As the conclusion of HBO's epic series Game of Thrones approaches, we have some questions about the air speed velocity of dragons and ravens.
Whether you're a read-all-the-books superfan, a diehard viewer of the show, or somewhere in between, you're surely excited to see HBO's epic fantasy tale enter its final season. Many of us are, and we're eager to have all of our story questions answered. Except... there maybe be one question that will go unanswered. Exactly how fast can dragons and ravens fly?
For those that need a quick refresher: Near the conclusion of the penultimate season, our protagonists were surrounded by the bad guys well north of The Wall. Jon Snow, our man in distress, sends a raven-for-help to a place far, far to the south called Dragonstone. That raven arrives at its destination where Daenerys, our hero, jumps on the back of her best dragon, flies back north to John Snow, and subsequently saves the day.
The problem is, this didn't seem to take very much time at all.
Distance, time, and multi-modal mobility
Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin is not forthcoming with exact imperial/metric distances between all places. The distances involved in this particular equation have been the subject of exhaustive research and debate on the internet. Of course not everyone can agree. For this excercise, we'll move forward with the calculation that the distance between The Wall and Dragonstone is 1900 miles.
For the sake of generosity, we'll give this call and response a round-trip time of 48 hours. Though the episode doesn't really define how much time passes, the heroes north of The Wall clearly pass one full night in sub-zero temperatures without a fire, and exposed to the open air. (While it's possible they could have survived a second day, they would have at least had greatly advanced frostbite.)
Waypoints make the calculations slightly more difficult, as the trip demonstrates the need to understand multi-modal mobility. The first part of the message goes via human runner to Eastwatch, then by raven to Dragonstone, and our rescue flies direct to the origin of the message by way of dragon.
For the sake of simplicity, we'll give the message runner five hours to cover the distance through snow and uneven terrain. We'll also give the hero and her dragon one hour prepare, finish some debate about the right thing to do, and get underway. Additionally, let's assume that ravens and dragons need some down-time. Even magical creatures can't be expected to each fly 21 hours non-stop at full speed. We'll again be generous and remove a total of 15 hours for rest round trip. From 48 hours, our revised in-air time is 27 hours – at full speed.
So how fast are ravens and dragons in Westeros? To make the journey in time, we calculate that they'd need to maintain a velocity averaging 140.7 miles per hour. Magical creatures, indeed.