George R.R. Martin: Game of Thrones got this iconic location “just wrong”

HBO's Game of Thrones
HBO's Game of Thrones /

It’s well known that George R.R. Martin based a lot of the places and events in his Song of Ice and Fire books on things in real life. For instance, the Wall in the North is based on Hadrian’s Wall in England, just raised to dizzying heights and also there are ice zombies on the other side of it.

So it is with Casterly Rock, the home of the Lannister family. Casterly Rock is based on the real-life Rock of Gibraltar on the Iberian Peninsula, which is literally a big rock that’s been hollowed out from the inside to serve as a fortress. Casterly Rock is much the same thing, just way bigger, as is Martin’s wont.

Martin explained how he used the Rock of Gibraltar as the basis for Casterly Rock during an interview with GBC News. “When you’re doing fantasy as opposed to historical fiction, you turn it up to 11,” he said. “Casterly Rock goes back 10,000 years. It’s larger outside [than the Rock of Gibraltar], it’s taller, it’s longer, it’s wider, it’s directly on the sea so there are docks underneath it where the ships can sail in. And it has so many more tunnels and caverns and halls that have been chiseled out and widened and decorated with carvings in the wall because it has thousands of more years for those to be done. But Gibralter was my starting point.”

George R.R. Martin doesn’t think Game of Thrones depicted Casterly Rock correclty

Artist Ted Nasmith has rendered what Martin considers to be the definitive version of Casterly Rock, which we saw briefly during the seventh season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, which adapts Martin’s books.

HBO’s Game of Thrones
HBO’s Game of Thrones /

That said, Martin doesn’t think the show’s version of the castle is consistent with his vision. The way he conceived of it, Casterly Rock is literally a bit rock, not a castle on top of a rock. “That’s the way they did it in the TV show, and that’s just wrong,” he said. “The castle is inside the rock, as fortifications were inside the Rock of Gibraltar. They didn’t build a bunch of stuff on top of the Rock of Gibralter; they went in, and then then have tons of stone protecting them from any enemy who might wanna get in there and do them harm.”

At some point, Martin hopes to set the record straight in A Song of Ice and Fire. “Someday I hope to actually get inside there in the books, to take the characters inside,” he said.

George R.R. Martin: The Winds of Winter “will be done one of these days”

That could happen in The Winds of Winter, the long-in-coming sixth book in his series. “I am working on The Winds of Winter, it is 12 years late, but it will be done one of these days,” he said in the interview.

Writing on his Not A Blog, Martin said he’d love to the Rock of Gibraltar someday, “But not until I finish WINDS OF WINTER.”

Here’s hoping.

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