Kingdom of Sarnor

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The Kingdom of Sarnor is a region of northern Essos along the shores of the Shivering Sea. The Forest of Qohor and Vaes Khadokh are to the west, while the Dothraki sea extends along the south. Omber is a peninsula to the northeast of Sarnor, while the Kingdom of the Ifequevron is farther to the east.[1]

Most of the grassland kingdom was destroyed by the Dothraki in the Century of Blood after the Doom of Valyria, with the cities Gornath, Kasath, Sallosh, Sarnath, Sarys, and Sathar left in ruins. The only surviving Sarnori settlement is Saath.[2]

Most histories regarding the Kingdom of Sarnor come from the Summer and Winter Annals and records of them from Qarth, Slaver's Bay, and the Free Cities.[3] The fall of the kingdom to the Dothraki is chronicled in works such as Bello's The End of the Tall Men, Maester Illister's Horse Tribes, Being a Study of the Nomads of the Eastern Plains of Essos, the eastern chapters and appendices of Maester Joseth's Battles and Sieges of the Century of Blood, and Vaggoro's definitive Ruined Cities, Stolen Gods.[3]


The cities of Sarnor

Early History

Sarnor was an ancient kingdom centered around the great river Sarne and its tributaries and some of the lake remnants of the Silver Sea. According to distant legend, the Silver Sea was once truly a large inland body of water, its coasts ruled by the Fisher Queens. Over the eons the sea dried out into lakes and their realm collapsed. The Sarnori, who call themselves the Tall Men (Tagaez Fen in their language) trace their lineage to the king Huzhor Amai, descended from the last of the Fisher Queens. He took as wives the daughters of the greatest lords and kings of neighboring peoples: the Cymmeri, Zoqora, and Gipps. However, it is uncertain whether Huzhor Amai ever actually existed; the heroic figure may be a mythological retelling of how the ancient Sarnori conquered and assimilated the Cymmeri, Zoqora, and Gipps, merging into one people.[3]

By the time recorded history began, the Sarnori had established a series of city-states along the Sarne River and its tributaries, and became well-known for using chariot teams in battle. Always a proud and quarrelsome people, they were seldom unified, but engaged in long wars against the Qaathi for domination of central Essos. The Qaathi lost these wars more than they won them, until they were driven past Lhazar to the southern end of the Bone Mountains. Later, Dothraki expansion and desertification destroyed the Qaathi cities one by one, until only one outpost remained: Qarth, which ironically then flourished as a major passageway for sea trade into the Jade Sea.

At their height, the Sarnori traded with Valyria, Yi Ti, Leng, and Asshai. They also sailed the Shivering Sea to Ib, the Thousand Islands, and Mossovy; warred against the Qaathi and the Ghiscari Empire; and led forays against bands of Dothraki, nomadic horsemen who roamed the steppes to their east.[3]

Eventually, the Sarnori became involved in the wars between the ancient Ghiscari Empire and the rising Valyrian Freehold. The Sarnori allied with Valyria during the Second and Third Ghiscari Wars, though during the Fourth, the rival Sarnori kings supported both sides.[3]

After the fifth and final Ghiscari War some 5,000 years ago, the Valyrians did not move on to conquer the Sarnori - just as they were in no hurry to conquer the still-independent Rhoynar city-states to the west, and the dragon-lords were always busy with internal rivalries in Valyria itself. Sarnor remained a trading partner with Valyria, and perhaps a useful buffer against raids by the nascent Dothraki mounted raiders from the northeast of Essos's central grasslands.[3]

Century of Blood

The Dothraki attack Sathar - by Paolo Puggioni ©

After the Doom of Valyria, the Sarnori kingdoms took less than a century to fall. While the Free Cities fought to become the successor to Valyria, the Tall Men ignored the Dothraki threat, even as khalasars began to raid across their eastern borders. Accustomed to them being little more than a nuisance, some Sarnori kings tried to use the Dothraki in their own wars, offering them gold and slaves and other gifts to fight against their rivals. Khal Mengo, who had united all khalasars under his rule, accepted the gifts but then burnt fields, farms, and towns to return the grasslands to nature.[3]

The Tall Men did not realize the danger until Mengo's son, Khal Moro, led his khalasar to the gates of Sathar. The men of Sathar were put to the sword, while the women and children carried off as slaves; three-quarters of them dying on the march to the Ghiscari city of Hazdahn Mo. Sathar was burned to ash. Rather than uniting against the Dothraki, the Sarnori kings of Kasath and Gornath fought each other for Sathar's plunder.[3]

Six years after the fall of Sathar, Khal Moro razed Kasath, with the aid of the King of Gornath, who had made common cause with the Dothraki and taken one of Moro's daughters to wife. A dozen years afterward Gornath fell to Khal Horro, who had killed Moro. The King of Gornath was killed by his wife, who was then taken by Horro. The slaying of Horro by a rival several years later led to the splintering of his great khalasar into a dozen lesser hosts.[3]

The Sarnori cities fell to new khals who sought to outdo one another in conquest and carrying the broken gods of the defeated to Vaes Dothrak. Much of the Tall Men's history was lost with the burning of Sallosh and its great library. Kyth and Hornoth soon fell to rival khals. The fortress city of Mardosh resisted for nearly six years, but its starving defenders eventually slew their women and children and rode to certain defeat.[3]

The fall of Mardosh led the Sarnori to unite under Mazor Alexi, last of the High Kings. His great host was trapped and destroyed by four khalasars at the Field of Crows, however. Sarnath was put to the torch by Khal Loso less than a fortnight later, and the remaining cities continued to fall. Sarys, the last Sarnori city to be conquered, had already been mostly abandoned when Khal Zeggo reached it. The support of Ibben and Lorath have allowed the Sarnori city of Saath to survive, however.[3]


Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Daenerys Targaryen travels through southern Sarnor during the journey of Khal Drogo's khalasar from Pentos to Vaes Dothrak.[11]

Behind the scenes

Sarnor, from the TV map based on Martin's original sketch, before the river was accidentally erased (city names added).

According to co-writer Elio Garcia, the map given in The Lands of Ice and Fire for Sarnor is in error. In George R. R. Martin's original handwritten notes, the Sarne flows out of the Silver Sea, proceeding west past Sarnath before curving north to its delta near Saath and Sarys. Thus all cities of the Sarnori were built around one river system. Unfortunately, as Garcia gleaned from the handwritten maps, it appears that when Martin wrote "Kingdom of Sarnor" over the core of their territory he partially erased the line of the river between the Silver Sea and Sarnath. Jonathan Roberts, the illustrator for The Lands of Ice and Fire, may have assumed that the Silver Sea empties into the sea through a separate river system proceeding in the shortest path, to the north. This does not match the textual descriptions of the Sarnori cities, such as that Sathar is located at a branch of the Sarne. Garcia hopes that a subsequent edition of the official world map will be updated to correct this.[12]

Martin has said that the world map is not objective but written as it is known to the maesters of the Citadel in Westeros, and it gets increasingly less accurate the farther east it goes.[13] Therefore, in-universe, the first edition world map might be explained as Yandel working from an incorrect map with the original river line accidentally erased.

Moreover, the earlier map of the World Map that Martin provided for the HBO television series Game of Thrones during Season 2 matches his textual description of Sarnor's geography: the Sarne flows west, and the remnants of the Silver Sea are three lakes (not two as in the Lands map, which drain to the north). The earlier map Martin submitted must have predated the erasure. The earlier map was subsequently revised by the time The Lands of Ice and Fire was released, notably putting the Jade Sea to the south of Qarth instead of extending north of it.