The sun is setting on The Wall, followed by the comet that signalled the return of the dragons (or R'hllor, depending on your beliefs). I can't see the end of the astonishing mix of ice and wood and stone that protects Westeros from the Others: it vanishes into the distance. I'm so high up that Castle Black below, that seemed so big when I arrived, is hazy and distant and small. I've had to turn off the clouds to see the ground. Someone's finally built Westeros, the nasty fantasy world that the books at TV series A Song of Ice And Fire is set in, the way the fans want it built, and you can visit it in Minecraft.
The server ip and texture pack can be found here. This is for everyone that salivates over detail: The Wall could so easily have been a flat, uninspiring chunk of vertical land, but it's textured, beautiful, exactly what you imagine The Wall in Minecraft would look like. It feels built, then weathered, and it looks like it could turn back an attack from the supernatural threat that's building on the other side. The map stretches all the way from Craster's Keep to King's Landing. The answer to the question "have they made x?" is almost always "yes", and that they've done a remarkable job in putting it together, too, as well as a hundred other things you'd forgotten about.
I walked a bit from Castle Black along along dirt road: the chilly lands covered in low forests this far up. The dirt road is spackled with snow. Villages and inns dot the landscape, each hand-crafted by the team of builders that worked on it, turning blocks into the nastiest fantasy world you'll ever read. Thankfully the server is friendly, but there's a PvP role-playing one set-up for those that want to live the nightmare.
It would probably take days to walk south from the Wall, so the world has warp points to let you explore. '/warp xxxx' takes you wherever you want to go, so I typed '/warp kingslanding' and had to take a deep breath.
King's Landing is the city furthest south, the current seat of power in this ever-warring land. It sprawls. The streets go on and on and on, built up from houses, brothels, shops and taverns. If they'd only made King's Landing, I'd have been blown away. It has the castle, the Iron Throne, the Tower of The Hand. It knows the lore almost too well: nothing here feels generic, so I was never able to just take a peek at something and move on. I came out of the throne room intent on hopping to another city, but spotted Varys's quarters. The eunuch knows all the secrets of Westeros, it seems and his room has a secret stairway into the bowels of the castle that leads to connecting tunnels. I could walk to the dungeons, the throne room, the small council, and Maegor's Holdfast. I walked the winding corridor to the Holdfast, wondering why that was built and came into the gloomy, darkened room where they keep the dragons head.
They built the dragons.
After that, I visited the Eyrie. The Eyrie is where Lysa Tully, Catelyn Stark's sister, lives. In the books the trip from the bottom of her fast to the top takes a long, long time. It's a test on my part: would they really make the player go through all that? All those steps to the top. I land on the warp point and follow the signs. I follow and follow and keep following. Yes. Yes they would. The stairs hug the mountain side all the way. I feel sorry for the person that laid them.
To the top, my fingers throbbing with the effort it took to keep on the steps: up here is where Lysa went mad after her husband's death. It feels remote enough to breed a paranoid psychosis, and it's not a place for vertigo sufferers: the High Hall has an open doorway out to the sky, where those found guilty by Lysa are tossed out of. Below, there the Sky Cells with the one wall open, where Tyrion Lannister was kept.
I could go on and on about how the lore is captured beautifully in this build. There's a puddle beneath the wall where Tyrion peed off the edge; the God's Wood trees all have faces, Forgotten corners of Winterfell have cobwebs. It's a world of astonishing size, but equally of just blinding detail. I've honestly know idea how the managed it. Block by block, Westeros has been crafted, but more than that it's been captured. Someone with the right knowledge could navigate through the lands,
Let's not underestimate what they've done: if this was a game world that shipped with Minecraft, it would be considered an amazing achievement. And you can get it for free. It's inspired me: I'm going to walk the length of it.