GOT: The Geography of Ice and Fire
Adventurers! Today, we go forth and explore the mysterious, magical, maniac and murderous...World of Ice and Fire!
Miss Anonymous loves GOT, but has never read the books. Of course, that has not stopped her from wanting to know more about the world of Game of Thrones. This 4-part series will help you and Miss Anonymous explore the world where our favorite TV show is set. Cheers!
This is the map of the known world; now, there are too many things missing here, so we will have to see the actual map. Click here. Keep it open; we will keep referring to it.
Lets begin then. We all do know Westeros well enough; it is the other lands which we know too less about. Zoom to the exact south-east, above Ulthos. So-
Who lives in Asshai? Where is it?
Ah, Asshai. If there is a place which is the noun to the adjective mysterious, it is this. We do know that Melisandre is from Asshai, and that whenever a character wishes to give a metaphor for the furthest and the most foolish, they mention Asshai. But the description of it from The World of Ice & Fire (TWOIAF) is actually scary.
Behind its enormous walls is ground enough for Volantis, Qarth and King’s Landing to stand side by side and still have room for Oldtown.
Travelers tell us that the city is built entirely of black stone: halls, temples, palaces, streets, walls, all.
But there is an apparent lack of people who live in this city, with the numbers being:
no greater than that of a good-sized market town. Even in the day, there are no crowds, no noisy markets, no women gossiping. Those who walk the streets of Asshai are masked and veiled.
And most chillingly
there are no children in Asshai.
That last line is just said; there is no explanation given for it. A city without children? Just as perplexing, there are no beasts in the city either; no dogs or horses or elephants. When brought there, they die. The other descriptions given say that the city is a thriving port, and due to the polluted (by magic?) waters of the river, even freshwater has to be shipped in. The city itself exports gold and gems and as we have found out, sorcery.
Warlocks, wizards, red priests, necromancers, torturers, poisoners, shapechangers, shadowbinders, worshippers of the Black Goat and the Pale Child and the Lion of Night, all find welcome in Asshai-by-the-Shadow. Here they are free to practice their spells without restraint or censure, conduct their obscene rites and fornicate with demons
Let’s leave this place where it is.
There was an mention of Ulthos…in fact look at the map. In the south, we have the Summer Isles, something called Sothoryos, and another thing called Ulthos. Trust me, they are interesting.
What’s on the Summer Isles?
Though a score of gods both great and small are honored on the Summer Isles, a special reverence is shown to the god and goddess of love, beauty, and fertility. The union of male and female is sacred to these deities; by joining together in this act of worship, the islanders believe, men and women give honor to the gods who made them. Be they rich or poor, male or female, of high birth or low, all Summer Islanders are expected to dwell for a time in the temples of love that dot the islands, sharing their bodies with any who might desire them.
That is one thing about them. But there is more to them than just free sex. Plus, an eagle-eyed reader has noticed that mentions of the Summer Isles keep cropping up in the books. He speculates on the why; do NOT skip the comment section.
What’s on Sothoryos and Ulthos?
The Africa of this world, Sothoryos is. If you went on the above link, you might already have an idea about what is to be found here. It is actually wild out there (at least in the descriptions in TWOIAF), and no one from the places we know has been able to properly live there (and many did try, but in the end, there was fighting, disease or something else). This thread will suffice for an introduction to Sothoryos. There is next to no information about Ulthos, so let’s play some guessing games about it.
That’s to the extremes. Back to the map. Up north is…well there is sea and ice and someone said ice dragons, but who cares. East, once more. The Dothraki Sea is to drown in its blood-filled history. So we keep moving…past the Bone Mountains, we come to the Plains of the Jogos Nhai, which are home to the eponymous people, riding on zorses. They are bordered by the empire of Yi Ti. Which seems to have been completely based on China’s rulers. The thread starts off with Yi Ti, but then settles down with the Dothraki. Still, fascinating stuff.
Now go clear east, right to the corner. See the Grey Waste, and the Bleeding Sea? Now-
The five forts in Essos, what are they?
They are certainly head-scratchingly unique; while they have been suggested as the eastern version of the Wall, their real reason, or even a guessed one, is frustratingly out of reach. GRRM has said that Westeros & Essos do not touch. Here, in a reply to a Tumblr thread, there is an answer to that question. And to imagine it, is to appreciate the massive scale of what GRRM has done. We bow to you, sir.
Lastly, there is this island called Naath, to the west of the Summer Isles, filled with some really sweet peace-loving people and butterflies. Their account has that wicked twist which GRRM loves. Read:
The Ghiscari seized the island thrice in the days of the Old Empire; the Valyrians erected a fort there whose walls of fused dragonstone can still be seen; a company of Volantene adventurers once built a trade town, complete with timber palisades and slave pens; corsairs from the Basilisk Isles have landed on Naath countless times. Yet none of these invaders survived, and the Naathi claim that none lasted more than a year, for some evil humor lurks in the very air of this fair isle, and all those who linger too long on Naath soon succumb. Fever is the first sign of this plague, followed by painful spasms that make it seem as if victims are dancing wildly and uncontrollably. In the last stage, the afflicted sweat blood, and their flesh sloughs from their bones.
The Naathi themselves are seemingly untroubled by the illness
That’s because….the butterflies cause the disease! And yes, immunity. I guess. Or maybe, it is the Lord of the Butterflies. Everyone has a God now….
And that is a wrap! Hope you liked it, cause we loved compiling and putting it together! If you’re interested in knowing more about this world, I would recommend you to read The World Of Ice & Fire. You can buy it, or you know….you can find it (wink wink).
Also, the official maps of this world. You can’t zoom in. But what maps they are, plus they come with some helpful details. On this link.
And links to the rest of our articles on the Game of Thrones:
Would you like to know about the wildlife of the GOT world?
Or maybe you would like to keep that glass of wine in hand and look back at the pleasant, violent-filled history?
Take your pick.