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Darth Rivers

How big is Qarth supposed to be?

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I'd like to remind everyone that at the height of its size, Rome was not feed through italian farms in the near vicinity, but rather from the massive latifundia in northern africa and egypt.

I'm a bit off on ASOIAF geography measurements, but I think the distance from Alexandria - Rome is about the same as Volantis - Pentos?

Which would make it roughly the same distance as Qarth - Meereen. And we don't know what the farming area is like in that whole region, except for the red waste which seems to be pretty much wasteland. So huge cities can supply themselves with wheat and such from quite a large area.

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If the Straits of Qarth are as small as the Bosphorus, it’s entirely possible that the Qarthians control lands at the other side which could also be fertile.

I think that discrepancy can be attributed to the Point of View structure of the narrative. We approached Qarth and saw it thru Daenerys’s eyes, while we saw the hinterlands of Pentos and Volantis thru Tyrion’s eyes. Dany’s chapters in Qarth didn’t mention the layout and characteristics of the lands surrounding Qarth because those are not things a 14 year old worried about the survival of her children and people would worry about noticing. We didn’t get any details about the hinterlands of Meereen until those details became important for Dany. Qarth could’ve been surrounded by the Garden of Eden and Daenerys woulnd’t have noticed, so fixated was she with the city and getting into it. Just because Daenerys doesn’t notice or acknowledge that something exists in her POV chapters, it’s no reason to assume that it doesn’t exist.

Tyrion on the other hand is far more observant, and even while he was just passing thru, he took notice of particular details on information that helped to inform the readers about the lands he visited.

I think this hits the nail on the head. We can't assume that something doesn't exist simply because it wasn't described by the POV character that was seeing it.

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I'd like to remind everyone that at the height of its size, Rome was not feed through italian farms in the near vicinity, but rather from the massive latifundia in northern africa and egypt.

Rome was the capital of a vast empire with thousands of farms, vassal states, far-off colonies and even allied states (like Egypt) sending it vast quantities of food from across hundreds of miles, however.

Qarth is a single city-state. Powerful and influential, yes, but generally speaking city-states are so-called because they do not directly control vast areas of land around them, otherwise they'd be nations. Arguably some of the Free Cities are borderline, especially Volantis (with control of the Rhoyne as far north as Dagger Lake, including several towns large enough to be cities by Westerosi standards), but we do not get the same impression about Qarth. Obviously we don't spend that much time in Qarth (3 or 4 chapters IIRC), so our understanding of the situation there might be more limited.

If the Straits of Qarth are as small as the Bosphorus

As far as we can tell, they're not. The HBO map may no longer be canon for Qarth and the Straits, but they're proably an indication of the real deal, and they do appear a great deal larger than the Bosphorus (although that does not prevent Qarth controlling land on the other side, or on the nearby islands, just making it a bit more involved).

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I think it is ridiculous that in Essos are just City-States. The Free Cities resemble the medieval mediterran area or the ancient greek Polys. But Qarth and Asshai resemble the middle east. In ancient times there where City-States in Sumer and all along the Fertile Crescent. Altough the Garden of Bones thing seems to me ridiculous, I do like the look of Qarth in the series, it reminds me a bit of Sumer and/or Babylon.

But my impression of Qarth is, that it is already in decline. The higher classes life inside the city, while the qartheen smallfolk lifes at the borders of the Red Waste. The qartheen nobles live mostly on luxuries brought by trade. At some point there will be famines and the qartheen won't be able to secure their own most basic needs. This would bring me to my next point. I assume, that the Red Waste wasn't a waste all the time. Like the middle east was more prosperous in ancient times. There could have been a whole civilisation, which sole survivor is Qarth itself. The ruins Dany found in the Red Waste, like Vaes Tolorro, could have been such other Milkmen Cities. The rivers dried out and their land became the Red Waste. The decline of this Milkmen-Civilisation was accelerated by wars they fought on the dwindling ressources. At the end only Qarth survived thanks to its location. In the real world all the sumerian and babylonian cities were fed by Euphrat and Tigris. As the flow of the rivers changed aswell as the coastline, great cities like Ur and Uruk were abandoned, too.

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Not all of Essos is city states. There are kingdoms.

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Remember,Qarth is a trading city, probably they need to import ALL food.

This doesn't make sense at all. People will try to find other routes to the Jade Sea. Then Qarth's monopoly will be broken and every qartheen will simply starve.

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This doesn't make sense at all. People will try to find other routes to the Jade Sea. Then Qarth's monopoly will be broken and every qartheen will simply starve.

This is all the more pressing since the previews of the 'real' world map from the forthcoming map box set apparently show that there are two ways into the Jade Sea, meaning that those who want to avoid Qarth's (presumed) taxes on crossing the straits can do so. I'm assuming there's some in-narrative reason why the other set of straits is not used as much (possible pirate or weather activity?).

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But if someone wants to go from the Free Cities to Jade Sea and don't pass in Qarth,you need to cross the Dothraki Sea.

And that's not safe.

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But if someone wants to go from the Free Cities to Jade Sea and don't pass in Qarth,you need to cross the Dothraki Sea.

And that's not safe.

The new previews of The Lands of Ice and Fire show that the Summer Sea and the Jade Sea are divided by a large island. The Straits of Qarth form the northern edge of the island. There is an alternate sea route around the southern edge of the island as well, between the island and Sothoryos.

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The new previews of The Lands of Ice and Fire show that the Summer Sea and the Jade Sea are divided by a large island. The Straits of Qarth form the northern edge of the island. There is an alternate sea route around the southern edge of the island as well, between the island and Sothoryos.

I agree that the existance of the alternate route into the Jade Sea means that Qarth monopoly on the trade makes no sense.

So either GRRM made a mistake, or there is something very nasty that makes that route unviable. But pirates alone shouldn't be enough to completely neutralize a water route that wide.

It has to be a natural/supernatural phenomenon of some kind.

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It has nowhere been said in the novels that Qarth has a monopoly.

Even historically, places that provided a shorter route tended to become quite wealthy ports. Don't need anything supernatural to explain it.

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Besides, that island might be controlled by Qarth and be the hinterland of Qarth. In which case Qarth might be controlling the other strait by subordinate towns like Volantis controls the towns of lower Rhoyne.

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Which brings us to the logical conclusion that Qarth must have an empire to sustain itself.

Not an empire. Consider: The city is effectively ruled by three merchants Guilds. It seems to be the only way between East and West without circumnavegating Essos via the Shivering Sea or Sothyros via whatever it is.

Tax the hell out of everything that pases through. Profit.

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This doesn't make sense at all. People will try to find other routes to the Jade Sea. Then Qarth's monopoly will be broken and every qartheen will simply starve.

Read about Vasco da Gama. Finding another way to the East isn't that easy. They'd have to circumnavigate around two huge continents, without a known port to resupply or knowledge about the dangers in the path.

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Read about Vasco da Gama.

He's right. The situation of Qarth resembles the trade routes in medieval times. Qarth is like Constantinople and controlls the trade routes. The southern route could be just unknown, which could be very plausible. In the middle ages the european knew about China (Yi Ti ?) and India ( Asshai ? ) but they didn't know specific things. They traded with these countries, but they thought there were tree Indias ( India, Indonesia and Ethiopia) and two Chinas (Cathay and Sina), because they never had direct contact to these countries. Qarth is between them and controlls everything, knowledge and goods, what passes. Perhaps the Asshai'i also a lack of knowledge about Westeros. To break their power there must be some bold explorer who discovers the southern route for the Iron Throne, or some Ghengiz Khal, who make the Dothraki Sea save.

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He's right. The situation of Qarth resembles the trade routes in medieval times. Qarth is like Constantinople and controlls the trade routes. The southern route could be just unknown, which could be very plausible. In the middle ages the european knew about China (Yi Ti ?) and India ( Asshai ? ) but they didn't know specific things. They traded with these countries, but they thought there were tree Indias ( India, Indonesia and Ethiopia) and two Chinas (Cathay and Sina), because they never had direct contact to these countries. Qarth is between them and controlls everything, knowledge and goods, what passes. Perhaps the Asshai'i also a lack of knowledge about Westeros. To break their power there must be some bold explorer who discovers the southern route for the Iron Throne, or some Ghengiz Khal, who make the Dothraki Sea save.

heh, now I'm imagining two Asshai'i talking about Dragons:

"They say they still exist in the Lands of the Setting Sun, by the Winter Country, where strange Gods that are but one God are venerated, and the Trees speak."

It would certainly fit with GRRM's deconstruction of tropes like "The Magic Land".

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This is all the more pressing since the previews of the 'real' world map from the forthcoming map box set apparently show that there are two ways into the Jade Sea, meaning that those who want to avoid Qarth's (presumed) taxes on crossing the straits can do so. I'm assuming there's some in-narrative reason why the other set of straits is not used as much (possible pirate or weather activity?).

Why would Qarth be unable to control both of them, though? With that size, I'd be surprised if they didn't control sizable territories, including parts of Sothyros. If the strait is divided, who's to stop them from stationing fleets in the southern part as well?

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