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The Summer Islands are BIG!


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#1 Ser Lepus

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 11:47 AM

After taking a peek of the maps from "The Lands of Ice and Fire" a thing caught my attention: The Summer Islands are BIG!.

They are bigger than any of the Seven Kingdoms save the North, and, if we take into account that they don't suffer from crazy long winters and can get crops every year and all the year round, that they have a nice long coastline that provides a lot of their population with fish, that they are the best sailors in the world and have a strong merchantile culture, plus they have a few luxury exports (golden wine, golden wood and exotic feathers crafts) and a large percentage of the population seem to be fine archers...I think they may be more populous, more wealthy and more powerful than the Seven Kingdoms themselves.

Think of this: The Reach is the breadbasket of the Seven Kingdoms thanks to its climate and can field more soldiers than half the other kingdoms together, but the Summer Islands are bigger than the Reach, and don't suffer from westerosi crazy long winters!

You thoughts?

#2 The hairy bear

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 01:32 PM

I know very little about geography and climatology, but I think that many take the wrong assumption that the more to the south, the more fertile the land is. That's contradicted by the reality in our own world:

http://go.grolier.com/atlas?id=mtlr079

If we assume the Westerosi climate to be equivalent to the European, then the latitudes of the Summer Islands would correspond to Northern Africa, which has much leeser population than Europe.


#3 Ser Lepus

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 03:29 PM

I know very little about geography and climatology, but I think that many take the wrong assumption that the more to the south, the more fertile the land is. That's contradicted by the reality in our own world:

http://go.grolier.com/atlas?id=mtlr079

If we assume the Westerosi climate to be equivalent to the European, then the latitudes of the Summer Islands would correspond to Northern Africa, which has much leeser population than Europe.


The Summer Islands are quite green in the map. I think they are rainy.

It's true that the ground of wet tropical climates usually isn't fertile, but there are ways to counter that: rice pools, chinampas and terra preta, among others. And anyway, they lack a long, deadly winter like Westeros' one, so, even if the ground isn't so fertile, at least it's productivity won't suffer wild ups and downs that curtail the growth of population.

#4 Fire Eater

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 04:05 PM

The Summer Islander diet consists of mainly fruit and fish so I would take that they practice some arboriculture and possibly some aquaculture like the Polynesians. I don't think Summer Islander agriculture is on the scale with Westerosi agriculture, and Westeros has Arbor wine, gold from the Westerlands, silver from White Harbor and other products alongside their agricultural produce. The Seven Kingdoms as whole may be wealthier than the Summer Isles.

In terms of military power, we don't know how Summer Islanders fight. Do they have disciplined armies or levies or is it more along the lines of the wildlings and Ironborn with one on one? Do they wear armor? In the hot climate metal armor seems unlikely, and armor made of cotton or leather possibly can't stop metal blades.

Edited by Fire Eater, 19 May 2013 - 05:35 PM.


#5 Ser Lepus

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 05:30 PM

Grrrr! I want to learn more about the Summer Islands NOW! /angry.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':angry2:' /> When is going the World of Ice and Fire to be published? I don't want to wait for years! /sad.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':(' />

Edited by Ser Lepus, 19 November 2012 - 05:32 PM.


#6 Mr Bell

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 06:15 PM

Grrrr! I want to learn more about the Summer Islands NOW! /angry.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':angry2:' /> When is going the World of Ice and Fire to be published? I don't want to wait for years! /sad.png' class='bbc_emoticon' alt=':(' />


I think the date is roughly a year from now or so...

#7 The Dragon has three heads

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Posted 23 November 2012 - 08:12 PM

^haha

#8 scotcat

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 12:12 PM

I think the date is roughly a year from now or so...


It's the 'or so' part that's causing me problems. Waiting is hell

#9 The Other Others

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 01:50 PM

They're probabaly the ASOIAF version of Indonesia and the Philipinnes. We've (or at least I've) been thinking they were more like Polynesia than Indonesia.

#10 AdXRoss

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 05:37 PM

An issue for tropical soil that tends to make it less fertile than temperate soil is the lack of rot that gets into the ground. Take the Amazon for instance; all of the debris that lands on the forest floor gets eaten up by animal and micro-biological cultures and very little in the way of nutrients get absorbed into the soil, hence when the trees go, the soil losing its anchoring, blows away, leaving a dustbowl. For all it's appearance of plenty, the Amazon is not unlike a desert in terms the food available for people. That said there is evidence to suggest that when the Spaniards arrived there were actually about 20million people living in the Amazon and it was then a land of plenty, having been heavily managed (there is evidence of this in the black-soil spots - very fertile bits of soil that have archaeologically been linked with village refuse pits dug deep). However it may be the case in GRRM's word that the Summer Islands are as much inhospitable jungle as paradise.

#11 Peasant Rebel Leader

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 06:03 PM

I always imagined them much more "Polynesia" like, i.e. long valleys and deep jungles where sometimes it's faster to go by boat to the next valley than over the mountains. That would to me then also explain why it's apparently so fragmented and the Summer Islanders do seem to be a sea focused people of what we've seen so far.

#12 Rodrik of Dorne

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 12:37 PM

Well, if I'm not wrong, the World of Ice and Fire will be focused on Westeros, and in Westeros after the Targaryen conquest only. I guess we'll never really know much about all the lands portrayed in the maps.

#13 History of Westeros

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 12:05 PM

Think of this: The Reach is the breadbasket of the Seven Kingdoms thanks to its climate and can field more soldiers than half the other kingdoms together, but the Summer Islands are bigger than the Reach.


This is not true unless "half" means only the 3 smallest of the 7 kingdoms, and even then it might not be true. Dorne + the Stormlands + the Iron Islands > The Reach. Or call it too close to count. Another thing you are not taking into account is the mountains. The Summer Islands have several mountains, which are not likely very useful in providing food.

I do agree that they appear much larger and more fertile than context clues led me/us to believe.

#14 Mrs.Grumpy

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 01:25 PM

By the way, which continent are they belong to ?

#15 thecryptile

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 01:31 PM

Summer Islands can probably count as Planetos's version of Oceania. From the name, you can infer that they have the long summer that the small folk of Westeros pray for. They are undoubtedly more populous and powerful than Westeros due to the benign climate. Also, Westeros is an analogue for medieval Europe, in medieval times Europe was kind of a backwater, China, Africa, even Mexico and Peru all had larger more populous cities, as well as many trade goods Europeans were incapable of producing.

#16 TheMysteriousOne

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 04:55 PM

Summer Islands can probably count as Planetos's version of Oceania. From the name, you can infer that they have the long summer that the small folk of Westeros pray for. They are undoubtedly more populous and powerful than Westeros due to the benign climate. Also, Westeros is an analogue for medieval Europe, in medieval times Europe was kind of a backwater, China, Africa, even Mexico and Peru all had larger more populous cities, as well as many trade goods Europeans were incapable of producing.

Summer Islands are more comparable to a mixture between Sub-saharan Africa and the Caribbean, plus Summer Islanders are black, 'African' people .

#17 Don Roberto

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 06:55 PM

Any rigorous analogy between our world and theirs is bound to a lot of errors. Even if one firmly believes in geographical determinism, the sheer fact that their weather works differently and there's magic around changes everything.

Having said that, there are things one can infer from the maps. Two of their main three islands are almost entirely covered with forest. The third and biggest has a vale about the size and area of the forest-less part of Cape Wrath - while it can have crops, would not be a lot. So it's safe to assume they mainly live off fish, fruits and some vegetables. Not enough for a population the size of the Reach, but perhaps somewhere between the Iron Islands and the Stormlands.

As for wealth, they are quite famous on ports around the world, especially in the southern part of Westeros, but they're also quite far from everywhere. They have to travel the furthest than any other civilization to get somewhere else, and while the Cinnamon Wind was all the way up at Braavos, one has to wonder how often they make these long voyages. Seeing as even crossing the Narrow Straight or sailing along the coast of Westeros can be perilous, there may be a lot less trade than, say, between any of Westeros' port cities and the Free Cities. So they may not be all that wealthy either.

I picture them as a very prosperous and peaceful kingdom, but not necessarily populous or wealthy, and certainly not battle-prone.

#18 Agamemnon

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 07:37 PM

Which map are you looking at? All the ones I see show the summer isles numerous and spread out... but if you put them all together they would be about the size of the iron isles and the arbor combined.

#19 AzureOwl

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Posted 22 May 2013 - 01:26 PM

Which map are you looking at? All the ones I see show the summer isles numerous and spread out... but if you put them all together they would be about the size of the iron isles and the arbor combined.


The maps in the Lands of Ice and Fire. If you put together the land mass of the Summer Isles, I'd estimate that the land adds up to around the same as the Stormlands.

If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say that only the valleys of Jhala are heavily cultivated. The rest of the islands look very heavily forested. And as the current deforestation of the Amazon rainforest shows, cleared tropical jungle doesn't make good farmland.

Edited by AzureOwl, 22 May 2013 - 01:42 PM.


#20 thecryptile

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Posted 22 May 2013 - 01:38 PM

Summer Islands are more comparable to a mixture between Sub-saharan Africa and the Caribbean, plus Summer Islanders are black, 'African' people .

Maybe they are black, 'Melanesian' people, like the inhabitants of New Guinea. Aside from the skin-tones of the Summer Islanders, I see no connection to sub-Saharan Africa. The Caribbean fits, in terms of climate and the phenotype of the population, but so do the tropical islands of Melanesia.

I always imagined them much more "Polynesia" like, i.e. long valleys and deep jungles where sometimes it's faster to go by boat to the next valley than over the mountains. That would to me then also explain why it's apparently so fragmented and the Summer Islanders do seem to be a sea focused people of what we've seen so far.

Yes, this statement seems to fit with what we know about the people and culture.