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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 to the west of Qarth.[3]

Four main travel routes originate from Qarth. The western route leads to Qarkash, the northwestern route to Vaes Qosar and Vaes Tolorro, while the eastern road leads to Asabhad.[4] The fourth route, the Sand Road, leads through the southern Bone Mountains, eventually passing Bayasabhad, leading to the market city Tiqui.[4][5]

Qarth's 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.[6]

The power of Qarth extends west to Port Yhos,[7] 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.[8] The nearby town Qarkash is a Qartheen city,[9] and Vaes Orvik, Vaes Qosar, and Vaes Shirosi, all in ruins, were Qartheen in origin as well.[10][11][12]


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

Qarth is surrounded by three thick walls of thirty, forty, and fifty feet in height, respectively engraved with portraits of animals, war, and lovemaking.[6] The triple walls of Qarth are one of the nine wonders made by man reported in the book, Wonders Made by Man, by Lomas Longstrider.[13] The port of Qarth is one of the greatest in the known world.[14]

The buildings in Qarth are colorful. Decorations include a bronze arch fashioned in the likeness of two snakes mating, their scales 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.[6]

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.[6]

The Pureborn of Qarth rule from the Hall of a Thousand Thrones.[15] The warlocks of Qarth have their center of power in the House of the Undying.[6][16] Other locations include the Temple of Memory, where traditional sacrifices are made,[15] the Garden of Gehane, and Warlock's Way.[14]

Larger than most market towns, the palace of Xaro Xhoan Daxos includes gardens, a marble bathing pool, a scrying tower, and warlock's maze.[6] Located on the route between Xaro's palace and the Hall of a Thousand Thrones is a cavernous building home to a bazaar.[15] A thousand gaily colored birds live on the latticework ceiling. On the terraced walls above stalls, trees and flowers bloom.[6]


Qarth by Martina Pilcerova © Fantasy Flight Games

Descending from the Qaathi, Qartheen are a tall and pale people, called Milk Men by the Dothraki for their complexion.[6] They pride themselves on their sophistication and consider weeping in times of strong emotion to be a mark of civilization.[15] Qartheen politeness goes as far having the Qartheen guild of assassins known as the Sorrowful Men say "I'm so sorry" to their victim before killing them.[15][14] The syllables of the Qartheen language sound liquid to a Westerosi ear.[17]

The Qartheen dress in linen, samite and tiger fur. As per Qartheen fashion, women wear Qartheen gowns, which leave one breast exposed.[6][15] Meanwhile, men favor beaded silk skirts. Children might go about naked, wearing only golden sandals and body paint.[6]

The Qartheen ride camels.[6][18] Warriors 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.[6]

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.[15]

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 Jade Gates between the seas.[15] However, the powerful guilds of the Thirteen, the Tourmaline Brotherhood, and the Ancient Guild of Spicers all contend endlessly with the Pureborn.[15]

The warlocks of Qarth are feared and respected throughout Essos.[6][15] Like the Alchemists' Guild of the Seven Kingdoms, however, the warlocks' power and prestige have waned over the years.[6] Most warlocks have blue lips[6] from drinking shade of the evening,[16] which is derived from a black-barked tree.[16] The warlocks' stronghold and seat of power is the House of the Undying, which houses the Undying Ones.[6][16]

The Qartheen practice slavery in the city.[1]


A city of merchants.[19] Qarth has become wealthy due to its control of the Jade Gates.[20] Because of its location, Qarth is seen as a gateway of commerce and culture between the east and west, and the north and south.[6] Westerosi traders from Oldtown and the Arbor sail to Qarth, for instance.[21] Qarth houses three guilds of competing merchant princes, the Thirteen, the Tourmaline Brotherhood, and the Ancient Guild of Spicers.[15]

Trade goods from Qarth include saffron,[22] dreamwine and liqueur, strongly spiced,[23] silk,[24][25] spices, and elephants.[25] Qartheen spice ships can be as big as palaces.[26] Qartheen ships travel as far as Braavos to trade.[27]

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 that continent.[28]

While Qarth depends upon its slaves,[19] khalasars of the Dothraki never cross the red waste to sell their slaves at Qarth. The Qartheen do not want them to do so, either, as they strongly dislike the smell of the khalasars.[1]


Qarth claims to be the birthplace of civilization, although maesters are skeptical.[29] 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.[30] Ancient Qarth was ruled by kings and queens, the ancestors of the Pureborn.[15] Jar Han, the eighth of the sea-green emperors of Yi Ti, exacted tribute from Qarth.[31]

The new lands of the Qaathi turned into the red waste, however, and their civilization declined.[30] During the Century of Blood, Dothraki pushed into the red waste and destroyed the remaining Qaathi cities, leaving Qarth as the sole surviving Qaathi city.[30] The ruins of Vaes Orvik, Vaes Qosar, and Vaes Shirosi still stand today.[10][11][12]

Looking to the sea, the Pureborn constructed a fleet and took control of the Jade Gates, the strait between Qarth and Great Moraq. The Qartheen prospered from trade and tolls on the most direct route between the Summer Sea and the Jade Sea.[30]

The protagonist of A Caution for Young Girls allegedly served as the handmaid of a Qartheen warlock during part of her life.[32]

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.[21][25] Jade from Qarth was popular in King's Landing during the Lysene Spring.[33]

Lomas Longstrider visited the triple walls of Qarth.[13] Xandarro Xhore was a Qartheen pirate active in the Basilisk Isles.[34] Euron Greyjoy has allegedly plundered as far as Qarth and Tall Trees Town.[35]

Colloquo Votar's Jade Compendium describes Qarth and the Jade Sea.[36]

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.[37]

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.[38]

A Clash of Kings

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

Daenerys recalls how Drogo dreamed of the day when he might sack the great cities of the east, including Qarth.[6]

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.[18] 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.[6] Her three young dragons are a marvel in the ancient city.[6][15][18]

Xaro, a member 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.[15]

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.[15]

After having been refused by the Pureborn, Daenerys agrees to go with Pyat to the House of the Undying.[15] Drogon destroys the building when Daenerys is attacked by the Undying Ones.[16] 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. In the home of Urrathon Night-Walker, glass candles burn for the first time in a century.[14]

Daenerys is soon forced to flee Qarth after the Tourmaline Brotherhood calls for her expulsion and the Ancient Guild of Spicers call for her death. Only Xaro's influence prevents the Thirteen from adding their voices.[14] As Daenerys searches for transport at the port of Qarth, Strong Belwas and Arstan Whitebeard save her from being assassinated by the manticore of a Sorrowful Man.[14]

A Storm of Swords

In Meereen, Daenerys learns that Ser Jorah Mormont had been spying on her on behalf of Lord 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.[39]

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 Daenerys's dragons.[40]

Seeking vengeance against Daenerys,[20] a galleas of warlocks sails from Qarth but is captured by Silence, the galley of Euron Greyjoy.[41]

A Dance with Dragons

Xaro arrives in Meereen as a representative of Qarth to visit Queen Daenerys. He attempts to persuade her to sail for Westeros. Her campaign has disrupted the slave trade upon which depend many cities of Essos, including Qarth. 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 drive off a third of Meereen's fishing fleet and manage to seize another third, leaving Meereen without trade.[19] Qarth sends a corps of Qartheen camelry to aid the Yunkai'i against Daenerys.[17]

Pale Qartheen are among those who come to Meereen to battle in Daznak's Pit.[42]

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 high Qartheen whistles as their ships battle the Iron Fleet of the ironborn.[43]


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.[6]

These are strange times in Qarth. And strange times are bad for trade.[14]

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]

Qarth is a city of merchants, and they love the clink of silver coins, the gleam of yellow gold. When you smashed the slave trade, the blow was felt from Westeros to Asshai. Qarth depends upon its slaves.[19]

We could sail to Qarth. The streets are paved with jade there, my brother always said. The city walls are one of the wonders of the world. When we perform in Qarth, gold and silver will rain down on us, you'll see.[13]

Behind the Scenes

The name of the city is twice misspelled as "Quarth" in A Storm of Swords.[44][39]


  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. The Lands of Ice and Fire.
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Lands of Ice and Fire, The Known World.
  5. The World of Ice & Fire, The Bones and Beyond.
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 6.17 6.18 6.19 6.20 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 27, Daenerys II.
  7. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Port Yhos.
  8. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Qal.
  9. George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Qarkash.
  10. 10.0 10.1 George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Vaes Orvik.
  11. 11.0 11.1 George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Vaes Qosar.
  12. 12.0 12.1 George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Vaes Shirosi.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 57, Tyrion XI.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 63, Daenerys V.
  15. 15.00 15.01 15.02 15.03 15.04 15.05 15.06 15.07 15.08 15.09 15.10 15.11 15.12 15.13 15.14 15.15 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 40, Daenerys III.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 48, Daenerys IV.
  17. 17.0 17.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 36, Daenerys VI.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 12, Daenerys I.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 23, Daenerys IV.
  20. 20.0 20.1 George R. R. Martin's A World of Ice and Fire, Qarth.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Fire & Blood, Heirs of the Dragon - A Question of Succession.
  22. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 9, Davos I.
  23. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 50, Daenerys VIII.
  24. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 67, The Kingbreaker.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Jaehaerys I.
  26. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 6, The Merchant's Man.
  27. The World of Ice & Fire, The Free Cities: Braavos.
  28. The World of Ice & Fire, Beyond the Free Cities: Sothoryos.
  29. The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: The Rise of Valyria.
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 The World of Ice & Fire, Beyond the Free Cities: The Grasslands.
  31. The World of Ice & Fire, The Bones and Beyond: Yi Ti.
  32. Fire & Blood, A Surfeit of Rulers.
  33. Fire & Blood, The Lysene Spring and the End of Regency.
  34. The World of Ice & Fire, Beyond the Free Cities: The Basilisk Isles.
  35. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 56, The Iron Suitor.
  36. The World of Ice & Fire, Other Lands.
  37. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 26, Jon IV.
  38. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 72, Daenerys X.
  39. 39.0 39.1 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 71, Daenerys VI.
  40. A Feast for Crows, Prologue.
  41. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 29, The Reaver.
  42. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 52, Daenerys IX.
  43. The Winds of Winter, Tyrion II
  44. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 8, Daenerys I.