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George R. R. Martin discusses how he names locations in Game of Thrones



George R.R. Martin

George R.R. Martin is indeed renowned for his ability to create a rich, immersive world in his writing. Martin’s world-building encompasses not only geographical locations but also diverse cultures, histories, and politics that exist within his fictional universe.

The vivid descriptions of landscapes, cities, castles, and various settings contribute to the overall immersive experience for readers. Martin described his inspiration behind naming places and shared his own process.

Inspiration from Jack Vance and J. R. R. Tolkien

George RR Martin on Naming Places

In the interview, Martin began by praising two of his favorite authors and their ability to name characters and places. He first mentioned Jack Vance:

“The names are hard. I don’t have an easy answer for that. I vastly envy someone like Jack Vance, who I think has just a magical gift for names. One of the things I love most about jack vance is the character names and the place names. They’re just wonderful. They just ring off the ear.”

Subsequently, Martin also complimented Tolkien’s ability to name places:

“Tolkien was similarly gifted, you know if you read some of that and you say, well, it’s like (with) Tolkien there’s like three names for everything, and you know this is what the elves call it, this is what the dwarves call it this is what the men of west used to call it a thousand years ago but today’s men call it something else, and you know, it’s like a hill.

But fantasy names are tough because you know if it was easy. I mean Tolkien, there wasn’t much that come before him, and he was also a linguist he spoke languages. He spoke old Norse and old English and was familiar with linguistic theory I don’t have any of that stuff.”

George R.R. Martin’s process of naming places


Credit: Jason Caffoe/ Fantasy Flight Games

Afterward, Martin described his process of naming characters and how it coincides with other prominent medieval authors:

“I have all this other fantasy stuff that’s come between Tolkien and my work, and these guys have like used all the good names. ‘Okay here I have some mountains what do I call them here the misty mountain no Tolkien used misty mountain.

The pointy mountains? no that’s stupid. The rocky mountains? that’s good. Wait a minute, this really is rocky mountains. So when I come up with something that I hope is cool, like the Frostfangs which I came up with for my mountains, that’s good I like that oh Frostfangs, I think that’s good. So it’s tough.”

Martin discussed the Frostfangs, which are located north of the Wall and positioned just northwest of the Shadow Tower, serve as a natural barrier between the Lands of Always Winter to the west and the haunted forest to the east.

The southern peaks and foothills of the Frostfangs seamlessly blend into the northern mountains, which the Seven Kingdoms recognize as part of their northern region. The Night’s Watch has named one of the biggest mountains in the Frostfangs as Forktop.

Read Next: George R. R. Martin’s real inspiration behind the Night’s Watch in Game of Thrones

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Aryan, a freelance writer with a profound passion for the English language and literature, also happens to be an ardent fan of "A Song of Ice and Fire" and its television adaptation, "Game of Thrones." Fascinated by the intricate world-building, compelling characters, and rich storytelling of these epic sagas, Aryan finds great joy in delving into the depths of their narratives and analyzing the nuances they offer.

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