Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Smartphone App: Westeros Map

The first fantasy novel I read that included a map was The Lord of the Rings, 20th Anniversary Edition.  The map included a detailed depiction of Middle Earth that I must have unfolded a hundred times.  Tolkien was a brilliant writer, but the map made the Fellowship’s journey that much more immersive. 

With his smart phone application Westeros Map, Sergey Rekuz does for viewers of HBO’s Game of Thrones what Tolkien did for his readers.

A Game of Thrones is the most influential work of fantasy since The Lord of the Rings, and geography plays a central role in the story.  “Winter is Coming” is the book’s slogan and the impending doom this implies is lost on the majority of Westeros’ population.  Many of the nation’s most powerful kingdoms are in the south, leagues from the cold northern kingdoms.  They know nothing of winter.  In addition to climate, the diverse cultures and value systems encountered in Essos and Westeros are also more easily understood when one peruses the map. 

My emphasis on the application benefiting viewers of HBO’s Game of Thrones was intentional.  This is because readers of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones already possess these maps (they are included with the book).  The app, while artfully-colored and lettered, does not provide additional multi-media features you may want.  For example, while the app does allow you to search for specific cities and major geographic features, I also hoped to search for the locations of specific battles. 

Although basic in utility, I think the map is a worthy tool for fans of the HBO series and  deserves space on their smart phones.  The Westeros Map application is free for Android devices, which is what I used, while iPhone/iPad users get free access to the Westeros portion of the map, but must pay $1.99 to view Essos.  Remember . . . winter is coming.