Slaver's Bay is a cultural and geographical region of central Essos. Built from the ashes of the Old Empire of Ghis, Slaver's Bay became a wealthy hub of the global slave trade. It flows into the Gulf of Grief.
Slaver's Bay is located along the south of central Essos. In the west it reaches the eastern shores of the Valyrian peninsula and contains isle of Elyria. Tolos and the ruins of Bhorash are located along the Black Cliffs in the bay's north. In the east of Slaver's Bay are the isle of Yaros, the hilly peninsula of Ghiscar, and the great slave cities of Astapor, Meereen, and Yunkai. The bay is separated from the Gulf of Grief to its south by the Isle of Cedars. 
Culture and Economy
Although little Ghiscari culture survived the Old Empire's collapse, the modern people of Slaver's Bay take great pride in their Ghiscari heritage. The cities maintain Old Ghis's symbol of the harpy, and freeborn citizens call themselves sons of the harpy, though they replaced the thunderbolt in the her claw with open manacles. The Old Ghiscari tongue has been largely forgotten. Most modern Ghiscari speak in the language of their conquerors, High Valyrian, twisted by growling accents and peppered with slaver's argot. However, modern Ghiscari continue to write with their unique glyphs. Besides the bastard Valyrian dialects, a mongrel tongue combining Old Ghiscari and High Valyrian is also spoken by some along the bay.
Ethnically, modern Ghiscari are a mongrel breed with little of the original Ghiscari blood. Due to their pampered lifestyles they tend to be broad and fleshy, with amber skin and dark hair and eyes. They often have a mixture of wiry red and black hair, a feature unique to the region. In spite of the weakness of their connection to Old Ghis, Slaver's Bay holds itself as a continuation of Ghis's greatness centuries after the fall of its ancient rival, the Valyrian Freehold.
Slavery is the dominant industry of Slaver's Bay, and the cities' slave traders form their ruling aristocracy. The slavers of Astapor, Yunkai, and Meereen call themselves the Good, Wise, and Great Masters respectively, and dress in tokars, a toga-like garment that only the freeborn may wear. The value of the material used to make a tokar's fringes indicate the wealth and rank of the master wearing it. Slavers and their families live in opulent luxury, floating on pleasure barges at dusk and hosting elaborate festivals honoring their history at night. Slaves, on the other hand, often endure brutal treatment.
The cities share a peaceful rivalry, avoiding war at all costs, and prefer to pay Dothraki khalasars to pass by instead of fighting them. Due to the wealth of the average free citizen, the cities' professional armies are filled with wealthy sons of slavers who regard their posts as little more than an opportunity for theatrics. Wearing colorful cloth armor and hair teased into large, outlandish shapes, the citizen soldiers of Slaver's Bay are ineffective fighters. Thus, the cities rely heavily on slave soldiers and mercenary companies for their protection. While most slave soldiers are relatively poor and untrained, the eunuch Unsullied soldiers of Astapor have a well-earned reputation for effectiveness.
Astapor is famed as the only place in the known world where the Unsullied can be purchased. The city is ancient and dilapidated, built from crumbling red bricks that are said to be colored by the slaves that died laying them. The ubiquitous brick dust can sting the eyes, causing freeborn women to wear veils. The Good Masters of Astapor are particularly cruel to their slaves.
The smallest of the three cities, Yunkai is known for both its fighting pits and its pleasure houses, both of which turn out slaves at a brisk pace. The city is similar to Astapor in architecture except for its smaller size and its use of yellow brick in its buildings instead of red. The slavers of Yunkai are known as the Wise Masters. The city relies on its relatively untrained slave army and whatever mercenary companies it can buy.
The largest of the three slaver cities, Meereen has a population equaling Astapor and Yunkai combined. The city is constructed with similar architecture to its neighbors, but built in bricks of many different colors. Its landscape is dominated by the Great Pyramid and the Temple of the Graces. The slavers of Meereen are known as the Great Masters. They field a force of lancers equipped in traditionally extravagant Ghiscari fashion with scales of copper and lances as long as fourteen feet.
The ancient city of Ghis, in Ghiscar along the Gulf of Grief, was one of the oldest known cultures and nations in the world. Its founding and golden age predate that of its successor, Valyria, by thousands of years. The city grew into a military, economic and cultural powerhouse, the Old Empire of Ghis. From Ghiscar, the empire conquered and colonized the east of Slaver's Bay.
At its height, Ghis fielded highly-disciplined lockstep legions reputed to have been nearly unbeatable on the battlefield. The architecture of Ghis was dominated by massive brick towers and pyramids built on the back of slave labor. Its symbol was the harpy, a fanged woman with leathery wings for arms, the legs of an eagle, and the tail of a scorpion, clutching a thunderbolt in her talons.
The Old Empire fell over five thousand years ago after warring with the Valyrian Freehold to the west, losing a series of five wars with Valyria before toppling. Despite its wealth and nearly invincible legions, Ghis could not stand against Valyria's ultimate weapon, dragons.
As the Old Empire collapsed, the city of Ghis toppled into ruin and most Ghiscari bloodlines were extinguished or enslaved. The Ghiscari language was replaced with High Valyrian spoken in local dialects.
The Valyrian peninsula was destroyed in the Doom of Valyria, causing chaos in the rest of the Freehold. Astapor, Yunkai, and Meereen, once lowly colonies along Slaver's Bay, rose into prominence and thrived after the Doom. These cities reestablished themselves as hubs of the global slave trade and became wealthy.
A Storm of Swords
Astapor is conquered by Daenerys Targaryen after she purchases the city's entire population of Unsullied and sends them against the helpless Good Masters. Daenerys sets up a new government headed by a healer, a priest and a scholar. After she leaves, however, a former butcher named Cleon seizes control of the city and reinstates slavery, only with the former slaves as the new masters. Cleon the Butcher King sends Daenerys gifts and wedding invitations, though shes does not approve of his rule.
After the fall of Astapor, Yunkai girds itself with a slave army of approximately four thousand and purchases the services of the Second Sons and Stormcrows, totaling over one thousand sellswords. Daenerys lures the Stormcrows to her service and ambushes the Second Sons, scattering them. The Wise Masters surrender and release all of their slaves.
Meereen utilizes a scorched earth defense against Daenerys, razing the land surrounding the city and nailing slave children onto posts with their fingers pointing to the city. Outside the city's gates, Oznak zo Pahl challenges Daenerys's forces but is slain by Strong Belwas. In order to avoid an extended siege, Daenerys has a small group infiltrate the city and free the gladiator slaves of the fighting pits. They use the ensuing chaos to open the gates and force a surrender. Daenerys has a number of the Great Masters executed, then linger in the city to rule as its queen.
A Dance with Dragons
References and Notes
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Map of Valyria
- ↑ The Lands of Ice and Fire, Central Essos.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 23, Daenerys II.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 42, Daenerys IV.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 60, The Spurned Suitor.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 57, Daenerys V.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 The World of Ice and Fire, Ancient History: The Rise of Valyria.
- ↑ The World of Ice and Fire, Ancient History: The Doom of Valyria.
- ↑ A Storm of Swords, Chapter 27, Daenerys III.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 71, Daenerys VI.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 25, The Windblown.
- ↑ A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 63, Victarion I.