East: the strangest places in Game of Thrones?
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East: the strangest places in Game of Thrones?

August 25, 2019

Most of Game of Thrones happens in Westeros
– home to the Starks and Lannisters, the Wall and the Iron Throne. But Daenerys’
story starts in the eastern continent of Essos – with the Dothraki Sea, and Slaver’s
Bay. We also see Braavos, Pentos, Volantis, Valyria in the show, and Qarth. But the world
of Game of Thrones is far bigger than we see in the series. The worldbook describes far
distant cities and kingdoms, with their own cultures, histories, and mysteries. Some of
the strangest places are in the far east of Essos, and in the southern continent of Sothoryos.
Sothoryos is full of jungle, ruined cities, and mystery. No one knows how big it is. A
dragonrider once spent three years flying over the continent, but she never found its
southern border – said it’s “a land without end” . Colonies on Sothoryos have
all failed , and treasure-hunters don’t return . Cause the jungles are full of disease
– blood boils, sweetrot, wormbone, Red Death . Archmaester Ebrose says that disease kills
half of all Westerosi visitors . And those who survive the sickness are often killed
by the wildlife. There are “Huge crocodiles”, “carnivorous fish”, snakes, and basilisks,
and apes so huge they can kill elephants with one punch . The only animal that isn’t deadly
is the purple-eyed lemur, called the Little Valyrian . Further south, in the Green Hell
regions, are said to be vampire bats that can drain a man of blood, and tattooed lizards
with claws on their legs , like some kinda dinosaurs. “Most terrible of all are the
wyverns”, which are similar to dragons. They don’t breathe fire, but they’re angrier
to make up for it . Some kinds hunt in packs of a hundred , or use stealthy black scales
to sneak crit their prey . And if somehow you survive the wildlife and the disease,
there are slavers prowling the coast . And there are the native Sothoryi, called Brindled
Men. They’re hairy, big-boned, “massively muscled” “creatures”, with noses like
snouts, and thick skin like a hog, coloured white and brown – Brindled Men can’t reproduce
with other humans . The Brindled Men near the coast have learned to speak the local
“trade talk”. But the Men further south are said to be “savage” cannibals, who
worship dark gods . It’s said there were once lizard men, and eyeless cave-dwellers
– old races who were destroyed or devoured by the Brindled Men . But the greatest mystery
of Sothoryos is Yeen. Yeen is a ruined city, “older than time” and built from massive
blocks of “oily black stone”. No trees or vines touch it – it’s “A city so
evil that even the jungle will not enter” . When Princess Nymeria tried to settle some
Rhoynar in Yeen, the entire population “vanished overnight” .
So that’s Sothoryos. Off its western coast are the Basilisk Isles – “the festering
sore of the Summer Sea”. Hot and humid, the Isles swarm “with stinging flies, sand
fleas, and bloodworms” . Old Valyria used an isle as a penal colony for their “worst
criminals”. In their city of Gogossos, Valyrian “torturers devised new torments”, and
practiced “blood sorcery”, mating “beasts” “to slave women” to birth “twisted half-human
children” . It’s actually crazy how often “half-human children” are mentioned in
the books . It’s possible that ancient inter-species breeding is what gives Targaryens their dragon
magic, and the Starks their warging powers. It’s also possible that some of these twisted
monsters on Sothoryos might have been created by Valyrian blood magic. There’s some weird
shit in the books. Anyway, after the Doom, Gogossos grew “rich and powerful” on slavery
and sorcery , until it was wiped out in a plague . Eventually, people returned – and
the Isles are now home to pirates, in towns with names like “Sty”, “Whore’s Gash”
and “Black Pudding” . They have charming local customs, like piling the skulls of their
enemies on an island “as an offering to some dark god” . Occasionally, the Free
Cities come to wipe out the pirates, but the pirates always come back. One time, a captain
called Saathos Saan was sent to destroy the pirates, and instead he became a pirate king
who ruled for thirty years . Saathos Saan is an ancestor of Davos’ friend Salladhor
Saan. Also, in Book 5, Barristan Selmy trains a boy from the Basilisk Isles, called Tumco
Lho – and Barristan says he’s “the best natural swordsman” he’d seen “since
Jaime Lannister” , which is high praise. One of the Basilisk Isles features an “ancient
idol” of a “gigantic toad” of “malignant aspect”. The statue is forty feet high,
and carved of “greasy black stone”. The people of Toad Isle have “an unpleasant
fishlike aspect to their faces, and many have webbed hands and feet” . So like Yeen, this
is a reference to H. P. Lovecraft, who wrote about strange fishy people worshipping strange
fishy gods. These “black stone” structures are scattered all over the world of Thrones,
and it’s hinted that they were built by a Lovecraftian fish people called the “Deep
Ones” – whose descendants apparently still live on the Toad Isle. So in conclusion, the
worldbook says, the Basilisk Isles are “best avoided” .
Thousands of years ago, in the grasslands of Essos, the first civilisations began . Legend
says that a Silver Sea was ruled by Fisher Queens from a floating palace . There were
savage Hairy Men who rode to battle on unicorns , and a city of Lyber where “acolytes of
a spider goddess” warred against those of “a serpent god” . It’s said there was
a kingdom of centaurs – who might have actually been “mounted warriors” . These are just
ancient legends, but we do know there was a kingdom called Sarnor. The Sarnori called
themselves Tall Men, and they were “Warriors, sorcerers, and scholars” . They built cities
across the grasslands, with canals, caravans and libraries, worshipping a “hundred gods”
. Sarnori soldiers “wore steel and spider silk”, and rode “scythed chariots” , with
women and men fighting together . Sarnor warred against the Qaathi, and the Dothraki, and
even fought in Valyria’s wars against Ghis . The Sarnori were divided into lots of rival
kingdoms, but traditionally they were ruled by a High King in a wondrous Palace With a
Thousand Rooms . Legend says that the first High King was called Huzhor Amai, which sounds
like Azor Ahai, the hero who ended the Long Night . Many of the cultures of Essos have
their own versions of that story – it’s like how Noah’s ark and the Epic of Gilgamesh
tell different versions of the same flood myth . Sarnor dominated the west grasslands
for thousands of years . But after the Doom of Valyria, the Dothraki united, and attacked
Sarnor in force. City after city fell, and Sarnor was too slow and divided to fight the
threat . They were broken in a final battle called the Field of Crows. Now, their kingdom
lies in ruins, and fewer than twenty thousand Tall Men remain .
North of Essos is a vast ocean called the Shivering Sea. It’s full of fish, crabs,
seals , whales, and leviathans the size of islands . Sailors also describe mermaids,
and “drowned spirits”, and mists that can instantly freeze a whole ship. There are
many reports of ice dragons, “colossal beasts” much bigger than regular dragons. They’re
made of living ice , and breathe cold instead of flame – which might explain the freezing
mists. When ice dragons die, they melt, so no one can prove they exist . In the far north
is an arctic waste where the blizzards never end. Sailors describe strange lights in the
sky, which might be aurora borealis. They are also tales of Cannibal Bay, where ships
enter, then are trapped when the sea freezes behind them . It’s said that “a thousand
ships lie entombed in Cannibal Bay”, “still inhabited by the children and grandchildren
of their original crews”, “who survive by feasting [on] the flesh of sailors newly
caught” . Much of the Shivering Sea is ruled by the people of the island of Ib .
The Ibbenese are short, strong , and hairy , with ridged brows and massive jaws . Ibbenese
can sometimes reproduce with other humans, but the offspring are sterile . So like the
Brindled Men, the Ibbenese might be another species of human – kinda like how Neanderthals
lived alongside homo sapiens in the real world for a while. The Ibbenese are cunning craftsmen,
hunters and warriors who fish the Shivering Sea. Their whaling ships are renowned for
their strength in weathering storms, and taking whales for bone, blubber and oil. The island
of Ib has of dark forests and mountains, full of bears, wolves, and mammoths. Many Ibbenese
live alone in these woods as foresters or miners. But others live in the main Port of
Ibben, in the shadow of the God-King’s castle, a “colossal” ruin that once housed “a
hundred Ibbenese kings” . Under the God-Kings, Ib conquered the forests to the south, which
were inhabited by “a small, shy forest folk” called the Ifequevron, or woods walkers. The
woods walkers are thought to be related to the children of the forest of Westeros – the
woods walkers “carved trees”, like how the children carve weirwoods. But the woods
walkers also built a “settlement” or “City” , which is cool, cause we’ve never seen
a city built by the children in Westeros. The God-Kings are gone now, and Ib’s ruled
by a council of nobles. But the woods walkers are said to still live in the deeper woods,
and will bless a household that leaves offerings of leaf and stone.
East of Ib, we start getting into the really distant lands. Author George Martin warns
us that we’re seeing this world from the perspective of Westerosi maesters, whose information
on distant places might be inaccurate. Distortions and errors creep in – ‘here be dragons’
type stuff. So everything from here on in might be mixed with myth. East of Ib are said
to be the Thousand Islands, a scatter of bleak windswept rocks. They’re inhabited by a
strange hairless people with green skin and teeth filed to sharp points. They’re said
to sacrifice sailors to fish-headed gods , but they’re so afraid of the sea that they won’t
touch the water, “even under threat of death”. Some say the Thousand Islands are “the last
remnants of a drowned kingdom whose towns and towers were submerged” thousands of
years ago . So again, this stuff is straight outta Lovecraft. South of the Thousand Islands
is the port city of Nefer, surrounded by cliffs, and shrouded in fog. Nefer looks like a small
town, but most of the city is hidden underground – so Nefer is called “the Secret City”,
known for necromancy and torture . East of Nefer are the “grim, grey” forests of
Mossovy , a “dark land of shapechangers and demon hunters” . These mysterious lands
are as far east as any Westerosi has been .
Essos is divided by a great mountain range called the Bones, named for the remains of
those who try to cross them . The mountains are riddled with rivers, canyons, vast underground
caverns and sunless seas . There are passes into the mountains – “ancient carved steps”
and “hidden … passages” . But only a few roads lead out of the Bones – the Steel
Road, the Stone Road and the Sand Road . Each of these are guarded by a fortress city – Kayakayanaya,
Samyriana and Bayasabhad. These cities were once outposts of the “kingdom of Hyrkoon”.
But the lakes and rivers of Hyrkoon dried up, reducing the kingdom to ruin . Now, only
these three cities remain, defended by warrior women who believe that only “those who give
birth” are “permitted to take life” . The woman “wear iron rings in their nipples
and rubies in their cheeks”, and are trained in combat from childhood. Most men in these
cities are gelded, and live as eunuchs – only the strongest and handsomest men are allowed
to breed, and to rule the cities , making the Bones a confusing mix of matriarchy and
patriarchy. East of the Bones are the plains of the Jogos
Nhai. These guys are a bit like Dothraki – nomadic mounted warriors roaming across grasslands
. But the Jogos Nhai don’t ride horses – they ride zorses, which in the real world are hybrids
of zebras and horses . The zorses of Game of Thrones are similar, but tend to be tough
and angry . There’s a book character called Vargo Hoat who rides a zorse in Westeros – he
leads the Brave Companions who cut off Jaime Lannister’s hand in Book 3. But the Jogos
Nhai are short and squat, with pointed skulls because they bind their heads when young – which
is actually a thing in the real world . Groups of Jogos Nhai are ruled by a war chief and
a moonsinger. Usually the chiefs are men, and the moonsingers women, but sometimes they
switch roles, and live as the other gender . Because of their religion, the Jogos Nhai
don’t kill other Jogos Nhai. But they constantly wage war on the peoples around them – including
the cities of the Bones. It’s said that the Jogos Nhai wiped out the last of the “stone
giants” , who were “twice as large as the giants of Westeros” , which’d make’m
like 24 feet or seven metres tall. The Jogos also fight Yi Ti – an empire to the south
. Sick of being raided, the YiTish have tried to wipe out the Jogos Nhai, and one time they
got close, under Emperor Lo Bu. But a Jogos warrior woman called Zhea rose up and destroyed
Lo Bu’s armies, claiming the Emperor’s skull as “her drinking cup” .
Yi Ti is “the oldest and greatest of the eastern civilizations” – inspired by imperial
China . A land of hills and plains, jungles and rainforests , it’s said to be so wealthy
that its princes live in houses of solid gold . Its forests are dense, and said to be infested
with basilisks , but a web of stone roads provides safe passage . The cities of Yi Ti
more magnificent than anywhere in Westeros – the current emperor lives in a palace
that’s larger than the entire city of King’s Landing . So Yi Ti is crazy powerful, and
legend says that thousands of years ago, it was even greater. The “Great Empire of the
Dawn” covered most of far east Essos, with riches and armies even greater than the Valyrian
empire . The first emperor of Yi Ti was believed to be a god on earth – son of the Lion of
Night and the Maiden-Made-of-Light. It’s said that this first god-emperor ruled for
ten thousand years of peace, until he ascended to the stars. Yi Ti was then ruled by the
Pearl Emperor, then the Jade, Tourmaline, Onyx, Topaz, and Opal Emperors, each reign
more troubled than the last. Until the Amethyst Empress was killed and usurped by her brother,
the Bloodstone Emperor. He began a reign of terror, practicing necromancy, slavery, cannibalism
and torture. He “took a tiger-woman for his bride”, and worshipped “a black stone
that had fallen from the sky” – which might connect to the black stone on Yeen and
Toad Isle. It’s said that the Bloodstone Emperor caused
the Long Night, when the world went dark and demons attacked. Yi Tish believe that the
Long Night was ended by the hero Azor Ahai . So this seems to be the same story as the
Long Night in Westeros, when white walkers first attacked and were defeated by the last
hero. Yi Ti even has a structure like the Wall – the huge Five Forts protect Yi Ti
from the “demons” of a “freezing desert” . So did white walkers attack Yi Ti? Also,
the story of the Bloodstone Emperor is really similar to the Westerosi story of the Night’s
King. They both marry a monstrous woman, make themselves rulers, and worship dark forces
. These seem to be different cultures’ myths of the same events. So what really happened?
What caused the Long Night? And what ended it? These questions are central to the last
season of Thrones – and the war to prevent a second Long Night. Another mystery is that
the Five Forts are made of “fused black stone”. Different to the Lovecraftian oily
black stone, fused stone was made by Valyrians with dragonflame . But the Five Forts predate
Valyria . So maybe the Great Empire of Yi Ti had dragons of their own. And another place
with ancient fused stone is the Hightower, in Westeros. Did ancient YiTish dragonriders
build the pyramids, I mean the Hightower? We’ll go down that rabbithole in another
video. But check out LuciferMeansLightbringer on YouTube who goes real deep on this stuff.
South of Yi Ti is the island of Leng. Its lush jungles are full of tigers and apes , and
it’s rich in “spices and gemstones” . The people of Leng are some of the tallest
in the world, many reaching seven feet tall – and they have better eyesight than other
humans . For most of its history, Leng was “an isle of mystery”, closed off to the
outside world. The Empress of Leng “was known to have congress with the Old Ones”
– gods who lived in ruined cities deep beneath Leng’s jungles . Sometimes, the Old Ones
told the Empress to execute all the strangers on the island . That stopped when Yi Ti invaded
Leng, and became the dominant people. The ruined cities of the Old Ones were sealed
off. But “Legends persist that the Old Ones still live” in the darkness below. So these
Old Ones are another clear reference to Lovecraft. In fact, Leng is the name of a mysterious
interdimensional plateau in the Lovecraft mythos . Further to the east, there’s also
the city of Carcosa, ruled by a yellow emperor, and K’Dath, “where unspeakable rites are
performed” for “mad gods” . Author George Martin has said that he added these Lovecraft
references basically just to fill out the map – along with places like the City of
the Winged Men, Cities of the Bloodless Men, and Bonetown. So these places are fun worldbuilding,
but probably not important to the story. There is one city, though, that seems central to
the world of ice and fire. Asshai is “Easternmost and southernmost”
– “the end of the known world” . It’s a huge city – bigger than King’s Landing,
Oldtown, Volantis and Qarth combined . And Asshai is built entirely of Lovecraftian “greasy”
“black stone”, making Asshai dark and gloomy even in summer . Though the city is
huge, the population is small. There are no crowds or noisy markets – people walk “masked”
and “veiled” and alone . There are no children in Asshai , and no animals. Apparently,
they can’t survive the foul pollution of the river Ash . The wider area’s called
the Shadow Lands, where glowing ghost grass grows , and “dragons [stir]”. Asshai is
a centre of dark magic, where red priests, bloodmages, necromancers, and night-walkers
practice their terrible spells in the night” . Apparently, magic is stronger in Asshai
, and seekers come from all over the world to learn secrets and magic. Melisandre, Quaithe,
Marwyn and Mirri Maz Duur all study magic in Asshai. Euron Greyjoy claims to have come
and “and seen wonders and terrors beyond imagining” . The masked “shadowbinders”,
like Melisandre and Quaithe, are said to be the “Most sinister of all the sorcerers
of Asshai”. “They alone dare to go” up the Ash deep into the Shadow Lands , where
there’s “demons and dragons and worse”. In “the heart of darkness” lies “Stygai”,
“the City of the Night” , where even “shadowbinders fear to tread” . So this place seems like
a cosmic centre of dark magic in the world. The “heart of darkness” is like an opposite
pole to “the heart of winter” in the north of Westeros . But who built Asshai ? And why
build a giant city out of “oily black stone”? One theory is that the Bloodstone Emperor
built it – cause he worshipped black stone, after all. Or maybe, Asshai used to be normal
stone, but some magical cataclysm like the Long Night transformed it – the polluted
Shadowlands are like the fallout of some disaster, like the Doom of Valyria. Or maybe Asshai
was built by the Lovecraftian Deep Ones – along with the cities beneath Leng, and Yeen and
the toad stone. All these evil places seem interconnected – the darkness of Asshai
runs deep. So the world of Game of Thrones is far bigger
than Westeros. It’s full of exotic creatures, ancient peoples, uncomfortable race undertones,
Lovecraftian horrors, and cosmic mysteries. And these same forces of ice and fire are
playing out in the final season of Thrones. Much of the artwork in this video is from
Unseen Westeros, an exhibition of work by forty Game of Thrones artists. You can see
the exhibition for free in Berlin in January. Or you can get a beautiful artbook on their
Kickstarter. It’s got 80 pieces from Westeros and beyond, many never-before-seen. This is
all non-profit, this isn’t sponsored, just a celebration of the world of Thrones and
of the artists who bring it to life. The Kickstarter is the only way to get the book, and it closes
literally like today, so get it while you can.
The map in this video is by Klaradox, and other artwork’s by drafturgy, Mandy Finke,
Sanrixian, Kevin Catalan, Oriana Wiesner, Matt Olson, and more. Links are below. Most
of the info from this video is from the World of Ice and Fire, you can pick that up on Amazon
to support Alt Shift X at no extra cost to you. Thank you for watching. Please like and
subscribe, and thanks to the Patrons, including Curtis Trotter, Simon Kern, Vijay Ganesh,
and LVE. Cheers.

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  1. The Unseen Westeros Kickstarter succeeded! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1796651505/unseen-westeros-artbook-authorized-by-george-rr-ma

    Most of the info in this video is from The World of Ice and Fire – buy it here: http://amzn.to/2j3Kggt

  2. i think the people of thousand isles dont sacrifice sailor to fish gods,if they are so afraid of the water,why woudl they worship fish gods

  3. This makes Westeros in its entirety look unbelievably boring and depressing. Like some tribe living in isolation

  4. I remember reading a lot of fantasy as a kid and being absolutely enthralled by the world and lore of whatever it was I was reading. I would literally lie awake in bed after visiting the library, and I would imagine myself fighting lizard-men and sailing around islands covered in exotic jungle. When I slept, I prayed that I would dream of these adventures so I could live them out in full every night before school.

    Now that I'm older, it's been a LONG time since I've experienced that same feeling of wonder and mystery that I felt when I was a kid, but this video is the first time in perhaps FIFTEEN YEARS that I felt that familiar feeling stir within me from long ago.

    It's kind of weird, but I want to thank George Martin and your channel for reminding me what it felt like to be a kid again who didn't have to worry about things like jobs, and girls, and money, and for whisking me away to these exotic, untouchable places for 23 minutes and 13 seconds. Maybe I'll dream about it again tonight, just for old time's sake.

  5. I know it's a fantasy world but, a dragon flying at 50 km/h, in a year without stop would go through 432 thousand kilometers, while the whole circunference of Jupiter's equator is approximately 449 thousand kilometers. This planet would have to be bigger than that in order for one to fly over Sothoryos for 3 years without reaching it's end.
    Awesome video by the way.

  6. wait i thought u said it was a vast endless jungle? how come now u showing us all these settlements and people that live there

  7. Ok the fight for the throne is cool and all but can I please get a whole history and geology book for essos?

  8. It's funny how in a lot of fantasies, the places and time periods outside where the main story take place have way weird and crazy stuff.

    Lord of the Rings, Wheel of Time, Warhammer, etc. all have incredibly epic or eerie things taking place before or outside the main story.

  9. damn you gave the last season of GoT way too much credit, wish it could have turned out like this

    (not saying you knew what the season was going to be btw)

  10. isn't possible that Arya stark will survive in the south part of the world because at the end part of season 8 episode 6 arya travelled in the south part of the world

  11. 12:01 The Shrinking Sea….an inland sea in the east beyond a great mountain range slowly shrinking. Now I wonder what that could be a reference to?

  12. How does it feel to have a dying channel now that GoT is over? And is ended where it basically killed any excitement for any ASOIAF? I guess it's time to get a real job.

  13. “City to the East called Carcosa ruled by a yellow emperor…”
    Ummm True Detective anyone? The Yellow King?

  14. The more east you go from the Bone Mountains the more the world starts to look like actual classic fantasy.
    This is why Asoiaf is good material for Dungeons and Dragons.

  15. I wish there was a spin-off involving Asshai, whatever is north of the Shivering Sea…anything. My imagination can only excite me for so long. These places are gold mines to build off of.

  16. It kind of sucks that a world this big with so many books that could be written and tales yet to be told in print was created by someone who takes 8 years to finish a story about 1/16th part of that world.

  17. “Yeen, a city so evil the jungle won’t enter”
    Proceeds to show of a city overflowing with jungle

  18. Like real world, people only care about the part where they lived in and assume that’s the whole world, and yes there were a lot of people who never visited outside of their own country through their life

  19. Wow. Amazing. This is the first motion picture I saw that inspired me to actually go read the books. For some reason, I feel a little scared of what I may find in it.

  20. Wow it’s crazy how much GOT forgot. Can’t believe they never even mentioned Sothoryos. GRRM has an incredible imagination

  21. It would be amazing if they made an animated show about lomas longstrider travelling the asoiaf world.

  22. So your telling me that Cersei was excited to get elephants when there were zorses, wyverns, fricking dinosaur, unicorns, and etc?

  23. THANK YOU 🙏 game of thrones left out the most interesting aspects of the world building 😖😩😠

  24. am i the only one who believes that Game of Thrones is a world that had the internet , submarines, space travel etc but its a post apocalytic

  25. You mean strange places in a song of ice and fire! You know damn well game of thrones world building isn't to the level of the books

  26. There are a lot of similarities ive noticed between the elder scrolls and game of thrones/a song of ice and fire in both there is a western continent that you become farmiliar with quite quickly and a larger mysterious eastern continent which was bareley explored with a million islands and kingdoms inspired by ancient china in it with strange races.

  27. 5 forts: Great Chinese wall
    Ice desert: desert of Gobi
    Jogos Nhai( I'm not sure it's written like this): mongols

  28. Tywin Lannister:I am the richest and most powerful man in the world
    Yi Ti emperor: Hold my Golden Castle)

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