Westeros’ sex and betrayal is ripped straight from pages of real history, says George R.R. Martin

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Nov 19, 2018, 11:33 AM EST (Updated)

With all the backstabbings, trysts, assassinations, and red weddings, it may take the most epic of all series finales before we finally see peace among Westeros’ seven families. But as lurid as Game of Thrones has been over its seven-season run, it’s really not so different from real life, says creator George R.R. Martin.

Speaking with The Wall Street Journal for a look into how he gets his creative juices flowing, Martin said he originally conceived the A Song of Ice and Fire book series on which GoT is based as a stylized version of the Wars of the Roses — Britain’s 15th-century conflict between feuding House Plantagenet rivals the Lancasters and the Yorks.

What amazes him, though, is the knowledge gap between what fans know about the history of his fictional world and that of the real one on which it’s based.

“It astonishes me that today there are tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of kids all over the world who know more about the Starks and the Lannisters than they know about the Yorks and Lancasters,” he said.

Not that he doesn’t get it: Martin confessed that history — a topic he’s always been fascinated by — can get super-dry super-fast, unless it’s retold with the personalities and motivations of its real-life characters in mind.

“The way history is taught today… more socioeconomic trends and things like that, which… I don’t know if it’s more valid or less valid, but it’s certainly more boring,” he admitted, adding that the allure of history lies in “the wars and the betrayals, who stabbed who in the back, who was having an affair with whom, and to me that’s the juicy stuff of history. That’s what makes history fun.”

It’s certainly a big part of what’s made Game of Thrones such fun — and, thankfully, Westeros still isn’t quite finished telling its own story. Season 8 makes it long-awaited debut on HBO in April 2019.