Real-Life Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones, opens a new window author George R.R. Martin, opens a new window used real-life inspiration for his epic fantasy series. Read on to learn more about three of his inspirations.

  • Martin said about The Lord of the Rings, opens a new window (SPOILER), "And then Gandalf dies! I can't explain the impact that had on me at 13. You can't kill Gandalf. I mean, Conan didn't die in the Conan books, you know? Tolkien just broke that rule, and I'll love him forever for it. The minute you kill Gandalf, the suspense of everything that follows is a thousand times greater, because now anybody could die. Of course, that's had a profound effect on my own willingness to kill characters at the drop of a hat." Watch the clip.

  • The Wall that separates Westeros from the Wildlings was inspired by Hadrian's Wall, opens a new window, the largest Roman artifact in existence today. Scholars still debate its actual purpose (maybe to keep the Picts out of Britain, perhaps it was built as a show of power?). Either way, look at Hadrian's Wall on a map and look at a map of Westeros and see what you think.
  • The Wars of the Roses, opens a new window reshaped British history into the dynasty as we know it, and you'll see echoes of family dynasties, marriages and power struggles across the series. Very simplified, the Wars of the Roses pitted the Plantagenets, (white rose) against the Lancasters (red rose), which led to the rise of the Tudors in 1485 with the ascension of Henry VII. What became the Tudor emblem? A red and white rose. (You may like the television series The White Queen, opens a new window.)
  • BONUS: You remember the Red Wedding, don't you? That was inspired by two real-life events, opens a new window, the Black Dinner in 1440 (that whole thing about not killing your guests) and the Massacre of Glencoe in 1691.