (2010), a collection of short stories about war and warriors that George edited with Gardner Dozois. They also worked together on another anthology of short stories which is a tribute to the work of legendary science fiction author Jack Vance titled "Songs of a Dying Earth" (2009) for which George also wrote a short story. George and Gardner are currently working on two more anthologies due for release in the next couple of years. George is also editor of the excellent "Wild Cards" series of superhero alternative history novels which I highly recommend to anyone who has not heard about them.
1.4: What is "Dunk and Egg"?
The "Tales of Dunk and Egg" are a collection of short stories (novellas) set in the world of "A Song of Ice and Fire" many years before the start of the main series, spanning the years 209-259 (ie: right before the start of this timeline). The story follows the life of Aegon Targaryen (Egg) and the common hedge knight Duncan (Dunk) who would go on to become the legendary Ser Duncan the Tall, Lord Commander of the Kingsguard after Egg is crowned King Aegon V. Through the first three novellas of the series Egg is disguised and serving as Dunk's squire.
The first novella in the series "The Hedge Knight" was published in the anthology "Legends" (1998) edited by Robert Silverberg. The second novella "The Sword Sword" was published in "Legends II" (2003) also edited by Robert Silverberg. A third novella "The Mystery Knight" has recently been published in "Warriors" (2010) edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. George has indicated that more novellas in the series will follow with perhaps as many as nine in total.
1.5: What is the Westeros Forum?
In "A Song of Ice and Fire" Westeros is the name of the continent where the majority of events take place, but it also gives its name to the biggest and best web forum dedicated to the series on the Internet. Westeros has become the home of intelligent and lively debate on all subjects and has an open speech policy on almost any subject which makes it a free and enlightened place to chat with like minded people. This has created a strong community and a welcoming atmosphere that you just won't find on other moderated forums. If you had not guessed it is just about my favourite place on the Internet and for me it is part of my daily life.
1.6: What is the "Brotherhood Without Banners"?
In "A Song of Ice and Fire" the Brotherhood Without Banners is a group of warriors unaffiliated with any House who have taken up arms to protect the smallfolk of the Riverlands caught up in the War of Five Kings. It was also the title chosen by the founding members for the unofficial fan club of GRRM's ASOIAF. The BWB is not in any way an official organisation and anyone who posts on the Westeros Forum can consider themselves a part of the BWB, no money to pay and no silly initiation ceremony required. Because of this it is an entirely nebulas, chaotic and random organisation with an indeterminate number of members from all over the world who sort of all know each other to varying degrees - an arrangement which in many ways mirrors the unpredictable events of ASOIAF.
Despite this seemingly unorganised organisation the BWB is able to coordinate and arrange many events throughout the year. Most of these are localised meet ups arranged by individuals and friends who have known each other for many years. Any fan convention that George is attending will also draw a gathering of those who can get there. But the main BWB meet up of the year is at Worldcon - the world science fiction and fantasy convention. The BWB is renowned for throwing the greatest Worldcon parties! If you are interested in finding out more about what happens at Worldcon you can read my reports on Worldcon 2008 and 2009 in the Worldcon Reports section of this website.
2010 will be slightly different because Worldcon is being held at Aussiecon in Melbourne Australia and most people will not be able to afford the trip. Therefore the BWB's main meet up will be at Octocon in Dublin Ireland in October. Many of us are already planning for 2011 when Worldcon will be held at Renovation in Reno, Nevada, USA. So if you are interested in meeting other fans of the series as well as spending a little time with GRRM himself at Worldcon then please join us at Westeros and start becoming a part of the community and a part of the Brotherhood Without Banners.
The BWB is also known for its charitable deeds and this is something George is proud of and regularly praises the Brotherhood for. Again this is not really an organised thing but is something arranged by individuals and endorsed by members of the community who choose to get involved and donate their time and/or money voluntarily. This could be working as a volunteer at a convention like Worldcon, or encouraging others to donate to a good cause like the Haiti Earthquake fund using a thread on the Westeros forum.
On 4 July 2009 we lost a great member of our community when Tom Wilcox, better known as EnlightenmentHK, or EHK, passed away suddenly at the age of 29. A few days after his death a button was created on Westeros to invite donations to send a floral tribute to his funeral and in less than one day BWB members had donated over $1000, and would have probably sent more but it was shut off before things went any further. That is the kind of generosity and outpouring of emotion I am talking about. In the end a donation of $800 was made to the White Sox Community Fund in memory of Tom. For my part I started work on a memorial website for Tom which would be a permanent place to store all his great posts and rants from over the years because he truly was a one off in that respect. The website is still under construction but some content is available to read if you wish, please visit www.enlightenmenthk.net.
At last year's Worldcon in August 2009 I organised a Charity Book Raffle Prize Draw Thing in aid of Teacher & Writers Collaborative, a children's literacy charity based in New York City. We gave away 18 books and raised USD $180 for TWC. In October 2009 we had a meet up in Belfast, Northern Ireland for the filming of the pilot episode of HBO's "Game of Thrones" where we meet several members of the cast and crew of the show, and I ran a second Charity Book Raffle Prize Draw Thing at which I gave away 8 books and raised USD $288 for TWC. Check the Worldcon and Ireland reports in the Worldcon Reports section of this website for more details on these events. I will be running similar events at Worldcon and Octocon this year so if you are going to be there please donate to this very worthy cause. Thank you.
2.1: Why did you make this animated timeline map?
On 15 February 2010 George posted an update about the progress of ADWD on his Not-a- Blog stating that "the timeline of this monster is going to drive me mad". In the comments Ran (the owner and administrator of Westeros) mused that it would be interesting to see a narrative chart of ASOIAF and started a thread on Westeros asking if anyone would be willing to create one. Kuroishi stepped up to the challenge and produced a beautiful narrative chart based on a timeline of events created by Errant Bard (see faq 3.1 below for more details). See the download section below to download the timeline and narrative chart documents.
In the same thread on Westeros, Arrowfan suggested that it would be cool to see an animated timeline map of character movements and events made in Flash, but he did not really have the skills or software to do it. But I do and his suggestion got me thinking about how best to do it and once that happened the idea took hold and would not let go. I knew this would be an important and useful resource for any ASOIAF fan and it really intrigued me from both a technical standpoint and as a fan I knew I would love to see this myself. When George writes, his first thought is for how things fit together in a literary context. This is why some chapters can cover just a few hours and some a span of several weeks and yet the events described overlap each other making it impossible to read the books in chronological order. This is why George states in his blog post that he is glad that we are going to be working this stuff out and not him. So if the timeline is confusing to even George then it must be doubly so for the majority of fans. I therefore realised that it was not only logical but necessary for something like this to exist. So despite the fact that I have several other websites that desperately need my attention I decided to give some more of my free time to this insanely time consuming project and began work immediately.
At first I experimented with the idea of trying to create an animated timeline map using Google Earth. I managed to create a good map of Westeros but quickly discovered that the standard functionality of the in-built timeline controls would not provide animation of location markers and paths which was a crucial requirement for what I wanted to do. I am sure it is possible to actually do this but it would require extensive skills in KML, the programming language that Google Earth is written in, and so I decided it would be easier for me to use Flash which I am familiar with. You can see the map I produced in Google Earth by downloading a file from the Google Earth page of this website.
2.2: Why start with the historical events prior to the books?
Well, the first problem I encountered is where to start the timeline from? You can't start with the Prologue of AGOT because chronologically there are two Dany chapters before those events. But looking at Errant Bard's timeline of events he had a few things like births and marriages before that which were the kind of things he was basing the chronology on, and I had the thought well what about just doing a little of the history? The events that shaped the characters, their back stories and flashbacks? I decided this was a good idea and began digging back to find a suitable point to start at. I decided that Robert's Rebellion, the War of the Usurper would be a really useful thing to include and began researching the chronology of events. Again it seemed simple at first, Rhaegar kidnaps Lyanna, Brandon dies, Robert and Eddard rebel, battle here, battle there, Battle of the Trident, Sack of King's Landing, done, right? But no, that would be just too simple and it does not even begin to tell the full story. The more I researched the more obvious it became that I would have to include more detail, and the more detail I dug up the farther back the starting point of the timeline went.
In the end I decided to just go right back to the birth of Rhaegar Targaryen in the year 259 and to detail all of the important events between there and the start of the books. Obviously that is a lot of ground to cover and indeed I am still working on this now which is why the animation does not yet include any of the events from the books.
2.3: Please tell me you will you be adding a complete timeline of events from the books?
Yes of course I will, but it is going to take quite some time to get there.
2.4: When will you be adding more content to the timeline?
Given the number of projects pressing upon my time and the enormous scale of this project I would estimate that the animated timeline map will take at least a year, maybe even two years, to complete. Should ADWD be released during this time (and I dearly hope it is) then I expect it will take even longer for me to finish. In case you are wondering I am working on the animated timeline map in my own free time, mostly at weekends. I have a full time job working in website production for Nature magazine and in addition to this I have several other personal websites that I am working on including the enlightenmenthk.net website (see faq 1.6 above). So apologies but you will have to be as patient with me as you are with George for the time being.
2.5: Any plans to add more history, the Dunk and Egg stories perhaps?
I would definitely like to add the tales of Dunk and Egg to the timeline, but right now the main priority is to finish the history leading up to the start of ASOIAF and to work through all the events of the main series. Besides I don't believe anyone has created a definitive timeline for the events of Dunk and Egg, let alone tried to plot the route they take across Westeros. So if anyone wants to attempt that I would find the information very useful.
3.1: How were the dates for the timeline determined?
A lot of very careful research, intense discussion and ultimately pure guesswork. Unfortunately George has not been very helpful in this regard and does not include any dates in the narrative of the books (except one). Most of the dates in the timeline are based on several Key Dates, these are mostly birthdays, from which we can extrapolate estimates for birth, conception and even a character's death. As we build up a framework of these dates other events can be positioned in relation to them based on a character's age at the time of certain events and the juxtaposition to other related events. We can also factor in distance and travel time required between locations based on the distances on the map and our knowledge of real world travel limitations.
However this is all purely based on guesswork. There is only one fixed date in the entire series that we can be 100% sure of and that is the events of 1 January 300 since it is specifically mentioned in the text that this day is the start of a new century [ASOS Tyrion VII (658) - ASOS Sansa V (688)].
Beyond that we have certain Key Dates which are used as reference points to anchor all events together. If these Key Dates are wrong then the entire timeline is wrong. This is an unfortunate situation but unavoidable because George has never released detailed notes on the dates and timeline he is using, all we have is approximate information pieced together from the books themselves. Perhaps George's reasoning for this is because any such notes would contain spoilers, or he does not want to limit his writing options by releasing the information, or simply because he only approximates dates to year and month and not down to the day which is the level of detail we need to work with for our purposes. It could also be that he likes to give his fans complex problems to wrangle over but since the timeline also causes him major headaches I don't think this is particularly likely.
Whatever the reason the important point to realise is that this timeline is NOT definitive in any way and will probably be changed as more information becomes available in future books which contradicts this timeline. I also rather hope George will see the animated timeline map and may provide one or two corrections if he can spare the time, though I won't be holding my breath waiting for that to happen. I also fully expect people to pick up on things that I have missed or for others who have created their own personal timeline to disagree with the choices I have made and for discussion and further changes to come out of that process. I will try to document any such changes as I go along so that we can keep track of these things.
Something important I should say at this point is a huge thank you to those who walked the path before me and have researched and refined the timeline of events before I ever got my hands on it, especially Errant Bard whose global timeline is the solid basis for my animated timeline map (although there are differences, see below for details). Check out the thread from Westeros on Errant Bard's timeline for more information about it or see below to download all relevant documents. Also huge thanks to Ran or all the hard work on the entire Westeros family of websites and to the admins of the Tower of the Hand which was also an invaluable resource to me.
3.2: How did you determine distances and travelling speeds?
Many of my dates are based upon the distance between locations and the estimated amount of days it would take to travel from one location to another. I have created two separate spreadsheets, the first called "dates" documents all of the timeline events, character births, deaths and marriages. The second is called "travel" and includes distances for travel by road, by sea and by raven (for news) and details on the potential speed of travel based on many determining factors. The distances were measured on the map created by Tear which unfortunately is not accurate, but the problem here is that none of the maps are accurate since not even the map in George's head is accurate. However, some measure of accuracy is required for this to work and because Tear's map is the one I am using it therefore makes sense to use it for all of these measurements.
Travel by road
I made these measurements by tilting my monitor on its side, taking a piece of string and measuring the distance along the twisting roads, around rivers and mountains to get from one location to another. The string was then straightened out along the 100 mile blocks of the map border to measure the distance. While this is a wholly inaccurate means of measuring I don't think there is a better one available and I was careful to maintain consistent techniques so I believe the distances quoted are approximately correct within 5-10 miles.
North-South routes have been measured to avoid The Twins and instead go via the crossings at the Green Fork of the Trident and the Red Fork at the Inn of the Kneeling Man or to go via Lord Harroway's Town if that route is shorter. Applying this rule the importance of The Twins really becomes apparent with the much shorter distances from the north to Riverrun and the Westerlands. The majority of routes follow the main roads marked on the map, however it is assumed that there are other lesser roads but that these are not so direct and are poorly maintained roads making travel slower and this has been factored into the distances. In the south unmarked routes are assumed to go northwards through Bitterbridge to Stoney Sept or to Harrenhal. Because of its importance to the story I have made a guess at the location of the Tower of Joy being in the Dornish Marches and distances are measured to this point.
On the "road travel speed rates" worksheet are maximum limits for the distance that can be travelled in miles per day (mpd) at varying rates of pace. These speeds are based on research and are always much less than you would believe they could be. For example I have set the maximum fastest speed of a single or small group of mounted riders at 30 miles per day [source: Elfwood], however a well trained, fit and conditioned horse could manage up to 50 miles per day. However these fast rates cannot be maintained for long and I have set rules for how many days can be travelled at this speed without rest. The fastest rate available assumes changing of horses every 10-12 miles but there is no evidence in the books of The Seven Kingdoms having a network of stables with ready horses available which would be necessary to support such travel, so this will be rarely used in my timeline if at all.
Travel by raven
These distances are a direct straight line between locations, as the crow, or in this case, the raven flies. I did some research into the flight capacity of ravens and found that their flight speed is between 25-32 miles per hour [source: Birdstoppers], however I could find no information on how long a raven can fly per day. I suspect this is because in our world the raven does not have such a strong homing instinct and is not used for carrying messages as it is in Westeros. In our world pigeons are more commonly associated with this task and pigeons fly at 40-60 miles per hour and can stay on the wing for up to 12 hours flying as much as 600 miles per day [source: Hudson Reporter]. In "A Game of Thrones" Maester Aemon reveals to Jon Snow that they use ravens instead of pigeons or doves because they are stronger flyers, larger, bolder, far more clever and better able to defend themselves against hawks [AGOT Jon VIII (661)].
So assuming that ravens can stay on the wing for a similar length of time as pigeons, at the speeds quoted above, we get a range of 300-384 miles per day. For the "raven flight speed rates" worksheet I have assumed three levels of physical condition for the raven and decreased the mpd if the bird needs to fly for 4 or more days.
However this presents a problem, using Errant Bard's timeline he has allowed 10 days for news of Ned's beheading to travel from King's Landing to Winterfell, a distance of 1685 miles which would mean an average flight speed of just 168 miles per day which is considerably less than what the research suggests unless they were using a bird that was practically dead. The application of the raven flight speeds and distance will definitely have an effect on my timeline which will probably cause me huge headaches when I delve into the book events rather than the pre-history events I am working on at the moment, but I think trying to find this level of detail is an important and worthwhile undertaking.
Travel by sea
But with that said I think I may have gone into too much detail with trying to work out the speed of ships. The ship speed calculator is still a work in progress and is not mathematically correct even though it includes some calculations which are. However the results are reasonably close to the potential achievable speed under the given conditions, but only when the ship weight and sail area values are within a proportional range of each other. The calculator will give very wrong results for light ships with a huge volume of sail area and conversely for heavy ships with a small sail area, even though we know ships with these values work very well in the real world at comparable speeds to ships within the proportional range. But despite this problem I am quite amazed with myself that I got anywhere even close to figuring this knotty problem out.
The distance measurements were again made with my trusty string and for this I assumed that ships would travel reasonably close to the coastline in most situations and only travel further out to sea to cut across bays and headlands where this would make the journey a lot shorter. Since all of the routes listed are around the coasts of Westeros this makes logical sense. When we get the map of the Free Cities to join onto this I will be using direct routes across the Narrow Sea between ports. You will notice that I have some unusual ports listed on the spreadsheet (Widow's Watch, Sharp Point, although these are not really ports at all) and the reason for this is I was using them as markers for working out some of the longer route distances. Any route going from Sharp Point to Sunspear goes around the outside of Tarth with only routes to Storms' End going through the Straights of Tarth. Any route bypassing Oldtown is 120 miles shorter due to avoiding the length of the Whispering Sound. The route going from Lannisport to Bear Island goes around the outside of The Iron Islands.
The speed that ships travel at in the books is an often debated subject with the example in "A Storm of Swords" of Stannis Baratheon's army travelling from Dragonstone to Castle Black so damn quickly being regarded as near impossible. However I believe it could be possible albeit with only the most favourable wind conditions possible. From the description of ships in the books it is clear that Westerosi sailing technology is well in advance of other technologies in comparison with our own history. For example in the books there are huge ocean going battleships but handguns and firearms have not yet been invented. An explanation for this arose in a thread on the Westeros Forum where someone pointed out that because of the geography of the world the trade routes from the Narrow Sea through the Summer Sea to the Jade Sea would spur on and speed up the development of sailing ships beyond where ours was at a similar level. The comparison is what would our history have been like if the Mediterranean Sea flowed directly into the Indian Ocean allowing trade routes to the Far East much earlier without the need to sail all the way around Africa or the need for the Suez Canal. Although obviously without the ingenuity of the Chinese driving technical development, I guess the people of the Jade Sea in the books don't measure up so well.
Errant Bard's timeline states the following dates: 21 Jan 300 - ravens asking for help sent by Maester Aemon. 27 Feb 300 - Stannis arrives. So assuming an average condition raven that gives us a flight time of 6 days. Let's also assume 4 days for Stannis to think about it and to organise the departure. After arriving at Eastwatch-on-the-Sea it would take a further 10 days for the army to march the 130 miles to Castle Black. Therefore in order to meet this deadline the fleet would have had to sail at approximately 160 miles per day for 16 days, an average speed of 8.69 knots. The description of the ships [ACOK Davos III (599)] in Stannis' fleet indicate that these are medium-large galleys with 100-200 oars and a couple of galleas with 300-400 oars. With a Force 8 favouring gale with a wind speed of say 35 knots, helpfully positioned at the best point of sail (perhaps Melisandre's magic was used?) then the galleas should be able to exceed this speed however, the fleet would only be as fast as it's slowest ship, but even then I think under these favourable conditions it should be possible.
Admittedly more research is required on this subject and there are still a lot of details I need to fill in on the spreadsheet but I have simply run out of time to play with this any more for now.
3.3: What are the key dates that the timeline is based on?
There are four key dates that anchor the timeline:
- Daenerys Targaryen's birth date - 25 May 284
- Jon Snow's birth date
- Robb Stark's birth date
- The Purple Wedding/start of a new Century - 1 January 300
Daenerys Targaryen's birth date - 25 May 284
From Dany's birthday we can determine the date of conception and from this the date of the Sack of King's Landing and the Battle of the Trident. This can be pieced together from the event of King Aerys having his Hand Lord Chelsted roasted alive, after which he visits his sister-wife Rhaella [ACOK Tyrion I (41), ASOS Jaime V (418), AFFC Jaime II (232)]. Judging from the distance between the Trident and King's Landing I estimate the battle to be about 10 days before the Sack which makes the battle 4 days after Dany is conceived. This time would also be necessary for news of the battle to spread as far as the Lannister army camped to the south so that they know it is time to move on King's Landing.
Several different sources claim Dany's birth to take place at either the end of May or start of June 284, so while I may yet change the date of this as my work on this timeline progresses I think this one is pretty much set as this now.
Jon Snow's birth date
Jon Snow's birth is perhaps the single most discussed event in the entire series. I am sure that by now everyone knows the theory of R+L=J and while the evidence in support of the theory is almost overwhelming it is important to remember that it is still just a theory at this point. I think we can be certain that the truth will be revealed at some point but if Jon's parents turn out to be anyone else I would be pretty damn surprised to be honest. So for the purpose of this timeline I will arrange circumstances so that the R+L=J theory could be true or that the Ned/Ashara Dayne theory could also be true which means Ned has to be in Dorne for a considerable length of time during the War of the Usurper. I have not figured out all the details of how I am going to do this yet.
The information about Jon Snow's birth date does not come from the books, instead it comes from a So Spake Martin entry (SSM - see below for more information), specifically a piece of correspondence dated 11 July 1999 in which George reveals that Jon Snow's birth is approximately 8 or 9 months before Dany's (link to source: SSM 1040). Eight or Nine months gives us quite a window of time to play with so Jon's birthday could be anywhere from the middle of August to the middle of October.
In Errant Bard's timeline he has Jon's birthday marked for 24 August however I believe this should be later, perhaps 14 October 283? This would make it right before Robb's birthday which would definitely confirm that Eddard is not Jon's father. However, this causes problems with Tyrion's timeline because he needs to get away from the Wall [AGOT Tyrion II (214)] as early as possible in AGOT to give him time to travel all the way south in order to be captured by Catelyn at the Crossroads Inn [AGOT Catelyn V (290)]. This discrepancy could be explained by Eddard telling Jon his birthday is slightly earlier than the date his real birth took place on. But as I said I am still working on the details of this.
Robb Stark's birth date
In Errant Bard's timeline he has Robb's birthday marked for 16 October 299 with the note "should be before Jon?" and indeed I believe it should be. I am still working on the details of this but we know it must be sometime around here because of the date which Eddard marries Catelyn at Riverrun and then goes to war two weeks later and by the fact that it is mentioned that Robb Stark is 16 years old when he dies. From this date we can determine the date or the Red Wedding and many other events surrounding this.
The Purple Wedding/start of a new Century - 1 January 300
As mentioned before this is the only fixed date in the entire series that we can be 100% sure of. That is because it is specifically mentioned in the text that this day is the start of a new century [ASOS Tyrion VII (658) - ASOS Sansa V (688)] This is of course a massive help to determining many of the events that happen before and after Joffrey's death. I sure wish we had more dates like this one to work with.
3.4: Why does Westeros use the same calendar dates as our world?
Technically it doesn't. But George does not use month names and dates in the narrative of the books, he tends to say things like "two days later" or "a moon's turn after that", however, he has said that the world is approximately the same size as our own, days are the same length, years are the same length and they count them in the same way we do, and from this we can surmise that using our own calendar dates will be approximately correct as well.
Of course the calendar would be so much easier to work out if the seasons were not so messed up, we could say winter or summer and narrow things down considerably, but because winter and summer can occur at any point of the year and can last from anywhere between a month and several years long at a time, we can't use the season as an indicator of when an event occurs. The reasons for this strange seasonal process have not yet been revealed, it could be the magical influence of the Others, a strange elliptical planetary orbit, or the work of the Gods, we will just have to read and find out.
3.5: How were the routes that the characters take determined?
Pure and total guesswork based on the details provided in the books. Actually to be honest this is a large part of the details I have yet to work out and in fact if anyone is willing I could use some help with this. See below for details about how you could help.
3.6: Can I download the documents and charts used to determine the timeline dates and routes?
Yes, here are links to all the documents created so far:
3.7: What should I do if I spot a mistake or something omitted?
If you think I have made a mistake in the timeline or think I have omitted an important event or detail which should be included then please either contact me directly or visit the discussion thread on the Westeros forum. I recommend checking the thread first anyway since your issue may have been discussed already. You will need to be a member of the Westeros forum in order to post.
3.8: Is there anything I can do to help?
I could use some help determining the routes that each of the character's take across Westeros during the books. For example, do you think you can plot the route that Arya takes across the Riverlands through "A Clash of Kings" and "A Storm of Swords"? If you do then download any map of Westeros from the Internet (there is a link to the map created by Tear in the download section above) and draw a nice neat brightly coloured line along the route you think the character took. Mark the location of important events on the map and include a text document with the date of each event (as provided by Errant Bard's timeline) and a chapter and page reference (in the reference format set out below) because that will be really useful to me.
Please contact me to let me know which character you want to work on, just so we don't end up with everyone doing Arya, and I will reply with an email address for you to send your documents to. Also the discussion thread on the Westeros forum will have details and discussion on who is helping and what they are working on. Hopefully some sort of consensus of opinion will arise from which we can deduce the best routes to use and the full and complete timeline of events.
4.1: Why have you included references?
Where possible I have included references stating book, chapter and page for where the information about an event has been taken from. This means you will know I am not just making things up, however with that said, there are circumstances where no information on how the date was determined or some other connected detail about the event is available, and in these situations I am either forced to make an educated guess or to refer to non-canon sources such as A Wiki of Ice and Fire on Westeros, or the Tower of the Hand website.
I have not quoted these non-canon sources in my references because there is no easy way to do that without a full URL which would be too long for the space available, instead they are marked as "No reference". The events themselves are definitely canon and have been included because they need to be there, mostly these events are character births for which we do not have a definitive date - and by "definitive" I mean at least having a year. George writes history to be deliberately hazy so that it feels more natural and he usually only works out historical dates to year and month, he never really considered that people would want to know the exact day an event way in the past occurred on. Just to be clear I have not made any of these events up, they are all either referred to or can be inferred from the books themselves (ie: this character is alive, therefore they must have been born at some point).
4.2: How can I use the chapter and page number reference quoted in the timeline to look up an event in my copy of the book?
The problem with providing page numbers is that different versions of the books are typeset in different font sizes and therefore the page number I am looking at is likely to be different in the version that you own. To overcome this problem I have created a Chapter Reference Table which lists the starting page of each chapter in as many different versions of the books as I have information available for. My table is based on the chapter tables from The Tower of the Hand website which are very useful because they list some foreign language editions which are not currently included in my chapter reference table. The chapter summaries on the Tower of the Hand website are also an incredibly useful resource.
The reason I have created my own Chapter Reference Table is so that I can make it clear which version of each book I am using for my references, and also because I wanted to display cover and book information differently. The page number marked in red is the version of the book I am using to quote references. Cross reference this with your copy of the book to find the starting page of the chapter you are looking for. In some instances you may need to skim through the chapter to find the exact piece of information being referenced but this does at least give you a good starting point for your search.
My reference format is: book acronym - character or chapter name - Roman numerals indicate the POV chapter number - (page number). Therefore the following reference:
AGOT Eddard IV (165)
Refers to: "A Game of Thrones", the 4th Eddard chapter of the book, page 165.
Notes in [square brackets] indicate the information or detail being referenced. Semi-colons are used to separate different sets of information. Commas are used to separate multiple references for one piece of information.
4.3: What does "SSM" stand for?
SSM stands for "So Spake Martin" which is a collection of answers and information that George has given during interviews, Q&A sessions at fan conventions and in correspondence. So Spake Martin is hosted and administrated by Westeros and I found most of this information through the Concordance of factual information section from The Citadel, also hosted by Westeros.
An important point to note is that any information from SSM cannot be taken as 100% canon until it has appeared in the books. This is because the details are subject to rewrites or George simply forgetting something he said while he was thinking about it but did not actually write down. After all George cannot be expected to remember some random answer he gave during a Worldcon panel 10 years ago. However, because George said it this makes the information vastly more important and reliable than any other non-canon source and thanks to the way the SSM archive has been structured on Westeros there is an easy way to reference an entry. Enter the following URL in your browser and amend the zero digits to the number provided in the reference:
Bear in mind that some SSM entries contain many questions and answers so you may have to scroll down to find the individual quote you are looking for.
5.1: Who created this beautiful map of Westeros?
The map was created by Tear, a member of the Cartographer's Guild - a web forum dedicated to the art of fantasy mapping. Tear wanted to make a huge map of Westeros to hang in his gaming room for "A Song of Ice and Fire" the RPG. Tear used Photoshop, a mouse, a tablet, followed a guide written by Passis on the Cartographer's Guild forum and went through many long hours of research and hair pulling to create this stunning work of art. My animated timeline map would be substantially poorer without it so I want to say a big thank you to Tear for all his hard work creating the map.
Tear's finished map is huge as you can see in this photograph of his high quality print out of the map. The size and quality of the map is a big part of the reason why I used this map over any other because it means you can zoom in really close before the image starts to pixelate. In fact the version posted on the Cartographer's Guild is slightly bigger (3200px) than the largest stage height my version of Flash will accept (2820px).
5.2: I love this map can I print a copy for myself?
Tear created this just for himself as a fan project and claims no copyright over the finished product. Of course ultimate copyright on the map resides with George R.R. Martin himself. If you want to download the map and print a copy for yourself, or use the map in your own gaming or for any other non-commercial use you are free to do so, you don't have to ask Tear for permission (in fact I think he may be getting fed up of telling this to people who ask). I have a copy of the map hosted on this webspace which is used by my Westeros in Google Earth app, and you can download the map using the following link: Westeros map by Tear [JPG 1.66mb].
5.3: Are there any plans to expand the map to include Essos?
The one problem with the map is that it does not show the continent of Essos. As its name suggests, Essos is to the East of Westeros and is where the events of all Daenerys chapters takes place throughout the series so far. With Arya and Samwell visiting Braavos in AFFC and Tyrion crossing the Narrow Sea in ADWD, Essos is becoming increasingly involved in the action. The problem is the lack of an official map of Essos, all we have right now is a map of the Summer Sea region from ASOS. This is the reason why all the event flags from Essos appear stuck to the side of the Westeros map in the animated timeline.
At the moment the only things we know for certain is that Essos is a much larger continent than Westeros. GRRM has often compared Westeros to South America in size and says we can think of Essos as comparable to Asia. If you want to know more about this subject then check out Werthead's informative thread entitled Essos geography speculation, on the Westeros forum.
However, our lack of information is due to change when "A Dance With Dragons" is finally released. The very strong rumour is that ADWD will contain a map of the Free Cities. Sadly that means no full map of Essos yet, but just having the Free Cities in place on the other side of the Narrow Sea will be a big step forwards in my opinion. We may even be able to extrapolate the position of the Summer Sea/Slaver's Bay region from the new map and position both maps appropriately so that I can begin to track events and locations in my animation.
Tear is very much aware of all this but from the brief correspondence I had with him I believe he is going through some tough times right now, something personal I understand, so please can I ask everyone to NOT bombard Tear with requests to expand his map to include the Free Cities/Essos the minute ADWD is released. He is a fan of the series so rest assured he will get the book and will see the map, and if he has the time and patience to attempt it, then I am sure he will let us know that he is working on it. But if he does not then perhaps someone else will step up to the plate and attempt it, I may even have a crack at it myself. I doubt I would be able to achieve the high standard already established but I would be confident of creating a serviceable map of Essos to sit alongside Westeros, even if they don't entirely match in style.
So the short answer is yes I will include Essos but not until we have some official maps to work from.
6.1: Where did the heraldry come from?
The heraldry of the House and army shield icons used in my timeline are taken from the Heraldry section of The Citadel website, hosted by Westeros. I refer you to the linked page for further information and copyright details about the Heraldry. Thank you to Ran for permission to use the heraldry in my animation.
The shield icons I am using are much smaller than the original heraldry artwork and so I had to change the borders of the heraldry shields so that they have a black border which helps them stand out better in the animation. At some point I will create a page where visitors can download these shield icons because they may be of use to someone else.
7.1: How can I use the timeline to find a specific event?
The best way to navigate to an event is to use the timeline bookmarks. This will jump you directly to the event that you select. However, only the major events are listed as bookmarks because there are far too many events to list them all. But you can still jump to a major event close to the one you are looking for and then navigate from there using the previous or next event buttons or the +1 or -1 day buttons. Don't forget you can also play the animation to move forwards at the rate of 1 second per day and then press pause when you reach the event you are looking for.
7.2: Why don't you include a sliding bar navigation?
It is on my list of future developments but right now I want to concentrate on getting the events and character animations built in Flash. The bookmarks work perfectly for jumping to major events on the timeline and you can move backwards and forwards from there using the existing controls. This will have to be sufficient until such time as the entire animation is complete.
8.1: Is it true that HBO are making a TV series of "Game of Thrones"?
Yes. HBO gave the greenlight for full production of a 10 episode series in March 2010. Filming in Belfast, Northern Ireland is taking place right now and the show should start broadcasting on HBO USA in March 2011 (official date not announced yet). Sky have recently signed a deal to broadcast all HBO programmes on their channels so I expect "Game of Thrones" will be broadcast on Sky within a week of the US screenings. If the show does well a second season will go ahead and since this is HBO that could easily be a longer season, and I would definitely expect season three to be much longer if we get that far.
If you have not been following developments, a pilot episode was filmed in Scotland and Northern Ireland during October-November 2009. George has been involved in the casting and scripting processes and any major changes are being run past him first, also he will be writing one full episode every season. George was in the UK and Ireland during the filming of the pilot to meet the cast and crew and see how things are going. He also managed to fit in a quick book signing tour including his first ever signing sessions in Belfast and Dublin. As always George invited the BWB to parties held after the signing sessions in both cities. The Belfast signing and party were very special because George brought along several members of the cast and crew to meet the fans and hang out with us. If you want to read more about who was there and what happened then have a read of my Ireland 2009 report in the reports section of this website.
To keep up with all developments about the making of HBO's "Game of Thrones" check out the excellent blog Winter is Coming.
8.2: Why are the characters so much older in the TV series?
For the TV show all of the characters have been aged up, Arya is 12 not 8, Robb is 18 not 14, etc. There are many reasons for this, ranging from - finding suitable young actors able to believably pull off the emotional range necessary for the roles, to - sensitivity to modern cultural opinions regarding what young people are doing. For example in our culture having an 11 year old girl marrying a man in their late 30's and expected to become pregnant and bear children as soon as possible would be extremely shocking, but this is the kind of thing that happens in ASOIAF, although this is based on historical evidence anyway, but it would still be shocking to the majority of viewers. Is it any less shocking for a 15 or 16 year old in the same situation, I don't know, but the change probably helps a little.
So when the show airs you will notice this difference and quite possibly many other differences too. Just for the record this animated timeline map will remain fixed on the dates, ages and events given in the books and will not take into account any changes made for the TV series. As I understand it the producers are sticking as close as they can to the source material so the majority of changes should be relatively unimportant and will not detract from your enjoyment of the show.