Asshai, the mysterious and foreboding city at the eastern edge of the known world, emerges from the shadows like a dark enchantment. Cloaked in perpetual twilight, this enigmatic city stands as a realm of secrets and ancient sorcery. Its immense black walls and towering structures create an otherworldly silhouette against the eerie glow of the Ash River, lending the city an air of haunting beauty that conceals the malevolent mysteries that lie within.
Asshai is a place of paradoxes, where the exotic and the grotesque coexist in an uneasy balance. The shadowbinders, mysterious practitioners of dark magic, are said to wield powers that defy comprehension. With their masked faces and elusive gazes, the city’s denizens move through its darkened alleys and labyrinthine streets like specters. The markets of Asshai are filled with strange and exotic goods, from the elusive shadowbinder’s wines to the legendary ghost grass, all contributing to the city’s reputation as a nexus of forbidden knowledge and dangerous arts.
Yet, the heart of Asshai lies in the distant, foreboding structure known as the Shadow Lands. A realm where reality itself seems to warp and twist, the Shadow Lands are home to creatures and spirits that defy explanation. The city’s residents speak in hushed whispers of the mysterious structures beyond the walls, such as the Heart of Darkness and the Palace With a Thousand Rooms. Asshai stands as a fascinating and terrifying place where the boundaries between magic and reality blur, and the very essence of the supernatural weaves through the fabric of its haunting existence.
“The dark city by the Shadow is a city steeped in sorcery. Warlocks, wizards, alchemists, moonsingers, red priests, black alchemists, necromancers, aeromancers, pyromancers, bloodmages, torturers, inquisitors, poisoners, godswives, night-walkers, shapechangers, worshippers of the Black Goat and the Pale Child and the Lion of Night, all find welcome in Asshai-by-the-Shadow, where nothing is forbidden. Here they are free to practice their spells without restraint or censure, conduct their obscene rites, and fornicate with demons if that is their desire.”
—Yandel in The World of Ice & Fire
Yi Ti, the fabled and expansive realm situated in the distant east of Essos, is a land shrouded in mythical grandeur and ancient wonders. Known as the “Golden Empire of Yi Ti,” this vast and mysterious civilization boasts a rich tapestry of history and culture. The city of Yin, with its golden walls and sprawling palaces, stands as a testament to the opulence and sophistication of the YiTish empire.
Yi Ti is marked by its reverence for tradition and the Celestial Empress, the supreme ruler of the Golden Empire. The YiTish people are known for their intricate customs, including the worship of the stars and celestial bodies. The streets of Yin are lined with towering pagodas and temples dedicated to various deities, adding to the otherworldly ambiance of the empire. The Imperial Court of Yi Ti, with its complex politics and intricate social hierarchy, is a stage where power struggles unfold with an air of dramatic intensity.
The eastern reaches of Yi Ti are known for the fabled and mysterious city of Carcosa. Often veiled in mist and perpetually shrouded in shadow, Carcosa is said to be a place of forbidden knowledge and ancient sorcery. The tales of blood magic and strange rituals emanating from Carcosa add a layer of eerie mystique to Yi Ti, making it a realm where the boundaries between reality and myth are blurred. Yi Ti stands as a distant and alluring backdrop in the vast world of A Song of Ice and Fire, a realm where the echoes of an ancient and enigmatic empire resonate through the winds that sweep across its golden plains.
The Bone Mountains, a formidable and desolate range stretching across the eastern reaches of Essos, form a natural barrier that separates the vast expanses of Yi Ti from the mysterious and forbidden lands beyond. With their skeletal appearance, these jagged peaks cast an ominous silhouette against the horizon, creating an imposing fortress that dares adventurers to breach its austere facade. As the spine of the eastern continent, the Bone Mountains are a realm where the known world meets the enigmatic realms of Yi Ti and the unknown territories that lie beyond.
The daunting expanse of the Bone Mountains is marked by treacherous passes and perilous trails, a harsh environment where only the most resilient dare to venture. Legends and myths surround these foreboding peaks, with tales of ancient creatures, secret societies, and hidden valleys that defy exploration. The mountains themselves seem to be frozen in time as if bearing witness to the eons that have passed, guarding the secrets of the realms on either side with an air of stoic determination.
The eastern foothills of the Bone Mountains are said to be home to the enigmatic Jogos Nhai, a nomadic and mysterious people who navigate the vast plains of the far east. These horse lords are known for their unique customs, including using weapons crafted from their fallen enemies’ bones. The Bone Mountains, with their stark beauty and formidable presence, serve as a boundary between the known and the unknown, a threshold where the edge of the known world meets the shrouded mysteries that lie beyond.
“The bones of men, the bones of horses, the bones of giants and camels and oxen, of every sort of beast and bird and monster, all can be found amongst these savage peaks.”
—writings of Yandel
Island of Leng
The Island of Leng emerges from the murky mists of Essos as an elusive realm, a place where myth and reality intertwine in an enigmatic dance. Surrounded by treacherous waters and hidden by the shrouds of fog, Leng’s very existence seems to defy the certainty of maps and explorers. Its cliff-perched city, rising like a specter on the western edge, whispers tales of a civilization veiled in secrecy, guarded by the inscrutable Lengii, whose enigmatic customs confound the bravest of adventurers.
With its labyrinthine passages and cryptic symbols etched into the stones, the city stands as a testament to a bygone era, a realm that once thrived in glory and knowledge. The tattooed bodies of the Lengii tell stories written in an arcane language understood only by the initiated, their intricate patterns revealing a history obscured by time’s relentless march. The Black Goat, worshipped with fervor, adds an eerie layer to the island’s mystique, its rituals cloaked in shadows that linger in the imagination of those who dare to envision the ancient rites.
To the east, the Plains of Leng unfurl like an endless sea of grass, a landscape haunted by the nomadic Jogos Nhai, further adding to the island’s ethereal ambiance. The Island of Leng, with its spectral allure, serves as a haunting reminder that amidst the known world’s clamor and chaos, there are realms where the veils of mystery remain intact, and the echoes of ages past resonate through the winds that whisper across the forgotten landscapes of Essos.
The Bleeding Sea, a vast expanse of water south of Essos, beckons with an ominous allure that strikes fear into the hearts of sailors daring to traverse its crimson-tinted depths. The very name evokes a sense of foreboding, a macabre dance of red hues reflecting the rich deposits of minerals and clay that imbue its waters. Navigating the treacherous currents and mysterious mists of the Bleeding Sea is a perilous endeavor, with tales of lost ships and vanished crews haunting the collective maritime consciousness.
Among the haunting mysteries lie the enigmatic islands scattered across the Bleeding Sea – the Basilisk Isles, and the Isle of Tears, each a canvas painted with tales of danger and wonder. The sea, veiled in an aura of otherworldly uncertainty, becomes a theatre where sailors navigate the physical challenges of its unpredictable waters and the shadowy unknown lurking beneath the surface. The Bleeding Sea stands as a testament to the untamed, unfathomable essence of Essos, a realm where danger and intrigue merge in a symphony of scarlet waves that stain the collective memory of those who dare to sail its crimson seas.
Kingdom of Sarnor
Once a magnificent jewel in the crown of Essos, the Kingdom of Sarnor now stands as a haunting testament to the relentless march of time and the capricious nature of fate. In its prime, the kingdom’s cities, notably the majestic Sarnath, proudly displayed their advanced culture and towering structures. The Tall Men, noble and regal, ruled with an air of sophistication, their mastery of horsemanship and breeding of the famed Sarnori horses setting them apart as lords of the vast grasslands.
Yet, the Kingdom of Sarnor was not destined for an everlasting reign. The very lands that nurtured its prosperity became a crucible for its demise. The relentless Dothraki, emerging from the eastern steppes like a storm on the horizon, shattered the kingdom’s grandeur. The once-proud Sarnori, with all their knowledge and might, could not withstand the ferocity of the nomadic horse lords. The fall of Sarnor, marked by the crumbling of its magnificent cities and the echoing silence of its once-thriving culture, is a tragic symphony of hubris and the inexorable passage of an era.
Now, as the wind whispers through the ruins of Sarnath and the Dothraki gallop freely across the Dothraki Sea, the Kingdom of Sarnor lives on in the echoes of history. Its legacy is one of faded glory, a cautionary tale for those who would dare to defy the ever-shifting tides of power and destiny.
The Dothraki Sea
The Dothraki Sea, a vast and boundless expanse stretching endlessly across the heart of Essos, is a realm of untamed ferocity and nomadic majesty. Despite its name, the sea is a sea of grass rather than water – a sea that waves and undulates with the relentless passage of the wild wind, carrying the war cries of the fearsome Dothraki across its endless plains. This boundless sea of golden grass, where the horizon is the only limit, serves as the domain of the nomadic horse lords, a relentless and indomitable force that sweeps across the land like a tempest.
The thundering hooves of the mighty Dothraki khalasars resonate through the sea, their war cries echoing in a symphony of conquest. Once inhabited by the advanced civilization of the Kingdom of Sarnor, the land now bears witness to the nomadic hordes that emerged from the east, leaving ruins and remnants in their wake. The Dothraki Sea stands as a testament to the cyclical nature of power, where the rise and fall of civilizations are painted on the canvas of its endless plains, with the Dothraki as its current masters, riding like a relentless storm that shapes the destiny of the land.
“The frightened child who sheltered in my manse died on the Dothraki sea, and was reborn in blood and fire.”
—Illyrio Mopatis to Tyrion Lannister
The Shivering Sea
The Shivering Sea, a frigid expanse to the northeast of Westeros, stands as a realm of tempestuous waters, treacherous icebergs, and the bone-chilling winds that sweep across its desolate surface. This foreboding sea, veiled in mist and shadow, embraces an aura of mystery and danger as it lashes the coasts of the lands it borders. The names of its freezing waves—Bay of Seals, the Nightrunners’ Bay—whisper tales of maritime perils and legendary encounters with monstrous sea creatures, leaving sailors to navigate the shivering depths at their own peril.
The icy fingers of the Shivering Sea reach out to touch the desolate landscapes of the far north, where the Wall stands sentinel against the encroaching cold and the haunting wails of the Others are rumored to carry on the frigid winds. This sea, often obscured by the ever-present mist, serves as a boundary between the known realms and the mysterious lands beyond, where legends of ancient magic and long-forgotten horrors weave into the fabric of Westerosi lore. The Shivering Sea, with its bone-chilling embrace and ominous whispers, encapsulates the perilous beauty that lies at the edge of the known world, a realm where the line between reality and myth becomes as blurred as the icy horizon.
The Valyrian Peninsula, a haunting remnant of a once-glorious empire, now stands as a testament to the cataclysmic fall of the Valyrian Freehold. Jutting dramatically into the Summer Sea, this desolate landmass is a graveyard of ambition and magical might. The Valyrian Peninsula was once the heart of an advanced civilization that harnessed the secrets of dragons and wielded the mystical Valyrian steel. Its cities, with their spiraling towers and enchanted architecture, were the world’s envy, symbolizing the zenith of magical prowess.
However, the splendor of the Valyrian Peninsula was shattered in the Doom – a cataclysmic event that tore the very fabric of Valyria asunder. The once-mighty Freehold was reduced to smoking ruins, and the cities that once touched the heavens now lay in ruin beneath the mysterious, swirling waters. The shattered remnants of the Valyrian Peninsula are a grim reminder of the hubris of magic and power, with the Smoking Sea serving as a scar that whispers the haunting echoes of a civilization that dared to defy the natural order.
The Valyrian Peninsula, now a forbidden and accursed realm, is a place where the bravest souls dare not venture. The ruins of the once-great cities, such as Valyria and Oros, exude an eerie and haunted presence. The spectral echoes of dragonlord sorcery and the ghostly remnants of a lost era cling to the Valyrian Peninsula, transforming it into a graveyard of ambitions, a solemn reminder of the irrevocable cost of playing with the forces of the arcane and the boundaries of mortal might.
“At its apex Valyria was the greatest city in the known world, the center of civilization. Within its shining walls, twoscore rival houses vied for power and glory in court and council, rising and falling in an endless, subtle, oft savage struggle for dominance.”
—writings of Yandel
Slaver’s Bay and Ghiscar
Slaver’s Bay and the Ghiscari cities, sprawling domains in the heart of Essos, are a theatre of shadows and suffering, where the echoes of ancient civilizations resonate through the annals of time. Slaver’s Bay, with its cities of Astapor, Yunkai, and Meereen, is a crucible of exploitation and human bondage. The Ghiscari cities, with their towering pyramids and intricate cultures, stand as a testament to the enduring legacy of the once-mighty Ghiscari Empire.
The cities of Slaver’s Bay, like Astapor with its brutal Unsullied and Yunkai with its pleasure houses, are places of stark contrasts. The wealth of the masters and the despair of the slaves paint a tapestry of oppression and rebellion. The Meereenese pyramids, rising from the horizon like silent sentinels, bear witness to Daenerys Targaryen’s attempt to break the chains and establish a new order, plunging Slaver’s Bay into chaos and upheaval.
The Ghiscari cities, remnants of a bygone empire, exude an air of melancholy grandeur. The city of Old Ghis, with its massive walls and crumbling statues, stands as a ghostly reminder of a civilization that once rivaled Valyria. The Harpy, the symbol of Ghis, still looms over the city of Ghis itself, embodying a resolute refusal to succumb to the passage of time. Slaver’s Bay and Ghiscar, entwined in a complex dance of power, liberation, and ancient sorrows, form a landscape where the struggles for freedom and dominance echo through the very stones of their ancient streets.
Lhazar, a land of desolation and hardship nestled in the shadow of the Red Mountains, is a realm of dramatic contrasts and unyielding struggles for survival. This arid expanse, marked by cracked earth and scorching winds, serves as a harsh backdrop to the nomadic life of the Lhazareen. The people of Lhazar, hardened by the relentless sun and unforgiving landscape, eke out a meager existence in a world where nature itself seems to conspire against them.
The towering red peaks that cast ominous shadows over Lhazar are as unforgiving as the land below. In the midst of this harsh terrain, the Lhazareen tend to their herds and practice ancient rituals, seeking solace in the face of adversity. The brutal slaving raids launched by the horse lords from the Dothraki Sea add a dramatic layer to Lhazar’s tale, as the people, caught between the merciless elements and marauding invaders, cling desperately to the threads of their way of life. Lhazar stands as a testament to the relentless challenges faced by those dwelling on the fringes of Essos, where survival itself becomes an epic struggle against the harshness of both nature and the whims of conquerors.
Qarth, the self-proclaimed “Greatest City that Ever Was or Will Be,” rises like a jewel in the harsh landscape of the Red Waste, flaunting its opulence and mystery to all who approach. Enclosed by towering walls and guarded by the enigmatic Pureborn, Qarth exudes an air of exclusivity and intrigue. The city is a melting pot of cultures and trades, a place where the exotic and the extraordinary coalesce in a dazzling display of wealth and ambition.
Within the walls of Qarth lies the famous Hall of a Thousand Thrones, where the rulers known as the Pureborn convene to make decisions that shape the city’s destiny. The Spice King, the Thirteen, and the Warlocks of Qarth are just a few of the powerful factions vying for influence in this vibrant yet treacherous city. The Qartheen are known for their cunning and diplomacy, yet beneath the surface of their grandeur lies a city teeming with secrets and machinations.
Yet, for all its splendor, Qarth is not without its shadows. The mysterious warlocks of the House of the Undying, with their prophetic visions and ancient magic, cast an eerie pall over the city’s reputation. Qarth’s claim to greatness is juxtaposed with a sense of impending doom, as the city stands at the crossroads of destiny, where powerful players from across Essos and beyond converge, each with their own agendas and ambitions. In the grand drama of A Song of Ice and Fire, Qarth emerges as a captivating and perilous city, its fate entwined with the unfolding tapestry of the known world.
“Qarth is a city of merchants, and they love the clink of silver coins, the gleam of yellow gold. When you smashed the slave trade, the blow was felt from Westeros to Asshai. Qarth depends upon its slaves.”
—Hizdahr zo Loraq to Daenerys Targaryen
Sothoryos, the mysterious and foreboding continent south of Essos and Westeros, stands as a realm of primordial wilderness and uncharted dangers. Enveloped in a shroud of tropical jungles, fetid swamps, and venomous creatures, Sothoryos is a realm where the very air seems to pulse with an ominous energy. Legends speak of ancient civilizations that rose and fell in its depths, leaving only crumbling ruins and haunting echoes in their wake.
The jungles of Sothoryos are a labyrinthine tangle of towering trees, where the sunlight struggles to pierce the dense canopy, and the air hangs heavy with humidity. The Isle of Tears, with its mist-shrouded beaches, adds to the enigma of this dark continent, as tales tell of sailors lured to their doom by the seductive calls of mermaids and the eerie cries of exotic birds. The legendary city of Yeen, carved from massive blocks of oily black stone, looms like a monstrous sentinel on the Isle of Tears, defying explanation and instilling a sense of foreboding in those who glimpse its eerie silhouette.
Sothoryos is a realm where the boundaries between reality and nightmare blur as deadly diseases, ancient curses, and monstrous creatures lurk in the shadows. The notorious Basilisk Isles, infested with pirates and brigands, serve as a stark reminder that even the bravest adventurers risk madness and death when venturing into the heart of this dark and mysterious continent. Sothoryos, with its untamed landscapes and haunting mysteries, remains an uncharted territory.
“There were fortunes to be had there […] emeralds, gold, spices, aye, all that and more. Strange creatures… monkeys that walk like men, men that howl like monkeys, wyverns, basilisks, a hundred different sorts of snakes. Deadly, all of them. Some of my men just vanished of a night. The ones who didn’t began to die. One was bitten by a fly, a little prick upon his neck, nothing to fear. Three days later his skin was sloughing off, and he was bleeding from his ears and cock and arse. Drinking salt water will make a man mad, every sailor knows that, but the freshwater is no safer in that place. There are worms in it, almost too small to see, if you swallowed them they laid their eggs inside you. And the fevers… hardly a day went by when half my men were fit to work. We all would have perished, I think, but some Summer Islanders passing by came on us. They know that hell better than they let on, I think.”
Ulthos, the enigmatic and largely unexplored landmass situated to the southeast of Essos, emerges like a specter on the periphery of the known world. This mysterious continent, surrounded by the Jade Sea, is shrouded in secrecy and surrounded by whispers of the unknown. Very little is known about Ulthos, and its very existence raises questions that linger in the shadows of the collective imagination.
Ulthos is often depicted as a land of ancient and mystical landscapes, where the boundaries between the material and the ethereal blur. The Red Mountains, which traverse the heart of the continent, are said to be cloaked in an otherworldly radiance, adding to the mystique that surrounds Ulthos. The presence of the city of Asshai on the Jade Sea’s northern shores contributes to the speculation about Ulthos, as the city is known for its connection to dark magic and arcane knowledge.
The exotic and unknown nature of Ulthos lends itself to tales of forbidden secrets and ancient powers that lie dormant, waiting to be discovered. The speculation surrounding Ulthos adds a layer of dramatic tension to the vast and richly textured world created by George R.R. Martin, where even the most intrepid explorers might hesitate to venture into the shadows of this elusive and enigmatic land. Ulthos, with its mysterious allure and the promise of untold mysteries, stands as a testament to the vastness of the unknown that lingers at the edge of the maps of Essos.
Great Moraq, the expansive and diverse island situated in the Summer Sea, unfolds as a realm of captivating contrasts and dramatic landscapes. The city of Moraq, with its bustling markets and towering minarets, stands as a testament to the island’s vibrant culture and strategic importance in Essos’s maritime trade routes. As a key hub for commerce and cultural exchange, Great Moraq has earned its place in the grand tapestry of the known world.
The landscapes of Great Moraq are as varied as the cultures that call it home. The island showcases a kaleidoscope of natural beauty, from the arid plains of the interior to the lush forests and pristine beaches along its coasts. The city itself is a melting pot of peoples and traditions, where the scents of exotic spices and the vibrant colors of diverse fabrics fill the air, creating a sensory symphony that resonates with the dramatic energy of the Summer Sea.
Yet, like any grand stage, Great Moraq is not without its shadows. The city is a realm of political intrigue and simmering tensions, where the struggle for power plays out beneath the surface of its outward prosperity. The Guild of the Blue, a powerful merchant guild with deep-rooted influence, adds an air of mystery and manipulation to the city’s dynamic. Great Moraq, with its dramatic fusion of cultures and the undercurrents of hidden machinations, emerges as a captivating destination and a critical player in the intricate dance of power.
The Summer Isles, a paradise nestled in the heart of the Summer Sea, unfolds as a dramatic haven of natural beauty and vibrant cultures. These isles, with their golden beaches, lush rainforests, and azure waters, stand as a breathtaking testament to the wonders of the known world. The radiant sun that bathes the isles in perpetual warmth adds to the dramatic allure of this tropical paradise, making it a realm where nature itself seems to dance in harmony with the vibrant cultures that call it home.
The Summer Isles are not only a feast for the senses but also a melting pot of diverse peoples and traditions. The cities, such as Tall Trees Town and Last Lament, rise like jewels along the coast, adorned with brightly colored buildings and exotic gardens. The inhabitants of the Summer Isles, known for their intricate body art and vibrant clothing, contribute to the visual tapestry that defines the isles’ dramatic ambiance. The Summer Islanders, with their tales of ancient magic and intricate social structures, create an atmosphere where every story is a thread woven into the fabric of an ever-evolving saga.
Yet, beneath the surface of this idyllic paradise, the Summer Isles are not without their challenges. The cities and isles are marked by their own political intrigues, as the various city-states vie for influence and power. The mysterious Greenblood, a great river that flows through the heart of the isles, carries with it both the lifeblood of the land and the echoes of ancient mysteries.
“The Cinnamon Wind was a swan ship out of Tall Trees Town on the Summer Isles, where men were black, women were wanton, and even the gods were strange.”
—thoughts of Samwell Tarly
Naath, a serene and idyllic island in the Summer Sea, is a realm of haunting beauty and tragic contrast. The landscapes of Naath are an earthly paradise with golden beaches, lush tropical forests, and a climate that seems to cradle the land in perpetual warmth. The peaceful coexistence between the people of Naath and the gentle butterflies that inhabit the island adds to the mystique of this tranquil haven. However, the dramatic twist in Naath’s tale lies in the shadows that linger beneath its apparent tranquility.
The people of Naath, known as the Peaceful People, live in harmony with the natural world. Their customs, marked by a commitment to nonviolence and a deep respect for life, create an atmosphere of ethereal serenity. The islanders’ unique melodic language and intricate carvings contribute to the sense that Naath is a realm where time itself moves to the rhythm of a poignant and timeless melody.
Yet, Naath’s tragic undercurrent is revealed through the deadly butterflies that inhabit the island. These seemingly beautiful creatures are carriers of a fatal disease known as the Butterfly Fever, which proves lethal to outsiders but leaves the native Naathi unharmed. This dark secret, juxtaposed against the island’s apparent paradise, creates a dramatic narrative that explores the delicate balance between beauty and tragedy, tranquility and peril.
“Daenerys’: Home. Naath. Butterflies and brothers. Tell me of the things that make you happy, the things that make you giggle, all your sweetest memories. Remind me that there is still good in the world.”
—Daenerys Targaryen and Missandei