Some Quick Links

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If you want to go to the very first post on the Atlas of Ice and Fire, click here.

Some other useful links:

How big is the world anyway?

The Size and Extent of Westeros and The Size and Extent of Essos, Sothoryos and Ulthos.

A Political Map of the Known World.

Terra Incognita: Beyond the Known World.

The Population of the Seven Kingdoms and The Population of the Free Cities.

Unreliable Timelines and Confused Dates.

Wonders Made by Man and The Seven Natural Wonders of the Known World.

Historical Map 1: The Dawn of Days and other Historical Maps.

Geographic Map 1: The Known World and other Geographic Maps.

Malazan Book of the Fallen Atlas.

Wheel of Time Atlas.

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A Map of Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Series

With work on the Wheel of Time maps proceeding slowly (there’s a lot of them), I thought it’d be fun to throw together another map more quickly. This is a map of Joe Abercrombie’s Circle of the World, the setting for his First Law Trilogy and several additional novels and short stories. This is one I’ve wanted to do for a while, as the existing maps are great pieces of artwork but are not the clearest in the world.

First Law Map with scale

A map of the Circle of the World. Click for a larger version.

Joe Abercrombie’s First Law world is divided into three continents and numerous large islands.

The North is a land of frozen rivers, towering mountains and ferocious creatures called Shanka. The Northmen are hardy warriors, living in a land of war, raiding and a rough kind of honour.

The western continent is land of prairies and plains, reminiscent of the American West. This continent is the location of the Far Country, where rumours of riches and gold have drawn settlers, and the Old Empire, a formerly great nation that has collapsed into civil war.

The southern continent, Kanta, is a vast land of deserts and arid plains with civilisation clustered around the great rivers. Kanta is the home of the massive Gurkish Empire, the largest and most populous nation in the Circle of the World.

Located between these continents are several islands, the most notable of which are Midderland, Styria, Suljuk and Thond. Midderland is the homeland of the Union, a large empire which includes possessions on all three continental landmasses: Angland in the North, Dagoska in Kanta and Starikland on the western continent. Adua, the capital of the Union, is located in Midderland. Styria is a collection of feuding city-states, the most powerful of which is Talins.

The Circle of the World is the setting for the following novels:

The First Law Trilogy

  1. The Blade Itself (2006)
  2. Before They Are Hanged (2007)
  3. Last Argument of Kings (2008)

 

Stand-Alone Books

  • Best Served Cold (2009)
  • The Heroes (2011)
  • Red Country (2012)
  • Sharp Ends: Stories from the World of the First Law (2016)

 

The Second Trilogy (forthcoming)

  1. A Little Hatred (2019)
  2. The Trouble with Peace (2020)
  3. The Beautiful Machine (2021)

 

Thank you for reading The Atlas of Ice and Fire. To help me provide better content, please consider contributing to my Patreon page and other funding methods, which will also get you exclusive content weeks before it goes live on my blogs.

The Wheel of Time Atlas: Seanchan

Seanchan is the name of both the great western continent, the largest continent in the world, and also the massive empire that controls almost all of its territory. Seanchan is separated from the more familiar kingdoms of the Westlands by the Aryth Ocean, a body of water so vast that it has swallowed entire fleets of exploration vessels whole, reducing contact between the two main continents to only fleeting and rumoured exchanges.

Seanchan is a single continent divided into two distinct landmasses or subcontinents, divided by a large channel. The southern landmass is, by far, the larger and more populous of the two.

Seanchan Canon

A canonical map of the Seanchan home continent, divided into two distinct landmasses. This map is based on John M. Ford’s map (based on Robert Jordan’s description) in The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time (1997). This map contains the details from that map and descriptions from the books that seem certain. Please click for a larger version.

History

Like the Westlands, the Seanchan continent was formed out of the Breaking of the World, when the previous landscape of the world was devastated through three centuries of near-continuous channelling by male wielders of the One Power, all of whom had been driven insane by the Dark One’s taint on saidin, the male half of the True Source.

As in more familiar lands, those Aes Sedai – now all female – who survived the initial chaos of the Breaking in Seanchan made it their mission to hunt down and destroy male channelers, killing or gentling them on the spot. After centuries of concerted efforts, they succeeded and the Breaking came to an end.

The people of Seanchan found themselves scattered across an enormous continent which almost girdled the planet from icecap to icecap. The sheer size of the continent defeated every attempt to bring the Aes Sedai together into a single organisation. Instead, female channellers began to amass power and armies, carving nations out of the fractious land.

The threat of the Shadow helped keep at least some of the northern kingdoms in a state of vigilance, as the Mountains of Dhoom and the Blight could be found at the northern end of the continent as in the Westlands. Scholars believe that the Mountains of Dhoom might circle the entire northern polar region of the planet, continuing even under the waves. The Blight in Seanchan was far smaller and far less virulent than in the Westlands (hence its description as “the Lesser Blight”), but was still a dangerous, lethal landscape.

A breakthrough took place when Aes Sedai, experimenting with Portal Stones from the First Age (which can be found in Seanchan as well as in more familiar lands), found their way to a mirror world where strange, exotic creatures could be found. These creatures were brought back to Seanchan and tamed, becoming beasts of burden and battle. Foremost in usefulness were the raken, fast-moving, winged creatures capable of carrying a rider or two across vast distances at speed, and the to’raken, much larger creatures that could drop entire squads of troops into battle. Other notable creatures were the corlm (fast-moving trackers), lopar (large and ferocious beats), grolm (three-eyed creatures, formidable in size and speed) and torm (three-eyed creatures which can be used as ferocious mounts). Employing these creatures with skill, the northern kingdoms of Seanchan mounted a series of raids and assaults into the Lesser Blight. These attacks were so successful that apparently every Trolloc and Myrddraal in the Lesser Blight was killed and almost every Draghkar and Darkhound.

It should be noted that animals such as s’redit are not counted among the Seanchan exotic animals, as they are native to the Seanchan home continent (and possibly parts of Shara) and were not brought to the world via Portal Stone.

The success of these pogroms against Shadowspawn meant that, for the people of Seanchan, the threat of the Shadow receded until it became superstition and fable. The nations of Seanchan fell to bickering and infighting. Shared cultural elements nevertheless spread between the different kingdoms, including the practice of slavery (complete with a complex hierarchy of slaves, freemen and nobility).

Approximately 2,340 years after the end of the Breaking, however, the life of the people of Seanchan was abruptly transformed. A vast fleet of ships, numbering some 2,000 vessels bearing over 300,000 soldiers and settlers, appeared out of the far north-east of the Aryth Ocean, making landfall on the eastern coast of the northern landmass, near the city of Imfaral. The fleet had set sail from the Hawkwing Empire, which dominated the subcontinent of the Westlands, in search of new lands to conquer. The High King himself, Artur Hawkwing, was too elderly to lead the attack, so he sent his son, Luthair Paendrag Mondwin, to lead the invasion.

The reasons why Hawkwing would have sent such a huge fleet, years in the planning, into the unknown have baffled historians for a thousand years. It appears possible, if not likely, that a scouting expedition discovered the location of Seanchan and reported back to the Hawkwing a decade or more before the invasion. However, no records have been found to confirm this. Others speak of Hawkwing’s advisor, Jalwin Moerad, who reportedly possessed knowledge beyond that of other men and may have (somehow) gained intelligence about Seanchan’s location.

Luthair’s initial landing and military advance was swift and determined, catching the local kingdoms completely off-guard. The city of Imfaral fell early in the invasion and its fortress-prison complex, known as the Towers of Midnight, became his primary headquarters for the initial staging of the war. However, Luthair was also out of his depth. His forces were badly outnumbered and the enemy were led by women who could channel the One Power. With his father prosecuting a siege of Tar Valon, Luthair had no Aes Sedai with his army to match their use of the Power. In addition, the native Seanchan employed ferocious beasts in battle. These were initially mistaken for Shadowspawn, leading Luthair to dub them the “Armies of the Night.” It is likely that Luthair’s army would have been destroyed, except that Seanchan’s chaotic fractiousness, ever-changing borders and centuries-old feuds prevented the rest of the continent from joining forces against him. Luthair was also fortunate in that his landing had taken place on the less-populous northern landmass, where peninsulas, mountains and rivers afforded him many defensive options, and also in that the Seanchan kingdoms had never become major seafaring powers.

Still, Luthair would have likely been defeated by attrition had not a powerful weapon fallen into his hands. A woman named Deain delivered to him a device she called an a’dam. Consisting of a linked bracelet and collar, the a’dam allowed non-channellers to take control of channellers and force them to do their bidding. It is unclear what Deain sought from this deal, but she presumably did not get it: having shown Luthair the secret of manufacturing more a’dam, she was promptly leashed with her own device and imprisoned in the Towers of Midnight. She became the first damane, or “Leashed One.” Sul’dam (“Leash-Holders”) were found among Luthair’s army who could use the a’dam and, through them, the damane.

With enslaved channellers at his command, Luthair’s armies resumed their offensive. As they seized more territory and gained more victories, they were joined by local kingdoms who saw which way the wind was blowing. Other kingdoms resisted, and were crushed and defeated. Luthair attempted to keep open communications with his homeland by sending ships back across the Aryth Ocean to the port of Falme, where a community known as the Watchers Over the Waves had been established to receive messages. However, the War of Conquest, as it became known, soon grew all-encompassing. Ships were no longer sent over the Aryth and no others returned. At some point, Luthair had amassed enough power to be named Emperor of Seanchan; upon his death, the Deathwatch Guard were formed, swearing to protect his son.

The initial conquest of Seanchan lasted some three centuries, by the end of which time the entire continent was – at least loosely – under the control of the Empire. However, rebellions and occasional civil wars continued to break out sporadically all through the centuries that followed. The remote Kaensada Hills were only fully conquered seven centuries after Luthair’s time, and a massive rebellion on the island of Marendalar (which killed 30,000 people and saw another 1.5 million enslaved) has taken place within living memory.

Today the Seanchan Empire is ruled by the Empress Radhanan, whose name is not spoken. She has ordered the assembly of the Corenne, the Return, a fleet and army to be sent back east across the Aryth Ocean to reclaim the lands of their forefather, Luthair. Ahead of them will go the Hailene, the Forerunners, an expeditionary force which will determine the state of affairs in the Westlands.

Wheel Of Time World Map Latitude

A world map, showing Seanchan in the west.

Geography

Seanchan is the largest continent in the world, stretching almost from the northern polar region deep into the southern oceans, a distance of approximately 8,000 miles from the Lesser Blight to the southern islands of Salaking and Maram Kashor. It is over 5,000 miles across at its widest in the south. The Westlands could fit inside its borders at least three times over, with a lot of room to spare.

 

The Lesser Blight and Mountains of Dhoom

When Luthair’s armies invaded Seanchan, they recognised the northern mountains of the continent as being identical to the craggy, foreboding peaks in the Westlands and so dubbed them the “Mountains of Dhoom.” Cartographers realised these mountains existed at exactly the same latitude as the Mountains of Dhoom in the Westlands, and theorised that the mountains continue beneath the waves, forming an unbroken (if partially invisible) chain completely encircling the Blight and the northern polar region. The Blight also presumably continues under the water in the same fashion.

The Lesser Blight – as the part of that region in northern Seanchan is known – is the most hostile part of the Seanchan continent and contains many of the same features as in the Great Blight to the north of the Westlands. The air is close and unpleasant and the wildlife is corrupt and aggressive. The major difference is the prevalence of Shadowspawn: Trollocs and Myrddraal simply do not exist here, having been completely wiped out by the so-called Aes Sedai of Seanchan during and after the Breaking of the World using the Seanchan exotic creatures (brought into this world via Portal Stone). Draghkar and Darkhounds may continue to exist in isolated, solitary groups, and creatures such as Worms may still exist, but otherwise the Shadowspawn are not a major threat to the Seanchan Empire. It is assumed some fortresses and watch towers keep watch on the Blightborder (as in our land), but the threat from the north is relatively non-existent in Seanchan.

 

Northern Seanchan

Northern Seanchan looks small on maps, but it is still a formidable landmass in its own right. The subcontinent stretches for approximately 2,000 miles from east to west and around 4,000 miles along its longest axis, from the Mountains of Dhoom to the city of Qirat at the tip of the longest peninsula (just south of the equator).

The subcontinent is highly mountainous, consisting as it does of two huge peninsulas (one sub-divided into two smaller ones) rearing from the sea with islands surrounding it to the north-east (probably an extension of the Mountains of Dhoom) and the west. The Aldael Mountains are located somewhere in the north of this landmass.

The capital city of North Seanchan is Imfaral, located on the east coast on the central divided channel. Although only the sixth-largest city in the Empire and outsized by both Asinbayar and Qirat in the north, Imfaral holds a special place in Seanchan history. Luthair’s armies came ashore near Imfaral and the city was seized early in the campaign, serving as his primary redoubt and headquarters until Seandar was captured much later in the war (and it is unclear if this was during Luthair’s lifetime). The Towers of Midnight may have been Luthair’s original stronghold, a fortress consisting of thirteen heavily fortified towers. The Towers later served as a prison complex – it was where Deain, the creator of the a’dam, was imprisoned – and continued to serve as a fortress during the War of Conquest.

Since the initial Conquest, the Towers have fallen into disuse and are now preserved. According to legend, the Imperial family will one day return to the Towers of Midnight and “right that which is wrong.”

The other major cities of the north are Asinbayar, Qirat and Sohima.

 

Seandar

Seandar is the Imperial Capital, the seat of the Empress and the location of the Court of the Nine Moons. From the Crystal Throne, the Empress rules over an empire spanning thousands of miles and many tens of millions of subjects and slaves. Seandar is the largest city on the Seanchan continent and almost certainly the largest city in the world, a vast metropolis located at the junction of two rivers and in the foothills of an immense mountain range, with good roads linking it to nearby ports on both the Aryth Ocean and the inner dividing channel.

Seandar is an ancient city, founded after the Breaking presumably by one of the surviving Aes Sedai. Although located on the larger and more populous southern landmass, the city is still fairly northerly in latitude (located at just south of the same latitude as the island of Tremalking) and remote from the other major cities of the south, with the mountains and rivers forming an impressive defensive bulwark. These favourable conditions may be what allowed Seandar to grow to significant size and – apparently – give its name to the entire continent even during the period of fractious infighting between the Aes Sedai kingdoms.

During the War of Conquest, the city was seized during the initial invasion of Southern Seanchan and became the main base of operations on the southern landmass. Later during the war, it was named the Imperial Capital.

As well as the Court of the Nine Moons, the city is the home of the Deathwatch Guard, the command structure of the Ever-Victorious Army and also the location of the Tower of Ravens, where Seanchan’s secret police, the Seekers for Truth, are trained.

Seanchan Speculative

A highly speculative map of Seanchan, featuring more creative locations for city and regional names given in the books. Click for a larger version. Rand and Aviendha’s brief sojourn to Seanchan in The Fires of Heaven was in the vicinity of Merinloe.

Southern Seanchan

The southern landmass of the Seanchan continent is colossal, almost 8,000 miles long along its longest axis and more than 5,000 miles wide at its widest. The northern part of the landmass consists of a massive peninsula (itself almost 5,000 miles long and over 800 miles wide for most of its length) extending up from the equator towards the Lesser Blight. It is here that the city of Seandar is located.

The majority of the continent and its people are located south of the equator. This is the location of massive mountain ranges longer than the Spine of the World, such as the Ijaz Mountains (home of the kaf bean), and immense inland seas, along with rivers that dwarf the Erinin in length. The Sa’las Plains, Kaensada Hills the hostile wilderness of the Sen T’jore can be found here. Off the coasts of the continent can be found three large islands: Salaking in the south-west, Maram Kashor in the south-east (home of the towering lumma trees) and the enormous island of Marendalar in the north-east.

After Seandar, the great cities of the south are (in descending order of size and population) Kirendad, Noren M’Shar, Tzura (or T’zura), Anangore, Shon Kifar and Rampore. Other named cities include Abunai, Alqam, Ancarid, Barsabba, Merinloe (on the east coast of Southern Seanchan), Pujili and Serengada Dai.

Southern Seanchan is a near-endless land of constantly surprising geography and a varied and diverse set of cultures and peoples, with their own customs, traditions and beliefs. The one thing that unifies them is their loyalty to the Crystal Throne and the Seanchan Empire.

 

Notes & Speculation

The map of Seanchan and the location of the major cities are provided in The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time. The location of Merinloe can be inferred from The Fires of Heaven (in the southern hemisphere on the eastern coast of Seanchan). The speculative map otherwise has fairly arbitrary placements for most locations.

The location of the islands can also be discerned from the text: Maram Kashor is identified as the large south-eastern island in The Gathering Storm (as Tylee Khirgan’s homeland); Salaking is likely the island in the south-west, as Semirhage identifies it as one of the two extreme border points of the Empire (along with the Aldael Mountains, presumably in the far north-east) and it shares the -king island descriptor in the Old Tongue with Tremalking and Cindaking. That leaves Marendalar as the huge island in the north-east, which also makes sense given that the rebellion that was enormous in scope with millions of people enslaved and killed.

The Seanchan Empire is almost certainly the most populous nation in the world. The armies committed to the Corenne number over 300,000 military forces and settlers, suggesting that at least 30 million people live in the empire (according to the very rough rule-of-thumb that a pre-industrial society can field at best 1% of its population as a military force). Yet the Corenne makes up only a small part of the total Seanchan military potential, meaning that the population of Seanchan is likely many times that, enough so that the 1.5 million people made da’covale during the Marendalar Rebellion was easily swallowed by the economy of the Empire. On that basis the population of the Empire is almost certainly over 100 million people, possibly over 200 million (given the population of the Westlands may approach 100 million from very rough studies of army sizes, the later figure may be more accurate; for comparison’s sake, the population of China reached 200 million in the 18th Century).

According to Robert Jordan’s notes, Seanchan is 16,000 miles long from north to south. This isn’t actually physically possible, as the map shows Seanchan extending from the northern polar icecap to near the southern but not actually past them, so it cannot exceed the world’s diameter of 12,000 miles. Careful study of the map suggests that it’s more like 8,000 miles in length north to south (which also matches the combined north-south length of North and South America, which may have been an inspiration for Seanchan’s size and location). The notes also state that South Seanchan is 6,000 miles wide, but this is not the case on John Ford’s map (which makes it about 5,000 miles). It’s possible the map was incorrect.

Whilst writing the final volumes of The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan planned a sequel trilogy set several years after A Memory of Light which would see Mat and Tuon travel to Seanchan and re-secure the continent in the name of the Empire. From the discussion of the Towers of Midnight in the later books, with Jordan having clearly put some thought into them and the prophecy that the Imperial Family would take possession of them again to correct past mistakes, it sounds like the plan would have been for Tuon to repeat Luthair’s route by landing near Imfaral and using the Towers of Midnight as a base to reunite the Empire. Alas, this story never proceeded more than a single line of description (Mat Cauthon playing dice in a back alley in Ebou Dar).

 

Thank you for reading The Atlas of Ice and Fire. To help me provide better content, please consider contributing to my Patreon page and other funding methods, which will also get you exclusive content weeks before it goes live on my blogs.

The Wheel of Time Atlas: Introduction

Having concluded my atlas of the Malazan world after several months (at least for now; new information is coming to light which will require its revisiting in coming months) I now move on to a project I’ve hoped to tackle for about twenty years: an atlas of the Wheel of Time series.

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If you are not familiar with the Wheel of Time series, please check out my Wheel of Time franchise familiariser, which covers the setting and the sequence of books. Briefly, The Wheel of Time is major epic fantasy series which covers fourteen novels in the main series, a prequel novel, two companion volumes, a video game, a soundtrack album (!) and a forthcoming TV series from Sony and Amazon. Oliver Rigney Jr. wrote the first eleven novels and the prequel under the pen name “Robert Jordan,” publishing them between 1990 and 2005. Sadly, he passed away in 2007 with the series still incomplete. It fell to Brandon Sanderson to complete the final three books using notes, dictation cassettes and information from Robert Jordan’s assistants and editors. The final volume was published in 2013.

Previously I’ve had to make use of other people’s maps, editing them as needed, as my own artistic skills were limited (to put it mildly). However, for this series of maps I started using a different programme which makes it much easier to create maps from scratch, with improved options for things like mountains and forests. The maps that follow will be, by and large, my work as opposed to building on other people’s efforts. Nevertheless, the original maps from the books and companion works are hugely important and influential in assembling these maps. The original Wheel of Time maps were created by the following:

  • Thomas Canty – the colour endpaper maps from the first four hardcover volumes.
  • Ellisa Mitchell – the black and white maps from all the books, followed by the beautiful full-colour painting which appeared in every book from Lord of Chaos She also provided the fantastic (and relatively unknown) colour maps from The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game and its expansion book, Prophecies of the Dragon.
  • John M. Ford – the maps from The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, including the world maps and the only extant maps of Seanchan and Shara (also an excellent author in his own right).
  • Linda and Dominic – Wheel of Time superfans and masters of the Thirteenth Depository blog, where for some years they assembled some very useful and well-thought-out fan maps of particular locations.
Wheel Of Time world map

The world map created by John M. Ford – the 1984 World Fantasy Award winning author of The Dragon’s Waiting – for Robert Jordan in 1995, published in The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time two years later. This map appears to have contradicted some of Jordan’s geographic notes, with a larger Land of the Madmen and a (much) smaller Seanchan.

The world of the Wheel of Time is our world, both in the distant future and the remote past. Time is a wheel with seven spokes, each spoke representing one of the great ages. The Wheel is forever turning and returning, weaving the pattern of the age out of the lives of those who live in it, and the events of each age are long forgotten when it comes again. Each turning of the Wheel is subtly different, as the Wheel allows for free will and decisions that were made one way in one turning may be made a different way in another.

In the Second Age, known as the Age of Legends, humanity reached a pinnacle of science, engineering and technology. A utopian golden age was achieved, people living for hundreds of years in lives free from toil, hunger and suffering. In this age both men and women achieved great feats using the One Power (drawn from the True Source), a way of manipulating the five elements (earth, wind, fire, water and spirit) to create effects ranging from instantaneous travel across thousands of miles to creating fire or healing injuries. Despite the great achievements of the age, the potential of the Power was limited by the fact that only men could use the form of the Power known as saidin and women could use the form known as saidar, achieving the same effects through different means. Channelers of the One Power – known as the Servants of All or Aes Sedai in the Old Tongue – were greatly honoured for their service to humanity, but many chafed at the seemingly arbitrary limitation placed on their abilities.

In their hubris, Aes Sedai scientists found an apparently undivided source of the One Power, hidden behind a barrier of energy. Unbeknown to the Aes Sedai, this energy was a prison, meant to keep the malignant source of all evil in the universe – Shai’tan, the Dark One – safely sealed away. The breaching of the prison led to the release of evil, chaos and depravity back into the world, leading to the gradual collapse of civilisation over a period of a century. A world that had not known war for over ten thousand years was suddenly plunged back into it, as the followers of the Dark One strove to free their master from his prison and others rallied to fight them in a great war lasting a decade. Monstrous creatures known as Shadowspawn – genetically-engineered monstrosities – were unleashed by the Dark One’s followers, whilst the forces opposing them rallied with new forms of the Power and new weapons. In the final confrontation, the great leader known as the Dragon, Lews Therin Telamon, sealed the Dark One’s prison. But the Dark One’s counterstroke tainted saidin, driving all male channelers of the One Power insane on the instant.

In their insanity, they destroyed the world. Civilisation was obliterated, entire landmasses sank beneath the waves and new ones were raised up to replace them. Earthquakes rearranged the landscape until almost all trace of the past was lost. After three centuries the last male Aes Sedai was killed or “gentled” (cut off from the One Power), but in that time almost all of the achievements of the Age of Legends were lost. Humanity, reduced to a bare handful of survivors scattered across the globe, was reduced to the primitive level of using carts and horses instead of aircraft and hovercars, swords and axes instead of firearms and books and scrolls rather than holographic displays.

Guided by the Aes Sedai – now all women – humanity nevertheless survived and prospered. After three and a half thousand years, despite the usual setbacks of war, strife, plague and famine, millions of people now fill the lands between the Aryth Ocean and the Spine of the World. But the influence (and numbers) of the Aes Sedai is waning, and humanity lives under an ominous warning: the Third Age is known as the Age of Prophecy, for at the end of the War of the Shadow it was foretold that the Dark One was only defeated, not destroyed, and the seal on his prison will weaken and shatter. When that time comes, Lews Therin Telamon shall be spun out of the Wheel in a new body to lead the Last Battle against the Shadow, but he will remain under the curse of madness and death. He will save the world by destroying it anew. The Dragon shall be Reborn, and the world will suffer for it.

Wheel Of Time World Map Latitude

The World, circa the year 998 of the New Era. Click for a larger version.

The World of the Wheel

The world a great sphere, some 24,900 miles in circumference. Most of its surface is covered by water, in liquid form as the great oceans and in ice at the poles. It is circled by a single moon, and is the third of at least six great planets circling the sun (ancient records suggest that there may be either eight or nine planets – the records seem to argue the point rather heatedly – but the others are too distant to be seen easily).

There are three major landmasses known to exist. In the northern hemisphere lies a large landmass with no single unified name: the western third is known – with a slight lack of creativity – as the Westlands or “wetlands”; the central area is known as the Aiel Waste; and the eastern part is known (most commonly) as Shara. The Westlands are the home of great kingdoms such as Andor, Illian and Saldaea and the seat of Aes Sedai power at Tar Valon. To the north of all three regions lies the vast, forbidding and hostile Great Blight, the home of Shadowspawn who plague the north of all the lands.

South of the Westlands and south-west of Shara lie two large island archipelagos. These are the home of the Atha’an Miere, the “People of the Sea” or, in common parlance, the Sea Folk. The Sea Folk spend most of their lives at sea aboard huge ships, the greatest vessels afloat, and facilitate trade between the nations of the world, although they do not cross the Aryth Ocean.

North Polar View

A polar view of the world, c. 998 NE. Click for a larger version and see here for the full globe.

Far to the west of the Westlands, across the colossal Aryth Ocean (successor to the World Sea of the Age of Legends), lies the continent of Seanchan. Divided into two landmasses by a huge dividing channel, Seanchan is the largest continent in the world. It almost girdles the planet from pole to pole. It is home to hundreds of distinct cultures, races and societies, but they all live under the authority and yoke of the Seanchan Empire, the most powerful and populous nation on Earth. Founded by colonists from the Westlands more than a thousand years ago, the Seanchan have long dreamt of returning to their homeland and re-establishing communications…and dominance.

Far to the south of the Westlands, across the tempestuous Sea of Storms, lies an obscure continent known only as the “Land of the Madmen.” The Breaking of the World remains ongoing in this land, as the male channelers were never wiped out. Instead, they continue to ravage the land and the landscape, resulting in near-constant earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and floods. This has prevented any kind of civilisation from emerging, leaving even the non-channelling population in a constant state of turmoil, trauma and dread. The inhabitants of the continent attack strangers on sight. Despite multiple attempts by the Sea Folk to establish a peaceful dialogue with the inhabitants, they have been unable to visit the land without being assaulted. They have declared the continent off-limits and forbidden all travel there.

South of the Land of the Madmen lies a vast region of ice, many thousands of miles across. According to ancient records from the Age of Legends and even before, an entire continent once existed at the south pole, but its fate in the Breaking is unknown. Some believe it is still there, frozen under miles of glaciers.

North-west of the Westlands lies a foreboding region of water which is completely lifeless. No fish or aquatic life can be found here at all, north of the latitude of the southern edge of the Great Blight. The Sea Folk call stretch of ocean the Dead Sea, and it continues westwards for as far as they have explored. North of the Dead Sea lies the northern polar ocean, which is impassable at all times of year due to being frozen solid.

To the east, beyond Shara, lies the Morenal Ocean (sometimes called the Sea of Omerna), which separates that land from the Seanchan continent. Curiously, linear measurements show that the distance from Shara to Seanchan across the Morenal Ocean is far smaller than the distance from the Westlands to Seanchan across the Aryth, raising interesting questions about why the most well-travelled sea lanes between the two landmasses are the longer route across the Aryth Ocean. This suggests that the Morenal Ocean may be too dangerous to traverse, or a past confrontation between Shara and Seanchan convinced the Seanchan to give that nation a wide berth. The truth of this remains speculative.

Eastern Hemispherical View

View of the eastern hemisphere, c. 998 NE. Click for a larger version and see here for the full globe.

Speculation

The world of the Wheel is, of course, Earth in a remote future epoch (I would estimate between 15,000 and 20,000 years from now). The continents have been dramatically rearranged by the Breaking of the World, with only Australia being vaguely recognisable and even that have been altered significantly in shape and apparently increased somewhat in size.

Contrasting the time of the Wheel with our own, it appears that the world is cooler. Both the polar icecaps are huge, much larger than our own, with Antarctica (or whatever part of it survived the Breaking) completely buried under reams of ice. The larger icecaps increase the albedo of the planet and reflect more sunlight into space, likely cooling it further. The known deserts are much smaller than in our time (with the possible exception of dry lands deep in the Seanchan interior) and temperate forests exist at tropical latitudes. The world is likely rainier than now, due to the much vaster oceans giving rise to larger rain clouds (this is indicated by the vast ceranos storms that ravage the southern coast of the Westlands).

Robert Jordan declined to provide a name for the main continent (the one containing Andor, Tar Valon, Illian etc). The closest presented in the books was “the wetlands,” a descriptive name created by the Aiel. Fans coined the name “Randland” early on, but this was clearly impractical for an in-universe name. Finally, The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game came up with the name “The Westlands” which Jordan seems to have reluctantly adopted (he used the name himself in several articles and notes), but not been very keen on. In-universe, the name Alindhol may have been appropriate: alin means “west” in the Old Tongue and dhol means “land.”

Robert Jordan was well aware that Seanchan was much closer to Shara across the Morenal Ocean than to the Westlands across the Aryth, specifying as much in the geographic notes (presented below) that he gave to John M. Ford to make the world map in The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time in 1995. Jordan never addressed why the Seanchan embarked on a lengthy 11,000 mile journey across the Aryth Ocean rather than nipping around the south coast of Shara to invade the Westlands via Mayene and Tear, which was less than half that distance (and maybe closer to a third). Fans have presented various ideas, including a previous confrontation between Seanchan and Shara that resulted in a bloody defeat and Seanchan backing off (this seems unlikely); insufficiant infrastructure on the west coast of Seanchan, with all of the major ports and shipyards for the invasion located on the east coast; much more favourable currents heading east across the Aryth then west across the Morenal; and potential manipulations by the Forsaken. The truth remains unclear.

Eye of the WOrld

Darrell K. Sweet’s iconic cover art for The Eye of the World (1990), the first book in the Wheel of Time series.

From Robert Jordan’s notes:

The world of the books is the same size as our world.  After all, it’s supposed to be our world, with all the tectonic plates shifted.  Some reference points:

  • Falme to Seanchan across the Aryth Ocean is about 11,000 miles.
  • Seanchan to Shara across the Sea of Omerna is about 3,000 miles.
  • The Aiel Waste is about 1,200 miles across, while Shara is about 2,000 miles (W-E) by 5,000 miles (N-S), with the Great Blight extending further south in Shara than in the Borderlands.
  • Seanchan is about 16,000 miles from the southern tip to the Mountains of Dhoom (named by Hawkwing’s armies) in the north—yes, the same mountain range that girdles the world on land and under the ocean.  The north of Seanchan is about 2,000 miles across at its widest, and there is a span of 6,000 miles at its widest in the south.
  • South of the known world is an island continent known only to the Sea Folk, but avoided by them, which they call “the Land of the Madmen.”  Its dimensions are about 3,000 miles (W-E) by 2,000 miles (N-S), with its southern coast less than 500 miles from the southern ice cap in places.  Some speculate on the resemblance of this continent, in all respects, to current-day Australia, but on this we have no opinion.

There are both northern and southern ice caps.  The southern ice cap completely covers whatever land is beneath it, and is larger than Antarctica.  The northern ice cap also stretches somewhat further south than in our world.

 

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Malazan Maps of the Fallen 08: Assail

Our exploration of the geography of Steven Erikson and Ian Esslemont’s Malazan world continues.

To the south of Genabackis and to the east of Korelri lies a landmass whose very name is rarely uttered. “Assail” is the most mysterious, the most enigmatic and the most foreboding of the world’s continents. It is not a remote continent, lying just a few weeks’ travel eastwards from Quon Tali across the Reacher’s Ocean and just a few days south of Genabackis across the Rivan Sea, but it is one that is studiously avoided by almost everyone.

Assail

The continent of Assail. Click for a larger version.

History

Little is known of Assail’s ancient history. The continent has a human population, so at one time the continent was likely settled by the First Empire (which is generally held to be responsible for the initial human diaspora across the planet), but beyond that the continent is also known to have pockets of Jaghut blood. It is believed that both the highly mysterious Forkrul Assail (who may have given the continent its name) and the K’Chain Che’Malle were also active on the continent in distant, past millennia.

In recent times, the continent has been effectively sealed off to travel. Almost all who travel there, particularly to the lands north of the Black Stone Mountains, fail to return. Rumours speak of Tyrants who control parts of the continent and the destruction of entire clans of the T’lan Imass. Rumours also speak of gold being found on the continent in significant quantities. Occasionally this sparks gold rushes, pirate fleets and mercenaries setting out to get rich. Again, almost none return.

 

Geography

Assail is a fairly large continent, more than two-thirds the size of Genabackis and larger than Quon Tali, perhaps rivalling the combined Korelri-Stratem continent in size (but still somewhat behind Lether and Seven Cities). Various sailors have attempted to chart its shores, with some success, although the inhospitable nature of those shores makes such attempts difficult.

It is known that the continent is divided into two distinct regions by the Black Stone Mountains. Everything to the north is Assail proper, a land of townships, city-states and fractious tribes. The lands to the south are known as Bael, which forms a distinct subcontinent. Bael is relatively hospitable and sometimes welcomes outsiders; Assail is unrelentingly hostile to visitors.

 

The North Coast

The northern coast of Assail sits south of Genabackis, just across the Rivan Sea, and is relatively accessible. However, the entire coast is uninhabited. From the Barren Coast in the west, stretching hundreds upon hundreds of leagues to the east, along the Plain of Ghosts, Plain of Visions, Plain of Sighs and the Wrack Coast, lies almost nothing. Barely any trees, no mountains and few sources of fresh water can be found. This is a lifeless and dreary land. According to rumour, one settlement can be found on the north coast, a hidden inlet or bay leading to a fortress called Fallen or Taken. If true, no reliable sailor has ever confirmed its location.

 

The West Coast

The western coast of Assail brushes against both Reacher’s Ocean and the Bloodmare Ocean, with the continent of Korelri located just a couple of weeks’ hard sail to the west. Again, the coast is mostly uninhabited, although nomadic tribes (of course, mostly unwelcoming and hostile) can be found just inland on the plains between the ocean and the Range of the Saints. In the south of this region can be found the Yag’Quarall, the Silent Tribes.

Curiously, the sailors of Mare in Korelri, despite claiming to be the greatest sailors in the world, refuse to cross the ocean to Assail, refusing to believe lands lie beyond the ocean.

 

The Wrecker’s Coast

The east coast of Assail is where what civilisation that is vaguely welcoming to foreigners can be found, although this is a very relative determination.

Once a ship turns south along the Plain of Longing, it enters the Sea of Hate, so-called because of the dangerously lethal currents and hidden rocks. If they survive to the enter the Bay of Timber, named for the once-abundant forests on its shores, they can find a relatively safe welcome at the port of Holly. From here, they can travel north across the Plain of Chance, in the shadow of the northern Bone Range, to the City of Many Saints on the shores of the inland Sea of Gold. Naturally, few who venture in that direction are ever seen again.

The south coast of the Bay of Timber and all the east coast as far as Talon Forest are known as the “Wrecker’s Coast”. Currents conspire to bring many wrecked ships to this stretch of water, resulting in wrecks and ruins from half the world accumulating along the shores. The people of this land are known as wreckers, as looting the ships for gold, weapons and booty to sell on to traders is highly lucrative. Towns along the coast, such as Rough Landing, Bones, Pillar and Widden, are wrecking posts from where crews set out to loot the ships brought to them by the ocean.

 

The Inland Seas

Halfway along the Wrecker’s Coast is a bay that leads to an inlet. This stretch of water – the Fear Narrows – is lethal and almost impassable due to the Guardian Rocks. These pillars of stone swirl the water into unpredictable currents that can smash boats to kindling with ease, whilst more rocks lie just under the water, ready to tear out the hulls of any ships that try to pass. Wrecked ships can be found all along the shore, adding to the chaos, and the coastlines are marked by tall cliffs.

If a ship should successfully run the gauntlet of the Fear Narrows, it might find shelter in the port of Old Ruse, although as many ships vanish after visiting Old Ruse as they do attempting to pass the Narrows.

Beyond Old Ruse the Narrows open into the Sea of Dread, a large inland sea. Formed of meltwater from what some mages theorise may be a Jaghut-created glacier, the sea is inherently magical. Unprotected sailors can fall into a torpor that eventually leads to death. Mages aware of this threat can erect defensive wards around their ships which permit safe passage across sea.

There are settlements on the Dread Sea. Second Landing and North are relatively ordinary, if somewhat isolated, ports. On the south coast is Exile Keep, run by two families involved in constantly feuding against one another. To the north is Mist, reportedly ruled by a powerful and capricious mage.

Further north lies the Sea of Gold, so called because it lies at the feet of the Blood and Salt ranges, reportedly the home of vast gold fields. The truth of this is hard to ascertain, as both the sea route through the Dread Sea and the overland route over the Plain of Chance from Holly are extremely hostile, and of the few who survive the journey far fewer (if any) ever successfully return).

 

Bael

Located at the southern end of the Assail continent, the lands of Bael are relatively welcoming compared to those of the rest of the continent. Bael is effectively separated from Assail proper by the Black Sea to the north-east and the large Black Stone Mountains to the north-west.

Bael is the home of a collection of tribesfolk who worship a deity known as Father Wind. Some of the inhabitants of Bael have abandoned their tribal lifestyle to found cities, such as Nabraji and Kurzan. Kurzan is the southern and eastern-most known safe port in the world; beyond it lies the vast and trackless deeps of the Domain Ocean which extend eastwards for thousands upon thousands of leagues before reaching the far western coast of the continent of Lether.

The tribes of Bael are known as the Yaguran or People of the Wind. They worship shamanic totem spirits as well as Father Wind, and engage in athletic competition and “friendly” raids on one another as demonstrations of aptitude. They are relatively friendly, but in recent decades have found their lands encroached on by the Nabrajans, who have started building garrisons on the plains to control sources of food and water A major conflict between the tribes and the city-builders seems likely.

Unlike northern Assail, Bael is relatively easily reached by ship across the southern Bloodmare Ocean from the east coast of Stratem.

 

Credits: Based on the original maps created by Neil Gower. Extrapolated by D’rek at the Malazanempire forum. Placements and names adjusted by myself. Based on the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, Kharkanas Trilogy and Witness Trilogy by Steven Erikson, and the Malazan Empire and Path to Ascendancy series by Ian C. Esslemont.

 

Thank you for reading The Atlas of Ice and Fire. To help me provide better content, please consider contributing to my Patreon page and other funding methods, which will also get you exclusive content weeks before it goes live on my blogs.

Malazan Maps of the Fallen 07: Jacuruku

Our exploration of the geography of Steven Erikson and Ian Esslemont’s Malazan world continues.

Jacuruku is said to be the smallest of the world’s continents, although some instead claim it is the largest of the world’s islands. The continent is located west of Korelri, south-west of Quon Tali and far to the east of the Letherii continent. It is located in the White Spires Ocean, but its shores are also bordered by the Horn Ocean to the north and the Sea of Storms to the north-east.

The continent lies relatively close to the shores of western Korelri – in ancient times Jacuruku was called the “sister continent” of Korelri – but is separated from it by vast floes of ice. These ice floes make the continent almost impossible to approach from the east or north, forcing would-be visitors to swing far to the south and west instead. Given the relative isolationism of Jacuruku and the lack of resources on the continent, it is rarely visited and its peoples rarely visit other lands.

Jacuruku

A map of Jacuruku and the surrounding regions (ice floes not shown). Click for a larger version.

History

Early in its history, Jacuruku was colonised by the K’Chain Che’Malle. After their demise, Togg and Fanderay used the lush continent as their hunting grounds. After this time Jacuruku became home to the tall, physically powerful race known as the Thel Akai. When humans came to the continent is unclear, but it may have been in the earliest days of their history, before even the rise of the First Empire on Seven Cities. The Thel Akai, then in decline, tutored and mentored the humans. The Elder God Ardata arrived on Jacuruku at some point and became a ruler and deity to some of the human tribes.

It is known that, at some point, the human warrior, soldier and tactician Kallor Eidermann Tes’thesula arrived on Jacuruku (or may have been native to it; the histories and legends are entwined and confusing) and conquered the entire landmass in a fifty-year campaign. He even forced Ardata into submission. He slaughtered the Thel Akai when he realised they were helping his opponents stand against him. Styling himself the High King, Kallor established an empire spanning both Jacuruku and other landmasses, possibly including parts of neighbouring Korelri. He ruled over an empire of twelve million souls, seven million of them on Jacuruku. This took place approximately 121,000 years ago.

Kallor’s rule was harsh and tyrannical. A group of eight mages chose to stand against him. Known as the Circle, they joined together on the continent of Korelri to seek out a source of magic which could overcome and destroy Kallor. During their reachings, they found the entity known as Kaminsod, a god of another world in another universe altogether. They summoned Kaminsod through a rent or wound in space, believing his utterly alien sorcery could overcome the High King. They miscalculated. Kaminsod fell screaming to the earth as a vast fireball which shattered on impact, shattering Korelri and devastating a vast region. Kaminsod subsequently became known as the Crippled God. The destruction was immense, its reverberations shaking even the warrens.

Furious at the consequences of Kallor’s tyranny, the gods and Ascendants known as K’rul, Draconus and the Sister of Cold Nights joined their power to destroy him. However, Kallor had performed a ritual that burned the continent of Jacuruku down to its bedrock, killing all seven million inhabitants in the process. This mass-sacrifice empowered Kallor to resist the three gods; instead of killing him they cursed him to life unending, barring him from ever ascending and always living in failure. Kallor responded by cursing the three gods to different, unpleasant fates.

Rather than leave the continent uninhabitable, K’rul drew on his power to pour the ashes and ruins of the empire into a new warren (later claimed by the Malazan Empire to become the Imperial Warren), leaving behind an uninhabited wilderness which would recover given time. Fresh human settlers – some of them possibly from the now-devastated colonies on Korelri and perhaps others fleeing the growing chaos in the First Empire – landed on Jacuruku and settled it. A mageocracy took power in the north-west of the continent, also known as the Circle, possibly named in honour of the group that brought about the Fall of the Crippled God.

Whilst the mages assumed control of north-western Jacuruku, the goddess Ardata reasserted her domination of the jungle tribes of the east and independent tribesfolk arose in the desert wastelands of the south-west, resulting in a rough stalemate of power which – it is believed – has endured for thousands of years to the present day.

 

Geography

The continent of Jacuruku is small, but still large enough to enjoy a variety of different climates and landforms. The continent’s battered history – surrounded by ice floes resulting from ancient Jaghut rituals, devastated by the Fall of the Crippled God, immolated by Kallor, healed by K’rul – has left it a somewhat strange and unusual land, its rocks and ancient trees hinting at the trauma that has been visited upon it.

 

The Kingdom of the Thaumaturgs

A powerful, if arrogant, mageocracy dominates the north-western quarter of the Jacuruku continent. Fortunately non-expansionist, the Kingdom of the Thaumaturgs dominates the most relatively temperate and moderate part of the continent. Large, well-cultivated fields feed a large population who in turn are subservient to their mage-rulers, who rule through an effective bureaucracy.

The kingdom is ruled by the Circle of Nine, led by the Prime Minister Surin. The capital city is Anditi Pura, located in the north of the kingdom. This is a relatively small city mostly reserved for the use of the mages. The economic heart of the nation is Isana Pura in the south, home to over one million souls (making it larger than Unta or Darujhistan).

The kingdom’s borders are held to be the sea to the north and west, the Gangrek Range to the east and the Canyon Lands to the south, a confusing assortment of ridges, canyons and hills which present an effective (but not impermeable) barrier to travel

 

The Adwami Desert

South of the Canyon Lands, the terrain becomes more hostile and unforgiving. The Adwami Desert is home to the horse-rearing tribes of the same name. The Adwami are noted for their internal squabbles and rivalries. They have an indifferent relationship with the Thaumaturgs to the north, although some rumours speak of rising tensions. If the Adwami united as a single army they would pose a significant threat to the Thaumaturgs, but their constant bickering and their lack of magical power have led to them being completely disregarded by the mages.

 

The Gangrek Range

The Gangrek Range, also known as the Gangrek Mounts, Fangs or Dragon’s Fangs, is the only significant mountain range on the continent. It runs from the Horn Ocean to the White Spires Ocean down the length of the continent, neatly splitting it between the more arid lands to the west and the dense jungle to the east.

The mountains are mostly limestone, with sinkholes ands lakes dotting their valleys. The mountains are not particularly impressive when compared to the vaster and taller peaks to be found in Seven Cities, Genabackis or the Great Fenn Range of Quon Tali, but form an effective barrier to easy travel across the landmass.

 

The Jungle of Himatan

The Jungle of Himatan makes up fully half of the continent, all of the lands from the Gangrek Range to the eastern coast. Fed by numerous rivers, the jungle is lush, verdant and bursting with life and dangers. This is the domain of Ardata, Queen of Spiders, and creatures which are extinct or unknown elsewhere in the world can be found there in impressive numbers. Some humans dwell in the jungle, worshippers of Ardata, but they are relatively few in number.

The Himatan is said to be part of the mortal world and part of the spirit realm, giving it an unearthly quality. The jungle itself is believed to be alive and ferocious in its defence of its goddess and its secrets.

 

Jakal Viharn

Located in the north of the Himatan Jungle is the ancient city of Jakal Viharn, the seat of Ardata’s power. Little is known of Jakal Viharn but legend and rumour: the city is said to be paved with gold and jewels and protected by sorcery that prevents people from finding it through sorcery or travelling there by warren. The city’s true status is unknown.

 

The Dolmens of Tien

The Dolmens of Tien are a series of stone pillars, each about twelve feet tall and spaced five paces apart, located near the northernmost tip of the Jacuruku continent. Built in ancient times by humans, the pillars form a series of concentric arcs and circles centred on a large circular. An abandoned, ruined city lies nearby.

The Dolmens were originally built as a religious centre but have also served as a cemetery, observatory, prison and temple. Strange sorcery is bound into the Dolmens, enough so that it survived the Fall of the Crippled God, Kallor’s subsequent scouring of the continent down to its bedrock and K’rul’s traumatic healing of the land, all intact. The Dolmens are also known as the site of the First Chaining of the Crippled God, an event famed in history.

 

Credits: Based on the original maps created by Neil Gower. Extrapolated by D’rek at the Malazanempire forum. Placements and names adjusted by myself. Based on the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, Kharkanas Trilogy and Witness Trilogy by Steven Erikson, and the Malazan Empire and Path to Ascendancy series by Ian C. Esslemont.

 

Thank you for reading The Atlas of Ice and Fire. To help me provide better content, please consider contributing to my Patreon page and other funding methods, which will also get you exclusive content weeks before it goes live on my blogs.

Malazan Maps of the Fallen 06: Korelri & Stratem

Our exploration of the geography of Steven Erikson and Ian Esslemont’s Malazan world continues.

Located to the south of Quon Tali and Malaz Isle lies a continent which has been torn apart, geographically and metaphorically, to the point where its very name is disputed. To some of the inhabitants it’s Korel, to others Fist, to others still Theft, and to others Korelri. Some cartographers count the mainland part of the landmass as one distinct continent, Stratem, and the islands as a distinct subcontinent. Others hold that both the islands and the nearby mainland are one subcontinent and Stratem proper does not begin until the continent-spanning central mountain range. Others refuse to get drawn into such arguments, finding them tedious in the extreme.

Korelri is a continent that is aware of the outside world but not particularly interested in it. Travelling to Korelri is problematic: immense, sorcery-spawned ice floes off the west coast prevent easy access to nearby Jacuruku (sometimes called Korel’s “sister continent” due to its proximity), whilst the Bloodmare Ocean to the east is prohibited, as the far shores of that sea wash against the forbidden landmass of Assail, which all right-thinking people avoid.

The more direct route to the north, straight across the Sea of Storms to nearby Malaz Island and thence the south coast of Quon Tali, is suicide: the straits fairly swarm with hostile, alien creatures known as the Stormriders. The point of origin of these entities is unknown. It is known that they relentlessly smash themselves against the Stormwall of Korelri, ceaselessly attempting to breach it to (presumably) ravage the lands beyond.

It’s certainly not impossible to travel to the continent – sweeping out far to the east will bring travellers to the north coast of the island of Fist and even further to the west around the ice fields beyond Jacuruku will (eventually) bring you to the south-western coast of Stratem – but it’s more trouble than it’s worth for many. The Korelri (of Theftian, or Fistian, or Jourilan) people of the continent are fractious, unreliable and in constant conflict with one another, and the continent’s resources are limited.

Korelri & Stratem

A map of the subcontinents of Korelri and Stratem. Some details – particularly of Stratem – are highly speculative. Click for a larger version

History

Approximately 120,000 years ago, the continent of Jacuruku was conquered by the High King, Kallor, whose armies also made forays onto the nearby landmass of Korelri. Kallor’s rule became tyrannical and barbaric, until in desperation a conclave of eight mages summoned the being known as Kaminsod, apparently an utterly alien entity, a god of another world in another reality. Their purpose is unclear, whether they wanted to use Kaminsod to destroy Kallor or believing that his alien sorcery would allow them to overcome Kallor in some fashion. In any case, the summoning went awry and Kaminsod’s material form was brought crashing to the ground in a titanic explosion.

Kaminsod’s fall shattered the continent of Korelri. The Many Isles already lay about its coast, suggesting the continent may have been flooding or fragmenting naturally anyway, but the Fall accelerated the process. Numerous channels opened and the sea rushed in, splinting the northern half of the continent into dozens of large islands and hundreds of small ones. Kaminsod was imprisoned, becoming known as the Crippled God or Chained One, but the other gods were unable to help Korelri or its people. As for Kallor, it fell to three gods to combine their power to overthrow him two years after the Fall, and even this did not go according to plan.

Korelri was repopulated in later millennia, possibly by colonists from the First Empire of Seven Cities. The dominant deity of Korelri became Our Lady the Blessed Saviour, a goddess of tremendous power in the shattered islands but unknown in the world beyond.

3,411 years before Burn’s Sleep, the builder Temal was granted a vision by the Lady that led him to build the Stormwall, an immense fortification stretching for over 100 leagues along the north-western coast of the island of Korelri. The Stormwall and its fanatical religious defenders, the Stormguard, have prevented the mysterious Stormriders from invading Korelri ever since.

In 1066 Burn’s Sleep the mercenary army known as the Crimson Guard swore the Vow and became the (literally) undying enemies of the Malazan Empire. Driven from Quon Tali, they built redoubts on the continent of Stratem far to the south. In 1067 the Malazan Empire invaded Stratem from both east and west, but the Crimson Guard defeated their armies; the severe distances involved and the relatively constrained threat of the Crimson Guard made further such invasions uneconomical and they were abandoned.

Circa 1135 Burn’s Sleep, the Malazan Empire found a safe sea route across the Strait of Storms, swinging wide to the east, beyond the Storin Reef, and thus landing on the island of Fist from the north and east. After initial scouting forays, the Malazan 6th Army invaded Fist and formally occupied the kingdom of Rool, along with its capital Paliss. However, the invasion soon turned sour with the army’s commander, Greymane, was disgraced and forced to abandon his command. In 1158 the 6th Army turned rebel and effectively seceded from the Malazan Empire. The 6th Army was outlawed (a second 6th Army was later reconstituted for the Genabackan campaign) but the Malazan Empire was overstretched on Seven Cities and Genabackis and was unable to bring the rebels to heel. All communication with Fist was subsequently lost.

 

Geography

The continent to the south of Quon Tali is divided into two distinct subcontinents by the immense Aurgatt Range. Everything to the south is known as Stratem, a relatively sparsely-populated land of remote villages and townships separated by hundreds of leagues of wild forests and hills. This land is the home of the Crimson Guard, a hard-to-explore wilderness which the Malazan Empire has only once tried to invade, with such catastrophic results that a century later they haven’t even thought about repeating the effort.

North of the Aurgatt Range and its accompanying glaciers is the subcontinent known variously as Korel, Korelri, Fist, Theft, Jourilan or “the Elder Continent.” The reason for the nomenclature chaos is that the northern subcontinent was smashed asunder in the original Fall of the Crippled God, with numerous islands formed. Each one of these islands has attempted to place its name on the rest of the landmass, which is heavily disputed by the rest. The major islands of the subcontinent are Korel, Theft (although technically part of the same island as Korelri, its radically different culture ensures it is named separately), Remnant Isle, Protector Isle, and Fist. The smaller islands are innumerable.

 

Korel Island

Korel is the longest and narrowest island of the archipelago, stretching for many hundreds of leagues along the Strait of Storms. The western half of the island is dominated by the Stormwall, a colossal fortification standing on the Dead Shore. The Stormwall’s purpose is to hold back the Stormriders, the strange creatures who live in the ocean deeps to the north. The Stormriders frequently attack the Stormwall in an attempt to invade the lands beyond, but the Stormguard have held them back for near four thousand years.

The nation of Korelri lies in the shadow of the Stormwall, with its four major cities of Shelter, Storm, Kor and Elri. The cities exist to service the Stormwall and help provide resources for the continued defence of the continent.

East of Kor lies the Blood Isthmus, linking Korelri to the small nation of Katakan. Katakan and its four major cities (Xixr, Bali, Poon and Molz) are protected from the Stormriders by the Storin Reef, an immense series of reefs and islands located to the north, around which the Stormriders chose not to pass. This geological formation is also held by some to mark the boundary between the Strait or Sea of Storms to the west and Reacher’s Ocean to the north and east.

Katakan’s name suggests it may have been established by colonists from the island of Jakatakan (later renamed Malaz Isle when the city of Malaz deposed Jakata as the primary city of the landmass) to the north-west, across the Strait of Storms, but the truth of this remains unknown.

East of Katakan lies the peninsula of Theft, a region home to numerous independent city-states (including Danig, Stall, Filk, Rip, Steel and Grest). Theft is a lawless land, with each city having its own king and many of the cities serving as bases for pirates and corsairs. The most notable city of the region is Lamentable Moll, a city surrounded and infested by strange, mystical barrows. It is believed that these barrows allow the city to act as a base of operations for mages, who are otherwise outlawed in much of Korelri.

 

Fist Island

Fist is the most heavily-populated of the islands of Korelri, which is probably why the name “Fist” is often used to apply to the entire landmass (to the disdain of the other islands). Fist consists of a wilderness area in the north-west, beyond the Trembling Range, and three distinct nations: Skolati along the east coast, Rool along the south-western coast and Mare in the south.

Skolati consists of several autonomous city-states, the most formidable of which is Aamil. Rool is a far more powerful nation with a capital at Paliss and numerous cities along the coast and in the interior. Rool was conquered by the Malazan 6th Army several decades ago. When the 6th Army seceded from the Empire (following Greymane’s disgrace and disappearance), it was still in control of Rool. The current status of the kingdom is unknown.

Mare is one of the most well-known Korelri nations outside of the continent, mainly due to the kingdom’s maritime culture. The Marese fleet is large, powerful and formidable, and has blockaded the island of Fist for over twenty years. The Malazan Imperial Navy clashed with the Marese several times during the 6th Army’s invasion of Fist and was defeated several times. The last naval defeat was so significant that the Malazan Empire abandoned its attempts to resupply the 6th Army (some believe this led to the 6th Army’s defection, as they felt abandoned, but this is debatable). The Marese field a very large number of Ruse-wielding mages and use massive rams in battle to smash enemy ships to pieces. Even the Malazans, whose shipboard mages found themselves stymied by Mare’s sorcerers, were unable to counteract this tactic.

 

Remnant Isle

Remnant Isle is the largest surviving chunk of the island that use to lie in this region before the Fall of the Crippled God. During the Fall this island bore the brunt of the impact, with a massive explosion forming the Tower Sea out of the resulting crater and throwing up the Children Ridge Mountains around the edges. At the heart of the Tower Sea lies the holy Sky Tower, the most powerful stronghold of the Stormguard.

 

Stygg

Stygg was a kingdom on the mainland of the Korelri/Stratem continent. The kingdom consisted of eight major cities: Cast, Dim, Drak, Ebon, Shade, Shale, Shroud and Sty. Several years ago, the kingdom was invaded by Jheck tribespeople from the Deep Wilderness to the south and conquered. The city-states of Theft to the north contemplated launching a counter-attack, but the Jheck idiotically burned the Styggian fleet at anchor, limiting their threat to the rest of the Korelri continent. The Jheck apparently later retreated back into the Deep Wilderness.

 

The Three Nations

Lying close to one another on the mainland of Korelri are three neighbouring states: Jasston, a small nation lying on the edge of the Plains of Blight; Dourkan and the Jourilan Empire. Dourkan is a martial kingdom and a staunch supporter of the Stormwall, sending troops across Crack Strait to help hold the wall. They also provide mercenaries to the highest bidder.

The Jourilan Empire is the largest of the three nations – although its name is somewhat grandiose given its overall small size – and the most heavily-populated. The Jourilan are also firm supporters of the Stormwall and worshippers of the Lady, but the imperial government is noted for its harshness towards its poor people. The Empire has had to suppress rebellions in the past, but has not learned from these mistakes with repressive measures still in place today.

 

Stratem

To the south of Jourilan and the Plains of Blight lies the Iceback Range, beyond which lies a series of glaciers and tundra abutting the continent-spanning Aurgatt Range. This huge mountain range splits the continent in two, with Korelri (or the Lands of Fist) including all the lands to the north and the subcontinent of Stratem consisting of all the lands to the south.

Stratem far exceeds Korelri in landmass size but falling far below it in terms of population. Stratem consists of huge areas of wilderness, league after league of wild, untapped forest, desolate plains and towering hills. Travel between Korelri and Stratem is limited to ships (made difficult by the treacherous Ice Island Sea to the east) and a single hazardous mountain pass leading through the south of the Jourilan Empire to the north-western part of Stratem. This route has led to the establishment of isolated trading posts and fishing villages along the White Spires Ocean, including Canton Landing.

Further east lies the Sea of Chimes, a near-landlocked body of water that opens into the Bloodmare Ocean at the Straits of Thick. The shores of this sea are claimed by the Crimson Guard, an exiled mercenary army from Quon Tali who have vowed vengeance against the Malazan Empire. The Crimson Guard are predominantly based at Fortress Haven but have also established outlying forts and holdings at North Bastion, Iron Citadel, Exile and Thick. Elsewhere on the continent’s coast lies Toll’s City, the home of the easily-offended Chanters, who once tried to conquer the continent with the help of the Crimson Guard before the latter realised the Chanters were insane and abandoned negotiations.

 

Credits: Based on the original maps created by Neil Gower. Extrapolated by D’rek at the Malazanempire forum. Placements and names adjusted by myself. Based on the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, Kharkanas Trilogy and Witness Trilogy by Steven Erikson, and the Malazan Empire and Path to Ascendancy series by Ian C. Esslemont.

 

Thank you for reading The Atlas of Ice and Fire. To help me provide better content, please consider contributing to my Patreon page and other funding methods, which will also get you exclusive content weeks before it goes live on my blogs.

Malazan Maps of the Fallen 05: Lether

Our exploration of the geography of Steven Erikson and Ian Esslemont’s Malazan world continues.

Lether is the second-largest of the world’s known continents. Relatively remote, it is located far across the enormous Domain Ocean to the east of Assail and to the west of Jacuruku across the White Spires Ocean. The eastern-most part of the Letherii continent, known as Kolanse, is located to the south of the remote western-most shores of Seven Cities, but vast ice floes and unfavourable currents inhibit trade between Lether and the rest of the world.

Vast wastelands and deserts divide the inhabited eastern-most and west-most parts of the continent from one another. Enormous ice floes cover the far north-west of the continent, despite the equatorial location, the result of clashes between the Jaghut and their enemies in ancient epochs. Politically, the continent is dominated by an enormous, expansionist empire which believes in power through the enrichment of the mercantile classes, which in turn funds an exceptionally well-trained army. This Kingdom or Empire of Lether is surrounded by vassals (such as Bluerose and Drene) or submissive client-states which are happy to exploit the kingdom’s vast markets for their own gain. However, the kingdom’s expansion as come at the cost of various nomadic tribes, and the surviving such tribes (the most powerful of which are the Awl to the east and the Tiste Edur to the north) maintain their independence through resistance to Letherii hegemony.

Lether

A map of the continent of Lether. Some details are speculative. Please click for a larger version.

History

Lether, like most of the known world, was settled by humanity during the days of the First Empire. The colonisation of Lether was thorough and impressive. When the First Empire collapsed, the Letherii colonies were cut off and entered a dark age, but through it all maintained memories of the days of empire. The powerful, if unrefined, magic of the First Empire survived through the Holds (whilst the rest of the world embraced the warrens). For thousands of years the descendants of the First Empire ruled a collection of city-states and small kingdoms, whilst other tribal groupings maintained their independence.

Several centuries ago, the city of Letheras assumed primacy over the other city-states of western Lether. It quickly established itself at the centre of a powerful kingdom which conquered, annexed or peacefully absorbed dozens of other cities until it covered much of the western half of the continent. Its primary weapon was not the sword or the bow or sorcery, but coin. Letheras seduced all who came into contact with it with the promise of access to its rich markets, its formidable merchant fleet and its well-guarded trade caravans. Yet those nations and cities which entered in such trade pacts did not find themselves enriched, but instead subsumed. Their own resources were exploited for the benefit of Letheras and they quickly found themselves indebted and subservient.

In such a manner, the Kingdom of Lether (sometimes referred to as the Empire of Lether, although the ruler only styles himself “King” rather than “Emperor”, despite the vast size of his dominions) stretched from the Domain Ocean inland almost to the borders of the Wastelands, and from the immense glaciers of the north to the Dracons Sea and the southern oceans beyond. The current Diskanar Dynasty is believed to be even hungrier for expansion, eyeing both the primitive tribes to the east and south-east and the Tiste Edur tribes to the north.

Fifty years ago, communications with the far eastern kingdom of Kolanse were abruptly curtailed. Although trade with the cities of the Pelasiar Sea and other eastern regions has continued, the reasons for Kolanse going silent have never been made clear, and the vast distance between Lether and Kolanse has prohibited any investigation of the situation.

 

Geography

Lether is a very large continent located in the southern hemisphere. It stretches from the southern equatorial band deep into southern waters, and is mostly temperate. Immense icefields and glaciers, created by the Jaghut through the use of Omtose Phellack sorcery, cover the north-western end of the continent, close to the Tiste Edur lands, and these glaciers help cool the northern parts of the continent. These glaciers also contribute to the continent’s isolation, preventing any port from being built on the continent’s northern coast which would allow for easy trade with the (relatively) nearby powers of Cabal and Perish to the far north or Jacuruku, Quon Tali and Korelri to the east.

In the heart of the continent is a desolate region consisting of badlands, an impassable desert and more wastelands which blocks almost all overland travel between the western end of the continent, dominated by the Kingdom of Lether, and the eastern, dominated by the Kingdom of Kolanse.

 

The Tiste Edur Tribelands

The Tiste Edur live in a coastal region of the continent, trapped between the cold Calash Sea (part of the Domain Ocean) to the north and west, mountains to the south and the immense Jaghut-created ice fields to the east. Their lands are harsh and poor.

There are six Tiste Edur tribes: the Den-Ratha, Merude, Sollanta, Beneda, Arapay and Hiroth. The Hiroth are the largest and powerful tribe, controlling the passes leading south into the Kingdom of Lether. Recently, the Hiroth chieftain, Hannan Mosag, has declared himself Warlock King of the Edur and forced the other tribes to swear fealty to him following a war of unification. The Tiste Edur’s long-term intentions are unknown, but the Letherii do not consider them a viable threat.

 

The Kingdom of Lether

The Kingdom or Empire of Lether dominates the western half of the Letherii continent. The heartlands of the kingdom lie along the Lether River, particularly its capital, Letheras. Major cities and towns of the kingdom of Lether in this western region include Old Katter, Dresh, Awl, Tulamesh, Rennis, Bridle and Harness.

To the south, along the Ouster Sea, Domain Ocean and Dracons Sea, lie formerly independent city-states long subsumed by Lether. These include Old Gedure, Roster, Sadon, Lenth, Gedry (sometimes now called Lether Mouth) and Deselen. To the south-east lies Truce, a Letherii city which has become the heart of semi-autonomous state around it, incorporating cities such as Gress, Obertull, Rance, Mawkesh and Fein. Further south is the protectorate of Karn.

South of the Dracons Sea lies a number of Letherii protectorates and client-states, including Dracons (which spans the north and south shores of the sea and the intervening Pockface Islands), Korshenn, Descent, T’roos, Pilott, Isthmus, D’aliban and Deal.

 

Letheras

Letheras is the capital of the Kingdom of Lether and one of the largest cities on the continent. It is located on both sides of the River Lether at the meeting point of several prosperous trade routes. The city is covered by canals, docks, mercantile directs and noble estates.

The origins of Letheras are ambiguous. The city was certainly once a colony of the First Empire, but it was settled a long time earlier than that by the Jaghut. There is also an Azath Tower in the city, which is scrupulously avoided by most residents and visitors.

 

Bluerose

Bluerose is the name given to the formerly independent kingdom located along the shores of the Bluerose Sea. Three major cities are in this region, namely Bluerose, Jasp and Outbound. Bluerose was annexed by the Letherii nation some years ago and the people of Bluerose are now loyal servants of the empire, their soldiers forming the backbone of Lether’s formidable cavalry formations.

The origins of Bluerose are unclear, its inhabitants apparently being superstitious, following a deity or folklore figure known as the Black-Winged Lord. Rumour also speaks of a hidden stronghold in the mountains, Andara, but this appears to be a local legend.

Old Bluerose, sometimes called “Andii Bluerose”, lies along the west coast of the Bluerose Sea. However, Lether has also colonised the lands to the south, curving around the shores of the Bluerose Sea and extending to the east. Major cities in this region include Pearls, Stall, Wend, Olived, Santchur and Korasch, with Ouster guarding the passes south. The most recent major Letherii acquisition is the kingdom and protectorate of Drene in the east, whose impressively fertile soil helps feed the rest of Lether.

 

The Tribes

Three significant tribal groupings lie along the borders of the Letherii Empire. The D’rhasilhani are located to the east of Deal and the Sea of Dracons and are noted horse-breeders and traders.

The Akrynnai are more formidable. Hailing from their tribal homeland of Ak’ryn, east of D’rhasilhani and south of eastern Bluerose, the Akyrnnai have annexed the kingdom of Kryn (whose numerous rivers provide a barrier to an invasion from Lether to the west). The Akrynnai are noted as both warriors and merchants.

The Awl are more belligerent and powerful. Located in the Awl’dan, a vast grassland region north-east of the Akyrnnai, the Awl are a nomadic people who dwell in yurts. There are five Awl clans of note: the Aendinar, Ganetok, Niritha, Renfayar and Sevond. The Ganetok are the strongest clan. The Letherii annexation of Drene has given them a border with the Awl, which the Awl are not happy about and tensions have recently risen between the two powers.

 

The Small Kingdoms

The kingdoms of Bolkando and Saphinand are located to the east and south of the Akrynnai and Awl tribelands. The two kingdoms are allies, separated by the Ak’ryn Corridor (a buffer zone where the Akrynnai engage in trade). Both kingdoms engage in political intrigue as a way of avoiding conquest by their rivals (most notably Lether), with the current Queen Abrastal of Bolkando particularly respected as a keen player of the political game.

 

The Wastelands

East of the Awl’dan and beyond the small kingdoms lies an area of badlands and hostile wilderness which spans the continent from coast to coast, north to south. This region is known as the Wastelands. It is virtually treeless, with hills, mountains and ridges jumbled together. Sources of water are rare. Even the hardy nomads of the Awl’dan find surviving in the region difficult, and generally shun it.

 

The Glass Desert

The Glass Desert is a dead region located in the centre of the Letherii continent, east of the Wastelands and west of Kolanse. The desert is notable for the complete and total absence of water and life: the desert has been scoured down to the bedrock and is utterly dead, beyond the harshness of any other desert or wasteland in the world. The Glass Desert is believed to be uncrossable, with overland travel diverted south to a narrow, more survivable corridor along the coast. However, a lot of travel between the two ends of the continent are undertaken by sea.

According to rumour, a once-great and glorious city can be found in the very heart of the Glass Desert, Icarias, but this is considered fanciful by many.

 

Kolanse

Kolanse is the name given to both the eastern-most region of the Letherii continent and also the kingdom which dominates the region. Kolanse appears to be analogous to Lether, a powerful mercantile kingdom which has come to dominate the entire region, although this region is much more sparsely populated than the west.

Kolanse City itself is a large port, located on Kolanse Bay, an inlet of the White Spires Ocean. Located at the mouth of the Valley of Blessed Gift, Kolanse City is one of the largest cities east of the Glass Desert, if not the largest. To the north, beyond the mountains, lies Estobanse Province, an enormous and fertile region fed by generous rivers. Towns and cities such as Back, Danan, Hetok and Trelar lie in this area. Estobanse keeps the rest of the kingdom fed during times of famine.

South of Kolanse City the kingdom extends along the coast of the White Spires Ocean. Numerous seaports dot the coast, with fast-running rivers running down from the mountains to the sea. At the southern end of this region is an immense gulf, the Pelasiar Sea, in which lies the Isles of Otpelas. Nearby cities such as Krosis, Kanros and, further inland, Okan and Stet (formerly a forest city whose forest has dwindled), are vassals of Kolanse.

West of Kolanse and east of the Glass Desert lies the Elan Plain, the home of the nomadic tribespeople of the same name. The Elan are divided into bickering and feuding tribes.

Fifty years ago most communication between Kolanse City and the rest of the continent was abruptly cut off. The reasons for this remain unclear. Trade with the rest of the region has continued, but in recent years there have been reports of devastating famines and other calamities affecting the eastern end of the continent.

 

Credits: Based on the original maps created by Neil Gower. Extrapolated by D’rek at the Malazanempire forum. Placements and names adjusted by myself. Based on the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, Kharkanas Trilogy and Witness Trilogy by Steven Erikson, and the Malazan Empire and Path to Ascendancy series by Ian C. Esslemont.

 

Thank you for reading The Atlas of Ice and Fire. To help me provide better content, please consider contributing to my Patreon page and other funding methods, which will also get you exclusive content weeks before it goes live on my blogs.

An Economic Map of the Seven Kingdoms

The continent of Westeros is home to immense natural resources. Gold and silver is found under the hills of the Westerlands, whilst marble is quarried in the Mountains of the Moon. Amber is mined from the Red Mountains, whilst lemon groves dot the Dornish shores of the Summer Sea. The great forests of the North are rich with game, whilst lumber from those woods give rise to powerful longbows. Proud horses are reared on immense ranches on the Reach, whilst the Riverlands’ fertile, well-watered fields yield barley, corn and wheat in immense amounts. Iron mines dot the islands named for them, and vast fish shoals can be found off the shores of the Seven Kingdoms.

Trade is the lifeblood of the Seven Kingdoms, merchants carrying goods and news from Castle Black to Saltshore and sometimes beyond, across the Narrow Sea to the Free Cities and Slaver’s Bay, sped on their way by steed and ship. The constant wheel of growing, harvesting, trade and travel keeps life in the Seven Kingdoms ticking over, and when it is interrupted by war, religious strife and piracy, chaos and sometimes famine results.

Westeros Economy and Trade

The major trade goods of the Seven Kingdoms. Click for a larger version.

The North

Primary Export: Lumber, timber.

Other Resources: Silver mines, stone quarries, fishing, hunting (bears, wolves, seals), mutton & wool, agriculture, silversmithing, shipbuilding.

Making up approximately one-third the total land area of the continent (by some measures), the North is the largest region of Westeros. It is also one of the richest in resources, with the vast forest of the Wolfswood fairly teeming with game (and not just its namesake). Sheep can be found the aptly-named Sheepshead Hills, whilst fish crowd the Bay of Ice. The Bay of Seals is home to many of the same creatures and bears can be found on the island of the same name (northerners not being the most imaginative in naming conventions).

Whilst the North is rich in resources, it is also poorly-equipped to exploit them: its population is small, roughly the same as the Riverlands or the Vale but spread across a much vaster area.

The most important export of the North is lumber. The Wolfswood and the forests along the White Knife and its tributaries have been heavily forested over the centuries. Great cargo skiffs ferry the lumber downriver to White Harbor, from where it is shipped all over Westeros. A key export market is the (relatively) nearby Free City of Braavos, which hungers for wood to maintain its mighty fleet.

Other key exports are stone and silver. Mines and quarries up in the Northern Mountains extract the material and again it is moved downriver, via Long Lake and the White Knife, to White Harbor. White Harbor has a thriving silversmith trade, as well as a modest shipyard.

The North’s weather is unpredictable and dangerous, particularly during the long winters, so the people also have to look to their own survival. Ice-fishing on the major rivers, off the coasts and on Long Lake is a key industry, as is the use of greenhouses. It is no coincidence that the two strongest fortresses of the North are Winterfell and the Dreadfort, both built over natural sources of heat: the hot springs under Winterfell and the volcanic vents under the Dreadfort. Both of these resources have been tapped to allow food to be grown and harvested even during the longest and deadliest winters.

The Kingsroad is a vital trade link between the North and the rest of the continent, allowing goods to be carried at relative speed from Winterfell to King’s Landing, some 1,500 miles to the south. There are no other major roads of note, only tracks and local roads. White Harbor is the region’s most important trade link, connecting the North to the south and the Free Cities by sea. The lack of a major port on the west coast of the North (most of which is lightly-habited) has inhibited the economic development of the coast, as such a port would link to the North with the rich markets of Seagard, Lordsport, Lannisport and even Oldtown down the west coast of the continent.

 

The Iron Islands

Primary Export: Iron and tin.

Other Resources: Fish, lead.

The Iron Islands are the poorest region of the Seven Kingdoms. The islands are small but relatively densely populated, putting a strain on local food supplies (although fish are abundant in the waters surrounding the islands). In ancient times it is believed that the islands’ lack of riches encouraged the Ironborn to develop their raiding culture, and since the rich plunder of the coasts of Westeros were denied to them by the Targaryens, their economic situation has deteriorated.

Still, the Iron Islands are not completely lacking in resources. Great iron mines dot several of the islands, most of them on Great Wyk, and tin is also produced on the islands in significant amounts, as is (to a lesser amount) lead. Those houses who have been canny enough to exploit these resources and sell them to the mainland have seen their fortunes rise compared to those houses which have disdained such pursuits as weak or unmanly.

The Iron Islands have a voracious appetite for wood to build, repair and maintain their fleets. The largest forests on the islands were destroyed centuries ago, so the Ironborn set out to defoliate the surrounding coasts. The large, well-forested but sparsely-populated Cape Kraken to the north has been the favoured site of such deforestation expeditions, although more recently the Ironborn have had to pay or enter into trade with the Northern houses holding the peninsula for such resources.

 

The Riverlands

Primary Export: Cattle.

Other Resources: Fish, grain.

The Riverlands lie at the centre of Westeros and enjoy a wide variety of terrain types, with numerous rivers keeping the land fertile, numerous smallholdings dotting the landscape and more open areas proving to be effective crop and grazing land. Cattle-rearing is common in the Riverlands and provides the region with a strong income, with the swift rivers providing merchants with a fast and reliable method of shipping goods to the coast or the capital. Fishing in the rivers and on Gods Eye also provides another source of food.

The Riverlands also enjoy a sizable economic advantage with small ports located on both the east and west coasts of the continent: Saltpans and Maidenpool to the east and Seagard to the west, with the swift River Trident providing convenient travel between them. There also major large market towns, including Lord Harroway’s Town, Fairmarket and Stoney Sept.

There are also other, more localised resources: the town of Saltpans is named for the substance of the same name, which is exported up and down the coast.

The Riverlands’ primary economic weakness is the same as its military and political one: its central location at the heart of the continent. Almost every major war in the history of Westeros has swept across the borders of the Riverlands and left parts of it a smoking wasteland, most recently during Robert’s Rebellion, and it takes years or even decades to fully recover. The Riverlands have also traditionally not been held by a strong, central government. Frequent shifts in authority and long-simmering feuds (most famously that of the Brackens and Blackwoods, which according to legend has endured for millennia) have left the region with a strong independent streak. Although the Tullys rule from Riverrun, many houses do all but disdain them (most notably the Freys) and it is questionable if all of the region’s taxes are accurately tallied. Still, Lord Hoster Tully has been a stronger ruler than most and under his rule the Riverlands have become somewhat more unified.

 

The Vale of Arryn

Primary Exports: Grain, marble.

Other Resources: Wheat, corn, barley, fruit, pumpkins, candles.

The Vale of Arryn holds a strong economic position upon the continent of Westeros, with the Mountains of the Moon proving a fortification more daunting than the Wall and the port at Gulltown giving the region each access to both foreign and domestic markets.

The mountains themselves are not particularly rich in minerals, with gold and silver rare (or quarried out in extremely ancient times) but marble is quarried in significant amounts among the peaks. The multiple valleys leading down from the mountains to the sea are also rich and fertile, giving rise to large farmsteads and landholdings. Fruit grows in the hills in prodigious amounts, and pumpkins are a surprisingly lucrative export from the region. Some parts of the Vale have started making wine, finding both the climate and geography suitable to it, but as yet the dominance of the Arbor and the Reach is not in jeopardy.

On the south coast of the Vale is Wickenden, where beeswax has been cultivated in great quantities. The castle and surrounding region is a rich source of scented beeswax castles which are sold to the Free Cities and the rest of Westeros.

Gulltown has transformed itself from a modest settlement to a larger city, a waystop for ships travelling the Narrow Sea between Braavos and Pentos. Under Lord Petyr Baelish’s stewardship (before his removal to King’s Landing to serve the king as Master of Coin), tax revenues on the port increased prodigiously. These factors have combine to make the Vale one of the richer regions of Westeros. Its primary weakness is the unruly hill tribes of the Mountains of the Moon, who sometimes close the high road through the mountains to the Bloody Gate, inhibiting travel and trade into the region by land.

 

The Westerlands

Primary Exports: Gold, silver.

Other Resources: Fishing along the coast. Shipbuilding, some horse-rearing and crop-growing.

The Westerlands are the richest region of Westeros, at least in terms of the amount of money per head of population. Massive gold and silver mines dot the western hills, at least half a dozen (at Casterly Rock, the Golden Tooth, Castamere, Nunn’s Deep, the Pendric Hills and Silverhill) of impressive note. Gold and silver are mined in larger quantities in the Westerlands than in the rest of Westeros combined, and the riches of the Rock are spoken of as far away as Qarth and even Asshai.

Other industries also exist: vast shoals of fish can be found off Fair Isle and the Kayce Peninsula. Boars fairly infest the forested highlands just inland from Crakehall. The southern parts of the Westerlands brush against the north-western-most plains of the Reach, and in this region, horses are reared and crops raised.

A key part of the economy of the Westerlands is the city of Lannisport. The third-largest city on the continent, the city undertakes trade with Oldtown and even the Summer Islands to the south, and Dorne and the Free Cities to the far south-east, as well as more limited trade with the Iron Islands to the north (memories of the Greyjoy Rebellion, when Lannisport’s harbour was razed by Euron and Victarion Greyjoy, remain fresh). The mouth of the Mander, not far to the south, also provides a ready means of access to the interior of the Reach.

 

Westeros Trade Routes - big

The major trade routes of the Seven Kingdoms. Click for a large version.

The Crownlands

Primary Export: Grain.

Other Resources: Fishing and farming, woods and orchards. Shipbuilding. Metalsmithing, alchemy at King’s Landing.

The Crownlands are a divided into two regions: a very fertile inland plain running across the border with the Riverlands towards God’s Eye, which is dominated by farms and (along the Kingsroad) market towns, and the coastal region which is wilder and craggier (especially along Crackclaw Point). Crabs can be found along the coast of Crackclaw Point, in the Bay of Crabs and on Claw Isle, whilst Blackwater Bay is home to many varieties of fish.

Grain is the primary export of the region, although an enormous amount of it makes its way south to King’s Landing. The largest city in Westeros, King’s Landing’s 400,000 residents require vast amounts of food by both land and sea. King’s Landing’s resources are immense, with shipbuilding along the Blackwater Rush, metalsmithing, weapon-smithing and horse-trading also being key industries. The Kingswood is home to huge amounts of game, most notably boar, but hunting is strictly controlled as the stretches of the forest nearest the capital form the king’s private hunting reserve.

Duskendale is also a major port, although it has been eclipsed by both the growth of the capital over the last 300 years and the town’s reduction in fortunes since the Defiance of Duskendale twenty years ago.

The remains of once-impressive ports and shipyards can be found on Driftmark, although the island’s heyday is long in the past. The island enjoys a more modest level of success today. Obsidian is found on the volcanic island of Dragonstone in notable quantities, but the value of this substance as a trade item is dubious.

 

The Stormlands

Primary Exports: Lumber, amber

Other resources: Fish, game animals.

The Stormlands are relatively sparsely-populated considering their size and the storms which lash the coast do not make them an inviting arena for trade. The lack of a major port on the east coast is another problem, as is the thin and stony soil which gives rise to only modest crop yields. The Stormlands are said to have a lot of trees and rain and not much else.

Nevertheless, the Stormlands are not totally lacking in resources. Amber is quarried in the Red Watch (the north-eastern protrusion of the Red Mountains) and the immense forests on Cape Wrath and further north are exploited for lumber. The Weeping Town on the south coast is relatively obscure, but is still the best harbourage in an area lacking in good ports.

 

 

The Reach

Primary Exports: Grain and wine.

Other Resources: Melons, fireplums, peaches, apples (red and green), grapes.

The Reach is the second-largest region of Westeros, after the North, and the most fertile and populous, with a population estimated at between 10 and 12 million souls, more than twice that of any other region. The immense River Mander and its tributaries feed an immense plain packed with farms, smallholdings, market towns and pastures. Horses and cattle are reared on steadings, fruit trees dot the coasts and fishing ships can be found offshore. The Arbor, a large island off the south coast, is home to immense shipyards and inland vineyards, where the fabled Arbor Gold is made.

The Reach is dominated economically by Oldtown. The second-largest city in Westeros (although only just), it commands an impressive harbour and is a vital trade link between the Free Cities, Summer Islands and Lannisport. Oldtown has shipbuilding industries and hosts religious pilgrims making the journey to see the Starry Sept, the ancestral home of the Faith of the Seven in Westeros. Oldtown is also a centre for knowledge, with the Citadel being a repository of knowledge and wisdom unmatched by any in the known world (save perhaps distant, storied Asshai), and is a centre for the sciences, arts and industries.

In terms of the sheer amount of money that passes through the region, the Reach is likely richer than the Westerlands, but the Westerlands are significantly richer-per-head of population and have a stronger, more unified central authority which gives them more gold immediately to hand. Still, one would challenge the economic might of the Reach only at their peril.

 

Dorne

Primary Exports: Olives and wine.

Other Resources: Wells, lemons, pomegranates, plums, cloth, spices, blood oranges, sand steeds, yew bows.

Dorne, at first glance, is a poor land. Located at the southern-most end of the Westerosi continent and dominated by an immense inland desert, Dorne lacks vast forests, significant rivers or minerals. However, the land is richer than it first appears. The coast of the Summer Sea is balmy, giving rise to orange and lemon groves, rich spices (including the fabled dragon peppers, said to be challenge the fortitude of both a man’s tastebuds and his digestive tract) and plums. Olive groves dot many of the coasts and river banks and are one of the country’s primary exports.

Dornish wine is – arguably – not as storied as Arbor Gold but it has an acquired taste and the Dornish export significant quantities of it to the nearby Free Cities.

Also much in demand are the Dornish sand steeds, noted for their speed, their agility and their ability to endure on limited amounts of food and water. Although not useful for massed combat, their value to scouts, messengers and outriders is remarkable. The Dornish are reluctant to part with them to outsiders but the trade in horses is a notable part of the peninsula’s internal economy, as does the trade in Dornish yew bows (a most formidable missile weapon).

A carefully-guarded resource in Dorne is water. Wells dot the deserts and badlands, and guides and merchants who know their way between the wells can travel across Dorne much more rapidly, linking the capital at Sunspear with the rest of the continent at surprising speed.

 

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Languages of the Known World

Dozens of languages are spoken in the known world, from the Common Tongue of Westeros to the mysterious speech known as Assha’i, one of the Shadow Tongues from the edge of the world. These languages have descended from other, more ancient forms of speech such as the Old Tongue of Westeros, the ancient language of the Great Empire of the Dawn and High Valyrian.

Languages Dawn of Days

The ancestral languages of Westeros and Essos in the Dawn of Days (c. 12,000 BC), just before the First Men began their migrations into Westeros.  Click for a larger version.

Descent of Languages

Maesters theorise the existence of one original human language (“Proto-Mannish” in some unimaginative studies), spoken by all men and women before a diaspora spread them across all the known world (and perhaps to lands as yet unknown beyond the borders of our maps). Our earliest records suggest, however, that all modern speech descends from seven base language groups derived from this original mother tongue.

The Old Tongue was the language of the First Men, spoken in their original tribal homelands in what are now believed to be the Disputed Lands and the lower Rhoyne. The First Men carried the Old Tongue to Westeros, but those who remained behind are believed to have continued speaking it. The Old Tongue diverged over millennia, but maesters believe it may be the ancestral mother tongue of both the Andal and Rhoynar languages, which developed in succeeding millennia.

Sarnori was the speech of the ancient empire of Sarnor which extended across much of what is now the Dothraki Sea. The Sarnori tongue may have influenced surrounding languages, most notably Ibbish, ancient proto-Dothraki and Lhazareen.

Old Ghiscari was the language of the Ghiscari Empire. The language was widely spoken until the final defeat and sack of Old Ghis by the Valyrian Freehold. Knowledge of the language was banned and the vassal Ghiscari cities were forced to speak High Valyrian. However, even the passage of thousands of years could not completely extinguish knowledge of the tongue, and it seems to have continued to be spoken in secret and in remote regions as well as influencing naming conventions (which even at the height of the Freehold seem to have differed in Slaver’s Bay from Valyria proper). Since the Doom of Valyria, the cities of Slaver’s Bay and New Ghis have developed a hybrid tongue consisting of High Valyrian and Ghiscari words which have survived.

High Valyrian is the most recent of the base languages, apparently developing in isolation at the tip of the Valyrian Peninsular (although some have cited evidence of language influences from the Old Tongue, Rhoynish and Ghiscari, but this is debatable). When the Valyrian Freehold began its expansion across the known world, they carried the language to all corners of Essos, sometimes subsuming local tongues, at other times tolerating them. High Valyrian is the mother tongue of most languages spoken in western Essos today.

Qaathi was the language of the people of the same name, who lived on the Grasslands east and south of Sarnor. They were displaced by Sarnor to south of the Skahazadhan, where they became the forerunners of the modern Qartheen, with Qaathi likely being the mother tongue of the modern language of Qarth and its vassal holdings.

Ancient YiTish was the language of the Great Empire of the Dawn and influenced the languages of all the surrounding lands and successor states. Modern YiTish (and the Lengese off-shoot dialect), Hyrkoonish and the islands of the Jade Sea likely had their tongues influenced by this ancient tongue as well, and possibly the Jogos Nhai as well.

The Shadow Tongues or Ancient Asshai’i are the languages hailing from the uttermost east. Little is known of these languages, as the natives of Asshai and the Shadow do not teach their tongue to anyone who does not swear loyalty to their unknown causes. According to some travellers, the Asshai’i and related languages descend from the tongue of the unknown and possibly pre-human people who founded Asshai in time immemorial, leaving behind strange markings on oily black stones. However, this is considered fanciful at best by the learned.

Languages

Approximate modern language groupings of the known world. Click for a larger version.

Modern Languages of Essos

The dominant and most widely-spoken language in the known world is probably Low Valyrian, sometimes called Bastard Valyrian. This language is derived from High Valyrian, but combined with local variants, dialects and influence from surrounding areas. Low Valyrian is a language slowly fragmenting into lesser tongues, so in a thousand years each of the Free Cities may be speaking a different tongue altogether, but for now the languages are mutually intelligible. This language grouping is spoken in the Free Cities, the Stepstones, the Lands of the Long Summer and Slaver’s Bay, as well as at Morosh (the colony-city of Lorath, located at the mouth of the Sarne).

The Slaver’s Bay variant of Valyrian, particularly that spoken in Meereen, Astapor and Yunkai, shows a very strong Ghiscari influence.

Another major language grouping is YiTish, spoken in the Golden Empire of Yi Ti, with an offshoot variant spoken on the offshore island of Leng (resulting from an ancient invasion and occupation of Leng by its mainland neighbour). This language’s influence extends to the borderlands of the Jogos Nhai, who speak their own tongue (possibly derived from Ancient YiTish, when the Great Empire ruled all of the plains as well as the modern imperial heartland), and north-eastwards towards Nefer and N’Ghai, whose own tongue is also likely descended from Ancient YiTish.

Hyrkoonish is spoken in the mountain cities of Kayakayanaya, Samyriana and Bayasabhad, the remains of the ancient Patrimony of Hyrkoon which emerged from the Long Night and the collapse of the Great Empire, so its tongue derived from Ancient YiTish but has developed in a different direction.

Dothraki is surprisingly widely-spoken, due to Vaes Dothrak’s development into an unofficial trade centre between the lands of east and west and the Dothraki’s wide-ranging khalasars bringing knowledge of the tongue to all the lands from the Narrow Sea to the Bones and from the Shivering Sea to Slaver’s Bay. The language is believed to have been derived from ancient Sarnori, who dominated the Grasslands ere the Doom and the Dothraki’s rise to power in the Bleeding Years.

Modern Sarnori, the direct descendant of the ancient tongue, is spoken today only in the city of Saath, sole surviving remnant of the ancient Sarnori empire. Only twenty thousand now speak a language that was once spoken by millions.

Qartheen is the language spoken in Qarth and by its vassal cities, Port Yhos and Qarkash, as well as in the smaller trade towns and villages located along the coast of the Jade Gates. The language is also widely spoken along the coasts of Great Moraq, where Qartheen traders frequently put in for resupply. The language is derived from ancient Qaathi.

Lhazareen is spoken in the nation of Lhazar. The language is believed to have derived most directly from Sarnori, but over the millennia strong Valyrian, Ghiscari, Qaathi and, more latterly, Dothraki, influences have come to play a role.

Ibbish is spoken on Ib and its vassal states, including Far Ib and the colony of New Ibbish. Ibbish is not believed to have a human progenitor tongue (some maesters believe that the Ibbish are a related but different species, others believe that they are a hybrid race resulting from a union between humans and a vanished non-human people).

The Summer Tongue and the possibly-related Naathi are spoken on the islands of those names. The origin of these tongues is less clear, given the geographic isolation of the islands.

Asshai’i and the Shadow Tongues are spoken in and around Asshai and the Shadow Lands. Allegedly, these languages hold great magical power and this is why knowledge of these tongues is carefully guarded by those who speak them. The Citadel is of the opinion that this is simple superstitious nonsense.

Many other languages are spoken in the east, although not widely and their origins are highly disputed. These include the languages spoken in the Basilisk Isles, which are a hodgepodge of every tongue in the known world, and on the islands of the Jade Sea, which exhibit both unique characteristics and strong influences from Qarth, Yi Ti and possibly Asshai.

Language Tree

A very rough and approximate language tree for Westerosi and Essosi tongues. Click for a larger version.

Languages of Westeros

The Seven Kingdoms of Westeros span some three thousand miles from the Wall to the south coast of Dorne, incorporating numerous offshore islands and a mixed religious and cultural heritage, with the influence of the First Men and the old gods of the forest being strong in the North and the descent of the Andals and the Faith of the Seven dominating the rest of the continent. However, despite numerous regional accents, one language holds sway over the entire nation, the Common Tongue, also called Westerosi by outsiders, and has done for many centuries. The language has evolved and changed in that time of course, but the changes have occurred across the entire landmass, more or less in step with one another.

This is highly unusual given how language drift can be observed occurring on a smaller distance and timescale in Essos: the unified language of the Valyrian Freehold beginning to fragment (after only four centuries) into regional dialects which are likely the prototypes for future separate Braavosi, Tyroshi, Volantene and Meereenese languages (amongst others). However, Westeros has some distinctive elements which help explain why such language drift has not occurred.

The first language spoken in Westeros was the True Tongue of the Children of the Forest, the language of earth, forest and sky. The First Men invaded Westeros across the Arm of Dorne, by tradition, some twelve thousand years ago and brought with them the Old Tongue. The Children and the First Men fought one another to a standstill, although it took the sinking of the Arm of Dorne and the flooding of the Neck (both, allegedly, by magic) to do so. The Pact was agreed on the Isle of Faces and the Children and the First Men learned to live together in peace. The First Men abandoned their ancient rituals and took up the worship of the old gods of the forest.

How close the relationship between the First Men and the Children was seems to vary according to the account, but it seems at least that some men were trained by the Children in their religious ways, becoming the Green Men. It is likely that there was some language interchange at this time, and some elements of the True Tongue may have entered the Old Tongue. Records are spotty because the Old Tongue was not written down on paper or in books, but instead inscribed as runes on rock. The lack of easy written communication probably led to a great divergence of languages during the period (lasting between two and four millennia) between the swearing of the Pact and the onset of the Long Night.

The Long Night and the War for the Dawn were a catastrophe unprecedented in Westeros. It is theorised that a large proportion of the population of the continent was wiped out during the winter that lasted a generation and the resulting famine that ravaged the lands. Stories of invading “Others” riding ice-spiders can be discounted as a fancy, but may relate to an ancient conflict for resources that resulted in the splitting of the original wildlings from the First Men of the North. Although Westeros recovered after the Long Night, it seems to have been a long process.

During this period it is believed that the Hightowers arose to power, raised the foundations of what became the High Tower and the city of Oldtown, and allowed the founding of the Citadel and the order of maesters. The precise dating of this is unclear and may be lost to legend, but it seems to have predated the Andal invasion by at least centuries.

The Andal invasion, when it came, was absolute and devastating for the native cultures of Westeros. The South was subdued, although the North resisted successfully, and the Andals imposed their technology (including the working of iron and the riding of horses in battle), their religion (the Faith of the Seven) and their language upon the conquered nation. This unifying event seems to have begun the unification of Westeros’s language into one cohesive tongue.

The language that that the Andals brought with them is given various names, but most simply it was the direct ancestor of modern Westerosi, the Common Tongue of the Seven Kingdoms. The Old Tongue was apparently proscribed and disappeared in a surprisingly short period of time, as the language of the superstitious First Men whose primitive religion was no longer tolerated. Whilst a determined – and evidently successful – effort to wipe out the Old Tongue is possible as an explanation for this, it is not entirely convincing. The Andals lacked the numbers to impose their will on the First Men completely by force of arms, and their invasion was mainly achieved by local military victories followed by winning the loyalty of the native First Men population and turning them against their neighbours (who’d often been their enemies for centuries or millennia anyway). The relative ease with which the southrons abandoned the old gods suggests that perhaps of the worship of the old gods was waning anyway, with the Children having disappeared centuries earlier, and the people were eager for a different religion with more comprehensible rules and comforting rituals.

In terms of language, the answer may be simpler still: the Old Tongue appears to have been a harsh and guttural mode of speech, with a relatively limited lexicon and unimaginative naming conventions (Skagos as “land of stone”, for example, or Magnar, “lord”, being used as a title, a name or both). Its primitiveness was an asset when scratching runes into slate or rocks, but limiting when it came to the development and spreading of ideas across distances. This may also explain the relatively slow development of the First Men compared to the more dynamic technological development occurring with the Andals and Rhoynar, among others, in Essos The Andalese language was simply much more sophisticated, capable of transmitting far more information. The Andals also brought with them the art of writing with ink and parchment, and the earliest books and scrolls in Westeros date from this time.

The spread of the Common Tongue across the continent of Westeros can thence be explained as a combination of several factors: the fact that the language was far more sophisticated and useful as a mode of communications; its status as the official language of the Faith of the Seven, which was undergoing a huge surge in popularity; and its adoption by the maesters of the Citadel.

This last part is likely key. Every lord in Westeros, even in the North, had by this time adopted a maester to provide advice, act as a conduit for communication (via the Citadel’s famously effective network of messenger ravens) and tutor their children, and sometimes other members of their household. The result was a continent-spanning network at the highest level of information exchange, all using the same language.

This is how the languages of Westeros were homogenised from the top down. It is possible that local and regional variations still occurred, possibly enough in isolated areas to start moving towards a completely different language (such as on Skagos), but the rule of law and methods of communication were imposed by the nobility who were linked, even across different kingdoms and regions, by their shared religion (apart from in the North, aside from a couple of toeholds) and, more decisively, by the communication and education skills of the maesters. This situation remained unchanged until the Rhoynar arrived in force in Dorne. Although the Rhoynar learned the Common Tongue, some Rhoynish terms and accent influences seeped into the Dornish people, giving them a distinct dialect from the rest of the continent, although the shared religion and influence of the maesters prevented too much language drift.

The final unification of the languages of the Seven Kingdoms took place when the Targaryens invaded and unified the continent under the Conqueror. Despite their Valyrian heritage, the Targaryens adopted the Faith of the Seven, the practice of using maesters and the language of Westeros with enthusiasm. Apart from some of the more remote wildling tribes, one language took hold from the Summer Sea to far beyond the Wall, and this remains the case today.

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Malazan Maps of the Fallen 04: Genabackis

After a brief hiatus, our exploration of the geography of Steven Erikson and Ian Esslemont’s Malazan world continues.

Genabackis is a relatively narrow, long continent extending for thousands of miles from north to south, with a single large peninsula extending eastwards at the southern end of the landmass. The northern end of the continent was once covered by immense glaciers which have since retreated, leaving behind a landscape of frozen rivers and countless lakes. Traditionally Genabackis has been a land of city-states and tribal groupings, with large empires and nations relatively unknown for most of its history.

Genabackis is located east of Seven Cities, across Seeker’s Deep (known in Genabackis as the Meningalle Ocean); north-east of Quon Tali and Korelri, across the Reacher’s Ocean; north of Assail, across the Rivan Sea; and far to the north-west of Lether and the far western coast of Seven Cities, across the Rust and Domain Oceans.

Genabackis

A map of the continent of Genabackis. Some details are speculative. Please click for a larger version.

History

In ancient times, Genabackis saw mighty battles rage between the Jaghut, who had many redoubts on the continent, and the T’lan Imass. One of the most powerful and formidable of the Jaghut Tyrants, Raest, dwelt on this continent and exerted a reign of terror so devastating that other Jaghut allied with T’lan Imass to overthrow him. He was too powerful to be destroyed, so he was imprisoned by sorcery under the Gadrobi Hills of central Genabackis.

Numerous other wars between the Jaghut and Imass followed, until all of the Jaghut of Genabackis had (apparently) been utterly destroyed. The retreat of the glaciers from Genabackis (aside from the naturally-occurring ones at the far northern end of the continent) suggests that the Imass were more successful in their genocide of the Jaghut species on this continent than on Lether or Quon Tali, where many areas of impassable ice remain.

Even before the time of the Imass and Jaghust, Genabackis is believed to have been inhabited by the K’Chain Che’Malle. One of their cities was located in south-western Genabackis at Morn; a nearby Jaghut tower, although still ancient, is considerably younger in age than the ruined city.

Like almost all of the continents of the world, Genabackis was settled by human colonists from the First Empire of what is now Seven Cities. However, the collapse of the Empire seems to have led to the cutting of ties with Genabackis and the collapse of client-kingdoms on that landmass. There appears to have been an interregnum, during which time the humans of Genabackis became divided between tribal groups and villagers, before cities began rising to power again several thousand years ago.

The city of Darujhistan was founded on Genabackis in 837 Before Burn’s Sleep. It is believed that several cities predated Darujhistan, most notably Pale, whose immense foundations and subterranean levels of settlement hint at a history stretching back thousands of years earlier. Darujhistan developed gas power circa 263 Burn’s Sleep, marking the city’s growth in importance as a trading waystop between the densely-populated northern part of the continent and the sparser lands to the south.

In 1150 Burn’s Sleep, the mysterious Pannion Seer arrived at the city of Bastion, central-eastern Genabackis, and spoke the Words of Truth, resulting in the First Embrasure. The population of Bastion swore to follow the Seer, slaughtering a trade caravan from Elingarth in the far south of the continent. Nine months later Anaster, the First Child of the Dead Seed, was born.

The so-called Pannion Domin began to slowly expand, swallowing up surrounding villages and towns. It might be the informal alliance known as the Free Cities of Genabackis may have investigated this threat, if a much greater one had not suddenly burst upon them.

In 1152 Burn’s Sleep, the armies of the Malazan Empire invaded Genabackis. Malazan armies landed on the far north-western and north-eastern coasts, overrunning the areas around the Malyn and Owndos seas in a matter of months. The surprise attack saw the Malazans gain a formidable toehold upon the continent, but the Free Cities were quick to rally. They established mutual lines of support and defence and employed mercenary companies to bolster their own troops. The Malazans found their initial successes quickly bogging down into protracted sieges. The disappearance and apparent death of Emperor Kellanved in 1154 distracted the Malazans for a time.

In 1156, the Malazans signed a surprising formal alliance with the Moranth of western coastal Genabackis. The Moranth were motivated by centuries of feuding and skirmishing with the Free Cities, most notably Pale. The Malazans gained access to the advanced formidable Moranth munitions, chemical explosive weapons of tremendous power, which they were quick to exploit. This alliance led to significant victories, but three years later these reversed when the Free Cities allied with the Crimson Guard, the mercenaries commanded by Warlord Caladan Brood and the Tiste Andii of Moon’s Spawn under Anomander Rake, Son of Darkness. This powerful alliance pushed the Malazans back into Blackdog Forest, where fighting bogged down for the next four years.

In 1160 the Malazans sent reinforcements to Genabackis, beginning a siege of Pale itself in an attempt to split the attentions of the enemy. However, they failed and a protracted siege resulted.

As of 1163, the Siege of Pale continues but there are signs that it may be drawing to a close. The Malazan forces in northern Genabackis appear to have achieved some breakthroughs as well. If Anomander Rake and his allies can be defeated, the Malazans can turn their eye to storied Darujhistan. But there is also the growing threat of the Pannion Domin to the south-east, which has begun expanding and may soon threaten the entire continent.

 

Geography

Genabackis is a large continent, stretching from equatorial regions to the southern edge of the polar region, and is also relatively narrow. The continent as a whole is mostly temperate, with a warm southern coast and a cold northern one, with numerous lakes in the north (the remnants of vast glaciers which have since retreated) and larger plains in the south.

 

Northwest Genabackis

The northern tip of the Genabackan continent is dominated by the Malyn Mountains, a significant chain of towering peaks stretching from the shores of the Meningalle Ocean to Silver Lake. The range splinters around the Laederon Plateau, home of the feared Teblor tribes, who also dwell on the Teblor Tundra to the north.

South of these mountains lie the Malyn and Owndos Seas, large lakes whose shores are dotted with cities and towns like Malyntaeas, Bettrys, Blued and Owndos. These towns and cities, easily linked to the sea by the Treller Cut, have grown rich on trade with Seven Cities across the Meningalle Ocean to the west. However, this region’s accessibility made it ripe for conquest by the Malazan Empire, which has secured the region and installed their continental capital at Genabaris on the west coast.

 

Northeast Genabackis

Northeast Genabackis extends from the Owndos Sea to the shores of the Rust Ocean and south to the inland Lead Sea. This region, dominated by the rivers Gan, Gend and Sogen, is dominated by several major trading cities, including Sogena, One Eye Cat, Hoop, Evinor, Apple and, on its island off the coast, Horan, along with numerous small settlements on the Free City Plain, Stannis Plain and Harbinger Peninsula. This region was also invaded by the Malazans, but they faced stiffer resistance and the Free City Alliance was formed to fight against them. Over the course of almost a decade of warfare, most of the Free Cities have fallen, but a few carry on the fight with the help of Anomander Rake, Caladan Brook and other notable generals.

 

Western Genabackis

Western Genabackis has been the site of the heaviest fighting between the Malazans and their enemies. This region is dominated by plains, notably the fertile and verdant Reach in the north and the yellow-grassed Rhivi Plain to the south, the home of the nomadic Rhivi people. At the northern end of this region is the Blackdog Forest, a tangle of vine and roots where the Malazan army was bogged down for years of fierce fighting with the Mott Irregulars and Caladan Brood’s forces.

Most notable in this region is the western coastal area controlled by the Moranth. A reclusive and secretive people, the Moranth ended centuries of seclusion to unexpectedly ally with the Malazan Empire, ostensibly to take their revenge on the people of Pale whom they had skirmished with for generations. The Moranth have proved to be a formidable fighting force and their alchemical bombs, known as Moranth munitions, have proved to be an effective addition to the Malazan arsenal.

The Moranth territories include the Cloud Forest and Moranth Mountains extending as far north as the Mistral Plateau and as far south as Mengal. The city of Oach, on the coast to the west of the Mistral Plateau, has been conquered by the Malazans and was well-placed for trade and communication with the Moranth.

 

The Barghast and Bhederin

The Barghast are a formidable warrior culture of eastern Genabackis. A non-human species, they are seen as “exotic barbarians” by outsiders. Although a fiercely independent culture, they are also not scared of strangers and are noted for their humour, sense of honour and loyalty to their allies. The Barghast inhabit the Barghast Range of eastern Genabackis and the plains on either side. Their lands are largely barren and empty of resources, which is why they have endured for tens of thousands of years even in the face of “civilised” cities appearing on the coast to the north and south.

Species similar to the Barghast have been found on several continents, suggesting there was once a diaspora by sea. If so, the Barghast seem to have lost their ancient arts of boat-building and sailing.

West of the Barghast territories lies the Bhederin Plateau, home to the enormous creatures as Bhederin, which the Rhivi use for both food and occasionally mounts. The Bhederin are the descendants of a far larger, extinct species known as the Bhed, whose awe-inspiring remains have been found by explorers.

 

Central Genabackis

Central Genabackis is more sparsely-populated than the north, with larger areas of wilderness between settlements. Lake Azur, more of an inland sea than a lake, dominates this region.

The Free City of Pale sits just north of the lake and the Tahlyn Mountains, at the southern end of the Rhivi Plain. Pale is one of the most ancient and formidably-defended cities on the continent, noted for its massive curtain walls. The city is rich, with cobbled streets and well-tiled roofs. However, it is also arguably past its peak, with trade becoming more centralised in the north or in Darujhistan to the south. The Krael Quarter has become home to shanties and lean-tos inhabited by poor people and refugees. Pale has been besieged by the Malazan and Moranth armies for the past three years, further reducing its income and prospects.

To the south-east of Pale, beyond the Divide (a wide gap in the Tahlyn Mountains), lies a fertile region along the Rust Ocean which has been densely populated over the centuries. This region is dominated by the port cities of Capustan and Coral, with lesser cities such as Lest, Setta, and Maurik located between them. The River Catlin provides a means of trade and transport from Capustan to the interior, via the inland city of Saltoan. South-west of this region lies the heartland of the Pannion Domin, cities such as Bastion, Sarn and Ket Tor which have been avoided since the rise of the Pannion Seer.

South of Pale and west of Capustan lies Lake Azur, a vast inland waterway. Dotted around its shores and nearby are formidable settlements such as Dhavran, Kurl and Gredfallen, but most notable is storied Darujhistan, the blue jewel of Genabackis.

 

Darujhistan

Darujhistan, the City of Cities, City of Blue Fire or Caravan City, is located on the southern shore of Lake Azur ad is the largest and most influential city on the entire continent. During major festivals and the trading season, the city’s population exceeds 300,000 and may approach half a million; during the winter and off-season, the city’s population likely falls below a quarter of a million. Between 2,000 and 3,000 years old, Darujhistan accumulated from tribesfolk of the Gadrobi Hills and migratory Daru tribes from the far north of the continent. According to legend, the city was “born on a rumour”, with its founding following the arrival of thousands of explorers investigating reports of a magical barrow and treasure hoard in the nearby hills which was never found. However, several other valuable metals were found and quarries established nearby.

The city is divided into several areas, including the Gadrobi, Marsh, Daru, Lakefront and Estate districts. The city extends for over two miles along the lakeshore, rising into the Raven Hills to the south on four elevated tiers. The Foss River runs through the centre of the city, with the larger Maiten River flowing into Lake Azur to the west. Darujhistan also controls several outlying satellite villages, including Maiten, Cuttertown, Ridge, Raven, Urs and Worrytown, a slum region abutting the eastern walls.

Darujhistan is ruled by the Noble Council from Majesty Hall, located near High Gallows Hill at the north-eastern corner of the city. The enigmatic T’orrud Cabal and the secretive Assassin’s Guild also wield significant power. There is no standing army, only the City Watch, but several powerful mages reside in the city.

The city is sometimes called the “City of Blue Fire” for its use of natural gas for heat and light. Gas lamps light the major streets. The Greyfaces, a guild of gas-workers, tend the gas supply and make sure it is deployed in the city safely.

Darujhistan gains a great deal of its riches from its strategic position located almost halfway up the continent and marks a shift from the densely-populated northern part of Genabackis to the more sparsely-populated south.

 

The Southern Plains

South of Darujhistan are the Cinnamon Wastes and Dwelling Plain, which are now sparsely-populated. The Dwelling Plain was once thickly populated with towns and cities, linked by roads, but the region fell into disrepute when it was conquered by Jaghut Tyrants. When the last Tyrant fell, the region was abandoned and now only grasses and the occasional ruin remain.

Tracks lead far south and west, many hundreds of miles, to Callows, a great seaport of 30,000 people. Callows is well-placed on the sealanes heading south across Reacher’s Ocean to Quon Tali and the heartlands of the Malazan Empire. The city is known for its copper-domed buildings, minarets and winding streets, as well as being home to the Thousand Sects of D’rek.

East of Callows lies the vast Lamatath Plain. Almost spanning the continent coast to coast and extending from north to south for a thousand miles or more, the plain is reasonably fertile with occasional herds of Bhederin and other game easily found. Several tribes can be found living on the plain, including the Gandaru, Kindaru, Sinbarl and Skathani. From the etymology of the names, the Gandaru and Kindaru are likely descendants of the Daru people who migrated south from northern Genabackis to settle around Lake Azur, largely in Darujhistan. These groups probably migrated further south in search of less crowded climes.

Just south-west of the Lamatath Plain lies Morn, a once-great Jaghut city built about even more ancient K’Chain Che’Malle ruins. The area has been abandoned for centuries due to reports of magical chaos and dangerous phenomena in the area. The whole region is known as the Cursed Lands due to these events.

 

Southeastern Genabackis

East of the Cursed Lands and south-east of the Plain of Lamatath, the continent of Genabackis terminates in a peninsula extending for several hundred leagues eastwards into the Rust Ocean. There are a whole horde of coastal towns such as Ilem, March, Hurly and Torn in this region, but the best-known city is Elingarth, the largest city on the continent south of Darujhistan.

Elingarth is a large city renowned for its trading opportunities and religious orders. It is the home of the Grey Swords and Blue Shields, mercenary companies noted for their atypical honour and reliability in battle.

Nearby is the smaller city of Trygalle. Dedicated to trade even at extreme lengths, the city is the home of the Trygalle Trade Guild. The Trygalle Trade Guild, also known as “a guild of bloody lunatics”, use warrens to transport goods at high speed and ludicrous risk to distant locales. The Trade Guild’s services are almost ruinously expensive, but their reliability (despite a high personnel turnover) is surprisingly high.

Further west along the coast, in Elingarth’s Forgotten Holding, lies the town of Spendrugle, infamous for its bitter and angry rulers.

Further east lie the towns of Exile, Bounty, Golden and Refuge. Beyond the tip of the continent are the Night Ship Islands. Corpse Isle lies upon the edge of the unknown, the vast expanse of the Rust Ocean lying to the north-east and the Domain Ocean lying to the south-east. These oceans (counted by some cartographers as one vast ocean) extend east for thousands upon thousands of leagues before washing up against the far western coast of Seven Cities and the far north-west of little-known, rumoured Lether. Somewhere in this vast expanse lies the islands of Umryg and Genostel.

Just off the south coast, in the Rivan Sea, lies a series of islands such as Galatan and Seven Ruins Island. Some distance to the south, but too close for many, lies the forbidden and forbidding continent of Assail.

 

Seguleh

The Isle of the Seguleh lies just off the south-western coast of Genabackis, near Morn. The Seguleh are a highly martial people who live lives based on hierarchal rank, with elevation or descent in rank only achieved by combat. The Seguleh are trained from birth in the ways of battle and combat (individual and massed) and practice daily. The martial skill of the Seguleh, their utter lack of fear and their unrelenting intransigence make them an extremely difficult people to deal with for outsiders, and after far too many unintended deaths most outsiders now avoid the island and all contact altogether. As a result, little is known of the Seguleh aside from their martial skills and that their capital city, located on the northern coast of the island amidst green mountains, is called Cant.

 

People

The peoples of Genabackis are numerous and divided into many creeds. Genabackis is unusual in not harbouring large nation-states or kingdoms, instead favouring tribal groupings and individual city-states. The Genabackans thus have a reputation for independence and individuality, and do not take kindly to invaders.

The peoples of Genabackis include the tribal Teblor, Barghast, Rhivi and Gadrobi, the secretive Moranth and Seguleh and the urbanised Daru.

 

Credits: Based on the original maps created by Neil Gower. Extrapolated by D’rek at the Malazanempire forum. Placements and names adjusted by myself. Based on the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, Kharkanas Trilogy and Witness Trilogy by Steven Erikson, and the Malazan Empire and Path to Ascendancy series by Ian C. Esslemont.

 

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