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Free City
FM Norvos.png
Norvos © FFG
Location Essos, Free Cities, Hills of Norvos
Government Council of Magisters (nominally)
Bearded Priests (de facto)
Organizations Bearded Priests

Norvos, called Great Norvos by its people, is one of the nine Free Cities. It lies in the interior of Essos, between Pentos and Qohor.


The nine Free Cities: Pentos, Braavos, Lys, Qohor, Norvos, Myr, Tyrosh, Volantis, Lorath


Norvos sits among the Hills of Norvos, upon the eastern banks of the river Noyne, a tributary of the massive River Rhoyne, and is surrounded by limestone hills, dark forests of oak, pine, and beech.[1] Located between Pentos and Qohor, it serves as a gateway for caravans and travelers going east-west on the ancient Valyrian roads, with the ruins of Ghoyan Drohe to the southwest and Qohor to the southeast.[2] Norvos is located in a land of rolling hills and terraced farms, surrounded by small walled villages[3] that support the larger city.[4]

The domains of Norvos stretch as far as the western bank of the Darkwash to the east and the Upper Rhoyne to the west. The Noyne is ruled by Norvoshi river galleys as far south as the ruins of Ny Sar, where she joins the Rhoyne. The city also claims dominion over the Axe upon the Shivering Sea, though the Ibbenese are known to dispute this claim, often bloodily.[1]

Norvos' climate contains sweltering summers and bitter cold winters, with harsh, cold winds,[1] and a pale, wan sun.[5]


Norvos is made up out of two parts, joined only by a massive stone stair, known as the Sinner's Steps. The high city, where the ancient nobility of Norvos lives, is rigned about by mighty stone walls,[1] and located on the tallest hill in the region.[6] Here, the great fortress-temple of the bearded priests is located.[1] The lower city is located three hundred feet lower, at the base of the hill, by the river,[6] spread out along the muddy shores. It is defended by moats, ditches, and a timber palisade, overgrown with moss. The riverfront is lined with wharves, brothels, and beel halls. The two parts.[1]

Bears are known to be made to dance down the Sinner's Steps.[6] There are also whispers of torchlit cellars were slave women mate with wolves.[1]

Bells of Norvos

Norvos' three bells govern every aspect of the lives of those in the city. The bells tell the Norvoshi when to rise, sleep, work, rest, when to take arms, when to pray, and when they are permitted to have carnal relations.[1] Each bells has its own distinctive 'voice' and name:[1][6]

  • Noom, with a deep sound
  • Narrah, with a strong sound
  • Nyel, with a higher pitched sound.

Lomas Longstrider counts the bells of Norvos as one of his nine Wonders Made by Man.[1]


Norvos is a theocracy. While it has a council of magisters, the magisters on that council are chosen by the bearded priests, who speak for their god.[1] The magisters will give lavishly to passing Dothraki khal's, so they'll not savage the city.[7]

Among the Norvoshi only the bearded priests are allowed beards. The freeborn of the city, both noble and lowborn, favor long, unswept mustachios, whilst slaves and women are shaved bare. Norvoshi women shave off all of their hair, though noblewomen don wigs, specially when in company of men from other lands and cities.[1] According to semi-canon sources, many Norvoshi men sweep their mustachios up into points and dye them.[8]

The name of the god worshipped by the Norvoshi is known only to initiates. The priests wear hair shirts and untanned hides. Once initiated, these men are forbidden to cut or shave their hair. They practice ritual flagellation as part of their worship.[1]

Once a year, there is a festival in Norvos that features bears dancing down the Sinner's Steps.[6]


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

The Norvoshi are well-known for, amongst other things, their tapestries,[9][4] and nasha, a drink of fermented goat's milk, which can be laced with honey.[6][4]

Norvos is involved in trade with Lorath.[10] Caravans are known to pass through the city.[11]



The Norvoshi do not descend from the Rhoynar. Yet, before the Valyrians, another people dwelt along the Noyne were Norvos stands today. These people raised crude villages of their own. There are those who believe them to have been kin to the mazemakers of Lorath, despite the fact that these original inhabitants built in wood instead of stone, as the mazemakers were known to do. Nor did they leave mazes behind. Others suggest that these people were cousins to the men of Ib, but most, however, believe them to have been Andals. Whoever they were, their towns did not survive. According to legend, hairy men out of the east, considered by Maester Yandel to have been close kin to the Ibbenese, drove them away, but were in turn expelled by the legendary Prince Garris of Ny Sar. However, these Rhoynar did not linger, preferring the more temperate weather of the lower river to the dark skies and cold winds of the hills. The modern Norvos, like Qohor and Lorath, was founded following a religious schism, by dissidents of Valyria who found the religious tolerance of the Freehold intolerable and set out to find or build city where only the "true faith" would be practiced.[1][12]

Recent History

See also: Century of Blood

Norvos came into conflict with the Free City of Lorath, when Qarlon the Great, trying to become King of All Andals, expanded his domain to the Axe, and the headwaters of the Upper Rhoyne and Noyne. The Norvoshi closed the river, and Qarlon came forth to attack them. Two battles were lost by Norvos in the hills, leading Qarlon to march against the city itself. Norvoshi asked Valyria for help, and the Freehold responded. According to The Fires of the Freehold, a hundred dragons descended upon the Andals laying siege to Norvos. Qarlon was burned with his army, and Lorath followed shortly thereafter, in the Scouring of Lorath.[10]

During the Century of Blood, Norvos and Qohor allied together against Old Volantis, destroying much of the Volantene fleet which had control of the Rhoyne in a battle on Dagger Lake, involving fire galleys.[13][14][15] Since then, though the bearded priests are known to regard the Black Goat of Qohor as a demon, Norvos and Qohor have been allies more often than they have been enemies.[14]

Prince Doran Martell of Dorne has visited Norvos,[16] and is married to the Norvoshi Lady Mellario, with whom he had three children.[17]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Daenerys Targaryen passes Norvos during the journey of Khal Drogo's khalasar from Pentos to Vaes Dothrak.[18]

A Feast for Crows

Areo Hotah, the captain of Doran Martell's guards, is from Norvos, where he was raised and trained.[6]

As punishment for his part in the conspiracy to crown Myrcella Baratheon, Ser Andrey Dalt is sent to serve Lady Mellario for three years in Norvos.[16]

References and Notes

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