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Thursday, August 03, 2017

On the Warped Timeline in Game of Thrones

Some defenders of the show claim that the timeline isn’t actually warped because we cannot assume that events portrayed onscreen happen at the same time (e.g. Varys’s teleportation at the end of Season 6 from Meereen to Sunspear and back to join Dany is said to take longer than it appears onscreen).

Yet we can look at the timing of Jon Snow’s being summoned to Dragonstone and Ellaria and the Sand Snakes being ambushed and realise there is a big problem there.

Here is a possible timeline:

1) Dany occupies Dragonstone (T)

2) Dany sends a raven to Jon to summon him down, Dany sends Ellaria and the Sand Snakes to Dorne (T+1 days)

3) The raven flies to Jon (this should be fast) (T+1 - T+3 days at least)

4) Ellaria and the Sand Snakes leave for Dorne (T+5 days at most - the fleet was already offshore)

5) Jon leaves for Dragonstone (T+5 days at least given the need to summon a council, debate what to do etc)

6) Jon reaches White Harbour and gets on a boat (T+15 days at least given that it's 340 miles away and a horse can travel 32 miles a day - which might be generous given that Winter has come and they're in the North, see: Game of Thrones map shows how far distances are, What Is the Average Distance a Horse Can Travel in a Day?)

7) Ellaria and the Sand Snakes are ambushed by Euron (T+5+X days). X is the number of days they were ambushed after leaving Dragonstone.

7) One ship, surviving the battle with Euron, rushes back to Dragonstone to report the defeat to Dany (T+5+X+Y days). Y is the number of days between the ambush and their returning to Dragonstone.

Y must be less than X because they are rushing and because 1 ship can travel faster than a fleet. Some might say damaged ships are slower, but if it were damaged and thus slowed the odds are Euron's fleet would've destroyed it before it could've reported back.

8) Jon Snow arrives in Dragonstone (T+15+Z days), where Z is the number of days it takes to sail down from White Harbour. Dany hears of her fleet's defeat. We know that these occur at the same time because this is explicitly portrayed onscreen.

So we know T+15+Z has to equal T+5+X+Y, where Y is less than X.

With some algebra, we know that Z = X+Y-10. That is, Jon took as long to sail from White Harbor to Dragonstone as it took for Ellaria and friends to sail out and one ship to make it back - minus ten days.

Now consider that White Harbor is roughly as far from Dragonstone as Dragonstone is from Sunspear (Map), and that from in-show dialogue Ellaria and friends are a significant distance from Sunspear ("How can you drink this piss? When we reach Sunspear, I'll treat you to a Dornish red")

So even if we discount how the Shivering Sea (the one in the North Jon would've had to travel down for the first part of his voyage) is choppier than the Narrow Sea (Winter conditions, and Essos provides some shelter from the truly open ocean - it is called the Narrow Sea after all and there is regular trade across it), if you generously assume that Ellaria and friends were 2/3 of the way to Dorne, Z is unlikely to equal X+Y-10.

And without all our generous assumptions Jon’s speed seems even more amazing.

So show apologists seem to be grasping at straws when they say there is no time inconsistency in the TV series.
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