Lorath

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Lorath
Free City
Stone Mazes.jpg
The priests of the Blind God among the mazes of Lorath
by Jordi Gonzalez ©
Location Essos, Free Cities
Government Council of three princes
Council of magisters
Religion Mixed religions, formerly Boash
Founded ~1,400 BC
Nine Free Cities on the continent of Essos:
Pentos, Braavos, Lys, Qohor, Norvos, Myr, Tyrosh, Volantis, Lorath

Lorath is one of the Nine Free Cities. It is situated in a group of islands in the Shivering Sea near the northern coast of Essos.

Geography

Lorath is located on the western side of the largest of three islands surrounded by storm seas.[1] It is located at the mouth of Lorath Bay. The second-largest island is Lorassyon, but there are a score of smaller isles.[2] To the east is the Axe and the west Braavos.[3] Morosh at the Sarne delta is a Lorathi colony.[4]

History

Ancient Lorath was inhabited by a people known as the mazemakers who created mazes in the islands and on mainland Essos to the south. The mazemakers were followed first by a race of hairy men similar to the Ibbenese, and then by the Andals, with each island having its own king. The Andal king Qarlon the Great united the Lorathi isles and conquered some of mainland Essos, but Qarlon's kingdom was destroyed in the Scouring of Lorath by an alliance of Norvos and the dragonlords of the Valyrian Freehold. The island was completely unpopulated afterwards, and thus modern Lorathi have no descent from these prior civilizations.

Valyrian worshippers of the Blind God Boash founded a temple and settled in the mazes of Lorath 1,322 years before the Doom of Valyria. Although the worship of Boash gradually vanished, the land was colonized by Ibbenese, Andals, and Valyrian refugees, who founded three villages which grew into a city on Lorath, the largest isle. The colonists eventually rose in rebellion against the priesthood of Boash, who had grown corrupt and rich off the taxes they exacted on their subjects. Only a few acolytes who fled to the temple maze of Lorassyon survived. The Cult of Boash died out over a thousand years before the War of the Five Kings (~700 BC, around 700 years after the cult settled in Lorath).

Afterward Lorath became a freehold, ruled by a council of three princes. The Harvest Prince is chosen by a vote of all those who owned land on the islands, the Fisher Prince by all those who owned ships, and the Prince of the Streets by the acclamation of the free men of the city. Once chosen, each prince serves for life. The princes continue to sit today, though their titles are purely ceremonial; the true authority now lies in a council of magisters made up of nobles, priests, and merchants.

The relative isolation of Lorath led it to be little involved in the Century of Blood, save for those Lorathi who sold their swords to Braavos and Norvos.

Though possessing a large fleet of fishing vessels, the Lorathi build few warships and have little military power. Few Lorathi leave the islands and fewer still make their way to Westeros. Instead, they prefer to trade with their near neighbors: Norvos, Braavos, and Ib.[5]

Even in the three centuries after the Century of Blood, Lorath for the most part remained politically isolationist. Relatively the smallest and poorest of the Free Cities, Lorath cannot hope to challenge the might of Braavos to the west, and Braavosi fishing fleets often operate in the western side of Lorath Bay with impunity. It normally remains aloof from the frequent wars between the other Free Cities, and is isolated and poor enough that it does not make an enticing target.

One notable exception to Lorath's normal isolationism was after the Kingdom of the Three Daughters (an alliance between Myr, Lys, and Tyrosh) began breaking up in 130 AC, following the severe losses it took fighting in the Westerosi civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons. Pentos, which immediately bordered Myr to the north, had always been wary of this growing new power to their south, and saw its own civil war as the moment to strike. Pentos entered into its own rival alliance with Braavos and Lorath, which helped destroy the Kingdom of the Three Daughters. Specifically how and why Lorath decided to join this alliance is unclear.[6]

Today Lorath is accounted as the poorest of the Free Cites, as well as the most isolated and backward. Jorah Mormont believes the city to be insignificant economically.[1]

People

The semi-canon A Song of Ice and Fire Campaign Guide said that Lorathi men often dress richly and are commonly believed to be poets and merchants. The city's powerful textile merchants specialize in rich velvet, which they trade for steel. The steel is traded along the Shivering Sea for furs, ivory, and obsidian, which are then traded for the materials to make velvet. The Lorathi merchants hire large numbers of guards and mercenary companies.[7]

Lorath is nominally ruled by the Harvest Prince, the Fisher Prince, and the Prince of the Streets, but power actually resides in a council of magisters.[2]

A coin of Lorath, as depicted by Nutchapol Thitinunthakorn in The World of Ice and Fire

The Cult of Boash believed in extreme self-abnegation, and because all humans were equally humble before their god, they considered women to be equal to men in all matters, and did not practice slavery. This denial of the self extended to the point that adherents came to refer to themselves and others using indefinite pronouns: if a man wanted to thank a woman, he would not say, "I thank you, woman," but "A man thanks a woman." The Cult of Boash later declined and its weak descendants were removed from power, so that the cult is now extinct. However, the upper aristocracy of Lorath have retained this speech pattern as a sign of refined, elite manners. When one of the Faceless Men of Braavos was pretending to be a Lorathi named "Jaqen H'ghar" he used this speech pattern, not because this is how Faceless men speak, but because he was pretending to be a Lorathi - though not all Lorathi, as a rule, use this speech pattern.[2]

Because the Cult of Boash did not believe in slavery, Lorath became a haven for runaway slaves from the main parts of the Freehold, who had originated in many different lands. As a result, and somewhat similar to Braavos, the modern Lorathi are a diverse mixture of ethnicities.[2]

Recent Events

A Clash of Kings

Arya Stark meets Jaqen H'ghar, who claims to be Lorathi, though he is really a Faceless Man of Braavos. He dyes one half of his hair red and the other white.

A Dance with Dragons

Lord Commander Jon Snow considers sending his sister Arya to Lorath on account of its geographical isolation, though he later discovers the grey girl on the dying horse is not Arya but Alys Karstark.[8]

Arya Stark observes a fat Lorathi man at the Pynto's tavern in Braavos complaining about the size of his booth.[9]

References and Notes

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