From A Wiki of Ice and Fire
Westeros is one of the three known continents in the world. Most of its area is covered by a political entity known as the Seven Kingdoms. Two other continents that share the world in which Westeros resides are Essos, a vast continent, lies in the east across the Narrow Sea, and Sothoros, south east of Westeros across the Summer Sea. The closest foreign nations to Westeros are the Free Cities, a collection of independent city-states along the western edge of Essos. The lands along the southern coastline, collectively called the Lands of the Summer Sea, include Ghis and the ruins of Valyria, the former home of Westeros's Targaryen kings. To the south of Westeros lie the Summer Islands.
- See also: Seven Kingdoms
The continent of Westeros is long and relatively narrow, extending from Dorne in the south to the Lands of Always Winter in the far north, where a large amount of land remains uncharted, due to the extremely cold temperatures and hostile inhabitants known as wildlings. Although no scale appears on the maps in the books themselves, George R. R. Martin has stated that the Wall is a hundred leagues long, or three hundred miles. Thus the continent stretches for about 3,000 miles from north to south and for some 900 miles at its widest point east to west.
Its eastern coast borders on the Narrow Sea; across those waters lies the eastern continent of Essos and the island chain known as the Stepstones. To the south is located the Summer Sea, and within it the Summer Islands.
The northern lands of Westeros are less densely populated than the south despite their roughly equivalent size. The five major cities of Westeros are, in order of size: King's Landing, Oldtown, Lannisport, Gulltown, and White Harbour.
Westeros was originally divided into several independent kingdoms before the consolidation of the War of Conquest. After this war and the eventual incorporation of Dorne, all the regions south of the Wall were united under the rule of House Targaryen into a nation that is known as the Seven Kingdoms.
Beyond the Wall
- Main article: Beyond the Wall
The northernmost region of Westeros, stretching from the Wall north to the lands beyond the edge of the known map, known as the Lands of Always Winter. For the most part it is covered by the Haunted Forest and comprised of many lakes and rivers, and shelters strange beasts among the Frostfangs Mountains. The far north presents an extremely harsh climate, allowing only small numbers of inhabitants in small villages, in those primarily wild and uncharted lands.
- Main article: The North
The North is the largest region, nearly as large as the rest of the regions combined. It is sparsely populated, with vast wilderness, forests, pine-covered hills and snowcapped mountains, although it also is home to one of the five Westerosi cities, White Harbor. The Northern climate is cold and harsh in the winter, and occasionally it snows even in the summer. Its northern border is the Gift, the lands of the Night's Watch. Its southern frontier lies along the Neck, a marshy isthmus separating it from the southron kingdoms. The narrowness of the region and the difficulty of the terrain make it a natural border for the North, protecting it from invasion.
It has been ruled by House Stark from Winterfell, first as Kings in the North and later as lords, for thousands of years. It is colder and much less populated than the south part of Westeros. Most of its residents still follow the Old Gods, but some, mainly around the area of White Harbor, have taken the Faith of the Seven. Bastards in the North are given the surname Snow.
The Iron Islands
- Main article: Iron Islands
The Iron Islands are a group of islands lying off the western coast of Westeros in Ironman's Bay. There are seven main islands, including Pyke, Great Wyk, Old Wyk, and Harlaw. The soil is infertile, but mines of several types, including iron and lead, exist. The inhabitants of these harsh isles are known as Ironmen in the rest of Westeros, and 'The Ironborn' among themselves.
The Iron Islands are ruled by House Greyjoy of Pyke, chosen to rule the Ironmen after Black Harren's line was extinguished during the Conquest. Prior to the arrival of Aegon the Conqueror, the Ironmen ruled over the Riverlands and much of the western coast of Westeros. The Ironmen are men of the sea, and their naval supremacy was once unmatched. The Faith of the Seven of the Andals find small favor with the Ironborn, as their allegiance is given to their native Drowned God. Bastards in the Iron Islands are given the surname Pyke.
- Main article: Riverlands
The Riverlands are the fertile areas between the forks of the Trident. They are the domain of the Tullys of Riverrun. At the time of the Conquest, the Riverlands were ruled by House Hoare of the Iron Islands, and thus the Tullys were never kings of the Riverlands, but were rebel riverlords who left Harren the Black in favor of Aegon the Conqueror. Bastards in the Riverlands are given the surname Rivers.
The Vale of Arryn
- Main article: Vale
The Vale lies to the east of the Riverlands, surrounded almost completely by the Mountains of the Moon. It consists of vast mountain ranges with the people living in valleys between them and along the coast.
The Vale is under the rulership of House Arryn, one of the oldest lines of Andal nobility who once were called King of Mountain and Vale. Their seat, the Eyrie, is a castle high in the mountains, small but unassailable. The only way to the top is a treacherous goat path. Due to the Vale's harsh winters, travel is only possible through the mountains during certain seasons. Rebellious mountain clans make travel even more dangerous. Bastards born in the Vale are given the surname Stone.
- Main article: The Westerlands
The Westerlands are the lands to the west of the Riverlands and north of the Reach. It is a small region, but is home to some of the richest gold and silver mines on the continent.
The Westerlands are ruled by House Lannister of Casterly Rock, formerly the Kings of the Rock. People of this region are often called "Westermen". Lannisport, lying hard by Casterly Rock, is the chief town of the region and one of the great ports and cities of Westeros. Bastards in the Westerlands are given the surname Hill.
- Main article: Crownlands
The Crownlands are lands ruled directly by the king on the Iron Throne. These lands include King's Landing and the surrounding areas, including the town of Rosby. Going north, one finds Crackclaw Point and several islands in the Narrow Sea, including Dragonstone. The Crownlands are south of the Vale, southeast of the Riverlands, east of the Westlands, and north of the Reach and Stormlands. Bastards in the Crownlands are given the surname Waters.
- Main article: The Reach
The Reach is the largest region except for the North; it encompasses a region of the most fertile part of Westeros and numerous well-populated villages and towns.
It is ruled by House Tyrell from Highgarden. The Tyrells were stewards to House Gardener, the Kings of the Reach before Aegon's conquest. After the last Gardener king was killed on the Field of Fire, the Tyrells surrendered Highgarden to Aegon and were rewarded with both the castle and the position of overlords of the Reach. Bannermen of the Tyrells frequently fight with the Dornishmen of the south. The borderlands between the two regions, called the Dornish Marches, are populated on the north side by marcher lords loyal to the Tyrells. The most prominent city in the Reach is Oldtown. It is the oldest city in Westeros, home to the maesters' Citadel, and the previous seat of the Faith. Bastards in the Reach are given the surname Flowers.
- Main article: Stormlands
The Stormlands, located south of King's Landing, stretch down to the Sea of Dorne, bordered by Shipbreaker Bay in the east and the Reach in the west. It is one of the smaller regions of Westeros, a land of harsh mountains, stony shores, and verdant forests.
Before Aegon's conquest they were ruled by the Storm Kings, and afterwards by the Baratheons, bastard relatives to the Targaryens. The Dornish Marches are located within this region, having been conquered by the Storm Kings, and are ruled by House Caron and lesser marcher lords. The marches were common battlegrounds between the Stormlands, the Reach and Dorne until the last century, when Dorne joined the Seven Kingdoms. Bastards in the Stormlands are given the surname Storm.
- Main article: Dorne
Dorne, the southernmost region of Westeros. It stretches from the Red Mountains of the Dornish marches to the southern coast of the continent. It is the hottest kingdom in Westeros and features the only desert on the continent. Dornishmen have a reputation for hot-bloodedness as well. They differ both culturally and ethnically from other Westerosi due to the historical invasion of Rhoynish people. Their food, appearance, and architecture resemble those of Mediterranean cultures such as Greece and Turkey more than the Western European feel of the other kingdoms. They have adopted many Rhoynish customs as well, including equal primogeniture.
Dorne was the only kingdom in Westeros to successfully resist Aegon's conquest. It joined the Seven Kingdoms through marriage over a century after the Targaryen invasion. This accomplishment has allowed Dorne to retain a small measure of independence. Lords of the ruling House Martell still style themselves "Prince" and "Princess" in the Rhoynish fashion. Bastards in Dorne are given the surname Sand.
Seasons and climate
Westeros's climate shifts from arid and dry desert climate in the furthest south to cold and harsh winters in the north and icy wasteland in the Lands of Always Winter in the farthest north.
Westeros and Essos both experience extremely long seasons of varying length, usually lasting at least a couple of years each. The maesters try to predict the length of the seasons, monitoring the temperature and days length, to advise on when to plant and when to harvest and how much food to store. However, given the random nature of the seasons, this is not something that can be relied on.
At the beginning of A Game of Thrones Westeros has enjoyed an unusually long decade-long summer of peace and plenty and many fear that an equally long and harsh winter will follow. The end of the long summer comes at the outset of A Feast for Crows, with the arrival of the White Ravens from the citadel. The official announcement of winter comes at the very end of A Dance with Dragons.
- Latest recorded seasons
- 209AL - Spring (The Great Spring Sickness), following the plague came a two year drought.
- 211AL - Summer
- 221-228 AL - Maekar's summer, broke suddenly and led to a short autumn and a terrible long winter.
- 254AL - Winter
- 273AL - Three year winter.
- 281AL - the Year of the False Spring.
- 288-298 AL - the long summer.
- 301AL - Winter start.
Biology and Anthropology
- Humans - appear to be mostly equivalent to humans on Earth, although some noticeable differences exist. There is a propensity for families in noble houses to share a common trait; for example, the Lannisters appear to have all been blondes for hundreds of years. Some physical features are unusual in our world: Targaryens often have platinum hair and violet eyes, while descendants of the Ghiscari often have both red and black hair. Also, humans in Westeros are often larger than would be expected in a medieval civilization: many men are over six feet tall, with abnormally large men standing seven feet or taller. Natives of Westeros have predominantly European features, with regional variations. Natives of the Summer Islands and the continent of Sothoryos have predominantly African features. Natives of other areas have a variety of features from many real-world races.
- Giants - huge, shaggy humanoids of slightly below human intelligence, vaguely resembling bipedal apes. Giants are a dwindling species found only in the lands to the extreme north, beyond the Wall. They ride mammoths into battle, wielding crude clubs that are little more than logs. They speak the Old Tongue of the First Men.
- Children of the forest - the original inhabitants of Westeros are frequently mentioned, but have not been seen in thousands of years. They are thought to be diminutive humanoid creatures; dark and beautiful, with mysterious powers over dreams and nature. They are said to have used obsidian weapons and weirbows in battle. Little of their legacy exists at present beyond their worship of nameless nature gods still practiced by some in the North, and the remaining Weirwoods.
- Others - a mysterious and apparently malevolent race of creatures found beyond the Wall. They have only been seen at night, and seem to bring unnatural cold with them. They appear as tall, gaunt humanoids with eyes of blue so deep it burns like fire. They wear armor that shifts in color with every step, and wield thin crystal swords that are so cold they can shatter iron. Others move silently, but their voices sound like cracking ice. Creatures they kill reanimate as wights, undead zombies with glowing blue eyes. The Others exhibit a weakness to weapons made of dragonglass, which will pierce their armour easily. In death, they seem to melt into a pool of extremely cold liquid.
- Main article: Beastiary
Some species of animals inhabiting the planet are very similar to Pleistocene megafauna of Earth or even historical animals.
- Aurochs - large relatives of the bull. They are frequently used as a symbol of size, strength, and stupidity. An aurochs was used as a mount by the mythical Clarence Crabb as a display of his prowess.
- Direwolves - relatives of the wolf, but more like their extinct real-world equivalent they are much larger and stronger than regular wolves, reaching the size of a pony when fully grown. They are almost never seen south of the Wall.
- Lizard-lions - massive, swamp-dwelling reptiles found in the Neck, these creatures are most likely large crocodilians.
- Mammoths - inhabitants of the far north and apparently the only pachyderm in Westeros. They are used as mounts by Giants.
Other animals appear to be altered versions of contemporary animals or have no real-world equivalent.
- Krakens - huge squids said to be able to pull down whaling ships. They are largely considered a myth.
- Manticores - small creatures that look like scarabs when folded up. Their faces are malign and vaguely human. They have a poisonous sting that is fatal to humans. Manticores are probably from across the narrow sea.
- Ravens - physically similar to common ravens of Earth, ravens in Westeros are used to carry messages between castles. The maester of each castle usually tends to its stock of ravens. Maesters raise a breed of large, white ravens at the Citadel that are said to be more intelligent. Ravens sometimes imitate human speech like parrots.
- Shadowcats - large predatory cats with black fur and white stripes who seem to be native to mountainous regions. Their pelts are prized.
- Zorses - black and white-striped horses, most likely similar to zebras, brought over and used as mounts by some foreigners in Westeros.
- Dragons - ferocious, magical creatures, dragons are not native to Westeros, but were brought to the continent by the Targaryens. They died out over one hundred years ago, and are thought to be extinct by the people of Westeros.
- Unicorns - large goatlike animals, with a long single horn on its head.
- Main article: Timeline of major events
References and Notes
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Westeros. The list of authors can be seen in the page history of Westeros. As with A Wiki of Ice and Fire, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.