Essos is one of the most famous continents and the largest of them. It lies east of Westeros, north of Sothoryos and Ulthos. Its northern shores are washed by the Shivering Sea, the southern – Summer and Jade Seas, and the Narrow Sea separates Essos from Westeros. It is not known how far Essos stretches east.
The name “Essos” was never mentioned before A Dance with Dragons and was first voiced by Martin in an interview in 2008.
The continent is the size of Eurasia, about the same length from north to south and from west to east. Essos is larger than Westeros, but its true extent is unknown, as no complete map of this continent exists – although the maps in the new books showed new, previously unknown areas of Essos, each time it was found that the mainland goes east beyond the edge of the map. Nothing is known about the east coast of Essos. The north coast of Essos is washed by the Shivering Sea. To the south behind the Summer Sea and the Jade Sea, separated by a group of islands and straits, lies the uncharted continent of Sothoryos. Ulhtos, another land massif known to be nothing but a name, lies south of Essos and east of Sothoryos – however, it may also be part of Essos or Sothoryos.
Because the bulk of Essos lies in more southern latitudes, it is smaller than Westeros prone to seasonal climate change, although long winters are felt here. The climate varies from moderate in the northern part of the mainland to hot and dry in the south. The relief highlights the huge Forest of Qohor and clusters of islands such as Braavos. The central part of the continent is covered by the Dothraki Sea – a huge grassy plain inhabited by Dothraki nomads; to the south lies the barren Red Waste. In the east, the Dothraki Sea limits the Bone Mountains, which crosses the continent from north to south. The south is dominated by dry hills and Mediterranean climate with a coastline along the Summer Sea, which moves into the Valyrian Freehold and the Slaver’s Bay.
Essos is divided into several areas inhabited by different peoples.
Free cities are nine independent city-states located in the west of Essos. All but Braavos are founded as colonies of Valyria. Under the rule of state, cities are large areas comparable in size and population with the kingdoms of Westeros. Free Cities trade with both the Sunset Kingdoms, i.e. Westeros, and the countries of the east; in Westeros, you can often find goods imported from the Free Cities. Free Cities often fight each other, using numerous mercenary groups.
Extensive steppes in the central part of Essos, inhabited by Dothraki – nomads, united in the Kalasar. Their main settlement – Vaes Dothrak stands at the foot of the Mother of Mountains near Lake the Womb of the World.
It is a vast peninsula with fourteen volcanoes on which Valyria was located. After the Doom of Valyria, the peninsula split into several large and many small islands.
It is a large bay to the south of the Dothraki Sea, to the east of the ValyrianPeninsula and to the west of Lhazar, which is home to three cities: Astapor, Meereen, and Yunkai, who consider themselves heirs to the Ghis Empire. The city of New Ghis is located on an island in the bay, but little is known about it. The bay towns are connected to the Free Cities by Valyrian roads.
Located southeast of the Dothraki Sea and northeast of Slaver’s Bay. It is a land of pastures and hills. They are inhabited by the Lhazaryans, the peaceful people of shepherds – the “lamb people”, as they are called Dothraki, who often attack the Lhazaryans and take the locals into slavery.
Qarth is a large city in the east of Essos beyond the Red Desert. The advantageous position at the Jade Gates between Essos and Sothoryos made it a center of trade between north and south, west and east.
Yi Ti is located between the Shadow Lands and Qarth. It is a huge and rich state, in the least part communicating with western Essos, but at the same time is almost the last outpost of the civilization of the known world.
Plains of the Jogos Nhai
It is a large flat area located north of Yi Ti. In the north, it is washed by the Shivering Sea and the Leviathan Sound. The plains are inhabited by nomads.
Ibben is an island nation inhabited by the human (or only humanoid) race of the Ibbenians. It occupies the islands of Ib, Far Ib, and smaller islands around, as well as a small peninsula on large land.
Asshai and Shadow Lands
Asshai is a notorious port in the southeast of Essos. Located on the shores of the Shivering Sea, it is the most remote city known in Westeros. Asshai is adjacent to Shadow Lands, a gloomy, little-studied mountainous area.
Shadowlands is a long mountain valley with its surrounding high steep mountains, in the center of which flows the river Asshaia. To the north of the river is the town of Stygai, lying in ruins.
It is considered to be a little-studied territory, which is known even less than Shadows Land. Here are Mossovy, Thousand Isles, The City of Winged Men, The City of Bloodless Men, Cannibal Sands, and Grey Waste.