Game of Thrones: Where Fantasy Meets Reality

By Eric Anderson

As summer comes to an end, many are looking forward to the return of their favorite TV shows, yet fans of the hit series Game of Thrones, who have already waited on pins and needles for over a year, will have to bide their time a little longer. Season 8 won’t begin until 2019, so what are die-hard fans to do in the meantime? Well, it’s no secret that many of the characters and events portrayed in the series are inspired by real historical counterparts . . . sans the magic and dragons, of course. Why not grab a book and discover where fantasy meets reality?

Take Martin’s land of Westeros. An island with a history of conquests and succession disputes, it is obviously inspired by Great Britain’s tumultuous past. Here are some excellent books on the subject that are available through Central Rappahannock Regional Library:

CRRL Picks: English History

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The plot of the show loosely parallels the actual events of the Wars of the Roses, (1455–85), when rival families, both with claims to the English throne, ruthlessly fought and schemed for the crown. We have a number of engaging titles which deal with this subject:

CRRL History: The Wars of the Roses

Then there is the wall that protects the people of Westeros from the dangers in the North. It bears unmistakable similarities to Hadrian’s Wall, in Northern England. Work on Hadrian’s Wall began in 122 A.D., ostensibly to keep out unruly barbarian tribes, just like Martin’s wall keeps out the Wildlings. Here are some books and documentaries on the fascinating ancient structure:

CRRL History: Hadrian's Wall

Of course, Martin took inspiration from people and places other than Great Britain. The fierce Dothraki Horselords have many similarities to the Mongols, who conquered much of Asia and Europe in the 13th century. Here are a few fascinating titles that we have on the Mongol Empire:

CRRL History: The Rise of the Mongol Empire

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