The postal service in Game of Thrones isn’t up to much.
Most letters seem to arrive in the beak of some scabby black bird, or at best in the quivering hands of a scrawny squire (see the ‘pink letter’ delivered to Castle Black in this week’s instalment). Postage just doesn’t seem to work in quite the same way it does in our modern, dragon-free lives.
But what if things weren’t so medieval in Westeros? What if there was a national postal service in place, an Iron Post Office to complement the Iron Bank, the Iron Islands, and the Iron Price?
How much would deliveries between the major cities cost?
The first thing we’ll need to do is figure out just how big Westeros is.
And I Would Walk 500 Leagues…
Game of Thrones guru Sean Garvey has created A Map of Ice and Fire, an interactive map that includes a handy measurement tool that will help us determine the proximity of some key locations from the books and the show.
Firstly, let’s quickly check the validity of Garvey’s map. There are two key pieces of information we can glean as markers for comparison:
- George R. R. Martin himself has gone on record saying that despite the similarities between Westeros and the United Kingdom, Westeros is actually “more the size of South America”.
Let’s take into account that South America is approximately 4,500 miles in length. According to Garvey’s map, there’s about 3,000 miles between the Wall and the southern coast of Dorne.
Since this distance covers roughly two-thirds of the total landmass (the Land of Always Winter is difficult to measure because it stretches a little beyond the map), Garvey’s measurement seems to fit with George’s claim.
2. The Wall is frequently referred to in the books as being “100 leagues long”.
George confirms in the previously cited post that “a league is three miles”, the same measurement used in real life. Therefore the Wall on Garvey’s map should be 300 miles long thereabouts, four times the length of Hadrian’s Wall. Which it does, pretty much.
Therefore, it’s safe to assume that Garvey’s map is pretty accurate.
Miles to the Wagon
To work out how much delivery will cost to the respective cities of the Seven Kingdoms and beyond, we’ll first need something to send. Let’s say we’re sending Jon Snow’s Valyrian steel sword, Longclaw. That measures in at roughly:
Next, we’ll need to work out a ‘per mile’ price for our courier, since there won’t be depots and planes to help reduce costs to a standard rate. Parcel delivery from London to Athens, Greece — the equivalent distance of Winterfell to King’s Landing — today costs around £55 on average, 3 p a mile for a squire. Based on that, we can estimate the following prices:
We’re not even going to try and equate that to the rather loose economic definitions of gold and silver in the Game of Thrones universe, but rest assured that it shouldn’t phase the deep pockets of families like the Lannisters and the Tyrells.It looks like poor Podrick has some awful long journeys ahead of him should Brienne require him at any point as an emissary. Either way, we can’t wait to find out what happens in the new season. Valar Morghulis!