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George R. R. Martin reveals the long-lost weapon that inspired Wildfire from Game of Thrones



George R.R. Martin and Wildfire

George R.R. Martin is known to use a lot of historical inspiration for his writing. From the Wall and the Night’s Watch to all the way to important characters and houses, glimpses of medieval history are seen in Martin’s writing. Did you know that The inspiration for wildfire in Game of Thrones stemmed from ancient tales of a long-lost, enigmatic weapon that had been shrouded in mystery throughout history?

Inspiration for wildfire

Martin was invited by prominent astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson to his podcast StarTalk, where they discussed the science behind Game of Thrones.

George RR Martin on the Inspiration for Wildfire

George R.R. Martin discussed the historical inspiration behind wildfire:

Wildfire, which is another um of the quasi-magical things, plays a especially big part in the battle of the Blackwater. (It) was partly inspired by the legends of Greek fire that the Byzantines used, which supposedly we’ve never been able to duplicate. The Byzantines kept it a secret. They used this Greek fire on attacking fleets from other nations, and somehow the secret was lost, and now we don’t know what was in Greek fire.”

Degrasse Tyson remarked: “You have resurrected this.”

Martin agreed and described his version of the wildfire: “Yeah, it’s a little bit Greek fire, it’s a little bit napalm, it’s a little bit nitroglycerin, it has the coolest characteristics, and it’s jade green. It burns with green flames why because I thought that would be cool, and indeed when we saw it on film, it was really cool.”

Greek fire and Wildfire


Credit: John Skylitzes

Greek fire was a highly potent combustible weapon developed by the Byzantine Empire in the 7th century. It was a secret formula comprising various flammable substances, often launched from specialized containers, such as flamethrowers or grenades, onto enemy ships or troops. The exact composition of Greek fire remains a mystery, as its recipe was closely guarded and lost to history. It played a crucial role in Byzantine military successes for centuries.

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Greek fire and Wildfire in Game of Thrones share similarities as both are highly volatile, mysterious substances that can be deployed in warfare. Both are highly effective incendiary weapons capable of causing devastating fires. Their exact composition and methods of deployment are closely guarded secrets, adding to their mystique and power on the battlefield.

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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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