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For quite some time now I have been asking myself how the world of Game of Thrones is shaped and if the people living in that world know the shape.

In questions here on SciFi.Stackexchange concerning the unnatural seasons or the definition of a year in Westeros, it is often argued that the Westerosi can measure the duration of a revolution of their planet around the sun. But that only works if they know that they actually live on a planet.

In this answer it was said that people have been travelling in ships around the world. However I cannot remember any passage in the books supporting this. Actually I only remember evidence for the opposite:

  1. During Kingsmoot on the Iron Islands, there is a man called Gylbert Farwynd who promises the Ironborn treasures from lands far to the west, if they elect him as king. However the POV character of that chapter (I think it was Victarion Greyjoy) does not believe him and sees the madness in Gylbert's eyes - as if speaking of travelling west is crazy.
  2. Later when he leads the attack against the Shield Islands, the Iron Fleet travels out of sight of the coast line. This maneuver is considered very dangerous and risky. If this is already dangerous, traveling even further west appears close to suicide.

In addition, there was a Brandon Stark who sailed to the far west and never returned.

A prior thread on this site establishes that the world is not a hollow world, but is not conclusive as to whether it is a planet.

Is there any evidence in the books that the World of Ice and Fire is a planet? Was it established that the Westerosi know the nature of their world?

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In regards to point 1, the POV character thought he was crazy because the area he planned to sail to was extremely dangerous (nobody who had ever sailed there before had survived) rather than it being impossible to sail there. –  Anthony Grist Aug 29 '12 at 8:59
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If I recall correctly, they'd planned to sail to Valyria. –  Anthony Grist Aug 29 '12 at 10:41
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That was the plan of Euron Greyjoy. And indeed, the waters around Valyria are dangerous (but Euron claims that he returned from there). There was another man at the Kingsmoot who claims that he had travelled to the west and found rich lands there. –  Till B Aug 29 '12 at 11:25
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"But that only works if they know that they actually live on a planet" -- not true. Ancient Babylonians and Egyptians were measuring the year by the stars millennia before heliocentrism won out, and centuries before Eratosthenes measured the size and shape of the Earth. –  sjl Aug 29 '12 at 22:31
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"People who travelled too far to the west did not return, because they fell off the earth". Wrong. Sailors knew from ancient times that the Earth is spherical (just thought it sits still in the center of the Universe). A lot of people are mistaken about the bravery of Columbus. Those who did not trust in his plans about his journey did not doubt him because they thought the Earth is flat. They doubted him (rightly so) because the distance was much bigger than any ship of that time was able to cross. Columbus was wrong (and just lucky): he thought the Earth is much smaller than it really is. –  vsz Aug 30 '12 at 6:23

3 Answers 3

George RR Martin confirmed in a recent interview that the world of Westeros is round, etc albeit slightly larger than our own.

"Interviewer : Is your world round? I mean if Dany traveled far enough east couldnt she come to the other side of westeros?

GRRM : Yes, the world is round. Might be a little larger than ours, though. I was thinking more like Vance's Big Planet.... but don't hold me to that."

For the record, the planet in Vance's "Big Planet" stories is described as being approximately 25,000 miles in diameter in comparison with Earth's 8000(ish) miles.

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Westeros world is a planet. It has a satellite (the Moon) and orbits around a star (the Sun); there is no other feasible explanation for this.

In Westeros world, a very long time ago, a year had 4 seasons as on Earth, but because a overnatural (and now forgotten) magical process, the season length changed. When, or why this process happened is a mystery, and has not yet been explained by the writer.

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Please, could you link some references? –  Vinz243 Aug 9 at 18:46

Is perfectly feasible that, as on actual earth's dark ages, much people on Westeros think that his land is flat, and that sailing west will make them fall from the border.

Surely magisters, brave sailors that had gone further than expected on his travels and scholars could know or suspect that they are living on a round planet, but that's a complex idea to assume by the ignorant mass that conforms the main population base.

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