Game of Thrones is a phenomenon. As Carolyne Larrington reveals in this essential companion to George R R Martin's fantasy novels and the HBO mega-hit series based on them the show is the epitome of water-cooler TV. It is the subject of intense debate in national newspapers; by PhD students asking why Westeros has yet to see an industrial revolution, or whether astronomy explains the continent's climatic problems and unpredictable solstices ('winter is coming'); and by bloggers and cultural commentators contesting the series' startling portrayals of power, sex and gender. Yet no book has divulged how George R R Martin constructed his remarkable universe out of the Middle Ages. Discussing novels and TV series alike, Larrington explores among other topics: sigils, giants, dragons and direwolves in medieval texts; ravens, old gods and the Weirwood in Norse myth; and a gothic, exotic orient in the eastern continent, Essos. From the White Walkers to the Red Woman, from Casterley Rock to the Shivering Sea, this is an indispensable guide to the twenty-first century's most important fantasy creation.