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The Stepstones by Juan Carlos Barquet. © Fantasy Flight Games.

The Stepstones are a chain of islands between the southern narrow sea and the northwestern Summer Sea. The islands are located east of Dorne in Westeros and west of the Disputed Lands in Essos. Just to the north is Tyrosh.[1] The Stepstones are home to pirate dens,[2] often Lyseni and Myrmen.[3] The islands are also often affected by storms.[3]

Two of the islands have been named, Bloodstone and Grey Gallows.[4] Tyrosh is sometimes considered the northernmost and easternmost of the Stepstones.[5]


According to legend, the Stepstones are a remnant of a land-bridge, known as the Arm of Dorne, which once linked Westeros and Essos. More than ten thousand years ago the First Men used that land-bridge to cross into what is now known as Dorne to begin their invasion of Westeros. The greenseers of the children of the forest are said to have used magic to shatter the land-bridge into an archipelago named the Stepstones, located between the Broken Arm and the Disputed Lands.

The Freehold of Valyria established Tyrosh as a military outpost to control trade near the Stepstones.[5]

Slavers from the Stepstones captured the Wolf's Den at the mouth of the White Knife during the reign of King Edrick Stark,[6] and pirates from the isles also sometimes attacked the eastern riverlands[7] and Vale of Arryn.[8] There are pockets of Rhoynar on the islands dating back to the migration of Nymeria's ten thousand ships.[9]

Myr and Lys of the Free Cities have constantly engaged in wars over possession of the Stepstones. Pirates attacked Cape Wrath during Aegon's Conquest.[10] Several times in its history, the Seven Kingdoms have fought for control over some or all of the islands as well, but these gains were always temporary.[11]

In 29 AC and again in 30 AC, Prince Maegor Targaryen assisted by Lord Aethan Velaryon and Ser Osmund Strong led a punitive campaign to the Stepstones to drive out corsairs led by the pirate-lord Sargoso Saan.[12]

After defeating Volantis in 96 AC, the Triarchy of Lys, Myr, and Tyrosh invaded the Stepstones to subdue outlaws and pirates living in the islands. While the Seven Kingdoms were appreciative at first, they came to resent the high tolls imposed by the Free Cities on trade in the narrow sea. Foremost among the aggrieved Westerosi was the Sea Snake, Lord Corlys Velaryon of Driftmark.[13] Prince Daemon Targaryen, with his dragon Caraxes, joined forces with Corlys in trying to wrestle control of the Stepstones from the so-called Kingdom of the Three Daughters. While Corlys commanded the fleet, Daemon led an army of sellswords, cutthroats, landless adventurers, and second sons.

Despite inferior numbers, Daemon's leadership and dragon resulted in a string of defeats for the Triarchy. After capturing all but two of the Stepstones, in 109 AC Daemon proclaimed himself King of the Stepstones and the Narrow Sea, though this short-lived sellsword-kingdom was mostly built on mud and blood, and control of the vital sea lanes in the Narrow Sea. Daemon's ruling seat was on Bloodstone, the largest of the islands. The Triarchy rallied by 111 AC, however, allying with independent Dorne, which was wary of the Targaryens expanding into the Stepstones. Led by Racallio Ryndoon, their combined forces helped turn back the tide of Daemon's conquests, and he struggled to defend his holdings. In 115 AC, Daemon was called back from the isles by the death of his wife Rhea Royce, then soon became embroiled in other political intrigues in King's Landing. He simply never returned, abandoning the losing fight in the Stepstones. Five other men followed him as "King" of the Stepstones in rapid succession, before the alliance between the Triarchy and Dorne ended his short-lived kingdom for good.[14][13]

Some years later, after the collapse of the Triarchy, which started around 130 AC, Ryndoon himself carved out his own pirate-kingdom in the Stepstones, during the reign of King Aegon III Targaryen. Also during his reign, Lord Alyn Velaryon received the nickname "Oakenfist" after achieving a great naval victory in the Stepstones.[15][16]

Before long, the Stepstones degenerated into a lawless, corsair-infested borderland once again, carved up into different shifting pirate-fiefs but truly controlled by no one.

During the War of the Ninepenny Kings, the Band of Nine conquered the Stepstones. A battle was fought here in which Maelys I Blackfyre was killed, ending the Blackfyre Pretenders' threat.[17] The conquest of the islands was a scheme of King Aerys II Targaryen which amounted to nothing.[18]

The Stepstones and Basilisk Isles have often been raided by ironborn reavers and sellsails from the Iron Islands, such as Harwyn Hoare[19] and Dalton Greyjoy.[20] When he was fifteen, Balon Greyjoy spent a summer reaving in the Stepstones with Dagmer Cleftjaw, killing his first man and taking his first two salt wives in the islands.[21] Asha Greyjoy was away fighting Lyseni pirates in the Stepstones when Balon, Lord Reaper of Pyke, exiled Euron Greyjoy from the Iron Islands.[22]

Recent Events

A Storm of Swords

Fighting has broken out in the Stepstones.[23]

Ser Osmund Kettleblack tells Ser Jaime Lannister he served in the Stepstones and the Disputed Lands with the Gallant Men, fighting for Lys and then Tyrosh.[24]

A Feast for Crows

While sailing from Braavos to Oldtown, the crew of the Cinnamon Wind defends against pirates in the Stepstones.[25] A Volantene galley barely escapes Salladhor Saan's Old Mother's Son and Valyrian.[26]

After Cersei Lannister is arrested by the Faith of the Seven, Lord Aurane Waters absconds with Cersei's dromonds. Grand Maester Pycelle believes that Aurane intends to become a pirate in the Stepstones.[27]

A Dance with Dragons

Ser Davos Seaworth recalls that Salladhor abandoned the cause of Stannis Baratheon with the intent to return to the Stepstones with his remaining ships.[28]

Some of the Golden Company lands on the Stepstones.[29][30]

The Iron Fleet, headed to Slaver's Bay, stops for game, grain, and fresh water in the Stepstones before Victarion Greyjoy splits the fleet in three.[31]

Strange ships are reported in the Stepstones.[32]

Arya Stark learns that Pynto claims to have once been the most notorious pirate of the Stepstones.[33]

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.

According to Valena Toland, a new pirate king has set up on Torturer's Deep, styling himself the Lord of the Waters, with three-decked warships. Some readers believe it is possible that this is Aurane Waters. The name would be a play on both his bastard surname, and the traditional Velaryon title, "Lord of the Tides."[34][35]


Autumn is a season rife with storms, and pirates still make their dens upon the Stepstones and venture forth to prey on honest men.[2]

- Illyrio Mopatis to Tyrion Lannister


  1. The Lands of Ice and Fire.
  2. 2.0 2.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 5, Tyrion II.
  3. 3.0 3.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 29, The Reaver.
  4. A Dance with Dragons, Map of the Free Cities
  5. 5.0 5.1 The World of Ice & Fire, The Free Cities: The Quarrelsome Daughters: Myr, Lys, and Tyrosh.
  6. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 29, Davos IV.
  7. The World of Ice & Fire, The Riverlands.
  8. The World of Ice & Fire, The Vale: House Arryn.
  9. The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: Ten Thousand Ships.
  10. The World of Ice & Fire, The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest.
  11. So Spake Martin: Invasions of the East and Rebellions, June 19, 2000
  12. The Sons of the Dragon.
  13. 13.0 13.1 The Rogue Prince.
  14. The Princess and the Queen.
  15. The World of Ice & Fire, Aegon III.
  16. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon III.
  17. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Jaehaerys II.
  18. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aerys II.
  19. The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: The Black Blood.
  20. The World of Ice & Fire, The Iron Islands: The Red Kraken.
  21. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 1, The Prophet.
  22. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 18, The Iron Captain.
  23. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 19, Tyrion III.
  24. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 67, Jaime VIII.
  25. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 35, Samwell IV.
  26. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 34, Cat Of The Canals.
  27. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 43, Cersei X.
  28. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 9, Davos I.
  29. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 54, Cersei I.
  30. A Dance with Dragons, Epilogue.
  31. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 56, The Iron Suitor.
  32. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 44, Jon IX.
  33. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 45, The Blind Girl.
  34. Arianne I (The Winds of Winter)

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