(Illustration: Official World Map by Jonathan Roberts, all rights to George RR Martin)
Stories are built from a plot narrative where characters – from major, supportive to incidentary – are the actors. But all of this takes place in a setting, and in fantasy, this is a whole new world with its own physical laws, rules and history. Plenty of discussions and theories exist regarding how magic works, the Others, dragons, etc. I have stayed away from writing essays on these topics and mysteries for a long time. Partly because I did not want to rush into having an opinion on them. And secondly because a setting either has no agency, or serves only as an accelerator for the characters to plot. And while an extensive world book with surface histories was published by George RR Martin, Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson its ultimate purpose is a backdrop. Nevertheless, some of these world factors do have a larger impact, both in setting up the external goals of characters, influencing their arc and requiring a resolution towards the ends of the series, the narrative and characters. The essays of these will rely mostly on factual and logical analysis, and much less on symbolism and parallelism, though understanding the setting, allows for symbolic re-use by George via parallels. So you may in time expect essays on: the Others, Children of the Forest, Dragons, Merlings, Nissa Nissa, etc.