76

In Episode 6 of Season 7 of Game of Thrones ("Beyond the Wall") Jon and the group that went beyond the Wall to bring back a wight to King's Landing find themselves surrounded by the Army of the Dead. Just before this happens, Jon asks Gendry to travel to the Eastwatch-by-the-Sea and send ravens to Dany in Dragonstone to help them out beyond the Wall.

Even if the TV show is running the time a bit faster episode-wise it would still take a bit of time for:

  1. Gendry to travel back to the Wall.
  2. A raven to get from the Wall to Dragonstone.
  3. Dany riding off to beyond the Wall to help Jon and company.

Given there's a lot of geographical distance at play here, how much time passed between Gendry splitting from the group and Dany getting to them?

  • Related, Possible dupe: How long does it take for a Dragon to fly North of the Wall? – Aegon Aug 21 '17 at 9:29
  • 1
    Books canon answer can still be used even if there is only GoT tag, as distance and travel can be same for both books and tv show (even if in the tv show they seem to teleport a lot), but as the situation i specific to the tv-show, only GoT tag should be used – Kepotx Aug 21 '17 at 9:31
  • @Kepotx The distance and travel is indeed the same....That is to say deliberately vague. It's by Design. – Aegon Aug 21 '17 at 9:33
  • 1
    @Zaibis, regarding your diatribe in the edit comment: "Beyond the Wall" is the name of the episode. The tile as it is now is vague to be point of meaningless. It could apply to any of thousands of stories. – Josh Caswell Aug 22 '17 at 15:30
  • 2
    Season 7 of what? How is it less spoiley to number the episode than to name it? – Josh Caswell Aug 22 '17 at 17:42
66

A user on reddit did some calculations claiming it was accurate. The user estimated it to be around 5 days based on growth rate of ice, the air speed of an unladen swallow raven, and approximation for distances and dragon speed.

Link to the original post

I've broken down their answer but provided a link to the original just above.

  • Gendry's run, around 4 hours:
    • The Seven (/Twelve with the additional rangers) likely weren't travelling in a line straight north. They were searching for the Army of the dead, and specifically a lone wight or, as they ended up finding, a small party of wights. This means they would likely be travelling in a zig-zag type of walk to cover as much area as possible. Furthermore sticking to higher altitude so they would have that over their opponents (As they end up looking down at the wights in the canyon).
    • Gendry running at full speed would require about 4 hours to cover a significant amount of ground. We can't be sure how many days the Seven had been travelling for, but if we assume it to be about 2 days of zigzagging over quite a large area it would be a reasonable assumption for it to take Gendry about 4 hours to run back.
  • The Raven likely took around 3 days to get from Eastwatch to Dragonstone.
    • A raven flying from Eastwatch to Winterfell would be about a day:
      Homing pigeons have been recorded to be able to reach speeds of up to 50mph and although discussions have taken place to the speed of ravens, although no real speed is given, we are led to believe that in-universe ravens are quicker and stronger that in-universe pigeons as stated by Maester Aemon:

      Doves and pigeons can also be trained to carry messages,” the maester [Aemon] went on, “though the raven is a stronger flyer, larger, bolder, far more clever, better able to defend itself against hawks ...

    • Continuing this idea to flying to Dragonstone. It's about the same distance from Winterfell to Kings Landing as it is to Dragonstone. The show claims it to be about 1000 miles from Winterfell to King's Landing (according to the user). This gives us about 3 days of raven flight if we take the 500 mile per day cap set by the users in the discussion above.
  • Dany and her dragons likely took around 8 or so hours to fly to "Snow team 6"
    • The user approximated around 125mph for a Dragon with a rider. Given the size of the Dragons, this seem possible as a normal hawk is able to fly around 70mph. Whether wingspan changes speed is unclear but big birds tend to be quicker than small birds.

This gives us about 5 days of total travel from Gendry running to the Dragons arriving.

The ice aspect is a bit strange. As 10˚F is around -12˚C and doesn't seem that cold for Gendry to be crying about the freezing cold weather. It was likely closer to -30˚C to -40˚C which I guess would make the ice freeze twice as quick. But bearing in mind that the Ice was thin in the first place there might be something that was preventing the water from garnering thickness very quickly. Such as the hot springs which exist naturally in the north (Winterfell's walls, Ygritte and Jon's cave) may have slowed the freezing of the water.


There are theories it can be done in ~3 days.

If we take the 500 miles per day, and the fact that white Ravens can fly from Old Town to Winterfell, it's possible a Raven can fly to Dragonstone from Eastwatch directly. This would cut down travel time to about 2 days of raven flight (at 50mph with rest). If we take a Dragons airspeed to be around 200mph it would do the return flight in 5 hours. Easily done in ~three days, allowing for better calculation for the rate of freezing of the water.

  • 14
    "As 10˚F is around -12˚C and doesn't seem that cold for Gendry to be crying about the freezing cold weather" - 10 degrees F is pretty cold. If the ice was insufficiently frozen at the beginning, it was either a high salinity, the water was warmer than the air, or the initial temperatures were warmer. I live in the northern US. People from the south complain about how cold it is before temperatures ever drop below freezing (32 F or 0 C). Gendry said he'd never even seen snow before. Part of the ribbing he was taking was for complaining while it was still relatively mild. – PoloHoleSet Aug 21 '17 at 17:03
  • 5
    Gendry is from King's Landing, which has a warm climate. – Carpe CM Aug 21 '17 at 19:37
  • 3
    @Shane when you explain how Dragons exist I'll explain how that's possible. – Edlothiad Aug 21 '17 at 21:40
  • 24
    This answer is fine if we suppose that Jon Snow & friends were stranded for days on end on the lake. If they were, shouldn't there have been dialogue or a montage or something clueing us in that time is passing? My first impression is that they spent one night out on the ice & were rescued on the 2nd day. – RobertF Aug 21 '17 at 22:57
  • 2
    @Shane Presumable the dragon was awfully warn though. – Matthew Read Aug 22 '17 at 2:16
21
  • When Jon tells Gendry to leave it is still daylight out, and when he arrives it is night, and he is exhausted, so the most it took is a day, though he could also have started running at dusk and arrived early in the morning, so the lower limit will be his time of exhaustion (let's use median marathon times)

    4 hours < Duration[G] < 23 hours
  • Using this map and the scale they provide, I calculated the distance from Eastwatch to Dragonstone to be ~1,978.65 miles.
    Using the wikipedia page on homing pigeons, I apply the same speed of 50mph to the Raven.
    Assuming the same raven could go the whole distance (multiple sources claim this to be impossible), and it could go that long without stopping, it would take 39.573 hours (or 1 day and 15 and a half hours). Some estimates say this distance could be as low as 1000 miles, because in the show Cersei says Winterfell is a thousand miles away (which is very similar to the distance from Dragonstone to Eastwatch), so let's use this as the lower limit.

    20 hours < Duration[R] < 39.573 hours
  • The dragon's speed is where a lot of the guesswork and fantasy comes in, but we can reasonably assume that it will fly at least as fast as the raven (50mph), and that, because D&D have compared them to F16 fighter jets, using aeroplanes as a reference might not be too far outside the realm of reason, especially if we take the slowest plane as a reference, the PZL M-15 Belphegor, which flies at 87-103mph.
    We will be using the same lower and upper bounds for the distance we used in the previous point.

    9.71 hours < Duration[D] < 39.573 hours

  • This, in total, gives us the following estimated range for the Total duration of Gendry's run, the Raven's flight, and Drogon's flight:

    33.71 hours < Duration[TOTAL] < 102.15 hours

or

at least 1 Day, 9 hours and 43 minutes

So, to answer your question:

Was Daenerys' rescue achieved in a plausible time?

The show implies that part of a day and one full night passed after Gendry was sent - regardless of how you slice that, it's never gonna be enough time for Daenerys to get there on time, based on our estimated values, so "No" (a second night would have passed). The only way we can force this to be plausible is if we get things like faster dragon speeds (though it'd have to be accurate/canonical to a degree, I made a reasonable comparison to aeroplanes).


Full disclosure notice

A lot of this is speculation because:

  • We don't know how far the arrowhead mountain is from Eastwatch
  • We don't know whether show distances are the same as book distances
  • We don't know how fast a fictional raven or dragon flies

In conclusion, we know nothing, Jon Snow.

However: we do have enough information to make an estimate (rather than a guess) if we allow for a margin of error determined by the range of assumptions we make.

  • 2
    I think you're underestimating the speed at which dragons can fly, from canonical references to Targaryens flying long distances apparently quite casually and quickly. – Mike Scott Aug 21 '17 at 10:18
  • 2
    @MikeScott It's better if you sent some numbers/pointed me in a direction slightly less vague than "canonical references". Greatly appreciated. – Ghoti and Chips Aug 21 '17 at 10:21
  • 2
    @GhotiandChips They're mentioned in a question linked in the comments to this question above: scifi.stackexchange.com/q/166108/54887 – Mike Scott Aug 21 '17 at 10:22
  • Think the dragon-speed estimate is reasonable, based on the battle scene two episodes before, where the dragon was easily able to cover the whole field and blow by the Dothraki in full horse-sprint in a matter of seconds. – PoloHoleSet Aug 21 '17 at 17:07
19

It was supposed to be 'plausibly impossible'

The horse's mouth

Recently, one of the show's directors, Alan Taylor - who was the actual director for the episode in question: Beyond The Wall - told Variety:

We were aware that timing was getting a little hazy,... We’ve got Gendry running back, ravens flying a certain distance, dragons having to fly back a certain distance... In terms of the emotional experience, [Jon and company] sort of spent one dark night on the island in terms of storytelling moments. We tried to hedge it a little bit with the eternal twilight up there north of The Wall. I think there was some effort to fudge the timeline a little bit by not declaring exactly how long we were there. I think that worked for some people, for other people it didn’t. They seemed to be very concerned about how fast a raven can fly but there’s a thing called plausible impossibilities, which is what you try to achieve, rather than impossible plausibilities. So I think we were straining plausibility a little bit, but I hope the story’s momentum carries over some of that stuff.
-Joe Otterson: ‘Game of Thrones’ Director Alan Taylor Breaks Down Timeline in ‘Beyond the Wall’, Variety.

Time, distance and other irrelevant features of the universe

Taylor goes on to say that we shouldn't be so concerned about all of this, as they are trying to tell a story, and that story requires certain people to be in certain places at the right time; how they got there is not important to their timelines as 'the show goes on':

It’s cool that the show is so important to so many people that it’s being scrutinized so thoroughly,... If the show was struggling, I’d be worried about those concerns, but the show seems to be doing pretty well so it’s OK to have people with those concerns.
-Joe Otterson: ‘Game of Thrones’ Director Alan Taylor Breaks Down Timeline in ‘Beyond the Wall’, Variety.

In conclusion

Please don't think or try to calculate, simply turn off your brain and enjoy the dragons and boat-sex!

4

No, it's not plausible. Presumably, Daenerys had already resolved to leave Dragonstone and head north to aid Jon Snow and his band long before the raven from the Wall arrived. It was pure coincidence that Daenerys happened to find Jon Snow and his band minutes before they were overwhelmed by the wights. I don't recall any explicit scenes or dialogue where we see Dany reading the message sent by the raven from the Wall.

  • 8
    She decides to fly back to rescue Jon based on knowing that he is in danger, against Tyrion's arguments that she might die. She says to Tyrion that she won't stay and "do nothing", so there's a heavy implication that she knows Jon is in danger. – tobiasvl Aug 21 '17 at 20:45
  • 1
    @tobiasvl Right, she knows they're in danger because Jon Snow described the whole harebrained plan to her before he left. She doesn't want to stay and "do nothing". The other assumption is that Jon Snow is sent a raven asking for aid from Dany. Are we absolutely certain? Maybe the gist of the message was that the mission had failed. – RobertF Aug 22 '17 at 13:35
  • Jon Snow seemed pretty certain that they were waiting for rescue. If they had no hope of rescue, I doubt they would have just stood around and waited to die. At the very least, they'd have done something to make sure they didn't become the newest recruits into the Night Kings army after they died. – Shane Aug 22 '17 at 14:42
  • @Shane You do have a point - if they were at wit's end (and frankly there's not much wit between Jon and the rest of that gang), why didn't they all decode to fight to the end? Or build a big fire and jump in it? I'd argue they hadn't yet reached that level of desperation where suicide was the only option left. We didn't hear Jon state "We just have to hold out for another 3 days for Dany to rescue us." You could argue that D&D wanted to leave viewers in the dark about whether Dany was coming to their rescue & how much time had passed, to make her appearance all the more unexpected. – RobertF Aug 22 '17 at 15:16
  • @Shane I'm also skeptical the Night King would have waited for days or weeks until Jon & co. died of exposure or hunger. His army seemed to be waiting until the lake ice had refrozen, which it did overnight, then launched another attack (but more piecemeal to avoid cracking the ice). – RobertF Aug 22 '17 at 15:21
4

It's not plausible, given that Dany would have no means of navigating to where the magnificent seven were. Unless Dragons have GPS, it's utterly implausible that Dany could fly somewhere she's never been in her life, let alone find the exact geographical coordinates in the nick of time.

  • While you are not wrong, this does not add anything that the other answers have already addressed. – amflare Aug 22 '17 at 20:12
  • 3
    I disagree. The answers so far are considering whether it's possible for Dany's rescue mission to be achieved plausibly, assuming the shortest, fastest journey as the crow, or indeed dragon flies. My point is that it would be almost impossible for Dany to fly in a straight line, given she has only the vaguest inclination of which direction to point Drogon. Even assuming she was able to find the wall, and used that to navigate, she end up circling for hours trying to find Jon and co, if she was even able to spot them at all from the sky, given the weather. Therefore it's not plausible at all. – Tormund's Beard Aug 22 '17 at 21:54
  • That's a fair point. Perhaps edit your answer to make that a bit more clear? – amflare Aug 22 '17 at 23:45
  • We don't know the contents of the note sent to Dany via Raven. The party was more-or-less in the same spot when Gendry ran off and he could have described a compass direction plus distance in the note, getting Dany pretty close to the party. Finally, amid the vast whiteness there was an army of moving bodies, perhaps 50,000 of them, covering a vast area which would have been visible from miles away. And at the center of that were the seven living souls. – Fixee Jun 20 at 5:08
2

The limiting factor here is the speed of the raven. We don't really know how far from the Wall they are, so Gendry's run could have taken a fairly short time, and we know that a dragon can fly much faster than a raven.

Ravens in our world aren't especially fast flyers, but these ravens have been bred for centuries as message carriers, so let's assume they can fly as fast as a homing pigeon, about 50 miles per hour. It's something like 2,000 miles from Eastwatch to Dragonstone, so that would be 40 hours for a non-stop raven. We can add an allowance of 5 hours for Gendry's run and 10 hours for Daenerys to fly back, so we're looking at a minimum of 55 hours, a bit over two days.

  • 7
    At least it wasn't carrying a coconut. – neminem Aug 21 '17 at 18:01
  • 2
    @JNat It would probably be useless to tell Gendry to run to Castle Black, since he can't know where it is (remember that this is the first time he travels further North than the Riverlands). It's already surprising he was able to find Eastwatch. – Arnaud D. Aug 22 '17 at 8:13
  • 1
    @ArnaudD. It's not exactly hard to find Castle Black. "Run south until you hit the Wall. Then run west until you see Night's Watch on top of the Wall and a gate below them." But it's probably well over a hundred miles, so will take him several days at best. – Mike Scott Aug 22 '17 at 8:39
  • 2
    @ArnaudD. Eastwatch is very easy to find. You just keep going South-East and you will eventually reach there. Shadow Tower is the same but in South-West. Castle Black is the tricky one, being in the middle and all. TLDR, it's not surprising that he found East Watch. He just had to keep going south East. – Aegon Aug 22 '17 at 8:39
  • 1
    @ArnaudD. I'm pretty sure Jon Snow knows that (he does not, in fact, know nothing), and he could tell Gendry before sending him off. And the abandoned gates are why I said he should look for the one with Night's Watch on guard on the Wall above the gate. – Mike Scott Aug 22 '17 at 8:53
2

I like the discussion, but I think everyone is wrong about the distance. And that's a crucial part. It took 50 days for the Lannister party to arrive at Winterfell. And they didn't travel in straight lines. What's possible to travel in a day for such a big party with all stops etc, 20 miles a day? If so, we are talking 1000 miles. And that's not in straight lines. So perhaps 800 miles for a bird. Calculate on that and you get a different answer.

If the raven can fly at 50mph. The time for the raven is 16hours. If it took Gendry 5 hours (it could be less). We have 21 hours. The dragons are probably very fast. No idea how fast, but they are huge and from earlier it looks like Dany could move around pretty fast. Say they are 3x as fast or so, we have about 5 hours. In all 26hours. It's very likely that was about the time they were on that island.

1

Of course it's plausible.

People don't die in a couple of days in those temperatures. You could tell me they were out there for a week, and I'd have no trouble believing they were still alive.

The only factor they have to deal with is water. They have fire on demand. So they have a semi reliable source of warmth. They have water as long as they keep breaking the ice open.

It would take weeks for them to become obviously diminished by lack of food.

Realistically, they were on the island for 4-5 days. Perfectly plausible.

  • 2
    Right, but in the span of one or two days, could Gendry have run back to Eastwatch, flown a raven to Dragonstone, and then Daenerys fly her dragons from Dragonstone all the way north of the wall? I think the way the TV series depicts elapsed time is out of whack. – RobertF Aug 21 '17 at 20:11
  • 1
    @RobertF I like to think I've proven otherwise – Edlothiad Aug 21 '17 at 21:08

protected by Aegon Aug 23 '17 at 10:37

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.