The Strangest Places In 'Game Of Thrones'
‘Game of Thrones’ takes place mostly in Westeros except for Daenerys’ story, which develops on the continent of Essos. However, the novels describe even more unbelievable places East of the Seven Kingdoms, and there are so many mysteries that HBO could make a million spin-offs of that world. Let’s find out more about these crazy lands of magic and fantasy.
The prominent Eastern cities shown or talked about on the series were Braavos, Pentos, Volantis, Valyria, and Qarth. However, Essos goes way beyond that, and the world in ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ is even grander than most people imagine. The strangest places are in the far East of Essos, which the showrunners don’t really have time to mention.
There is even a continent South of Essos called Sothoryos. It has dense jungles, lots of ruined and abandoned cities as well as secrecy. No one knows where it ends or exactly how massive it is. There is a story of a dragon rider that flew through the lands for three years but never managed to find the Southern border, calling it “a land without end”.
It seems that colonization is impossible in that continent because there are a bunch of diseases in the jungles. People who go treasure hunting never come back. Those lucky explorers that managed to survive the illnesses tend to perish at the hands of the animals. There are huge crocodiles, dangerous snakes, wasps, worms, and more.
There is only one animal that doesn’t kill people, and it is a purple-eyed lemur, also known as Little Valyrians. There are apes that are bigger than elephants, tattooed lizards with claws in their hands, and vampire bats that can drain a whole person dry. However, the most fearsome creatures are the wyverns, which are like dragons that do not breathe fire.
Those that are even luckier, and live without facing these animals, have to watch out for slavers that are lurking at the coasts, and the natives of Sothoryos, the Brindled Men. They are basically animals as well because of their hairy bodies, massive physiques and teeth, thick skins, and broad faces that make them seem more “hoglike than human”.
Those that live near the coast have learned to speak the common tongue to trade with the slavers, but those that inhabit south are cannibals. Another interesting mystery of Sothoryos is Yeen, a ruined city. Legend has said that it is older than time, and its buildings were made with rocks of oily black stone. Additionally, the place is so evil that nothing grows there. Neither trees nor other vegetation goes near it.
Princess Nymeria tried bringing the people of Rhoyne in the city after they were exiled from Essos. Unfortunately, the entire population disappeared.
On the Western coast of Sothoryos, there are the Basilisk Isles. It is hot and humid, and generally a horrible place to live in. The old Valyrians used one the isles to send their worst criminals, and the city of Gogossos was the perfect place for Valyrian torturers to work and come up with new ideas. They also used blood-magic as well as mated women to animals to make half-human children.
Half-human people are actually mentioned in the books regularly. It might be the reason why the Targaryens have dragon blood and the Starks can warg into animals. Additionally, some of the monsters in Sothoryos were probably created by Valyrian magic. After the Doom of Valyria, the isles were fruitful because of slavery and sorcery.
Unfortunately, a plague wiped all the population. Eventually, people returned, and it is now filled with mostly pirates, who named the cities things like Sty, Whore’ gash, and Black Pudding. They place the skulls of their enemies on one of the isles as an offer to a dark god. The free cities tried destroying all the pirates, but they return once more.
One man named Saathos Saan was sent to kill all remaining pirates, but he turned into one and became the King of the Basilisk Isles for many years. He is the ancestor of Ser Davos’ pirate friend, Salladhor Saan. One of the isles has a giant stone toad, and the people there apparently descent from those that built that statue because their faces have fish-like features.
Just like the city of Yeen in Sothoryos, George R.R. Martin is referencing American author H.P. Lovecraft, who wrote horror stories about fish-like men, and they prayed to fish gods. Statues such as the stone toad are scattered all over the world of ‘ASOIAF’, and it has been said that the Deep Ones built most of them. They were like mermaids but ugly.
THE GRASSLANDS OF ESSOS
The first civilizations popped up in the Grasslands of Essos. The Silver Sea was ruled by the Fisher Queens who even had a floating palace. There are stories of Hairy Men, who were ruthless soldiers that rode unicorns to war. The city of Lyber has tales of a war between a spider goddess and a snake god. Moreover, there was even a kingdom of centaurs.
Those are more legends than truth, but there was the kingdom of Sarnor, whose people called themselves Tall Men. They were warriors, magic users, and academics. They built almost modern cities throughout the grasslands, making canals. They also had hundreds of gods. Their armor was made of steel and spider silk, and women along with men would go to war together.
They faced the Qarthi, the Dothraki, and helped Valyria in their war against Ghis. They were originally ruled by the High King before separating into several kingdoms. The first High King was Huzhor Amai, which coincidentally sounds like Azor Ahai. The Sarnor had the biggest control of the West of the Grasslands until the Doom of Valyria.
The Dothraki got together, and they went after the Sarnor cities. They fell to the Dothraki, and it all ended in the battle known as the Field of Crows. Their kingdom was ruined, and there are only around twenty thousands Tall Men left. The ocean located north of Essos is called the Shivering Sea, and aside from the normal things that most seas possess like crabs and fish, it also has leviathans.
NORTH OF ESSOS
Those sea monsters were apparently as big as islands. Sailors also said to have seen mermaids, sea spirits, and dangerous mists that brought freezing colds. There are even tales of Ice dragons, who were even bigger than normal dragons. They breathed cold instead of flame, which could be why the mists were so cold.
However, when these creatures die, they melt, and so, there is no proof of their existence. North of the Shivering Sea, there is a bunch of inhabitable lands with constant blizzards. Sailors would talk about weird lights in the sky like the Aurora Borealis. There is also the legend of Cannibal Bay, a place that freezes after a ship enters, trapping it.
It has been said that the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the first sailors are still there, and they eat those newly trapped. Most of the Shivering Sea is ruled by the Ibbenese, the people of the Island of Ib. They are short and hairy with ridged eyebrows. They can breed with other humans, but it’s rare, and the offspring cannot have children.
Therefore, like the Brindled Men, they seem to be another species of human, similarly to how Homo sapiens once lived with Neanderthals. The Ibbenese are known for their fishing skills; they can also build ships that withstand anything, even krakens. The island itself has forests and mountains filled with bears and wolves.
Many people live in those areas as loners or miners, but most live in the Port of Ibben, near the God King’s castle. This is a ruin that once housed their monarchs. Under the rule of the king, the Ibbenese conquered a forest located south of their islands. The indigenous are called Ifequevron, or wood walkers, and they are apparently related to the Children of Forest.
They would also carve trees, but they a city they have is different from the one that the Children in Westeros have. On the East of the Ibben islands, there is even more mystery. The information about it has only been recorded by maesters of Westeros, and George R.R. Martin even said that they could be wrong about it.
THE FAR EAST OF ESSOS
The Thousand Islands are scattering of rocks with lots of wind. The people there are green, scaly, hairless, and have sharp-pointed teeth. They sacrifice sailors to their fish-headed gods, but they are afraid of the sea. They do not even touch the water. Legends say that the islands are the remains of a huge kingdom that drowned thousands of years ago.
South of the Thousand Islands is the city of Nefer, which is pretty foggy and has many cliffs. On the outside, it seems like a small town, but that is because the city is actually underground. Therefore, it is also known as the Secret City, and it is speculated that they practice necromancy and torture. East of Nefer, there are the forests of Mossovy, which are inhabited by shapeshifters and demon hunters.
No Westerosi has ever been easter than the Mossovy forests. The continent of Essos is divided by a mountain range known as the Bones, a name they got because of how many people died trying to get through it. The mountains have passages, stairs, rivers of blood, and more mysteries. However, there are only a few roads to escape them.
The Steel Road, the Stone Road, and the Sand Road are guarded by fortified cities: the Kayakayanaya, Samyriana, and the Bayasabhab respectively. They once belonged to the Kingdom of Hyrkoon, but their rivers dried up, and it was ruined. The cities are guarded by warrior women, who think that only people who can give birth can take a life.
They are trained as warriors from a young age, and most of the men are eunuchs. Only the most handsome and fiercest can breed and rule the city. East of the Bones, there are the lands of Jogos Nhai, people who are similar to the Dothraki. They are nomadic, but they ride zorses, a combination of zebras and horses.
In the books, Vargo Hoat rode a zorse, but unlike the real world, they are tougher and angrier. Vargo Hoat was the leader of the Great Companions, those that cut Jaime Lannister’s hand. The Jogos Nhai are short and have pointed skulls since they bind their children’s heads to make them like that. They are ruled by a chief and a moonsinger.
Their religion does not allow them to kill each other, but they can war against other tribes. Legend says that they killed all the stone giants, who were even bigger than the giants in Westeros. The Jogos Nhai was almost wiped out by the people of Yi Ti, located South. They got tired of the constant raids of the Jogos Nhai and got close to defeating them all.
However, Zhea the Cruel, a Jogos, destroyed their main armies and removed the skull of the then-empress of Yi Ti to use as a cup. Yi Ti is the oldest civilization of Eastern Essos, and it was inspired by Imperial China. It has everything, including lots of wealth. Apparently, their princesses lived in houses made of gold. The cities of Yi Ti are more modern than Westeros.
The palace of the emperor is even bigger than King’s Landing. Therefore, it is pretty powerful, and it was once an even bigger empire called the Great Empire of the Dawn, more amazing than Valyria. Their first emperor was thought of as a god; the son of the Lion of Night and the Maiden made of Light.
He allegedly ruled for 10,000 years until he went to the stars. His reign was peaceful, but once the other emperors came along, there was even more trouble in Yi Ti. The Amethyst Empress was killed in a coup by her brother, the Bloodstone Emperor. His rule was the worst in the land because he was fond of necromancy, slavery, cannibalism, and torture.
He had a Tiger woman as a bride and prayed to a black stone that fell from the sky. Allegedly, the Bloodstone Emperor caused the Long Night, where demons came to the land and everything was dark. The Yi Ti people believe that the Long Night ended thanks to Azor Ahai, which is the same as the Westerosi belief in the White Walkers and the Last Hero.
They also created structures similar to the Wall but called them Five Forts. Could the White Walkers be the same as the demons of the Long Night? In fact, the story of the Bloodstone Emperor is similar to the Night’s King as they both married monster women, called themselves Kings, and worshipped dark magic. These are two different legends of the same thing.
What is the truth? That is something that ‘Game of Thrones’ Season Eight has to explain. Another interesting aspect of Yi Ti is that the Five Forts are made of fused black stone. However, fused stone was made by Valyrians with dragon fire, and those structures predate Valyria. This suggests that they could have had dragons as well.
Another important building made out of fused stone is the High Tower in the Citadel in Westeros. How was it made? That is another mystery.
SOUTH OF YI TI
There is the island of Leng, which is full of tigers, apes, spices, and riches. The Lengii are very tall, most of them 7 feet, and they have great eyesight. Leng was closed off from the rest of the world for most of its history. The Empress consulted with the Old Ones, known as gods who lived in ruined cities in the jungles of Leng. They would often tell her to kill the strangers in their lands.
However, Yi Ti invaded it, and the cities of the Old Ones were closed off. Of course, it has been said that they are still there. These gods can also be attributed to H.P. Lovecraft, and Leng was actually the name of another dimension in one of his stories. Even more east in Essos, there is the city of Carcosa and K’Dath. Martin said that he added the Lovecraft references to make the map.
There is also the City of the Winged Men, Cities of the Bloodless Men, and Bonetown. Therefore, most of these places are not that important in ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, except for a particular one: Asshai.
It is located as east and as south as the world goes; the edge of the world. It is a massive city that is bigger than King’s Landing, Qarth, Volantis, and Oldtown all together. Its structures are all created with oily stone, which makes it dark and awful-looking. However, not many people live there. Those that do wear masks and walk alone.
There are no children and no animals because of the pollution in the River Ash. There are vast areas called the Shadow Lands, filled with glowing ghost grass and dragons. It is the hub of dark magic where the red priestesses, nightwalkers, and more train in the mystic arts. There is more power for sorcery in those lands, which means that people travel from all over to learn there.
Melisandre, Mirri Maz Duur, Quaithe, and Marwyn studied there. Euron Greyjoy traveled there and witnessed all kinds of terrors. Melisandre and Quaithe are known as shadowbinders, and they are the scariest kind of magic users. They are the only ones who dare go further into the Shadow Lands, where demons and dragons live.
However, there is also Stygai, known as the City of the Night. Even the shadowbinders are afraid of Stygai. It is also known as the heart of darkness, which might be like the heart of winter in the North of Westeros. However, who made that dark and dangerous city? One theory states that it was the Bloodstone Emperor because of the stone used for their buildings.
It has also been said that Asshai might have been made of normal stones, but something magical like the Long Night changed them. There must be a reason why the Shadow Lands are polluted. On the other hand, they could have been made by the evil gods inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, and all the darkness in the world came directly from Asshai.
The world of ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ is incredible, dark, evil, violent, magical, and mysterious. HBO is going to spend the next hundred years digging that gold mine. Let us know what land is the most interesting. If you liked this article, share it with your friends who cannot wait for the rest of Season Eight. See you next time!
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