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Essos is often called the East. It is one of four continents in the World. It is located east of Westeros, north of Sothoryos, and south of Ulthos. It stretches from the Shivering Sea to the Summer Sea to the south and the narrow sea to the west to the lands around the Jade Sea to the east, if it’s not further. Essos is home to many different peoples, and it has a diverse geography.

The continent is called simply the eastern continent, beyond or east in the novel A Song of Ice and Fire. George R. R. Martin first mentioned it as Essos mid-2008 in an interview[1]. Later, he officially confirmed that it was Essos. Officially, the Appendix in Dance with Dragons refers to the east coast of the narrow sea.



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Although Essos is larger than Westeros in size, its actual extent is unknown since there is no current map of the continent. The Shivering Ocean separates the north coast from the polar caps. The unexplored continent of Sothoryos lies to the south across the Summer Sea. To the east lies Asshai and YiT. The mysterious region known as the Shadow Lands. South of the Shadow Lands lies the continent of Ulthos.

Essos’s climate and geography are very diverse. It is separated from the polar caps of the Land of Always Winter, and is therefore more exposed to winters than Westeros.

The west coast appears to be warm in the north and becomes drier and warmer to the south. It is characterized with green rolling hills and the huge Forest of Qohor as well as extensive island chains like Braavos or Lys. The flat grasslands plains and red sand desert known as the Red Waste cover the middle of the continent. The Qarth is located just beyond this desert. It lies alongside the Jade Gates, which lead to the Jade Sea. The south is dominated mainly by rolling hills. It has a Mediterranean climate and a coastline that runs along the Summer Sea, connecting Volantis to the Valyria Peninsula and the great inlet known Slaver’s Bay. The Bone Mountains and Krazaaj Zsqa dominate Essos. These mountain ranges are longitudinal and separate the eastern and western halves of Essos.


Essos can be divided into different regions that are home to diverse cultural groups.

The Free Cities

Main article: Free Cities

Also see: Map Of The Free Cities From A Dance with Dragons

Nine independent city-states, the Free Cities, are located along Essos’ western coast. The Free Cities are nine independent city-states located on the western coast of Essos. Seven are coastal cities (Braavos (Myr), Pentos (Volantis), and Volantis), while two are inland (Norvos (Qohor), and Pentos (Braavos). Braavos was founded by refugees slaves. The other cities are former colonies from the Valyrian Freehold and retain some elements of its culture. They are more sophisticated and mercantile then the cities of Westeros, including King’s Landing. Each Free City controls a portion of the territory around it, which includes smaller towns and villages. The Free Cities region extends from the west coast to the Forest of Qohor, and the majestic River Rhoyne to the east. These two areas separate the Dothraki sea from the Kingdom of Sarnor.

The hills of Andalos are located in the region’s northwestern corner, between Pentos and Braavos. They are the ancestral homeland of the Andals, and according to legends the source of the Faith of the Seven.

Kingdom of Sarnor

Main article: Kingdom Of Sarnor

The grasslands of the Kingdom of Sarnor lie east of the Forest of Qohor. They are irrigated by the great River Sarne as well as its tributaries. Dothraki has destroyed most of the kingdom.

The Dothraki Sea

Main article: Dothraki sea

The vast grassland plain, known as the Dothraki Sea, covers large swathes of the inland Essos. It is located east of the Free Cities. It is home to the Dothraki, a copper-skinned tribe of warlike nomads who have their own language and unique equestrian culture. Although the Dothraki don’t trade, their slave raids drive Essos to its economy. Many cities that were once home to older cultures are scattered around the Dothraki coast.

The Shivering Sea

Main article: Shivering sea

The Kingdom of Sarnor and Omber lie north of the Dothraki, along the shores of the Shivering sea. They are joined by the forested Kingdom of the Ifequevron. The islands of Ibben are located north of Essos. [2][6]

Valyrian Peninsula

Main article: Valyrian peninsula

The Valyrian peninsula, a large headland that extends south from Essos into Summer Sea, is the largest. It was once the heartland for the Valyrian Freehold. Also, the site of the city Valyria. However, the Doom Of Valyria saw many islands form, low-lying areas flood, and Valyria became a ruin. It is believed that the Smoking Ocean surrounding it are haunted and filled with poisonous fumes. Those who go there to seek out the ruins or treasures of Valyria will never return.

Ghiscar and Slaver’s Bay

Main articles: Slaver’s BayGhiscar

Slaver’s Bay is located south of the Dothraki Sea, east of Valyria and west of Lhazar. There are many small cities-states in the region, as well as three large slaver ports, Meereen and Astapor. These cities were built using the rubble from Old Ghis as well as the Ghiscari Empire, a rival to the Valyrian Freehold that was destroyed and superseded thousands of years ago. The Valyrian road network still connects the slaver cities to the Free Cities. The city of New Ghis is located on an island south from Ghiscar. However, the novels don’t reveal much about it. The region’s largest river is the Skahazadhan.


Main article: Lhazar

Lhazar can be found southeast of the Dothraki Sea and northeast of Slaver’s Bay. It is semi-arid, with hills and pastures. Horselords regard the Lhazareen and its shepherding people as easy targets and good slaves. They call them haesh Rahi (“Lamb Men”)



Main article: Qarth

Qarth is an ancient city located in the distant east. It lies beyond the Red Waste and on the shores the Jade Sea. It is home to merchant princes and warlocks . Its location at the Jade Gates makes the area the gateway to commerce and culture between east and west (such the Free Cities and Slaver’s Bay) and eastern lands (such the Asshai and the Shadow Lands and Ti). The Qartheen, rich and sophisticated, engage in endless intrigue among the various powerful factions of the society.

South of Qarth lies the large island Great Moraq. It is located between the Summer Seaand the Jade Sea. [2]

Eastern Essos

The lands east from the Bone Mountains, and the Krazaaj Zsqa are little known. The Jade Sea‘s southern lands include Yi Ti and Asshai. The Great Sand Sea and the Plains of the Jogos Nhai are both north of Yi Ti. Further east, there are exotic lands such as the Thousand Islands in the Shivering Sea and Mossovy. They also include the Grey Waste, the Land of the Shrykes and the Great Sand Sea.


Essos hosts a wider range of cultures and races than Westeros. These people are descendants of ancient cultures, including the Andals and the Rhoynar. Contrary to Westeros which is unified under the Seven Kingdoms HTML, Essos has been divided into several sovereign regions and city-states. It has not had a dominant power since the Valyrian Freehold fell nearly four centuries ago. Its peoples include:

  • Dothraki is a copper-skinned, warlike race of nomads with their unique language.
  • Ghiscari is a mongrel tribe that inhabits most of Slaver’s Bay and speaks a modified version of High Valyrian. Descendants from Ghis.
  • Peoples of the Free Cities are descendants of the Valyrian Freehold as well as their slaves. Although they speak a different form of High Valyrian language, the Common Tongue of Westeros can also be used.
  • Lhazareen is a peaceful people with blond skin, almond eyes, and flat faces. They are mainly shepherds who worship the Great Shepherd. The Dothraki call them the ‘Lamb Men’, as they often prey upon them.
  • Qartheen is the Qarth.
  • Ibbenese fishing colonies in the north.
  • Jogos Nhai is a famous photographer of zorses.
  • N’Ghai is akin to the nomadic Jogos Nhai and the residents of N’fer The Secret City.
  • Sarnori or Tagaez Fen, which means “Tall Men”, refers to the brown-skinned and black-haired people from Sarnor. They are currently residing in Saath.
  • YiTish is the bright-eyed people from the Golden Empire of Ti, which is the oldest and most important civilization in Essos.
  • Lengii is the tallest of the races, with long legs and a slim build. They live on the island Leng.

The Jhogwin and the Mazemakers are among the vanquished or disappeared cultures. The Rhoynar fled the Rhoyne to Dorne .


You can also check out my post on Daemon Targaryen.

Get Quotes

Essos is a vast continent that spans the narrow ocean. It’s home to many strange and exotic civilizations.

–writings of Yandel

He raised his eyes to see across the narrow sea to the Free Cities, the green Dothraki ocean and beyond to Vaes Dothrak, under its mountain, and to Asshai By the Shadow, where dragons stirred below the sunrise.

–dream of Bran Stark

Tyrion – In Westeros the word of a Lannister can be considered as good as gold.
Tybero – This is not Westeros. We made our promises to each other on this side of the narrow ocean. [9]

Tyrion Lannister and Tybero Istarion

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