World of Ice and Fire Analysis: Chapter VII (Beyond the Seven Kingdoms)

And after a rather frantic week, we’re almost done…

reading

Time to see what’s left of my Laboratory of Politics series!

Other Lands:

  • Interesting that the Citadel doesn’t have any parallel institutions in the East, or sends people out to study Esssos.
  • I really want to read Colloquo Votar’s Jade Compendium.
  • Coins: Braavos’ coin doesn’t seem right. But I like the rest. Lorath’s coin seems like it would cost more to mint than it’s worth.

The Free Cities:

  • Ahem. Please note: manufactured goods and luxury items go west, raw materials go east. Essos is more advanced than Westeros.
  • So Mantarys, Volon Therys, Oros, Tyria, Draconys, Elyria, Mhysa Faer, Rhyos, and Aquos Dhaen are all as big or bigger than Gulltown/White Harbor/Lannisport…man, Essos is even more urbanized than I’d thought.

Lorath:

  • Well, this was an unexpected revelation, but intriguing.
  • So Lorath exports fish, walrus tusks, sealskins, and whale oil. No wonder they’re so damn poor, they don’t have any manufacturing to provide some serious value-added.
  • The Mazemakers – here’s where stuff gets crazy. Are these Deep Ones or victims of the Deep Ones? Or more akin to the Hyboreans of Robert E. Howard?
  • So settled by Ibbenese, then the Andals whup on the Ibbenese, then the Andals mess with the Norvoshi, then the Andals get burnt out by the Valyrians – which explains why the Andals started heading west in a hurry.
  • And then the worshipers of Boash, the Blind God show up. Third eye mystics, pacifists, and strict egalitarians: “all life was sacred and eternal…men and women were equal; that lords and peasants [I thought Valyria was a Freehold?], rich and poor, slave and master, man and beast were all alike, all equally worthy, all creatures of god.” And they believe that abnegation of the self is necessary for unity with the godhead, so that’s where the Lorathi dialect comes in. Pseudo-Buddhists? Jains?
  • And then they got fat and greedy, and the theocracy fell.
  • Interesting system of politics, which we knew nothing of before:
    • so you have three Princes, one elected by the landed interest, one elected by the commercial interest, and one by the commons.
    • And they got replaced by a council of magisters made up of the elite – although we still don’t know whether magister is about wealth, noble blood, or general status.
    • Wait…I thought Lorath had an archon?
  • they don’t mention it, but given their weakness and proximity to Braavos, I’m guessing no slaves. Which would make it Braavos, Pentos, and Lorath vs. Lys, Myr, and Pentos, with Norvos and Qohor somewhere in the middle, with mostly just slave soldiers and a free working population.

Norvos:

  • This was really cool. I should have expected Norvos was a religious colony, it makes so much sense!
  • No wonder the Dothraki don’t fuck with Norvos, it sounds like a bastard to try to besiege.
  • So the rich and the priests live above where all the commerce and fun goes on, and then anyone who comes up or goes down is a sinner. Yep, that’s theocratic logic for ya!
  • The Norvoshi have a big territory – at least 600 miles east to west, and around 800 miles north to south!
  • Terraced farms – aha! Basic agricultural economics! Ok, so Norvos is more self-sufficient in foodstuffs.
  • Cave paintings, and one of the Natural Wonders of the World is known!
  • Norvoshi are Valyrian in ethnicity.
  • We learn a lot about Valyrian attitudes to religion. Religious freedom and tolerance, but not much in the way of genuine devotion.
  • Interesting that the Prophet of R’hllor the Red wasn’t too happy with this state of affairs.
  • So Lorath – founded by the Blind God Boash, Qohor by the Black Goaters, and Norvos…
  • Ok…no name, theocracy, militant, uncomfortable clothing, forbidden to shave their head/cut their hair…are the Norvoshi Sikhs?
  • So Norvoshi women go the full Sinead O’Connor, and non-priests only get mustaches. Interesting.
  • Axe = Cross, got it.
  • Dancing bears and the equivalent of the Tijuana donkey show?!
  • And we get one of the Wonders Made by Man: The Three Bells!

Qohor:

  • “Qohor is sometimes known as the City of Sorcerers…divination, bloodmagic, and necromancy are whispered of.” That’s new information!
  • The Black Goat wants human sacrifices…surrounded by a vast, primordial forest…wave to Shub-Niggurath!
  • Qohor has a very diverse economy: timber, silver, tin, furs, amber, tapestries (apparently cheaper than Myr…because of the child labor?), wood carvings, etc. And it’s the main land caravan depot in the west of Essos.
  • Valyrian steel! Many thanks to Maester Pol…yikes, blood magic is needed. Fits with what we know about Valyria, but it really makes you think twice about awesome magic swords, doesn’t it?
  • Interesting that two theocracies who view the other as demon-worshippers can get along so well.

Myr, Lys, and Tyrosh:

  • Grr…the Disputed Lands were fertile and now aren’t. Well, way to make this conflict make no political sense for thematic reasons, GRRM. Damn it, the first section I read felt like I was about to be vindicated, and then the second…
  • What happened to the Archonate of Lys? Didn’t they pay good money for the right to elect one?
  • Mystery solved! Archons are elected, but not by popular vote. So…mercantile oligarchical republics.
  • Well, I was wrong about Myrish slavery…surprising that Braavos didn’t make an issue of that. So all three of them are slave cities, although the ratio is lower than that in Volantis.
  • “The interests of Lys, Tyrosh, and Myr have always been merchantile. All three cities have large merchant fleets, and their traders sail all the world’s seas. All three cities are deeply involved in the slave trade as well. Tyroshi slavers are especially aggressive, even going so far as to sail north beyond the Wall in search of wildling slaves, whilst the Lyseni are famously voracious in seeking out comely young boys and fair maids for their city’s famous pillow houses.” Surprising that they didn’t join Volantis when Dany went on her crusade, then.
  • Lys:
    • founded as a pleasure colony! Makes sense.
    • most Valyrian-looking…you wonder why the Targs didn’t import more Lyseni. Or why you didn’t get more pretenders from Lys.
  • Tyrosh:
    • began as a military colony! I knew it!
    • inner walls of fused black dragonstone…that’s tough to take.
    • AHA! Tyrosh as the master of dyes! I was bloody right about this!
  • Myr:
    • old city, ethnicity weird mix of Valyrian, Andal, and something else.
    • Founded by Valyrian merchant venturers.
    • Highly focused on high-end manufactures.
  • so, most of the time they fight with privateers, and then when it heats up, they hire one of the 40 mercenary companies.
  • Sidebars:
    • So the Triarchy was founded right after the Battle of the Borderlands.
    • And fell apart after a Lysene admiral was murdered over the Black Swan…aka, Lady Johanna Swann, who was kidnapped by pirates before the Dance of the Dragons.
    • And then Pentos, Braavos, and Lorath smashed them up. Although I’m going to guess they never formed a new country.
    • The Rogare Bank – the Lyseni rivals to the Iron Bank, the Pazzi to the Medici, and ended badly (you do not want to go bankrupt in Lys, apparently). I’m going to bet Lysandro and Drazenko got whacked by Faceless Men. Good to know that banking isn’t just one city.
    •  The Second Sons – when was this founded and why? So Oberyn, Rodrik, and Bittersteel, ok. Stormbreakers and Company of the Rose – and here’s our Wild Geese parallel.
    • Huh…Daeron I might have married a Braavosi, and then the Pentosi and Lyseni send aid to Dorne. More interaction between east and west!

Pentos:

  • AHA! The most Andal of the Free cities.
  • Council of Magisters and the sacrificial prince. Tattered Prince. Knew about this already.
  • So Pentos and Braavos fought six times over slavery and Braavos won four times (why no one else?). Yikes, four princes in a year.
  • Nevio Narratys is a smart man.
  • So Pentos practices debt slavery.
  • Yikes, they got a bad beating: limited to 20 ships, no sellswords, and no army.

Volantis:

  • well, here’s my pull quote for Laboratory of Politics V.
  • The Long Bridge and the Black Walls, two symbols of exclusion and elitism.
  • So the Long Bridge was made as a policing matter. And we get another one of the Wonders Made By Man!
  • Wow, Volantis is really into the Red God.
  • Lots in here about Volantine politics, but not much new stuff.
  • Holy hell…Volon Therys, Valysar, and Selhorys are bigger than 500,000 residents!
  • Triarch Honorro – Caesar? Sulla?

Braavos:

  • richest and most powerful.
  • AHA! The Sealord is elected by the magisters and keyholders. More on this in a bit.
  • Braavos was founded by fugitives from a whole convoy of slave ships! I knew it couldn’t just be one ship.
  • And of course, slaves from all over the world – and some of them were moonsingers of the Jogos Nhai. Makes sense.
  • Wow, Braavos really is a melting pot: Andals, Summer Islanders, Ghiscari, Naathi, Rhoynar, Ibbenese, Sarnori, and Valyrian. No wonder they were able to fake it for so long.
  • And they were skilled slaves too, so they had human capital to work from.
  • The First Law of Braavos, literally carved into stone where everyone can see it: No. Slaves. Ever.
    • So…why haven’t they done anything about Meereen?
  • So Braavos had pine trees (very important for masts), lots of fish, iron, tin, lead, slate, and purple dye. Good building materials for an export-based economy.
  • AHA! So here’s how they were able to stay hidden:
    • trade with Ib and the Seven Kingdoms, and as little as possible with anyone else.
    • re-paint your stolen vehicles. That’s some GTA V tactics there.
    • False charts and a lot of lying.
  • And of course, Braavos announces itself to the world 111 years later, when no one’s around anymore to remember the old days, and they do it by throwing the world’s biggest party. That’s some impressive swagger.
  • But, as we see with the Uncloaking of Uthero, they make sure they get their bribes in, but still draw a red line on slavery. The basis for their Carnivale; once again, could the Braavosi be any more Venetian?
  • the Arsenal and the wall of ships; echoes of Athens and Venice there. Braavos has naval mass production; imagine what they could do if they applied the same process to commercial goods…
  • no one’s dared to attack Braavos since the Century of Blood; I wonder who tried? Probably Volantis. Or Pentos.
  • And man, no wonder no ships get through. The Titan is no damn joke.
  • The Iron Bank looks magnificent!
  • Two ports, as we knew from the books.
  • The Iron Bank of Braavos:
    • started, as we knew from the video, with slaves hiding their valuables in an iron mine.
    • then the mine gets full, and they start lending money.
    • And of course, they have a relationship with the Faceless Men. Now, I don’t regard the whole Lannister gold/Faceless Men thing as done and dusted – the Faceless Men’s motives are not primarily monetary and they certainly would have whacked the fire mages regardless – but given their unique sliding scale, it does seem to fit.
    • So, originally there were 16 men and 7 women with keys. Their descendants, who exceed a thousand, are keyholders and get to vote for Sealord. So is the Iron Bank part of the state, or is it just a magister thing.
    • But if you just get regular rich, you can buy shares in the bank.
  • Parts of Braavos are sinking.
  • Another typo – Ragman’s “Habor.” Can I do a return on this edition and get a free errata’d copy?
  • I would kill for Archmaester Matthar’s Origins of the Iron Bank.
  • More on Braavosi religious toleration.
  • The House of Red Hands – hey, they’ve got a hospital!
  • And guildhalls, which means they have guilds.
  • The First Sword of Braavos commands the personal guard of the Sealord and fights in wars. Makes sense.

Beyond the Free Cities:

  • The Summer Islands: one of the few non-awful places in Planetos!
  • Although…it’s a bit weird that you get huge populations of crocs, panthers, wolves, apes, etc. on relatively small islands. That’s not a lot of biomass to support so many large mammals.
  • Summer Islanders – the people even Maester Yandel can admit are poc. Although culturally they seem like a strange mix of Pre-Columbian South America (especially the feathered cloaks, ritualized warfare), Polynesian (especially the oral histories that Gallard wrote), and African.
  • The Talking Trees – living written documents. Cool!
  • Malthar the Windrider, the Mapmaker makes the Summer Islands rich with trade.
  • Gems, spices, rare woods, animals, etc.
  • The Years of Shame ended by Xanda Qo of the Sweet Lotus Vale by moving from spears to goldenheart bows and the swan ships.
  • Chatana Qo, the Arrow of Jhahar, wins the Slavers’ War. Good for them.
  • I wonder if Braavos and the Summer Islands have any political arrangements?
  • HAH! “The Summer Islanders are a common sight in Oldtown and King’s Landing.” Why not Planky Town?
  • Summer Islanders have mapped the entire world! Cool.
  • Sidebar:
    • the Singing Stones. Cool.
    • The Stone Head. Olmec.
    • So the Island of Women is Rhoynish. Interesting.

Naath:

  • Interesting parallel with the Summer Islands. Peace and harmony and love are alright, but you need something to back it up if you want to keep the slavers away.
  • So the plague…kuru? Ebola? Poisonous butterflies?

Basilisk Isles:

  • so…basically Disney’s Pirates of the Carribean-Land.
  • Gorgossos – founded by the Ghis, captured by Valyria, and turned into the Island of Dr. Moreau. The Tenth Free City, wiped out by the Red Death (which definitely sounds like Ebola).
  • Lots of pirates: Xandarro Xhore’s fortress, the Brotherhood of the Bones, etc.
  • Saathos Saan, King of the Basilisk Isles! So Salladhor is in the family business!
  • The Toad Stone – yeah, that’s a Cthulhu.
  • Skull Isle seems cheerful.
  • “the Basilisk Isles are best avoided, for no good has ever come to those who journey hence.”

Sothoryos:

  • So the Ghiscari built Zamettar and Gorosh, and the Valyrians built three colonies. And one of them lasted long.
  • Jaenera Belaerys flew over it and called it a land without end.
  • Ok, so we’ve definitely got a “Heart of Darkness/Lost World” vibe – nine out of ten people die from disease, all of the animals are either poisonous or man-killers, there are velociraptors and King Kongs everywhere, and wyverns. And I’m pretty sure the “shadow-wings” are actually night-gaunts.
  • But people keep going there for riches.
  • Ok, Brindled Men…definitely not humans…but this is getting pretty close to Robert E. Howard’s racist ideas about the relationship between humans and apes. I’m not down with this.
  • lizard men and eyeless cave-dwellers I’m ok with.
  • The Deep One City of Yeen, this I like.

The Grasslands:

  • Civilization started on the Grasslands of Essos! The Dothraki were right!
  • The Fisher Queens of the Silver Sea with their floating palaces….cool.
  • So the Andals, First Men, Ibbenese. Qatheen, and Dothraki all come from here.
  • the lost city of Lyber. Cool.
  • So Qarth is part of the empire of Qaath.
  • Huh. So the Qaathi were conquered by the Sarnori? Wait…I thought the Dothraki did that.
  • The Tall Men of Sarnor section…starting to get a little burned out/repetitious.
    • Aha, the Sarnori allied with Valryia in two of the Ghiscari wars, and then split in the fourth. So that’s why Valyria didn’t go after them.
  • Palace With a Thousand Rooms is one of the Nine Wonders Made By Man.
  • So Khal Mengo and his witch queen mother = the Genghis.
  • wow! The Dothraki consider farming sinful!
  • Hmmm…the Maester have pretty good sources on this.
  • So Khal Mengo, then Khal Moro, then Khal Horro, and then the Dothraki split. And yikes, the King of Gornath…
  • Sallosh, the City of Scholars = Library of Alexandria.
  • Mardosh the Unconquerable…impressive.
  • The Field of Crows – 80,000 vs. 126,000. No wonder the Dothraki think they’ve got a Manifest Destiny.
  • Essaria – the Lost Free City.
  • Ah….so the Sarnori conquered the Qaathi, but the Dothraki just murdered them.
    • ironically, Dothraki conquest helped Qarth by forcing trade onto the sea and giving them a point to monopolize.
  • Bayasabhad, Samyriana, and Kayakayanaya(descendants of Hyrkoon, eh?  add Edgar Rice Burroughs onto the list) stopped the Dothraki. But apparently not Yinishar.
  • I love that the True Account of Addam of Duskendale spends all of its time talking about boobs.

The Shivering Sea:

  • hah, the northern passage!
  • Demon Mother of the Ice Giants…how big do the Others get?
  • Mermaid wights…great…
  • ICE DRAGONS!
  • Cannibal Bay is creepy.
  • Lots of fishes.
  • The Kingdom of Omber manages to survive by being cowards. Smart tho.

Ib:

  • Ok, so the Ibbenese are clearly Neanderthals or something.
  • Wow, Ib is much, much bigger than I thought.
  • So giants and COF and mammoths and unicorns really got everywhere in the world.
  • God-Kings, eh?
  • So Ib is also a republic, with an executive Shadow Council and the Thousand as the electors.
  • Ib Sar is creepy.
  • The Ib fought rather than pay tribute and took out a whole khalasar in one battle. Didn’t help.
  • You really get a sense that what makes the Dothraki frightening is that they just keep coming, win or lose.
  • Guh…Khal Dhako…shudder.
  • Wow, a wooden Wall 300 miles long.

East of Ib:

  • The Thousand Islands, with green people with teeth, “squamous, fish-headed gods,” and drowned kingdoms. Wave to R’lyeh!
  • Nefer, the Secret City, a haunt of necromancers and torturers…spooky.
  • So no eastern circumnavigation either.

The Bones and Beyond:

  • the Dothraki came from the east! I thought so, but then there’s the whole creation myth.
  • The Jhogwin are cool.
  • The Steel Road, the Stone Road, and the Sand Road.
  • Bayasabhad, Samyriana, and Kayakayanaya again. 99% of men are eunuchized?! Wow…they’re like the Amazons of Themyscira, but so much more metal.
  • Interesting that the Amazons rule the former patriarchy.

Yi-Ti:

  • The richest kingdom in the world, far more advanced than Westeros.
  • So a thousand gods, a hundred princes, and three god-emperors, who’ve lost power to the brigands, priest-kings, sorcerers, warlords, and imperial generals. This is so cool!
  • The God-on-Earth, son of the Lion of Night and the Maiden Made-of-Light, founded the Great Emperor of the Dawn.
  • Then you get the Pearl Emperor, Jade, Tourmaline, Onyx, Topaz, Opal, etc.
  • The Bloodstone Emperor, a necromancer, cannibal, and husband to tiger-women! And possibly the High Priest of the “Cult of Starry Wisdom” (i.e, Cthulhuesque cult of Yog-Sothoth).
  • I love this version of the Long Night myth – Hyrkoon the Hero looks a badass, but way too Greek for PlanetosChina.
  • Birthplace of literacy and scholarship, a land of 11 dynasties, the second-greatest road network in the whole world, the greatest cities in the world – Westeros is not more advanced than Essos, far from it.
  • Carcosa, the home of the yellow emperor…spooky.
  • The Hammer of the Jogos Nhai has gone rogue as emperor of Trader Town.
  • The Five Forts – Essos’ wall is bigger than Westeros’ wall! I wonder how long they are.
  • Flying men, vampires, lizard men, K’dath!
  • The God-Emperors of Yi-Ti:
    • Har Loi – an impressive warrior.
    • Choq Choq – makes Aegon IV look like Baelor.
    • Mengo Quen – makes Tywin Lannister look like the High Sparrow.
    • Lo Longspoon – eeeew.
    • Lo Doq – AHA! It’s Claudius of the east!
    • The Nine Eunuchs – that’s an interesting system of government. At least you get to live as other men first.
    • Jar Har – Wow…anyone who can get Warth, Ghis, and Asshai to give them tribute is not someone you want to mess with.
    • Chai Duq – dragonriders in the east!
  • would have liked to learn more about Great Moraq.

The Plains of the Jogos Nhai:

  • I like the Jogos Nhai so much better than the Dothraki.
  • Interesting attitudes about gender. Women abduct husbands!
  • So, the Jogos killed off the stone giants, destroyed the Hyrkoon Patrrimony, who seem like nasty people.
  • Gharak Squint-Eye, Zhea Zorseface (TimeTravelArya?!), damn the Jogos Nhai are badasses.

Leng:

  • Leng is a former colony that rose against the Yi-Ti. Interesting.
  • But a god-empress not a god-emperor.
  • Whoa….the Old Ones beneath the earth. More Lovecraftiana.
  • Leng = Lemuria?

Asshai:

  • Whoa…“they will say only that a city has stood here since the world began and will stand here until it ends.”
  • Everything’s made of the greasy black stone…not a good sign.
  • Good god, the size of the place.
  • And almost no one lives there. And no children. Another bad sign.
    • so I believe Melisandre’s backstory because why would she lie? But if no children…maybe she was sold to Asshai?
  • No water, no food. But gold and gems….this is not right.
  • Ok, they’ve got all kind of magic and no regulations whatsoever. That’s going to end badly.
  • Surprised there isn’t any mention of R’hllor here.
  • Lacquered mask! So Quaithe is a shadowbinder!
  • This whole area feels like a zero point for evil.

Family Trees:

  • Targaryens:
    • so I see four Targ-Baratheon connections.
    • Wow, the Arryns really popped in and out of the lineage.
    • Alyn Oakenfist got him self a Targ wife…well, he earned it.
    • This family tree does not have many branches.
    • Hmmm…what happened to the Penroses?
    • Hehe, the Great Bastards aren’t listed.
    • WHOAH! Baelor Breakspear married a Dondarrion?!
    • I wonder what happened to Aerion and Rhaegel’s kids.
    • Ew…Daeron the Drunken married his brother’s relict
  • Starks:
    • The Starks seem to be savvy users of dynastic alliances: they’re married into the Norreys, Flints, Lockes, Karstarks, Ryswells, Cerwyns, Umbers, Glovers, and Manderlys in the North, so definitely spreading  it around. Lots of alliances in the Vale with the Royces, Corbrays, and a Blackwood (so Bran and Bloodraven are kin!). No wonder they survived 8,000 years – everyone’s kin to a Stark! No Boltons tho…
    • What happened to Bennard and Margaret’s kids?
    • Cregan Stark seems to have married his cousin as well as two other women, as did Edric and Serena, and Eddard’s dad Rickard, as did Jonnel One-Eye.
      • what happened to the four Blackwood Stark daughters?
    • Brandon Stark seems to have cheated on his Karstark wife; maybe this is Brandon the Bad?
    • Barth Blacksword sounds badass.
    • What happened to Aragelle’s kids? Or Aranna?
    • I’m assuming the Rogers should be Royces.
    • The closest Karstark connection I can see is their great-great-uncle’s kids’ kids. Yeah, Rickard Karstark was full of it.
  • Lannisters:
    • There’s Rohanne Webber!
    • Jason Lannister couldn’t keep it in his pants. No wonder he had so many kids.
    • Who were Joanna’s other brothers and sisters?
    • What happened to the Crakehall Lannisters?
    • Wish we could have got more generations here.

Done!

 

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127 thoughts on “World of Ice and Fire Analysis: Chapter VII (Beyond the Seven Kingdoms)

  1. rw970 says:

    >Saathos Saan, King of the Basilisk Isles! So Salladhor is in the family business!

    Salladhor comes from a long line of pirates I guess. He’s probably related to Samarro Saan, the Last Valyrian, who was one of the Band of Nine.

    >Hmmm…what happened to the Penroses?

    Ser Cortnay Penrose was Renly’s castellan. And his father Lord Unnamed Penrose was still alive at the time Stannis besieged Storm’s End.

  2. David Hunt says:

    “Ew…Daeron the Drunken married his brother’s relict.” I had to look up “relict” (thank FSM for the internet). If I’m choosing the correct definition, he married Aerion’s widow? Yeah, Ew. That woman had bad luck in husbands, but I’d definitely say that her second husband was an improvement on the first. Of course that’s a low bar to get over, somewhat like not being the worst chancellor in Germany history.

  3. KrimzonStriker says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t make a mention about Pentos’ claims it was once an independent state before becoming a client of the Freehold. I felt it added an interesting wrinkle in Valyrian expansion policy then in previous examples where the Free Hold either outright conquered and subjugated or tried to displace/replace the native population with colonization ala America’s great western migration, while this example of local autonomy suggests a more flexible assimilation strategy

    • I thought I did? Check the section on Old Valyria.

      • KrimzonStriker says:

        Might have gotten the sections mixed up then. Also Braavos has got to have Pentos under its military protection umbrella after gutting them of any combat force right? I can’t imagine how it wouldn’t have fallen to one of the Three Daughters otherwise.

        • Abbey Battle says:

          I suspect that Braavos has failed to commit ships, but HAS done her best to turn the financial screws on Tyrosh and Myr to prevent them gobbling up Pentos – more to the point I suspect that disagreement between the latter two over who gets to gobble up Pentos (and deal with Braavos afterwards) has kept them from doing just that.

          • KrimzonStriker says:

            Barring the task of conquest I would also have thought that given the lack of ships one trade war by one of the daughters would have sufficed to cripple Pentos given how small their fleet is to protect merchant shipping. The financial incentives alone in cutting Pentos’ carrying capacity would have made me wonder how far Braavos could get away with soft power in keeping Pentos sustainable.

        • It seems logical that they have. And the Three Daughters are a bit busy fighting amongst themselves.

      • KrimzonStriker says:

        Another point I wanted to make is that I would think being descended from one of the Band of Nine would have indicated Salladhor’s been carrying on the family tradition before we ever got to reading about which ancestor he named his boat after. :p

  4. Sean C. says:

    The revised Stark family tree omits the Corbray that was in the leaked version in favour of Black Aly Blackwood (one of two Blackwoods in it, though only Melantha appears to be in the current kids’ direct bloodline, unless Black Aly’s kids married and eventually found their way back in via female descendants). Based on the timeline, Melantha and Egg’s wife Betha would be sisters (or niece/aunt, possibly), which would make Aerys II and Lord Rickard second cousins (and the current Starks would be Dany’s third cousins, once-removed). Forget secret Targaryens, the message of this book is that everyone is a secret Blackwood.

    The Stark family tree at the beginning of the last century looks like the setup for GRRM’s “She-Wolves of Winterfell” succession crisis, given it looks like Cregan Stark’s granddaughters, Serena and Sansa, were either passed over by Cregan in favour of his younger sons, or those sons usurped their nieces (two of whom also married those nieces). And, in turn, the line of Serena (who should have inherited Winterfell from Cregan) and her uncle Edric, the second of Cregan’s sons with Lynara Stark, was passed over on the death of Lord Jonnel in favour of younger sons Barthogan and Brandon, and then Brandon’s sons, Rodwell and Beron.

    • Sean C. says:

      Also, Elio Garcia has acknowledged a variety of errors in the original versions of the family trees:

      – “Benedict Rogers” should be “Benedict Royce”, as you note.
      – Rodwell Stark (the older brother of Lord Beron) and Donnor Stark (Beron’s eldest son) should also be bolded as Lords of Winterfell, as they were identified as such by Bran in his visit to the crypts.
      – Sarelle Lannister, daughter of Lord Tybolt, is misspelled “Cerelle”, and is not bolded as Lady of the Rock.
      – The chart improperly identifies Kevan as Lord of the Rock following the death of Tywin, rather than Cersei.
      – There’s a couple of other minor misspellings “Myielle” instead of “Myrielle”, etc.).

  5. Abbey Battle says:

    Maester Steven, I wanted to pop in and thank you for producing another fine analysis (my own detailed comments will be on the way shortly); however I also wanted to address the following question because the answer did seem fairly straightforward.

    “So … why haven’t they (Braavos) done anything about Mereen?”

    (1) Slaver’s Bay is on the other side of the Continent.

    (2) Slaver’s Bay is on the other side of the Stepstones, Lys, Old Volantis AND Valyria (that’s assuming Pentos doesn’t decide to settle scores while Braavos is busy elsewhere, also that Tyrosh and Myr do not take offence from a Braavosi fleet in their home-waters).

    (3) It is difficult to imagine Braavos being able to get anything done in Astapor, Mereen, Yunkai et al WITHOUT sending a battle-fleet to play the Great Game of Regime Change – given that Braavos does NOT take part in the slave trade, it seems unlikely that even the Iron Bank does business in Slaver’s Bay for obvious reasons.

    (4) Given that you’d have to fight a world-war to have any lasting impact on Slaver’s Bay – consider the storm Princess Daenaerys summons down on her head after her campaign – Braavos would have to build up an immense battle-fleet; the cost of doing so would be enough to bring tears to the eyes of the Iron Bankers and the sheer POWER the commander of such a fleet would wield is likely to send rivals hollering for the Faceless Men.

    That’s assuming that the Braavosi Everyman or Merchant Everyman would be on board with the idea of seeing his taxes sunk into an Expedition with no certain outcome and very little potential for profits (Braavosi don’t like slavers, but Slaver’s Bay is a long way away and EVERONE hates Taxes).

    (5) In order to get to Slaver’s Bay in force Braavos and keep that force supplied while it wars down the Ghiscari Braavos would have to build a chain of bases, most likely at the expense of their neighbours – who would be unlikely to approve of this process – or a coalition of the willing, which seems much less likely, especially South of the Stepstones and East of Lys.

    If this sounds suspiciously like Empire-Building, then I can only agree and I suspect this is a mighty disagreeable prospect to the population in Braavos, who seem to value splendid isolation almost as much as a certain sort of Briton.

    (6) Therefore it is probable that Braavos would not only have to fight and win outright a World War – and it’s very unlikely they’d find many allies in Essos to do just that, for the same reason that everyone else in Essos and not a few from Westeros dog-piled Volantis when the Volantene Freehold started looking like a probability rather than a pipe-dream.

    Quite frankly if Braavos could find the military muscle and political will to topple Slaver’s Bay in the name of the First Law, she would’t just be first amongst equals, she’d be an Imperial Power of the First Order – and that’s a development quite a lot of people in the other Free Cities (not to mention not a few in Braavos) would be extremely uncomfortable with, if not blatantly unhappy about.

    Put simply Braavosi are Anti-Slavery, but they’re opportunistic emancipationists and not crusaders; they fought a war with Pentos (half-a-dozen, in fact) because that city was their closest rival, they were able to win the war because it was easy enough to justify the expense of a campaign in the face of a clear and present Rival-turned-Enemy (also in all likelihood because they were able to turn the screws on Tyrosh and Myr, who HAVE to do business with Braavos) and they were therefore able to beat Pentos badly enough to be in a position to impose the most stringent conditions because quite frankly Pentos was in the middle of a meltdown.

    Even so the Braavosi are still unable to ENFORCE the Treaty (except pro forma) and Pentos is virtually in their back-yard; how in Seven Hells would the water-dancers keep their hooks in Slaver’s Bay without building exactly the sort of Empire half Essos battled Volantis to avert?

    • JT says:

      Yup, exactly. It’s one thing for Braavos to enforce their norms on cities in their backyard (i.e. Pentos), it’s another thing entirely to be powerful enough to overtly set policy halfway across the world, on the “wrong” side of Volantis.

      And, as we see with Pentos, even after decisively winning four wars, Braavos still has a mixed bag in terms of actually enforcing the law, since while Pentos has no army or navy, they still practice (debt based) slavery with collars and everything.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        I suspect that the problem there would be that a medieval Mercantile Republic simply doesn’t have the political will to fight police actions when they could be making a profit instead – more to the point I suspect that their political traditions mandate against the sort of concentration of authority required by a proconsul in any person beyond the immediate oversight of the local Signoria.

      • It’s mirroring the U.S and Reconstruction.

        • MightyIsobel says:

          I get what you’re saying, and I generally agree and can’t wait to read more of your thoughts about this. But I’m struggling with your thesis here to the extent that the culture of slavery in Essos feels more like slavery in the ancient world than like slavery in the American South. Would Dany’s 19th c abolitionist rhetoric have meant anything to slaves in Imperial Rome?

          • Slavery abolished by an outside force, replaced by debt slavery in which the economic system is set up to ensure permanent debt (i.e, debt peonage). That’s exactly what happened after the American Civil War, and not anything like what slavery was like in Imperial Rome.

          • MightyIsobel says:

            I don’t think that a conspicuous display of wealth in human property like Yezzan’s menagerie would have been found in the American South. That’s what I mean by the cultural difference.

            I do really think you’re onto something, though, in seeing Dany’s campaign in Slaver’s Bay as a restaging of Sherman’s march.

          • That is a bit different, to be sure.

          • Andrew says:

            Debt slavery likely could have been followed by the American South by observing the British East India Company. When slavery was abolished throughout the Empire, the British East India Company had hundreds of thousands of slaves in India, and they adapted with debt slavery, a practice that continues in India to this day, sadly. One family has had this problem for generation for a debt of less than $2 given they are illiterate and innumerate. It was also practiced throughout Latin America.

            It was also widespread in Ancient Greece with Athens being the only city that abolished it.

    • 1. Slaver’s Bay is not on the other side, more middlish.

      2. Right, but that raises the question of why slave cities like Lys, Myr, and Tyrosh aren’t concerned about Slaver’s Bay.

      3. My point is: up until now, Braavos has been a lone anti-slavery force in Essos. You’d think they’d at least try to prop up Dany.

      4. I think that’s going a bit far. Hiring some mercenary companies to support Dany, starting trouble with Volantis to distract them a bit, doing some privateering in Slaver’s Bay, anything would help.

      5. That’s a starring role, I’m talking more supporting cast.

      • Amestria says:

        I think there are a few good reasons why the Braavois have yet to take any action.

        First, Braavos is far away. Pentos only hears of Dany’s activities in Slavers Bay in the first chapter of DwD and even then the report is just of some wandering dragon queen sacking cities. They have no idea that she intends to stay and set up her own queendom in Meereen. For the Braavosi to be commit to Dany’s regime they would need to be fully aware of what was going on in Slavers Bay. Volantis is closer, so it gets information sooner and hence it can act sooner.

        Second, the reigning Sealord is sick and soon there’s going to be a choosing. Lame duck administrations with ailing executives don’t usually have the energy or political capital to launch wars.

        Third, the Braavosi are not fond of dragons. This comes out in the following exchange between Tycho Nestoris and Jon Snow.

        On its way home, no doubt. But these men and their ships are well-known to us. No, these other sails … from farther east, perhaps … one hears queer talk of dragons.”

        “Would that we had one here. A dragon might warm things up a bit.”

        “My lord jests. You will forgive me if I do not laugh. We Braavosi are descended from those who fled Valyria and the wroth of its dragonlords. We do not jape of dragons.”

        So when they hear there’s a dragon queen going about conquering in the East their first reaction is naturally going to be a wary one. Especially when said queen carries out massacres in cities that she’s a guest within, breaks truces, harms envoys, and is very authoritarian in her politics.

        As for the Three Daughters, their attention is likely on the Stepstones. Lots of interesting stuff is happening there. There’s almost a war between them, Sallaadar Saan returns with the remains of his fleet, the Golden Company lands, the Redwyene fleet passes through, followed by the Lord of Waters taking up residence… They need to get their own situation figured out before they go sending fleets around the Doom.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        Maester Steven, I must admit that you make excellent points as ever – If I might be permitted one quibble, I meant that Braavos was in the North of Essos, whereas Slavers Bay is in the South (hence ‘other half’ divided horizontally rather than vertically!).

        I would also like to note that Amestria has made counter-points far more skilfully than I (since I tend to add a little too much waffle to my discourse, as we all know well!).

  6. JT says:

    – Interesting that the Maesters “generally agree that the world is round” – I’d have thought that (in Westeros at least) the consensus would be the reverse.

    – On the whole, Westeros is definitely less advanced than Essos. The only two “value added” products from Westeros that we hear about making it to Essos in any quantity are wine from the Arbor and goldwork from Lannisport. Beyond that it’s raw materials from Westeros that flow east and finished goods that from Essos that come west.

    – I wonder why Valaryia and Yi Ti never came into conflict. A mountain range is hardly insurmountable for a fleet for Dragons. And there is precedent for long range conquest – Alexander the Great made it into India for instance.

    – I suspect that the reason Braavos never tried to enforce the no slavery rule on Slaver’s Bay is that their reach isn’t long enough (and Slaver’s Bay is too close to Volantis). The two most powerful free cities seem locked in conflict, with neither strong enough to bend the other to its will. In lands closer to Braavos, Braavosi norms hold; in lands closer to Volantis, Volantene norms hold.

    – The Dothraki fake retreat vs. Sarnor is 100% Mongols.

    – Naath – sounds like some sort of malaria analogue, with the Naathi perhaps having a sickle cell type immunity?

    – Sothoryos is absolutely hellish.

    – Forgot that Marwyn has been to Asshai. I wonder if the information on Asshai is more accurate than some of the other sections (Yi Ti/Jogos Nhai/Leng for instance) since they have a source that’s an actual living Maester v. being from old traveler’s tales.

    • Abbey Battle says:

      I agree with you entirely r.e. Braavos Vs Slaver’s Bay – as noted above, albeit in somewhat less succinct form, I fear! – although I would like to note that while Alexander the Great won significant victories in India, he and his successors simply weren’t able to HOLD any gains in that area – it was just too far from their heartlands and the Whole World was just too darned BIG.

      I would also like to note that it’s equally unlikely that Valyria ever seriously went after Yi Ti, for the very simple reason that the Freehold already had one half of the world to rule and had their hands full doing just that without taking on the problems of the other half.

      There’s also no guarantee that the Dragon-lords preferred to start a War, rather than continue to enjoy the fairest fruits of the Freehold – indeed from the evidence available the Valyrian Imperium seems to have grown more in reaction to perceived threats than out of any particular sense of manifest destiny – hence their eminently sensible decision to avoid waging war on Yi Ti half a world away from the comforts of Home.

    • Sean C. says:

      The world being round is something that we determined based on astronomy and mathematics, so it’s not really surprising that maesters have determined that as well.

    • – surely if you can see a horizon, the logical conclusion is round world. Westeros has sailing ships.

      – Apparently they preferred trade and occasional marriage instead. And distance matters for administration – there’s a reason Rome didn’t try to invade China.

      – True, but the Dothraki only do that against cavalry and refuse to do it against infantry, which is bizarre.

      – Possibly. Certainly in its impact.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        I suspect that the Dothraki disdain for subtlety when pitted against infantry stems from their contempt for those who favour shank’s mare over pony express – it’s one thing to show caution in the face of fellow cavalrymen, whom they might construe as near-equals, but doing exactly the same in the face of mere footmen would more likely be construed as cowardice.

        Which attitude probably helps explain the success of the Unsullied at Qohor, as well as the Dothraki failure to seize EVERYTHING West of Yi Ti; they’re genuinely terrifying opponents, but are arrogant enough to leave a number of Achilles Heels exposed.

  7. JT says:

    BTW one minor thing I wish Martin had done better in ASOIAF is somehow express the size and might of all of the “second tier” Essosi cities: Mantarys, Volon Therys etc., and the major cities like Volantis.

    I always assumed these were small Gulltown-sized cities, with Volantis being somewhat larger than KL; so when they allied against Danerys, it wasn’t a big deal. But it is – these cities combined with Yunkai, New Ghis, the various free companies, and Qarth and Volantis can probably field somewhere in the vicinity of 100k+ troops. So the Unsullied and Dany’s freedman are wildly outnumbered (and that’s before the Volantene navy shows up).

    • David Hunt says:

      I expect that the last of the Gardener Kings thought something very similar.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        Don’t forget the Last Hoare King and the last Storm-King.

        • David Hunt says:

          Yes, but I was trying to evoke the Field of Fire where Aegon’s armies seemed about to get hammered and then he unleashed the dragons and wiped out some ridiculous number of soldiers along with an entire royal line. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the forces attacking Mereen experience something similar

    • His description of Selhorys was pretty vivid, I thought.

      But you have to keep in mind, these cities can’t mobilize most of their population, thanks to slavery.

  8. Amestria says:

    Are the disputed lands permanently unfertile or just unfertile for the time being? Constant war makes it hard for things to grow…

    • See, that’s the thing that doesn’t make sense. Sure, you’d expect fallow land. But a premodern war shouldn’t damage the soil absent a full-bore salting of the fields.

      But…burning stuff is actually good for fertility. Adds more carbon to the soil.

      Likewise, dead bodies are fairly good for fertilizer. Look at Flanders fields now vs. 100 years ago.

      • Amestria says:

        Maybe the disputed lands are desert in the same way as “they make a desert and call it peace.” Devoid of inhabitants and completely uncultivated?

        Alternatively, I notice that the disputed lands and the Ghris lands are at the same longitude and the Ghris lands haven’t recovered from the dragons either.

        • That’s true. I dunno. I get the poetry of it, but the political side of me just doesn’t cotton to it.

          • Amestria says:

            Seems a good place for mercenary armies to duke it out. That and the Stepstones (although the Stepstones are actually worth something). There is a certain logic to using an already wasted space as a permanent battlefield.

          • But why bother fighting for it if it isn’t worth anything?

          • Azure Owl says:

            It would be internaly consistent with the rest of the text.

            Yandel refers several times to the Sarnori lands as a “desolation” and “the Great Desolation”, but we know those lands arent actually arid wasteland, just completely devoid of any cultivation or civilization whatsoever.

            Using similar language to refer to the Disputed Lands would be understandable.

          • See, that I could get behind. Fertile but undeveloped and fallow makes sense – if you could actually conquer that, you could make a lot of money growing stuff on it.

          • Amestria says:

            Oh, and the disputed lands are also at the lame longitude as Dorne, which also has not recovered from its dragon wars. In addition, they are at the same longitude as the Red Wastes and demon road, just just goes to show there are a lot of partly man made deserts at this point of the map (in the Red Wastes case, Dothraki rather then dragonfire). So the disputed lands are just one of many ecologically vulnerable areas in this part of the world permanently damaged by dragonfire/war and soil degradation. So its very consistent.

          • That’s true, but you’ll note that all the maps show the Disputed lands as a light greenish tinge, whereas Dorne is sage, and the Red Wastes are well, red.

            Normally green indicates land with a decent amount of rainfall.

          • Specialist290 says:

            “But why bother fighting for it if it isn’t worth anything?”

            Reading between the lines, I got the impression that part of the reason is that the sellswords are themselves provoking at least some of the conflicts simply to justify their own existence.

        • Amestria says:

          Status and prestige?

          Do the disputed lands have coves and harbors that can be used for piracy? I remember Prince Q.’s ship got attacked by Disputed Land pirates…

  9. Amestria says:

    “Now, I don’t regard the whole Lannister gold/Faceless Men thing as done and dusted”

    What’s this?

  10. huggable says:

    Zhea Zorseface sounds utterly amazing, you know you’ve arrived when you become the bogeyman a nation tells its kids about to scare them. And the moonsingers seem to have their fingers in a few pies in Essos, the Jogos Nhai sound a lot more interesting than the Dothraki.

  11. zonaria says:

    I wonder where the persistent Qohor/Harrenhal links are going to take us?

  12. Abbey Battle says:

    OTHER LANDS
    -The Lorathi coin actually makes a lot of sense if one assumes that, being utterly in the shadow of Braavos in terms of population and economy, Lorath tends to use Braavosi coinage more often than not and mints its own money mostly as prestige pieces (to remind the World that, Braavosi satellite or no Lorath is still a Free City in its own right); therefore the emphasis would be on pattern rather than practicality.

    THE FREE CITIES
    -It strikes me that comparing The Free Cities with The Seven Kingdoms is rather like comparing Western Europe with Czarist Russia; the former is infinitely more sophisticated fiscally and politically, but the latter while rude and rather rugged is also HUGE, as well as blessed with raw materials in some abundance.

    Consider that so far as we know there might well be no single political unit in Essos bigger than Westeros outside Yi Ti; for all that Braavos might well be able to buy or sell the Seven Kingdoms, it seems unlikely any single Free City possesses the manpower and raw muscle to challenge the Sunset Kingdoms – even the Three Daughters (the largest political unit in the Free Cities since the Freehold) seem to have been very careful about provoking a conflict with the Seven Kingdoms.

    Although Viserys the First also seems to have been less than keen to confront his neighbours across the Narrow Sea, despite provocation.

    LORATH
    -It really is hard to avoid the conviction that Lorath is Braavos satellite as much as it is a polity in its own right; one has to wonder if it’s rather undeveloped economy is due in part to the Hidden Cities desire that it’s nearest neighbour never develop to the point where it might challenge Braavos for control of the Northern trade routes.

    Either that or perhaps Braavos has simply beaten Lorath to the punch so often that the latter is too punch-drunk to do anything but lie back in the gutter looking up at the stars.

    -My dear Maester Steven let’s be honest; THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE is Lovecraft all the way! (mind you so were some of Robert E. Howard’s stories).

    -Having been obliged to endure Lorath, dragon fire might be said to have come as just something of a relief …

    -It’s possible Lorath HAD an Archon, but that they got rid of the position at some point in their constitutional history (being a bit TOO regal and therefore prone to inspire tyranny … and envy).

    -Smart money says that ‘Magister’ is a title grounded in wealth, lineage AND general status in proportions varying by the individual magister.

    NORVOS
    -Given that Valyrian Theology seems to have revolved around self-worship, religious plurality and amiable disdain for sincerity, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the ferociously monotheistic Manichean zealotry of the Red Faith would be less than impressed.

    No wonder they did their best to blow up the Lands of the Long Summer!

    -It’s amusing to note that while Lorath got the maze, Norvos got the Labrys; one has to wonder which of the Free Cities is currently host to the Minotaur?

    -I really hope that the anecdote about the louche lupine lounge of Norvos is fabricated (or perhaps some Stark escaped Winterfell and headed off to make a name for himself in Essossi pornographic floor shows?).

    QOHOR
    -Given that this is Qohor of the Lovecraftian overtones and abiding habit of blood sacrifice, it’s quite probable that they stay close to Norvos because … well it’s not as if you can move a CITY very far … but also because no one else would touch the Black Goat with a poleaxe!

    -By the way readers just remember NEVER wave at Lovecraftian monstrosities; it only encourages them and y’know, TENTACLES.

    THE THREE DAUGHTERS
    -Maester Steven, it’s quite probable that the Disputed Lands remain fertile but that decades of endemic warfare has rather reduced the potential for displays of that fecundity to nothing, along with the farms, orchards and vines.

    -I will repeat my suspicion that Braavos is Anti-Slavery, but prefers to avoid campaigning against the institution for fear that they’ll be obliged to spend more time campaigning in the field (or across the waves) than making money; I’m not questioning their sincerity, merely pointing out that popular enthusiasm may not be matched by the political will to push start a war (or worse yet a series of wars) over a point of principle.

    It’s also not impossible that a threat to one of the Three Daughters from an outsider might be one of the only things that could bring the former Triarchy together again (if only for a War), given old grudges against Braavos dating from the fall of the original Kingdom of the Three Daughters.

    -Given that Lys, Myr and Tyrosh share a historical antipathy towards Volantis (having suffered her attentions during the Century of Blood) I’m not really surprised that the Three Daughters aren’t exactly keen to do their old would-be overlord a favour …

    -LYS: To be honest I suspect that a majority of Aegon the Dragon’s starting force at the dawn of His Conquest was drawn from the Free Cities and given Lord Aegon burned a Tiger Fleet in the waters off Lys it wouldn’t surprise me if there were a significant Lyseni minority in that assembly.

    I would also like to point out that during the reign of Aegon the Third the Targaryens DID import Lyseni (courtesy of Prince Viserys and the Rogare Bank), the problem is that this importation seems to have rather caused more problems than they solved ‘The Lyseni Spring’ et al.

    It’s not impossible that Aegon wanted to avoid importing Essosi in order to ensure that while he would be seen as a Conqueror, he would not be seen as a FOREIGN conqueror.

    MYR: Would the Myrish also boast a certain amount of Rhoynish blood? I remember reading that some of Nymeria’s followers turned back for the Free Cities rather than continue to hazard themselves in a series of progressively less pleasant colonial foundations.

    -I wonder if the Black Swan ever ran into the Princess Saera? (that daughter of King Jaehaerys who ran away from one kind of nunnery to run one of the less reputable sort).

    -Given the mutual antipathy between Braavos and Pentos, it’s not surprising that they declined to go into partnership and preferred to pursue their mutual rivalry; as England and France tend to prove, why let a successful working relationship get in the way of a fine old feud?

    -To be precise Daeron the Young Dragon intended to wed one his own sisters to the Sealord of that time, rather than wed one of the Braavosi himself; same political result, slightly different method!

    PENTOS
    -I wonder if Argilac the Arrogant was able to spin his support for Pentos as some sort of Grand Andal Adventure to Avenge themselves on the self-proclaimed heir of the Freehold that had driven Hugor of the Hill out of the Motherland?

    It would explain why he was able to cross the Narrow Sea with complete confidence, despite his multiplicity of enemies, especially if he could win the support of the High Septon.

    OLD VOLANTIS
    -I agree that you couldn’t get a more obvious manifestation of Elitism and Exclusionism than the Black Walls if you tried, but I’d argue that the Long Bridge is more a symbol of Noblesse Oblige than anything (a recognition that you can’t ignore the other half forever and a day).

    -Triarch Honorro seem to me to be more Caesar than Sulla; after all Sulla Felix died of old age even after his entirely-succesful assumption of Absolute Power – as opposed to Caesar the Dictator, who perished after his unconstitutional ambitions grew too vast to conceal beneath the fig leaf of constitutional legitimacy.

    Somewhat impressively his demise appears to have somehow been even messier than being pulled apart by elephants …

    BEYOND THE FREE CITIES
    -To be fair the Malay Archipelago isn’t much larger than the Summer Islands seem to be, yet they boast Crocodiles, tigers, rhinos etc (and remember that having been bred on islands, these species are likely to be rather smaller than their mainland counterparts owing to natural selection over time).

    -I’ll not here that feathered cloaks are a part of traditional Polynesian material culture too; I myself am also reminded of the Spice Islands (Borneo, Java, Sumatra etc) to boot!

    For some reason I imagine the Summer Islanders as specifically Malagasy rather than generally African.

    -It’s interesting to note that the Storm-Lands were home to some ‘talking trees’ of their own, back in the days of the First Men; an interesting incident of parallel evolution, given that the Summer Islanders and Storm-Landers didn’t really put to sea until much later.

    -I’d guess Planky Town is a place swan ships pass through on the way to richer destinations; from what we can gather Dorne is too sparsely-populated and too poor to make a journey there particularly attractive.

    Also why the heck would you want to go from a tropical paradise to a DESERT?

    -I’d argue that the Island of Women is Rhoynish by descent, but that after a thousand years or so they’re probably closer to the Summer Islanders in culture than anything else (the melting pot at work, as it were).

    -One quibble I have is with the art in the Summer Islanders section; I’m not very keen on the rendition of the Swan Ship that they use (for it seems a bit … clunky) and it seemed curious that the temple depicted was stone, rather than wood (given that the Summer Islands are famous for their timbers and their ship-building skills, would they not tend to work in wood?).

    BASILISK ISLES
    -Comparing Port Royal or Nassau to the Basilisk Isles would be an insult to the Caribbean!

    -I suspect that visitors to Skull Island are just relieved that King Kong hasn’t shown up yet!

    SOTHORYOS
    -Is a very good place to avoid; no wonder the Summer Islanders haven’t tried settling anywhere in this green hell!

    THE SHIVERING SEA
    -Maester Steven, I believe that the battle between Braavos and the last great fleet of the Sarnori mentioned in this section would tend to indicate that it was the latter who were responsible for that attack on the former during the Century of Blood; a distraction in the North would explain why Braavos took so long to react to the Volantene conquests and the failure of this great concerted effort would explain why the Tall Men proved so reluctant to work together against the Dothraki, even in the face of a horde of screamers.

    After all Volantis was a long way away and Pentos was busy keeping helping Tyrosh to keep The Tigers at bay (although it’d not impossible that Pentos and Braavos spent part of The Century beating on one another while Volantis took Lys and Myr).

    That will do me for tonight; if anything amusing or interesting occurs to me, I shall post it but I fear that I may have reached my limit on this topic until I re-read the appropriate sections!

    Stay Well Maester Steven!

    • Other Lands:

      – ok, I could see that.

      Free Cities:

      – Well, keep in mind that the Wars of the Roses and the Italian Renaissance was going on at the same time, historically, so maybe more like that.

      – the thing that holds me back is the numbers issue. Given the sheer size of Essosi cities, they should be able to mobilize some big armies if they had a mind to. Maybe it’s the impact of slavery?

      Lorath:

      – they also have taken a bunch of punches from Ib.

      – probably right about magister. It’s just annoyinigly vague.

      Norvos:

      – Yeah, that was a weird detail.

      Three Daughters:

      – I prefer fertile and untilled to still blasted, just doesn’t make sense.

      – The text says Braavos frequently fights wars over slavery, tho.

      – a Rhoynish element in Myr would make sense. It’s just not there.

      Beyond the Free Cities:

      – Not being as up on my Malyasia, I’ll defer to you.

      – Dorne doesn’t strike me as poor, just specialized.

      – and the desert can’t be too bad, if they can grow citrus fruits.

      Shivering Sea:

      – I missed that mention about the Sarnori.

      • Tom says:

        Damn, someone got in first. Yeah the entirety of the south Asian islands, not just Malaysia, are some of the most biodiverse on the planet with a lot of big mammals. Plus, summer islands seem decently sized still.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        It occurs to me that one of the major reasons the Free Cities don’t really throw up huge armies is that their traditions are more commercial than military (especially when compared with Feudal Westeros); over in Essos the profession of arms is a means to an end (political or economic) rather than a worthy end in itself.

        Hence the disdain for the Warlike Westerosi and the bad habit of relying upon paid mercenaries to make on your behalf, rather than ensuring that your citizens can fight for themselves – I wonder if this attitude dates from the days of the Freehold, where I suspect that the Dragon-Lords preferred to keep their subjects dependent upon them for self-defence so that the ‘colonials’ could keep feeding the Fires of the Freehold most richly.

        • Amestria says:

          Well, in all fairness all the Free Cities actually have pretty significant standing armies. Even disarmed Pentos has a large “city guard” of several thousand. Braavos has its arsenal. Volantis has its slave soldier Tiger Guard. Qohor has its city guard of Unsullied (specifically because sellswords could not be trusted to defend them against the Dothraki). These standing armies are contrasted with Westerosi feudal levees. I’m inclined to think that after the Century of Blood mercenaries have sufficed for the standard territorial disputes between the cities and its all the big conflicts (the unification of the three daughters, the Braavosi-Pentosi wars) that the main armies have been used. And of course in the slave cities the pool of volunteers/draftees is extremely limited because so many people are slaves. As Braavos doesn’t have any slavery every citizen of military age could potentially be called up in the event of a war (and the arsenal could supply them all with ships and weapons). That means the Braavosi could actually produce some pretty large armies if they ever wanted too.

          • I think the mercenary thing also has to do with the attitudes of the cities involved. It’s way easier to outsource the messy and expensive land war to professionals while keeping the fun and profitable privateering to yourself.

  13. Andrew says:

    1. Does the Tattered Prince give off a Francesco Sforza vibe, a mercenary general who makes himself the ruling monarch of a city-state? I think the Tattered Prince’s actions would be similar to Sforza’s. I wouldn’t be surprised if he spears the heads of the magisters to his gate.

    2. Viserys II was a prince who chose to marry a girl from the Free Cities who gave him two sons and a daughter, but didn’t fit in and eventually left him. Now we know where Doran gets it from.

    3. The Basilisk Isles corsairs also seems to share some parallels with the Barbary corsairs, especially in their involvement in the slave trade.

    4. Asshai gives off a Mordor vibe: a perpetually overcast volcanic wasteland where nothing edible grows. It does kind of feel like Rapture from the VG BioShock. I shouldn’t be surprised no kids live there. Who in the right mind would want to raise their children there?

    • 1. Maybe, yeah.

      2. Good comparison!

      3. Yes, good call.

      4. Or Melibone.

      • Abbey Battle says:

        As I understand it, Prince Viserys wasn’t given much of a choice over his marriage; he was underage (even by Westerosi standards) and at the mercy of his captors when it was made – I continue to believe that Lady Larra Rogare was intended to be his handler, as much as his spouse.

  14. TakatoGuil says:

    I expect that Lorath was richer before the fall of Sarnor, as it seems like a good spot to get fresh supplies for anyone taking a naval route. But once all of those cities were gone, Lorath’s economic relevance dwindled; Ib, Omber, and N’ghai are all the civilized lands left beyond it and each is significantly distant. Braavos probably felt this hit a little too, but it would be bolstered by trade with Westeros.

  15. Amestria says:

    “Whoa…“they will say only that a city has stood here since the world began and will stand here until it ends.””

    Oh, something of a connection with the Wall. A great structure whose origins lay back in mythic days and whose surroundings are magical.

    “Everything’s made of the greasy black stone…not a good sign.
    Good god, the size of the place.
    And almost no one lives there. And no children. Another bad sign.
    No water, no food. But gold and gems….this is not right.
    Ok, they’ve got all kind of magic and no regulations whatsoever. That’s going to end badly.
    This whole area feels like a zero point for evil.”

    I don’t know, it makes a lot of sense to do all your scary black magic in some uninhabited, cursed deathscape as opposed to the middle of civilization, especially post-Valyaria.

    btw, have you considered that Asshai might be subject to a lot of exaggeration? Like, its this scary ancient city in the Shadow Lands (!) where all kinds of sorcerers go to do sorcerer stuff. There is going to be a lot of dark tales about it.

    • Brett says:

      Marwyn supposedly went there, but even Yandel admits that his knowledge of the place is just traveler’s tales and the like. The whole “Shadow is a narrow canyon with the caves haunted by demons and dragons” definitely sounds like tall tales, or at least exaggerated (although I’d love to see what Stygai in the heart of the Shadow is like).

      Actually, what Asshai really seems proof for is Barth’s “ancient civilization of shadowland people”. If Asshai is both super-ancient and obviously was once much, much larger than it actually is in terms of population, then it might be a piece of the puzzle.

      • Andrew says:

        I think the caves of demons and dragons is exaggerated as well, much like the cannibalism of the Skagosi.

        I’d like to see Stygai as well (hopefully we get more info about Asshai from Melisandre). I wonder what the city lives off of with the port where foodstuffs comes in is so far away? Are there edible crops adapted to the climate of the Shadow, or are there lands close by not affected that supply food?

        • I don’t think it is an exaggeration; GRRM prefers the legend to the pedestrian reality.

          As for the Asshai, I’m not so sure they’re normal mortal humans.

          • Andrew says:

            I don’t think demons just animals with ugly shapes like statues Dany sees in VD coming from Asshai. I don’t think there is anything in ASOIAF that can be called inherently evil when it comes to animals.

            Fruit are said to grow in Asshai. The Asshai’i could likely just adapted to their environment like the sea nomads in the Pacific and the Sherpa in the Himalayas, and countless other peoples.

          • Amestria says:

            In Asshai they believe Castely Rock is a palace made of gold. Now, Castely Rock was created out of a former gold mine and there are veins of gold in the rock walls and its owners probably have lots of golden decorations, but its not literally a golden palace. Exaggeration and tales can go both ways and if the wealth of the Lannisters is exaggerated in Asshai then the darker aspects of Asshai are probably exaggerated in Westeros.

  16. Amestria says:

    I think the ‘Red Death’ is a reference to Poe’s ‘Masque of the Red Death’ rather then to Ebola.

    • Abbey Battle says:

      Great minds think alike – I have to admit that “Edgar Allen Poe!” was the first thing that passed through my mind upon seeing that particular disease made mention of.

  17. ad says:

    the Arsenal and the wall of ships; echoes of Athens and Venice there. Braavos has naval mass production; imagine what they could do if they applied the same process to commercial goods…

    IIRC Athens and Venice had “mass production” of galleys. And the Romans. Probably everyone who biult galleys, in fact.

    Now, how was that supposed to help them “mass produce”, for example, cloth? Or clothes? Or whatever else you fancy?

    Mass production is today about making machines out of interchangable parts. To do that you need a) machines to make, b) the ability to easily produce parts to inhuman precision.

    Planetos hasn’t got to a), let alone b).

    • Mmmm…mass production in the sense of interchangeable parts, allowing for an assembly line? Yes, Venice absolutely had that – so does Braavos. Athens and Rome, I have not heard of.

      But you don’t actually need A. to do interchangeable parts – that’s all about measurement, standardization, and quality control. The Chinese were using assembly lines with interchangeable parts to make crossbows and pottery back in 200 BC.

      • ad says:

        I have to admit that I have not actually read this book yet, so it is possible I am misunderstanding you in some way. I got the impression from your comment – “imagine what they could do if they applied the same process to commercial goods…” – that you are thinking of Braavos as being close to something like the Industrial Revolution, or something similarly dramatic.

        If I am misunderstanding something, I apologise.

        But it doesn’t seem like Braavos has anything that medieval Venice or ancient China did not also have. And they didn’t have an Industrial Revolution, so I don’t see why Braavos should have one.

        The necessities of life are food, clothing and shelter, and only one of those is manufactured. That is why the actual Industrial Revolution was so heavily into textiles. And of course, they started using steam engines as a power source. Building lots of galleys does not bring you closer to either of those.

        Assembly line techniques are useful for making mechanical devices like sewing machines, internal combustion engines and cars in large numbers – but only if you can already produce them in small numbers. I don’t think Planetos could build things with that degree of precision in any numbers. We certainly couldn’t do it until long after the Industrial Revolution had got going and there had been a lot of advances in metallurgy. Again, galleys don’t bring you any closer to that.

        I’m sure Braavos can produce more galleys than it can man – but so could Athens. It helped them build an empire, not become the workshop of the world.

        I’m sure Braavos could produce a lot of pottery, too. But you tell me ancient China could, too, and that didn’t change the world either.

        • Just because you didn’t get an Industrial Revolution in Venice or China doesn’t mean that you couldn’t have – history has many points of contingency. The steam engine dates back to the 1st century AD, but it took 1700-odd years to get from that to the Newcomen engine, and it had much more to do with social organization of labor than metallurgy.

          Braavos has both assembly-line division of labor, which is a huge advance in productivity, and interchangeable parts, which suggests a high degree of precision in measurement and quality control. This potentially allows for a large degree of mass production in a number of consumer goods areas, even without steam engines. A huge amount of “industrialized” production of textiles, shoemaking, firearms manufacture, and locksmithing, was carried out through the putting-out system through to the mid-19th century, at the same time that you also had giant steam-engine driven factories.

          So yeah, Braavos could potentially revolutionize manufacturing, if they think to transfer the same ideas about how to organize production from shipbuilding to other industries.

          • ad says:

            Except that you tell me the Chinese had that breakthrough by 200BC. That gave them two thousand years to have the Industrial revolution and it never happened.

            And the Greeks were building galleys in the same manner as the Braavosi around 200BC, and the western world was still waiting for the Industrial Revolution two thousand years later.

            Clearly, it isn’t that big a deal.

            Now, if they had printing with moveable type, I’d be impressed, because that had a dramatic effect quickly, at least in one civilization that we know of.

          • Sigh…The Greeks did not have an Arsenal as the Venetians did. Yes they built a lot of ships, but not the same.

            That the Chinese didn’t start the Industrial Revolution is down to contingency. They very well could have. But when you have millions and millions of peasants for labor, you don’t think of those kinds of applications. Nevertheless, it was enough to put China ahead of the west until the mid-18th century.

            Contingency really really matters. If you don’t understand that, then your understanding of history is always going to be distorted by assuming the inevitability of events.

  18. Andrew says:

    “Inevitably, there are always those who wish to cut that life short to effect some change in policy. Through the centuries the First Swords have fought many famous duels, taken part in a dozen wars, and saved the lives of scores of Sealords, for good and ill.”

    But I doubt the First Swords would be good against poison. The current Sealord is ailing we hear, and people are talking about his potential successor. Could the Sealord have been poisoned by a party who wishes to replace him and effect a change in policy?

    Plenty of hypotheticals. Maybe a faction wants to take a more active involvement in policies to do with Westeros. Maybe it could be the same party that put a hit on Dany’s dragons; you saw how unnerved Tycho was when dragons were mentioned. What’s more the girl who has them is the Mad King’s daughter, rumored to be mad.

    • Who put a hit on Dany’s dragons?

      I think the more likely case is that the Sealord is an old man, as in fact pretty much all of the Doges were.

      • Andrew says:

        Well, I think after Jaqen left Harrenhal he went back to the HoBW. The time in between Harrenhal and Pate’s POV was four months. It takes a combined two months to go from Harrnehal to Braavos and from Braavos to Oldtown. That leaves two months in between, plenty of time to be given a new assignment. I think his assignment was to kill Dany’s dragons. Of course, the FM are trained to kill people not dragons so Jaqen went to Oldtown to get Death of Dragons, the only book mentioned in the undervault at the Citadel, to learn how to effectively kill dragons.

        I think the hit was either by the Yunkai’i who likely had the coin to pay for such a hit, or possibly one of the aspiring Sealords who fear the dragons, especially since they are wielded by girl on a conquering bent.

        • Ok, that’s kind of extensive speculation rather than explicitly grounded evidence. All we know is that Jaqen is sent to Oldtown to steal the book – we don’t yet know why or for whom.

          • Andrew says:

            Why they would want the book? They deal only in the matters of death, and I doubt they want it because they want to start a book club. Death of Dragons in the only book mentioned in the undervault. Jaqen even seems to be violating the principle rule the FM told Arya of only killing their assigned targets not anyone else.

            It must be a big job to be violating that rule. I think killing Dany’s dragons is the reason to get that book. LF said you could by an army just for the death of a merchant. Three dragons would no doubt command an astronomically high price. Dany has no shortage of enemies, and many of them such as the Yunkai’i and Qartheen have the coin to likely pay for such a job. The only other institution I can think of that could afford it, (and possibly get a better deal), is the Iron Bank. Maybe the Iron Bank just wants to make sure the IT pays back the debt, and any would be less inclined to pay the Usurper’s debts, and they have a rep to protect.

          • Andrew says:

            *Dany would be less inclined to pay the Usurper’s debts, and the Iron Bank has a reputation to protect.

          • Again, the FM are not primarily motivated by money.

          • Andrew says:

            I never said they did, but they have a job to do. They charge on a scale. I have yet to see them turn down a “prayer” for someone’s death.

          • That’s true, but the scale is about showing how much a person wants someone to die, how sincere their prayers are.

            And the FM have a long history of opposition to slavery. Why grant the prayers of the Yunkish over the prayers of their slaves?

          • Andrew says:

            Dany ended slavery yet still had a slave army of Unsullied, and she allowed people to sell themselves into slavery. Then she married a member of one of the most prominent slaver families in Meereen, and allows the fighting pits to re-open. It could be argued she sends mixed signals regarding slavery.

            Also, when Tycho close to mentions Dany, he doesn’t talk about her anti-slavery stance, but her dragons, which unnerve him. The dragons receive more attention than her attitudes toward slavery.

        • S. Duff says:

          Have you factored in his assassination of Balon? Harrenhal to Pyke to Oldtown seems like it could take just as long.

          • Andrew says:

            Then how would Jaqen be given his new assignment? He was in Westeros before the dragons even hatched. The hit on Balon was likely made sometime after his uprising in ACoK, after Jaqen was in Westeros. How would the FM know where he is to give him his assignment for either job?

  19. So, we now have our list of humanoid species of Planetos:
    Confirmed
    -Homo sapiens
    -Children of the Forest
    -Giants
    -Others
    -Ibbenese (agreed on the Neanderthal vibe)
    -Brindled Men (The description says Homo erectus in my mind. Basic speech, tools. But clearly a more distant cousin than the Ibbenese)

    Strong evidence
    -Deep Ones (merilngs?)
    -Another larger species of giants

    Rumored
    -Lizard men
    -Some sort of blind cave dwellers (mole people!!)
    -Winged men

    And it seems like most of these species were trucking along nicely when the sapiens were still mastering sharp rock on a stick technology. Frankly it surprises me that people aren’t tripping over lost cities daily.

    Also, only two brief mentions of the faraway continent of Ulthos. The map I got from B&N a couple months ago has it way down in the bottom right corner, just across from Asshai, with a dark grey jungle. I am going to bet 1,000 Internet Points that in some future Planetos short story, GRRM will reveal this to be a pleasant yet dull region.

  20. Kuruharan says:

    Better late than never.

    As I said in the other thread, I found this chapter disappointing. I thought the omissions and some of the things focused on to be rather strange.

    I thought the focus on Lorath, while interesting in itself, a bit odd when compared to the relative lack of information on Lys, Tyrosh, and especially Myr.

    There is nothing about Lhazar that I saw.

    I can understand a lack of information about Qarth to some extent since we saw it in the books (although to some extent that excuse doesn’t hold water because we’ve spent so much time in Westeros and that is still the focus of the book). However, there are some basic questions about Qarth that the book raises and doesn’t provide any kind of answers. First, it says that Qarth is the last remaining city of the Qaathi in the world. That brings up the question of who founded Port Yhos or Qarkash which are on the same coast as Qarth. Also, how much, if any, of Great Moraq does Qarth control? How much of Qal?

    I found it very frustrating.

    “What happened to the Archonate of Lys? Didn’t they pay good money for the right to elect one?
    Mystery solved! Archons are elected, but not by popular vote. So…mercantile oligarchical republics”

    I don’t think Lys has archons at all. The way that Lys and Myr were described distinctly from the archon system of Tyrosh points to that conclusion. Also, Lysandro the Magnificent titled himself “First Magister for Life” which may mean the head of state in Lys is titled “First Magister.” The Lorenzo the Magnificent parallel might be indicative of a similar government structure to the Republic of Florence, which may go part way to explaining why Lys and Myr struggle so much to make anything out of themselves. The government of the Republic of Florence did not have much to recommend it.

    It is almost impossible to make inferences about Myr as we are told so little about it. The association with Lys in the government description is all we have to go on.

    We are told nothing about the government of Qohor either, the only thing we could infer is that it is similar to Norvos, but even that is based on an assumption.

    Again, very frustrating, especially given that these are cities comparatively close to Westeros and that some of interact with Westeros quite frequently.

  21. lewis says:

    While looking at the map of Essos, it occurs to me the part of the map around the Jade Sea looks a lot like a map of Michael Moorcock’s Elric’s world; the Young Kingdoms. If you squint your eyes, Leng looks like Pang Tang and the Manticore Isles look like a devastated Melnibone. The events of “The Blood Betrayal” in Yi Ti could be construed as Yrkroon’s seizure of power in Melnibone, the ‘End of the Great Empire of the Dawn’ is the ‘End of The Bright Empire’, or ‘Melnibone’ in Moorcock’s books.

    Add to this the similarities of the Thousand Islands to Earthsea; The Great Sand Sea and the Patriarchy of Hyrkroon to The Sea of Vilayet and Hyrkania in the Conan books; and all the Cthulu Mythos places in the east. It begins to look like GRR Martin is attempting a grand synthesis of fantasy worlds, in the same way that Lovecraft and others tied their stories to those of earlier writers.

    I also have a crazy theory for how Middle Earth ties into this. Basically, Arnor = Sarnor. Dunedain = Tall Men. A kingdom which struggles with civil war after the fall of the great empire (Numenor/Valyria), is divided when the hordes from the east arrive

    • Andrew says:

      I saw the Arnor=Sarnor parallel as well. There is also the Cymmeri to add to the Conan reference.

      The Basilisk Isles also have a bit of the corsairs of Umbar of LOTR given they descended into a cesspit drawing brigands and outlaws after the fall of Vakyria like Umbar did after Nimernor’s fall.

      • lewiswarburton says:

        More Conan references; The ‘Red Waste’ in Hyboria is situated to the south-west of the Sea of Vilayet, just as the Red Waste in Essos is situated to the south-west of the Great Sand Sea.

        Your comparison between the Basilisk Isles and Umbar is well made, I think. The region around Sothyros also reminds of the map of Fritz Lieber’s Nehwon , Zamettar in particular gets me thinking of Lankhmar.

  22. Andrew says:

    1. Given what we know of warfare on the Summer Isles. When Jalabhar Xho asked for aid did he mean a traditional Westerosi army fighting their way as we know it, or a few warriors to challenge one-on-one the warriors of the ones who kicked him out? If it is the former, he clearly didn’t see the consequences it would have on the Summer Isles in changing the state of warfare.

    2. The Bloodstone’s Church of Starry Wisdom has a sinister reputation. I wonder why.

    3. Eldric Shadowchaser another name for the one who wielded Lightbringer against the forces of darkness. A reference to Elric of Melnibone and Stormbringer against the forces of Chaos.

    4. The Rogares married into both House Martell and House Targaryen, so the Targaryens and Martells were already related by the time Daeron married Mariya. I bet the two Rogare brothers likely were whacked as well by FM as well by their main rival, the Iron Bank.

    • 1. Yeah, that’s a good point.

      2. Because they’re cultists of Nyarlthotep?

      3. Yep.

      4. I don’t think that connection lasted, given the way the Rogares got whacked.

      • Andrew says:

        5. Asshai’s power is pretty much mercantile not military with a population the size of a “good-sized market town.” If one wanted to wage war on the city, you could win without a fight just by launching a naval blockade preventing any foodstuffs from entering the city until it starved. Otherwise, if one tried to invade there would be no fields or forests to forage off of, so they would have to bring their own food and that is without mentioning the many sorcerers who could kill off your commanders.

        6. What kind of government does Asshai have? That isn’t mentioned. Is it basically that nothing is forbidden because there is no formal government in the city or Ayn Randian paradise? That would be another reason why it couldn’t wage war, no central authority.

        7. The Summer Islanders use magic to harden their wood (no pun intended) for their ships. Rams cracked and splintered against the sides of the ships with magicked wood. I wonder if anyone has thought about using that for castle or fortress gates? Ram-proof gates would definitely be useful for any fortress in event of an assault.

        • 5. With that many sorcerers in one place, I would be hesitant to say that their power is only merchantile. Also, ships are ships.

          6. Mageocracy?

          7. They probably would keep that to themselves.

  23. The Myrish Lens Crofter says:

    The arsenal of Braavos seems to be modeled off the grand shipyard of Carthage. Oddly, it has no Wikipedia page devoted to it.

    I wonder if the Shivering Sea freezes over by the Thousand Islands during the long nights, creating a land bridge for the others to cross over into Essos. It fits the geography of the five forts and why the thousand islanders fear the ocean.

  24. drevney says:

    Carcosa, the home of the yellow emperor…spooky.

    This must be related to the Carcosa of ‘True Detective’ & the Yellow King.

  25. AzureOwl says:

    The Kingdom of Omber manages to survive by being cowards. Smart tho.

    Ever since I read the entry on the book about Omber, I can’t shake the feeling that there’s more to it.

    Look at the composition of the tribute they pay to the Dothraki: gems, girls… and grain. The first two make sense as tribute to a nomadic people, but grain as tribute seems like an awfully bulky and inconvenient thing to give to people who are constantly on the move.

    This got me thinking that a possible reason for the Dothraki to be accepting payment in grain is related to the wonky weather in Planetos. With winters that can last years, relying on animal products for your winter stores could lead to catastrophe.

    So the yearly Omberi grain tribute probably makes up an important part of the Dothraki winter reserves that the horselords can’t produce themselves because of their religious scruples about farming.

    The Kingdom of Omber probably survives because the Dothraki need them, as much as because of their cowardice.

    • ad says:

      Nomads need to eat too. Man does not live on horseflesh alone – at least not if he wants to avoid scurvy.

      Thinking about Khodarkovsky’s Russia’s Steppe Frontier, it was very hard to tell if a group of nomads was extorting protection money from the Russians, or if the Russians were paying them to guard the frontiers. I’m told that even Genghis Khan, at one stage in his career, was made a “bandit suppression commissioner” by the Chinese.

  26. Keith says:

    Hi there, I’m new to the comment section here but I’ve enjoyed reading your essays and analyses, along with your chapter by chapter coverage of the book series. I only have one question for you in regards to your coverage of the World of Ice and Fire. In mentioning the Brindled Men of Sothoryos, you mentioned references/comparisons to Robert E. Howard and his ideas about the relationship between men and apes. What ideas are you referring to exactly? I can’t seem to locate anything on this topic (his ideas), so I was hoping you could kindly shed light on what you were discussing there. Perhaps I’m simply not looking in the right place for all I know….anyways, thanks for all your writings, they’ve been a real treat to read! Keep up the good work!

  27. […] event was a major turning point in Essosi history for many reasons. First, it stopped the advance of the Dothraki, so the Free Cities of the western […]

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