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AzureOwl

The Extent of the Valyrian Empire

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Having received at last my copy of The Lands of Ice and Fire, I’ve been studying the map of the Known World, and I’m thinking we can finally make some guesses about how big were the territories controlled by the Valyrian Freehold.

First of all, there are the lands we know for certain were under Valyrian control: the Valyrian Peninsula itself; all the lands in the Free Cities area; Slaver’s Bay and Ghiscar.

In addition to that, the presence of Valyrian roads that extend east of Qohor makes it safe to assume that the whole region of the former Kingdom of Sarnor was under Valyrian control.

Another speculation pertains to the region south of Sarnor. In the middle the “present day” Dothraki Sea, there’s Vaes Diaf, a city that was originally called Hazdahn No, a name that has a certain Ghiscari ring to it. Assuming that it was once a part of the Ghiscari Empire, it would have passed under Valyrian control along with all Ghiscari possessions. Putting all of this together, the hypothetical eastern frontier of the Valyrian Empire in the Dothraki Sea would run roughly from the Bay of Tusks to the Khyzai Pass.

Beyond that, we enter the realm of pure speculation and guessing.

Let’s start with Lhazar. As far as I can remember, there’s no indication in the books that it ever was a Valyrian possession. However, the Lhazareen lack of martial prowess and proximity to Slaver’s Bay makes it logical to assume that Lhazar would have been one of the first foreign conquests of the Ghiscari Empire. Lhazar would have been absorbed into the Valyrian territories after Old Ghis fell. Under the same logic, the whole valley of the Skahazadhan could also be assumed to be Valyrian territory, which would extend the Freehold’s eastern border all the way to Vaes Efe.

But before we continue, we must make a pause and address the Dothraki situation. We know that the Dothraki didn’t reach the Free Cities region in western Essos until approx. 400 years ago. That means that their original homeland was considerably smaller and centered around the Mother of Mountains and the Womb of the World. The fact that there were cities as close to Vaes Dothrak as Vaes Leisi and Ibbish, as well as a number of kingdoms belonging to the Ifeqevron relatively next door to the heart of the Dothraki homeland means that they were nowhere near as formidable in the days before the Doom, and didn’t become the scourge of the civilized world until the power vacuum produced by Valyria’s destruction created enough chaos to make that possible. I think that the original Dothraki Sea was a rough triangle, with the forests of the Kingdoms of the Ifeqevron on one side, the Bone Mountains on the other, and the third side of the triangle going from somewhere north of Yinishar to the western end of the Ifeqevron’s forests. The Valyrians probably never conquered the ancestors of the Dothraki because a bunch of nomadic barbarians where not worth the effort.

Now, continuing with the speculation, we know that in spite of the terrible conditions, the southern end of the Red Waste was once heavily urbanized, with no less than four full cities in it. The presence of the huge dragon bones that one of Daenerys’ scouts saw south of Vaes Tolorro might be indicative of Valyrian activity in the region. The fact that Vaes Tolorro, Vaes Shirosi and Vaes Orvik seem to have been destroyed by conventional armies and don’t show signs of having been attacked by dragon fire could place their destruction and abandonment post-Doom.

Now we come to the most problematic point of all in my opinion. Did the Valyrians ever conquer Qarth? Was Qarth a subject realm, an ally or a rival? Did the Undying of Qarth possess enough sorcerous might to dissuade Valyria from attacking? Or was it more profitable for the Valyrians to have the Qartheen as willing trading partners rather than subjects? There are too many questions to try to make an adequate supposition. And until we know more about the status of Qarth before the Doom, I don’t believe we can safely speculate if the Valyrians ever expanded east of Qarth into the region of the Jade Sea.

In conclusion, I think that we can conservatively say that the Valyrian Empire extended from the Narrow Sea in the west all the way to the Red Waste in the southeast and as far as the Kingdoms of the Ifeqevron in the northeast.

What do you guys think?

Is there anything that I’ve missed? Or are there any holes in the suppositions that I’ve laid out here?

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I think you're about right, the Valyrians probably wouldn't bother trying to conquer a group of nomads. However I don't think we can say that the Dothraki expanded because of the Valyrian fall, in the real world the Romans was severely harried by the Huns (steppe nomads) despite being a huge empire. As for Lhazar, we have no information so I don't think it's possible to make judgement either way. The Valyrian roads to Sarnath and Saath would place them firmly under Valyrian influence.

So conservatively, I'd say the Valyria, the Free Cities (excluding Braavos), Slaver's Bay and Ghiscar. Speculatively, the Kingdom of Sarnor and Lhazar as well.

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Rome was already severely weakened by other barbarian invasions, civil war, internal strife, and a couple others things when the Huns arrived. And they didn't have dragons, the Valyrians did.

We know that the Valyrian Empire was prosperous until the last second before the Doom, the Dothraki would have much to lose attacking some Valyrian outpost, or city.

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The proto-Dothraki (I think we should only call them Dothraki when they expanded to the power they wielded and wield post-Doom) most likely were not that interesting for the Valyrians, since you could not trade all that much with them (which they likely would have done with them when they were still at the very borders of their sphere of influence), but they might have been one of the sources for slaves.

The really interesting question is how and when the Valyrian Freehold expanded itself over the known world. Considering that apparently the Andals, too, left Essos for Westeros due to Valyrian expansion, it's quite likely that the Valyrian first expanded west and later had their wars with Old Ghis. Did they first subjugate the main land, or did they conquer the inland regions from their colonies at the shores? Since the Rhoynar continued to live at Rhoyne long after the Andals had left, my guess is that Valyrians expanded around Essos long before they forced the lands along the Rhoyne under their control. The founding of Myr, Pentos, and Lorath would have put pressure on the Andals, even if the Valyrians did not attack them directly at all.

Relations with the Rhoynar could have remained peaceful and mutual beneficial for both sides over centuries if we assume that Volantis and its client cities got more than their decent share from Rhoynish goods up the stream (and vice versa).

Considering that the Qartheen sorcerers would have been very powerful as well during the times of the Valyrians, my guess is that Qarth was never conquered by the Valyrians. But it's entirely possible that some of the (Qartheen controlled?) cities in the Red Waste and beyond were destroyed not by Dothraki but during wars between Qarth and Valyria. That might especially true for the city of Qolahn which I consider to be part of the ancient Realm of Qarth (just as Qarkash and Qal still might be ruled from Qarth to this day).

As to Lhazar - considering that the Lhazareen seem to be related to the Dothraki, it's possible that the country of Lhazar did not exist pre-Doom and was only populated by the Lhazareen in the wake of the expansion of the Dothraki. The Lhazareen might very well be nothing but Dothraki who settled down.

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I think there were roughly five ancient independent centres of power.

Valyria

Qarth

Ashai

Yi Ti and environs

Westeros

Valyria might have been in the process of bringing down Qarth in the same way that the Rhoynar civilization was brought low, but then the Doom struck.

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How come the westerosi allowed the occupation of dragonstone by targaryens after the doom? They could've nipped them in the bud


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The Targaryens settled in Dragonstone before the Doom, when the Valyrian empire was still strong. Perhaps they were not in the position of "not allowing it".



Also, with the seven kingdoms warring among them, Dragonstone being a small arid rock, and the Targaryens having no army, I don't think anyone cared too much.


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The Season 2 GoT DVD special features do say that the Valyrians never conquered Qarth, and Qarth was always its own city. That's not canon for the novels, clearly, but I suspect it might be something that Cogman dropped a line to GRRM about.



On that basis, Valyria's possessions would probably be as described: the Free Cities (bar Braavos), Forest of Qohor, Valyrian Peninsula, Lands of the Long Summer, Tolos, Elyria and the former Ghiscari Empire along the east coast of Slaver's Bay. Based on cultural independence, it sounds like that Ibben, the Summer Islands and Naath remained independent, but it's possible that Valyria had colonies on the north coast of Sothoryos (those ruined cities might have been Valyrian conquests and bases for slaving expeditions into the interior).


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Prospective map.



Red is for the territory of Valyria itself. Yellow is (roughly) the territory annexed from the Rhoynar. Orange is the territory annexed from the Ghiscari. Purple is the possible extent of the Qartheen sphere of influence.


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Sarnor contains Valyrian roads. And Valyria did not build roads abroad.


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How come the westerosi allowed the occupation of dragonstone by targaryens after the doom? They could've nipped them in the bud

Dragons

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Prospective map.

Red is for the territory of Valyria itself. Yellow is (roughly) the territory annexed from the Rhoynar. Orange is the territory annexed from the Ghiscari. Purple is the possible extent of the Qartheen sphere of influence.

Nice work. It seems strange that the Valyrians extended their influence so far in a northwesterly direction, but stopped pretty much straight above the Valyrian peninsula directly to the North. In other words, the Dothraki Sea was surely under their control, even if they didn't build any roads or cities there.

Also, what is the generally accepted sequence of them pushing out the Andals? Was it by spreading around the edges of the more powerful Rhoynar civilization first? Or was it by putting so much pressure directly on the Rhoynar, that the Rhoynar were forced to push westwards into Andalos?

It is the order of the Andal and Rhoynar flights to Westeros that confuses me. It should have been the Rhoynar first and then the Andals, given their relative proximity to Valyria.

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I redid the map. I didn't take account of the extent of the Valyrian roads into the Dothraki sea, or the Ghiscari-sounding city names up on the Dothraki sea itself. Also, I wanted to do a better version of the pre-Doom Valyrian Peninsula.



The non-Valyrian roads might have been later additions. Looking at the geography, it also appears that Sarnor was a successor-state founded in the north which prospered for few decades before being destroyed by the Dothraki. Otherwise, if it existed prior to that time it should have Valyrian roads in its interior as well (Sarnor appears to have extended east past those big lakes from the city names). I don't recall it being confirmed if it was possible to destroy the roads with effort (the Dothraki might have expanded that effort, whilst the Free Cities saw no reason to), or if they were completely indestructible. The former might be the case; if Ghiscar was ruled by Valyria for 5,000 years (or 4,600, rather), I find it unlikely that the Valyrians would not have built their highways there as well, and the Ghiscari would have had more reason to destroy the roads in a fit of vengeance.



I think the timeline dispute was previously addressed by Ran: it appears that the Rhoynar existed as a semi-autonomous client-state of Valyria who co-existed with the Valyrians to their mutual profit for a long time. The Valyrian Freehold basically extended around the Rhoynish state. Then the Rhoynar did something to piss off the Valyrians and felt their wrath. In ADWD it's suggested that it was simply that they built Chroyane, a city more beautiful than any in Valyria, but that sounds like a myth. It might have been another reason. The client-state thing sounds plausible as well, if we are to take the Valyrians as Greco-Roman-esque. The Romans had very similar client-state relationships with other nations as well.



The Valyrians being responsible for driving out the Andals always bugged me. The classical timeline has it that the Valyrians only started to rise to power 5,000 years ago and their early period of expansion was focused eastwards on defeating Ghiscar, whilst the Andals invaded Westeros 1,000 years earlier. The later revisionist timeline hinted at in ADWD suggests that the Andal invasion might have been only 4,000 years ago, possibly a lot less, which does track better with a potential Valyrian expansion being the reason for the Andals' departure.



However, that also raises fresh questions: if the Valyrians basically controlled all of the Free Cities (bar the Rhoynar), Ghiscar and Slaver's Bay 4,000 years ago, why did they stop there? Subsequent expansion seems to have been possible only onto the Dothraki Sea in the Sarnor region, and the later swallowing-up of the Rhoynar (who were effectively surrounded by Valyrian territory anyway). Given they had dragons, the Valyrian Freehold could easily have been larger than the Roman Empire, but if anything it seems a fair bit smaller. Westeros was there for the taking (as Tyrion ponders in ADWD), Qarth and the Jade Sea weren't too far to the east, Sothoryos and the Summer Islands lay to the south etc. It does seem odd that the Valyrians didn't do more.


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I redid the map. I didn't take account of the extent of the Valyrian roads into the Dothraki sea, or the Ghiscari-sounding city names up on the Dothraki sea itself. Also, I wanted to do a better version of the pre-Doom Valyrian Peninsula.

The non-Valyrian roads might have been later additions. Looking at the geography, it also appears that Sarnor was a successor-state founded in the north which prospered for few decades before being destroyed by the Dothraki. Otherwise, if it existed prior to that time it should have Valyrian roads in its interior as well (Sarnor appears to have extended east past those big lakes from the city names). I don't recall it being confirmed if it was possible to destroy the roads with effort (the Dothraki might have expanded that effort, whilst the Free Cities saw no reason to), or if they were completely indestructible. The former might be the case; if Ghiscar was ruled by Valyria for 5,000 years (or 4,600, rather), I find it unlikely that the Valyrians would not have built their highways there as well, and the Ghiscari would have had more reason to destroy the roads in a fit of vengeance.

I think the timeline dispute was previously addressed by Ran: it appears that the Rhoynar existed as a semi-autonomous client-state of Valyria who co-existed with the Valyrians to their mutual profit for a long time. The Valyrian Freehold basically extended around the Rhoynish state. Then the Rhoynar did something to piss off the Valyrians and felt their wrath. In ADWD it's suggested that it was simply that they built Chroyane, a city more beautiful than any in Valyria, but that sounds like a myth. It might have been another reason. The client-state thing sounds plausible as well, if we are to take the Valyrians as Greco-Roman-esque. The Romans had very similar client-state relationships with other nations as well.

The Valyrians being responsible for driving out the Andals always bugged me. The classical timeline has it that the Valyrians only started to rise to power 5,000 years ago and their early period of expansion was focused eastwards on defeating Ghiscar, whilst the Andals invaded Westeros 1,000 years earlier. The later revisionist timeline hinted at in ADWD suggests that the Andal invasion might have been only 4,000 years ago, possibly a lot less, which does track better with a potential Valyrian expansion being the reason for the Andals' departure.

However, that also raises fresh questions: if the Valyrians basically controlled all of the Free Cities (bar the Rhoynar), Ghiscar and Slaver's Bay 4,000 years ago, why did they stop there? Subsequent expansion seems to have been possible only onto the Dothraki Sea in the Sarnor region, and the later swallowing-up of the Rhoynar (who were effectively surrounded by Valyrian territory anyway). Given they had dragons, the Valyrian Freehold could easily have been larger than the Roman Empire, but if anything it seems a fair bit smaller. Westeros was there for the taking (as Tyrion ponders in ADWD), Qarth and the Jade Sea weren't too far to the east, Sothoryos and the Summer Islands lay to the south etc. It does seem odd that the Valyrians didn't do more.

Those are exactly my thoughts as well. If the revisionist timeline only came about later, as Martin's response to criticism of the long history in his world, then it means he originally envisaged the Andal migration taking place more than 1000 years before the birth of Valyria.

Meaning the Valyrians were not originally intended to be the cause of the Andal migration into Westeros.

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Meaning the Valyrians were not originally intended to be the cause of the Andal migration into Westeros.

Another possibility is that the Seven or whoever they were foresaw the arrival of the Valyrians, even if it wasn't going to be until thousands of years later, and urged the Andals to invade Westeros at that point when the kingdoms of the First Men were warring, fractious and unlikely to unite against them. I'm presuming the Andals were much less numerous than the First Men to start with and couldn't take all of Westeros in one go (and the information does suggest that the Andal invasion was more of a slow migration taking 1,000-2,000 years rather than a lightning campaign).

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However, that also raises fresh questions: if the Valyrians basically controlled all of the Free Cities (bar the Rhoynar), Ghiscar and Slaver's Bay 4,000 years ago, why did they stop there? Subsequent expansion seems to have been possible only onto the Dothraki Sea in the Sarnor region, and the later swallowing-up of the Rhoynar (who were effectively surrounded by Valyrian territory anyway). Given they had dragons, the Valyrian Freehold could easily have been larger than the Roman Empire, but if anything it seems a fair bit smaller. Westeros was there for the taking (as Tyrion ponders in ADWD), Qarth and the Jade Sea weren't too far to the east, Sothoryos and the Summer Islands lay to the south etc. It does seem odd that the Valyrians didn't do more.

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Duh the Faceless men if Braavos worked with the sheep people and the Qarth warlocks to bring the doom so the Dothraki could rape and pillage lol thank god for the bone mountain and great sand sea or else Asshai would get it too boom! *completely

Crackpot*

Well, if the Valyrians didn't take over Zametar gogososh and teen or anything Sothoryos, which was basically right next to them they probably didn't conquer Qarth.... But, for some reasons the Valyrians would never cross an ocean? Does anyone else find that weird that you can fly but u never conquer anything over seas!? Never attack sorothryos never attack Westeros ( until Targs). Is it possible that something bad happened to dragon/rider over the ocean? Do krakens smell dragons and grab em outa the air? Is their actually a god of the sea that brings his wrath upon dragon riders?

Idk just a little weird, they built roads and a vast empire but never built canals or traveled over great distances of water? Everyone one know boats are faster then wagons, it would make sense for an empire to involve of kind of advanced trading... Idk I'm just rambling

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It's difficult to ride a dragon over oceans: even dragons tire and need to rest and sleep for part of every day, so you can't fly continuously over vast bodies of water unless you have islands you can land on to chill. Flying from Valyria to Sothoroys might be pushing it.



However, as I said, it's entirely possible Valyria did have colonies on the north coast of Sothoryos. There's nothing confirming or denying it. And it is suggested that Valyria actually had a decent army and navy as well: the dragons were a huge force-equaliser, but there are no indications that they were immensely numerous (otherwise it's less likely that the Doom would have been able to kill all of them bar only those on Dragonstone thousands of miles away) or rolled out for every little campaign. The dragons seem to have preferred lairing in the Fourteen Flames, so traditional forces were needed to hold the lands the dragons had conquered.


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It's difficult to ride a dragon over oceans: even dragons tire and need to rest and sleep for part of every day, so you can't fly continuously over vast bodies of water unless you have islands you can land on to chill.

Or unless dragons can alight on a ship without setting it on fire or getting entangled in sails.

Moondancer, smaller than a horse, might accomplish that. Older and bigger dragons... how is a sailing ship adapted/designed to be dragon carrier?

And it is suggested that Valyria actually had a decent army and navy as well: the dragons were a huge force-equaliser, but there are no indications that they were immensely numerous (otherwise it's less likely that the Doom would have been able to kill all of them bar only those on Dragonstone thousands of miles away)

We know the number of dragonlord families of Valyria. 40. Targaryens with 5 dragons at exile were one of the lesser families. This suggests for me that the total of Valyrian dragons may have been something like 300 (if Targaryens had been average, it would have been 200, but they were one of the lessers).

Targaryens´ exile was unusual and scorned as weakness - but not punished or forcibly prevented. So at Doom, there would have been 300 dragons in Valyria, just 5 at Dragonstone, but 0 anywhere else like Volantis or Lys.

or rolled out for every little campaign. The dragons seem to have preferred lairing in the Fourteen Flames, so traditional forces were needed to hold the lands the dragons had conquered.

Targaryen dragons preferred Dragonstone as well, yet Targaryens kept many at Dragonpit. As of the Dance, they had 10 ridden dragons total (4 in Dragonpit, 6 on Dragonstone) plus 3 ex-ridden ones (on Dragonstone). But while they travelled the country, they do not appear to have posted dragons or riders elsewhere in peacetime.

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There is a tapestry in Meereen in ADWD which shows a Ghiscari army defeating a Valyrian one and taking the survivors back as slaves. That indicates that the Valyrians used conventional forces in warfare, and may have preferred not to have deployed the dragons unless absolutely necessary.


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