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Qarth HBO.jpg
Location Southern coast of Essos
Government Pureborn , Oligarchy.
Notable places House of the Undying, Hall of a Thousand Thrones, Temple of Memory, triple walls, port
Organizations Thirteen, Tourmaline Brotherhood, Ancient Guild of Spicers, Sorrowful Men, warlocks

Qarth is an ancient port city located on the southern coast of Essos. It has been referred to as the Queen of Cities,[1] a title also claimed by Yunkai in Slaver's Bay.[2]



Qarth is located in The Known World
The known world and the location of Qarth

Qarth is located on the Jade Gates, which link the Summer Sea to the fabled Jade Sea. The city is located to the southeast of Lhazar and the red waste and southwest of the Bone Mountains. Just east of Qarth is the small island of Qal, while the large island Great Moraq is to the south. The great Slaver Cities of Meereen, Astapor, and Yunkai are further to the west of Qarth. From Qarth, four main travel routes originate. The western route leads to the city Qarkash. The northwestern route to Vaes Qosar and Vaes Tolorro, while the eastern road leads to Asabhad.[3] The fourth route, the Sand Road, leads through the southern Bone Mountains, eventually passing Asabhad, leading to the market city Tiqui.[3][4]

Qarth's prime position makes it the gateway between the lands of Westeros, Free Cities and Slaver's Bay, and more eastern lands such as Asshai, the Shadow Lands, and Yi Ti. Qarth has been described as the center of the world.[5]

The power of Qarth extends west to Port Yhos,[6] and east to the island Qal, where the Qartheen have raised fortified harbor cities on either side of the island to reinforce their control of the passage of the Jade Gates.[7] The nearby town Qarkash is a Qartheen city as well,[8] and Vaes Orvik, Vaes Qosar, and Vaes Shirosi, all currently in ruins, were Qartheen of origin as well.[9][10][11]


See also: Images of Qarth

Qarth is surrounded by three thick walls of thirty, forty, and fifty feet in height, respectively engraved with portraits of animals, war, and lovemaking.[5] The triple walls of Qarth is one of the nine wonders made by man reported in the book, Wonders Made by Man, by Lomas Longstrider.[12]

Qarth city walls, as depicted in HBO's Game of Thrones

The buildings in Qarth are very colorful. Decorations include a bronze arch fashioned in the likeness of two snakes mating, their scales are delicate flakes of jade, obsidian and lapis lazuli. Slim towers stand tall, and elaborate fountains fill every square, wrought in the shapes of griffins and dragons and manticores. The balconies of the houses are delicate and frail.[5]

There is a great arcade where the heroes of the city stand atop columns of green and white marble. The statues are three times as big as a man.[5]

The Pureborn of Qarth rule from the Hall of a Thousand Thrones[13] The warlocks of Qarth have their center of power in the House of the Undying, also known as the Palace of Dust,[5] which is a grey and ancient ruin, a long and low building without towers or windows, coiling like a stone serpent through a grove of black-barked trees. The buildings roof is made of black tiles, of which many are fallen or broken.[14] Other locations in Qarth include the Temple of Memory, where traditional sacrifices are made,[13] the Garden of Gehane, and Warlock's Way.[15]

A cavernous building is home to a bazaar. A thousand gaily colored birds live on the latticework ceiling. On the terraced walls above stalls, trees and flowers bloom.[5] Also located in Qarth is the palace of Xaro Xhoan Daxos, which is larger than most market towns, and includes gardens, a marble bathing pool, a scrying tower and warlock's maze.[5] If one travels from the Hall of a Thousand Thrones to Xaro Xhoan Daxos’s palace, they pass the bazaar.[13]

Qarth possesses one of the greatest ports in the world.[15] It is a sheltered harbor full of colors, with large stone quays reserved for the ships of the various trade guilds. At the far end of the harbor are the quays where ships from the Summer Islands, Westeros, and the Nine Free Cities are allowed to dock. Near the port, winesinks, warehouses, gaming dens, cheap brothels, and temples to peculiar gods all cluster together.[15]


Qarth. © FFG

Descending from the Qaathi, Qartheen are a tall and pale people, called Milk Men by the Dothraki for their complexion.[5] They pride themselves on their sophistication and consider weeping in times of strong emotion to be a mark of civilization.[13] Qartheen politeness goes as far having the assessins known as the Sorrowful Men say "I'm so sorry" to their victim before killing them.[13][15]

The Qartheen dress in linen, samite and tiger fur. As per Qartheen fashion, women were Qartheen gowns, which leave one breast exposed.[5][13] Meanwhile, men favor beaded silk skirts. Warriors of Qarth wear scaled, copper armor and snouted-helms with copper tusks and long, black silk plumes and some of its guards ride camels. Children might go about naked, wearing only golden sandals and body paint.[5]

The Qartheen ride camels.[5][16] The riders wear scaled copper armor and snouted helms with copper tusks and long black silk plumes. They sit high on saddles inlaid with rubies and garnets. Their camels are dressed in blankets of a hundred different hues.[5]

Qartheen men and women retain their possessions after marriage. However, there is a marriage custom where, on the day of the wedding, the groom may ask for any one item from his bride's possessions and the bride may ask for any one item of the groom's possessions. Whatever is asked by either cannot be denied. This is seen as a gift of devotion by the bride and groom to each other.[13]

Qarth is nominally ruled by the Pureborn, who are seated in the Hall of a Thousand Thrones. They deal with all matters of civic importance, commanding the Civic Guard and the fleet of ornate war galleys which rule the straits between the seas.[13] However, the powerful guilds of the Thirteen, the Tourmaline Brotherhood, and the Ancient Guild of Spicers all contend endlessly with the Pureborn. Meanwhile, the warlocks of Qarth broom over them all.[13]

The warlocks of Qarth are feared and respected throughout the East.[5][13] Like the Alchemists' Guild of the Seven Kingdoms, however, the warlocks' power and prestige have waned over the years.[5] Most warlocks have blue lips[5] from drinking shade of the evening.[14] The warlocks stronghold and seat of power is the House of the Undying, which houses the Undying Ones, also known as the Undying of Qarth, the most mysterious of all warlocks.[5][14] A saying in Qarth is "A warlock's house is built of bones and lies."[5]

The Qartheen practice slavery in the city.[1]


Qarth is a city of merchants.[17] Because of its location, Qarth is seen as a gateway of commerce and culture between the east and west, and the north and south.[5] The city has become wealthy due to its control of the Jade Gates.[18] Qarth houses three merchant guilds, the Thirteen, the Tourmaline Brotherhood, and the Ancient Guild of Spicers, who are constantly to dominate one another.[13]

Trade goods from Qarth include saffron,[19] dreamwine and liquor, strongly spiced,[20] silk,[21][22] spices, and elephants.[22] Qartheen spice ships can be as big as palaces.[23] Qartheen ships travel as far as Braavos to trade.[24]

Qartheen adventurers search for gold, gems, and ivory along the eastern coasts of Sothoryos, hungry to make a profit. However, they have never been able to reach the southern end of Sothoryos.[25]

While Qarth depends upon its slaves,[17] khalasars never cross the Red Waste to sell their slaves at Qarth. The Qartheen do not want them to do so, either, as they strongly mislike the smell of the khalasars.[1]


Qarth claims to be the birthplace of civilization.[26] It is the sole surviving city-state established by the Qaathi people, who rose in the grasslands of central Essos — known today as the Dothraki sea — and founded city-states as they moved southeast following defeat in wars against the Sarnori.[27] Ancient Qarth was ruled by kings and queens, the ancestors of the Pureborn.[13] Jar Han, the eighth of the sea-green emperors of Yi Ti, exacted tribute from Qarth.[28]

The new lands of the Qaathi turned into the red waste, however, and their civilization declined.[27] During the Century of Blood, Dothraki pushed into the red waste and destroyed all of the remaining Qaathi cities, including Vaes Orvik, Vaes Qosar, and Vaes Shirosi,[9][10][11] leaving Qarth as the sole surviving Qaathi city.[27] The ruins of Vaes Orvik, Vaes Qosar, and Vaes Shirosi still stand today.[9][10][11]

Forced to look to the sea, the Pureborn who ruled Qarth swiftly constructed a fleet and took control of the Jade Gates, the strait between Qarth and Great Moraq. With the Valyrian fleet destroyed and Volantis focused on conquering the Free Cities of western Essos, no one opposed the Qartheen as they established their control over the most direct route between west and east, thus gaining immense wealth on both trade and levied tolls.[27]

In the second half of the first century after AC, the Qartheen pirate Xandarro Xhore travelled to the Basilisk Isles, which had been shunned for a century, and raised his banner there, erecting a grim black fort above his anchorage. Xandarro and his Brotherhood of Bones preyed upon merchantmen from there. His fort still stands today.[29]

In the last of his nine voyages aboard the Sea Snake, Corlys Velaryon brought a shipload of gold to Qarth, where he purchased twenty more ships. Filled with spices, elephants, and silk, most of the ships returned to Westeros.[22] Colloquo Votar's Jade Compendium describes Qarth and the Jade Sea.[30]

Recent Events

A Game of Thrones

Samwell Tarly mentions the city to Jon Snow, telling Jon that in one of his efforts to cure Sam of his timidity Lord Randyll Tarly once brought two warlocks from Qarth to his castle at Horn Hill.[31]

Before Khal Drogo's body is burnt on his funeral pyre, Ser Jorah Mormont begs Daenerys Targaryen to come east with him, to Yi Ti, Qarth, the Jade Sea, and Asshai by the Shadow, to see all the wonders yet unseen.[32]

A Clash of Kings

Daenerys Targaryen recalls how Khal Drogo dreamed of the day when he might sack the great cities of the east, including Qarth.[5]

Three representatives of Qarth — Pyat Pree, Xaro Xhoan Daxos and Quaithe — accompany Jhogo back to Vaes Tolorro after he is sent by Daenerys to discover what lies near the abandoned city.[16] The emissaries escort Daenerys and her khalasar to Qarth. A column of camelry emerge from the city as Daenerys's honor guards upon her arrival. Upon entering Qarth, Daenerys thinks to herself that the magnificence of the city cannot be denied.[5] Her three young dragons are a marvel in the ancient city.[5][13][16]

Queen Daenerys Targaryen returns to Xaro's palace after her audience with the Pureborn - by Mustamirri ©

Xaro Xhoan Daxos, a member of the merchant guild of the Thirteen, offers Daenerys the hospitality of his palace while she and her khalasar are in Qarth. Under his guidance Daenerys seeks an audience with the Pureborn to plea with them in the Hall of a Thousand Thrones for their fleet of galleys, or part of it and some of their soldiers. However, the Pureborn deny her.[13]

Xaro sees to it that the great and the humble alike offer some token to Daenerys, the Mother of Dragons. She receives gifts from throughout the known world, selling all except for a crown wrought in the shape of a three-headed dragon given to her by the Tourmaline Brotherhood.[13]

After having been refused by the Pureborn Daenerys agrees to go with Pyat Pree to visit the House of the Undying.[13] While inside Drogon destroys the building when Daenerys is attacked by the Undying Ones.[14] After its destruction, ghost grass is found growing in the Garden of Gehane and phantom tortoises are seen carrying messages between the windowless houses on Warlock's Way.[15]

Daenerys is soon forced to flee Qarth after the Tourmaline Brotherhood, the Ancient Guild of Spicers and the Pureborn demand her expulsion and possible assassination after the destruction of the House of the Undying. Only Xaro's influence prevents the Thirteen from adding their voices to that of the other trade guilds and the city's rulers.[15]

A Storm of Swords

In Meereen Daenerys Targaryen learns that Ser Jorah Mormont had been spying on her on behalf of Varys, the spymaster of the Iron Throne in Westeros. Jorah admits that the last report that he made to Varys had been made from Qarth. Daenerys is taken aback, as she hoped that his spying had ended much earlier.[33]

A Feast For Crows

At the Quill and Tankard in Oldtown Leo Tyrell informs his fellow students, Pate, Mollander, Alleras, Armen, and Roone that sailors who have visited Qarth are speaking of Daenery's dragons.[34]

A Dance with Dragons

Xaro Xhoan Daxos arrives in Meereen as a representative of Qarth to visit Queen Daenerys Targaryen. He attempts to persuade her to sail for Westeros. Her campaign has disrupted the slave trade which many Essosi cities, including Qarth, depend on. He brings a gift of thirteen ships, stating that they are hers on the condition she sails from Slaver's Bay to Westeros. Daenerys has the thirteen ships Xaro brought inspected, but later refuses the offer. Xaro's reply is to leave a bloodstained glove on a satin pillow, indicating Qarth has declared war on her.[1]

Xaro leaves the thirteen ships at Slaver's Bay, where they give aid in closing off the bay to Meereen. Three Qartheen galleys sail up the Skahazadhan at night, in an attempt to close off the river as well. The Mother's Men loose flights of fire arrows at their sails and fling pots of burning pitch onto their decks, but the galleys manage to slip by quickly and succeed in closing off the river. The Qartheen further drive off a third of Meereen's fishing fleet, and manage to seize another third, leaving Meereen without trade.[17]

Besides the ships, Qarth sends a corps of Qartheen camelry to aid the Yunkai'i against Daenerys.[35]

Pale Qartheen are among those who come to Meereen to battle in Daznak's Pit.[36]

The Winds of Winter

This information has thus far been released in a sample chapter for The Winds of Winter, and might therefore not be in finalized form. Keep in mind that the content as described below is still subject to change.

As the second siege of Meereen resumes Tyrion Lannister hears the sounds of warships crashing and clashing on Slaver's Bay, as well as the queer high whistles of the Qartheen fleet. The Qartheen camel corps may be taking part in the battle being fought beneath the city.[37]


Qarth is the greatest city that ever was or ever will be. It is the center of the world, the gate between north and south, the bridge between east and west, ancient beyond memory of man and so magnificent that Saathos the Wise put out his eyes after gazing upon Qarth for the first time, because he knew that all he saw thereafter should look squalid and ugly by comparison.[5]
Pyat Pree to Daenerys Targaryen

These are strange times in Qarth. And strange times are bad for trade.[15]
Xaro Xhoan Daxos, to Daenerys Targaryen

Qarth was one of the world's great ports, its great sheltered harbor a riot of color and clangor and strange smells.[15]
– thoughts of Daenerys Targaryen

Consider Qarth. In art, music, magic, trade, all that makes us more than beasts, Qarth sits above the rest of mankind as you sit at the summit of this pyramid ... but below, in place of bricks, the magnificence that is the Queen of Cities rests upon the backs of slaves.[1]
Xaro Xhoan Daxos, to Daenerys Targaryen

Qarth is a city of merchants, and they love the clink of silver coins, the gleam of yellow gold.[17]
Hizdahr zo Loraq, to Daenerys Targaryen

Qartheen have milk in their veins.[17]
Daario Naharis, to Daenerys Targaryen

References and Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 16, Daenerys III.
  2. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 42, Daenerys IV.
  3. 3.0 3.1 The World of Ice and Fire, The Known World.
  4. The World of Ice and Fire, The Bones and Beyond.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.18 5.19 5.20 5.21 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 27, Daenerys II.
  6. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Port Yhos.
  7. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Qal.
  8. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Qarkash.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Vaes Orvik.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Vaes Qosar.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Vaes Shirosi.
  12. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 57, Tyrion XI.
  13. 13.00 13.01 13.02 13.03 13.04 13.05 13.06 13.07 13.08 13.09 13.10 13.11 13.12 13.13 13.14 13.15 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 40, Daenerys III.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 48, Daenerys IV.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 15.6 15.7 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 63, Daenerys V.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 12, Daenerys I.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 23, Daenerys IV.
  18. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Qarth.
  19. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 9, Davos I.
  20. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 50, Daenerys VIII.
  21. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 67, The Kingbreaker.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 The World of Ice and Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Jaehaerys I.
  23. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 6, The Merchant's Man.
  24. The World of Ice and Fire, The Free Cities: Braavos.
  25. The World of Ice and Fire, Beyond the Free Cities: Sothoryos.
  26. The World of Ice and Fire, Ancient History: The Rise of Valyria.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 The World of Ice and Fire, Beyond the Free Cities: The Grasslands.
  28. The World of Ice and Fire, The Bones and Beyond: Yi Ti.
  29. The World of Ice and Fire, Beyond the Free Cities: The Basilisk Isles.
  30. The World of Ice and Fire, Other Lands.
  31. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 26, Jon IV.
  32. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 72, Daenerys X.
  33. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 71, Daenerys VI.
  34. A Feast for Crows, Prologue.
  35. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 36, Daenerys VI.
  36. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 52, Daenerys IX.
  37. The Winds of Winter, Tyrion II

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