Hi Lyman, I found your article very educational, which I really appreciate. I love ASoIaF but I’m not blind to the author’s faults (not researching certain things well enough, ie. realistic numbers). It’s very obvious that like JK Rowling, Martin’s understanding of NUMBERS! is more impressionistic than anything else.
That said I empathize with Martin since MATHS! has never been my strong suit, but recognizing my weakness if I were to ever world build I’d run my number estimates past someone with far more knowledge and expertise in that area.
So I have a question to run by you, throwing out Martin’s number estimates about the size of Westoros in their entirety and instead referring to the following persons distances which were calculated off of travel times; https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ZsY3lcDDtTdBWp1Gx6mfkdtZT6-Gk0kdTGeSC_Dj7WM/edit#gid=1
What would you say are more reasonable estimates for the population of Westoros and its various cities? The above distances would put the distance between the southern-most tip of Westoros to the Wall in the North at about 4k miles apart. While this does not match Martin’s “as big as South America” claim since South America is a little over 6k miles from top to bottom I think Westoros can work with this demographic with the following caveat; The North is far less densely populated than all the Southern Kingdoms, and the North is roughly the size of all the southern Kingdom’s combined.
Without looking at actual army sizes (since as you’ve already mentioned they are unrealistic) the North can field an army roughly 60% of the size of the Westerland Army. Keep in mind that the Northern army also had some supplemental troops from the Riverlands. This says to me that the North, being comparatively inhospitable, is significantly less densely populated than the south.
Forgive me if you already answered these kinds of questions up above and I just missed it, when I start seeing massive lists of numbers my brain basically short circuits and I can’t focus at all. >_< I tried to understand the charts you posted and failed miserably. I could follow along with almost everything up until the big chart o’doom.
The big reason I’m curious to try and come up with a reasonable estimate on populations and army sizes is that I am writing a fanfiction (I know I’m an awful nerd) and I’m not above outright altering some of the things that Martin says in the books. Example, the Wall. Its not gonna be 700 feet tall. That is absurd. Considering that the Great Wall of China was only 25 feet tall I think making the Wall be 100 feet tall is a reasonably epic number. I was tempted to go with 300 feet tall since you could still see the people that are on the ground at that height, but that starts to approach absurdly high in the same sense that 700 is.
Anyways I’ve never been very good with sq. miles, so maybe I’m completely off mark and the 4k from Wall to tip southern tip of Dorne is in the range you were looking at. If so again apologies, and thanks so much for all your help.