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The World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones is an encyclopedia for George R. R. Martin's epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, co-written by Martin and Elio Garcia, Jr. and Linda Antonsson, administrators of the popular fansite Westeros.org.

The book is written as a comprehensive history from the in-universe perspective of one Maester Yandel. As such, the book represents Westeros's knowledge on its own universe, leading to, for example, Yandel dismissing certain magical events out of hand or entertaining false theories, when any real-world reader of the main book series would know better. Additionally, Yandel began the book in the ninth year of Robert's reign but didn't finish until the beginning of Tommen's, meaning that, for the most part, the book represents Westeros as it was before A Game of Thrones, the first book in the main series.

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The World of Ice & Fire provides examples of:

  • Action Girl:
    • Common in Dorne due to the cultural influence of the Rhoynar, who treated men and women equally in most respects. Nymeria, the princess who brought Rhoynish culture to Dorne, wasn't a warrior herself as the legends claim, but she was a formidable general.
    • Visenya and Rhaenys, Aegon the Conqueror's sister-wives. Both were accomplished battle commanders, although Rhaenys mostly depended on wits and her dragon, while Visenya was, like Aegon himself, trained with weapons from childhood. She was even considered skilled enough to inherit the Valyrian steel sword Dark Sister, one of the two family blades of House Targaryen. (The other, Blackfyre, was Aegon's, which gives you an idea of the kind of standard she had to meet.)
    • Among the nomadic Jogos Nhai, women can be jhats (the equivalent of Dothraki khals) and the most famous jhattar (supreme ruler) of all was a woman.
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    • In the fortress cities of Shamyriana, Kayakayanaya and Bayasabhad, only women can be warriors, a practice that they inherited from the ancient Patrimony of Hyrkoon.
    • In centuries past, before their kingdom was destroyed by the Dothraki, it was the custom among the Sarnori for men and women to wage war together. Sarnori women were chariot drivers and light cavalry.
  • Advanced Ancient Acropolis:
    • Asshai-by-the-Shadow (if the tales are to be believed) is so impossibly ancient that even the people who live in it don’t know who built it, is so absurdly large that it could fit several of the world’s largest cities inside it with room to spare, and was built using an oily black stone that’s virtually indestructible.
    • There are a few examples built by the forgotten culture known as the Maze Builders. Who may or may not have been Deep One hybrids.
  • Agent Scully: Yandel tends to dismiss accounts of magic as exaggerated or just fabricated.
  • All There in the Manual: This is the manual! It's also inverted, as many of the events surrounding Robert's Rebellion are glossed over with the excuse that they are so familiar to current readers (that is, people living in Westeros "today") that describing them is unnecessary. Some of these events (particularly concerning Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark) are presumably being held back for subsequent novels, although a simple in-universe explanation is that Yandel is writing for the winner of that war and probably wants to avoid writing anything he wouldn't like.
    • This holds true for the Tales of Dunk and Egg as well. In this book, the third Blackfyre rebellion is left very vague, clearly so that it can be explored in a Dunk & Egg novella when Martin has the time.
  • Artistic License – History: Yandel disparages in-universe examples, such as the songs claiming that Serwyn of the Mirror Shield, a First Man hero from thousands of years ago, was not just a knight, even though knighthood wasn't even a thing until the Andals took over, but was also a member of the Kingsguard, an institution that is less than three hundred years old.
  • Authority in Name Only: Theoretically, the god-emperor of Yi Ti rules all of the Golden Empire. In practice however, his authority doesn't extent beyond the capital city of Yin. Actual political power is held by various princes, imperial generals, priest-kings, sorcerers, warlords and even tax collectors. Even ignoring that, there are currently three claimants with their own courts trying to ignore each other.
  • The Bluebeard: King Maegor the Cruel had at least two of his wives killed.
  • Bold Explorer:
    • Lomas Longstrider visited the better part of the Known World. Maester Yandel constantly references his accounts.
    • Corlys Velaryon was the first Westerosi to visit the Thousand Isles and the city of Nefer. Most of what the maesters know about these distant places comes from Velaryon's accounts.
  • Butt-Monkey: The Qaathi people spent centuries filling this role in Essos. They lost most of their wars with the Sarnori and retreated until they ended up in the least desirable piece of real estate west of the Bone Mountains, a region which promptly started turning into a desert. After the Doom of Valyria the Dothraki came along and wiped out most of their cities until only Qarth remained. With Qarth they finally made it big because of its convenient location to control sea trade, and became the filthy rich Qartheen we know from the main saga.
  • Cain and Abel: Rhaenyra and her half-brother Aegon II, though both cause so much devastation fighting over the Iron Throne that it's hard to tell who we're supposed to root for (although, granted, that's probably the point). Their branches of the family almost wiped the other out before Aegon had Rhaenyra fed to his dragon. However he died shortly after.
    • In Yi Ti, it is believed the Long Night began when the Amethyst Empress was slain by her younger brother, who became the Bloodstone Emperor.
    • The first Blackfyre Rebellion was built on this. There was Daemon Blackfyre trying to usurp the Iron Throne from his half-brother Daeron Targaryen, with the two of them being respectively aided by their other half-brothers Aegor "Bittersteel" Rivers and Brynden "Bloodraven" Rivers. Who, it should be noted, despised each other.
  • CamelCase: People and things from Yi Ti are called YiTish.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Septon Barth's writings are mentioned several times, and he appeared to have had a much better handle on the magical nature of the planet than the rest of the world. For example, he knew that the irregular seasons are due to magic; while this doesn't seem to be a popular opinion in-universe, it has been confirmed by Word of God.
  • Cold Equation: During particularly long or severe winters in the North, it is common for elderly folk to go out "hunting" one day and never come back, leaving a little more food for everyone else.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The different dynasties of god-emperors in Yi Ti are distinguished by colors, rather than names. The current one is Bu Gai, the seventeenth azure emperor.
  • Combo Platter Powers/New Powers as the Plot Demands: Yandel argues against the children of the forest sinking the Arm of Dorne, pointing out that such a feat doesn't mesh with the powers they're usually described as having. He uses a similar argument to discredit the children helping to build the Wall.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: The illustration of Rhaegar Targaryen by Karla Ortiz very much resembles Chris Hemsworth in Thor.
  • Composite Character: In-universe, several early kings and heroes of the Seven Kingdoms, like Artys Arryn and Garth the Gardener, have had their stories conflated with those of even earlier legendary figures in Westerosi folklore.
    • An especially egregious example comes from the early Storm Kings, who had a habit of naming their firstborn sons after their ancestor Durran Godsgrief, meaning that the achievements of numerous King Durrans got folded together in historical records, culminating in the original being credited with a thousand year reign.
  • Corrupt Church: The priesthood of Boash the Blind God established Lorath as a theocracy, but they later became decadent and corrupt. The Lorathi people finally overthrew them.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Ancient constructs of oily black stone have this flavour attached to them, being associated with the Drowned God, Fish People (the Isle of Toads), Lizard Folk (the Five Forts), Eldritch Locations such as the cities of Asshai and Yeen, and the Church of Starry Wisdom, a religion based around a meteorite from the same type of stone, which allegedly started the Long Night. Cities such as Stygai (Asshai's Eviler Than Thou equivalent) and K'Dath also have this vibe.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Here are but a few examples given in the book.
    • Rhaenyra Targaryen was fed alive to her brother's dragon.
    • King Aegon IV Targaryen was eaten alive by parasitic worms.
    • Lady Serala Darklyn's tongue and genitals were torn out before she was put to death by burning.
    • Tywin Lannister buried the Reynes alive in their keep and then drowned them by diverting a stream into the castle itself.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Yandel occasionally mentions places or names without elaborating on them. For example, he names the Westerlands folk tales of Pate the Plowman or the Hooded Man and leaves it at that. Similarly, there's a region of northern Essos called Mussovy with a culture of demon-hunting... and that's all we're told.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus:
    • The faith of The Seven is very similar to Catholicism.
    • The faith of Boash the Blind God is essentially Buddhism.
    • The faith of R'hllor is based heavily on Zoroastrianism.
    • The religion practiced in the Free City of Norvos shows some similarities to the Sikh faith.
  • Cult Colony: The Free Cities of Lorath, Norvos and Qohor were founded by religious sects. Norvos and Qohor are still theocracies, with Norvos believing Qohor's god to be a demon. The Iron Islands are also one, bound by the worship of the Drowned God and a culture of reaving and thralldom, that on account of its extreme isolation from Westeros, develops its own unique brand of weirdness probably as a result of occult precursors.
  • Cultural Posturing:
    • The YiTish react this way whenever anyone suggests that the Sarnori and Ghiscari civilizations may be as old as theirs.
    • Yandel also portrays the Andals as being essentially the only people who were able to resist Valyrian domination for long, although his own history demonstrates that the Rhoynar resisted just as long.
    • Qarth's boasts about its ancient glory and power are revealed to be a case of empty Cultural Posturing, as they were insignificant on the world stage until less than 400 year ago.
  • Darkest Africa: The continent of Sothoryos is a dense jungle filled with fearsome beasts, terrible diseases, and brutal savages called the Brindled Men. But the place is also filled with enough gold and other resources to satisfy the greediest colonizer, if he can live long enough to enjoy it. Most don't, considering almost half of all Westerosi who have visited ended up dying of disease.
  • Dated History: Yandel started the book in 292 AC and didn't finish until 300, and as the afterword acknowledges, a lot about Westeros has changed in those few years. For example, the dedication page has Tommen's name, but it has clearly been written over "Robert" and then "Joffrey". The chapter about Robert's reign is also written in the present tense despite being outdated information by the time the book is published.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • See Loophole Abuse, below. After a man killed his wife by striking her a hundred times, Rhaenys introduced the "rule of six" in response: while a wife was indeed subordinate to her husband, meaning he would be within rights to beat her, he would only be allowed six strikes total (one for each of the Seven, minus the Stranger, who is death).
    • Westeros is rather sex-negative, but on the Summer Islands most people spend some number of years serving in love temples and having sex with any visitors. In the Summer Islands, skill at sex is regarded as a prestigious calling akin to music or art.
    • The relatively egalitarian cultures of the hill tribes and wildlings are sneered at for their lack of a proper ruling class.
    • All throughout the book, the role of women is usually that of prizes. Most are never named, and are usually only mentioned in some variant on the phrase "and he took the conquered lord's wife/daughter to wife". Yandel doesn't see much wrong with this, to the point where he makes a note of Orys Baratheon's decision not to rape the daughter of a lord he'd slain in combat who was brought to him naked and in chains, and instead talk her into surrendering the castle, as the height of chivalry. This makes it all the more surprising when he writes about Dorne, Aegon Targaryen's sisters, or any other time when he brings up a woman who held power and whose name history actually remembered with nothing more censorious with "that's just how they do things there and it works for them".
  • Demon Slaying: The forest of Mossovy is said to be home to "demon hunters." No further information is given about them or the "demons" that they hunt.
  • Depending on the Artist: Some people or places are depicted more than once and have no guarantee of actually looking the same each time. For example, there are two wildly different interpretations of Dragonstone in the book (one where it's a relatively small castle on a hill, the other where it's a straight up Doom Fortress in the shadow of a huge mountain), and Aerys II's crown looks different in every illustration of him.
  • Dirty Coward: Yandel considers the rulers of the Kingdom of Omber to be this, because of their yearly tribute payment to the Dothraki of grains, gems and girls.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: While it's unknown what was discussed at the council Aegon the Conqueror put together after Argilac the Arrogant's insult, it certainly appears as if Aegon decided to conquer the entire continent immediately after Argilac spurned a marriage offer from Aegon by cutting off his messenger's hands.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Yandel deplores the fact that Addam of Duskendale’s account of his travels in eastern Essos spends a disproportionate amount of time reminding the reader that the warrior women of Shamyriana, Kayakayanaya and Bayasabhad walk around topless with iron rings in their nipples.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Yandel generally starts his account of each of the Seven Kingdoms (as well as several of the Free Cities and other locations) by discussing their local legends of how they were established... and then poking holes in those legends, demonstrating how they could not possibly have occurred as told. He then usually provides a more plausible account. Note that these more plausible stories (that the Others were merely a particularly aggressive tribe of wildlings, for example) are not necessarily true.
    • He also does this for some of the folk heroes, suggesting how they could have accomplished their known accomplishments with more reasonable methods. For instance, Lann the Clever didn't have to run a gigantic elaborate con to take over the Casterly lands or impregnate loads of Casterly girls, he just had to seduce Lord Casterly's daughter and single heir. Some of the historical figures from the Andal invasion are also demonstrably mixed up with older folk heroes, adding their names to older tales.
    • And in the main series there's shown to be a conspiracy in the Citadel against magic.
  • Domestic Abuse: Allowed, but only if you hit your wife six times or fewer. See Deliberate Values Dissonance.
  • Dramatic Irony: Yandel isn't privy to the adventures of the main series' protagonists, so he tends to discuss things like the existence of the Others as something that was never true or stopped being true thousands of years ago.
  • Earth Is Young: Maybe; the author mentions offhand that scholars are still debating over whether the universe is 40,000 or 500,000 years old (or maybe more).
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Castamere is a vast underground complex built inside depleted gold mines. The tiny part above ground looks like a landed knight's keep.
    • Casterly Rock is a peculiar case. Like Castamere, it is built inside depleted gold mines, but the Rock is massively above ground level.
  • Elective Monarchy:
    • The Prince of Pentos, Three Princes of Lorath, and Archon of Tyrosh, are elected to the position for life terms. Though all are figureheads of their respective cities' magisters.
    • The Kingsmoots held by the Ironborn. This lasted until Urron Greyiron decided he'd just take his father's throne, thank you very much, so he killed everyone else at the Kingsmoot held after said father's death, securing his family line's control of the Seastone Chair.
  • The Emperor: While only the rulers of Yi Ti and Leng claim the actual title, the Targaryen Kings qualified in practice.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: All the mentions about Sothoryos are a veritable catalog of all the various horrendous ways in which every single piece of flora and fauna on that continent will kill you. And the Shadowlands aren't that far behind.
  • Evil Uncle: Maegor the Cruel. He married his niece, had two of his nephews killed and disinherited the third.
    • Gerold Lannister, Tywin Lannister's grandfather, is suspected of murdering his brother and his young niece, after which he became Lord of Casterly Rock.
  • Exotic Extended Marriage: The God-Empresses of Leng take two husbands, one from each of the dominant ethnic groups. By tradition, one husband is in command of the army, while the other one commands the navy.
  • Eyeless Face: There are reports of cave-dwelling people in Sothoryos who lack eyes.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: In addition to reaffirming the examples from the main novels, the description of Yi Ti given here confirms the previous hints that it is the series stand-in for Imperial China. This would make the Jogos Nhai, nomadic peoples living on plains to the north, a stand-in for Mongolia.
  • Fantastic Nuke: The exact cause of the Doom of Valyria isn't known, but on top of the complete destruction of the heart of Valyrian civilization (including all the dragonlords — save one small house surviving in exile on Dragonstone, the Targaryens), there are clearly lingering aftereffects. Valyria itself is a cursed wasteland, and the few adventurers willing to set out for there almost invariably never return. Even areas on the periphery seem to suffer some form of contamination; witness the reputation of the Demon Road and the prevalence of mutants in the city of Mantarys.
  • Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence:
    • Certain religions in Old Valyria considered themselves the one true faith and found the religious tolerance of the Freehold to be intolerable, leading to the founding of several cult colonies.
    • The Faith of the Seven was introduced to the Ironborn a couple of times by an act of their king or the order of a Targaryen king, and each time the traditionalists hated it enough to either wipe out all of the local followers or find a way to get royal permission to drive the Septons out.
  • Fictional Document: The book itself is presented as an in-universe historical document. And like any academic text, the book cites several writings by other scholars (which are also fictional), such as Maester Kennet's Passages of the Dead or Septon Barth's Unnatural History.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Khal Mengo, who took the many disparate tribes of the Dothraki and, in the aftermath of the Doom of Valyria, forged them into a single khalasar that brought low the great Sarnori and Qaathi civilizations and even destroyed one of the Free Cities.
  • God-Emperor: The title of the supreme rulers of Yi Ti. Their degree of actual secular authority varies depending of the time period, but they’re always revered by all as divine. Leng on the other hand, is ruled by God-Empresses and the God-Kings of the Ibbenese were overthrown around the time of the Doom of Valyria.
  • The Good King: Jaehaerys I: ended the Faith Militant uprising and brought the Seven Kingdoms many years of peace and prosperity.
  • Good Shepherd: Septon Barth, Jaehaerys I's Hand of the King and best friend.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: In the city of Gogossos, the Valyrian dragonlords used the darkest of blood magic to produce twisted half-human children by mating beasts with slave women.
  • The High Queen: Alysanne, wife of Jaehaerys I. Encouraged her husband to ban the right of the first night and cared deeply about all her subjects, noble and common alike.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Archmaester Fomas posits in Lies of the Ancients that the Others were actually a normal tribe of wildlings who lived particularly far north and were forced to invade southward due to the intense winter of the Long Night, and ended up being demonized in northmen-written histories after they were defeated. Considering the general anti-North prejudice of southrons, it's perhaps more a statement of dismissal than anything.
  • Human Sacrifice: Practiced at various times and places by several different cultures.
    • In the event of a natural, political or military disaster, the Prince of Pentos is ritually sacrificed to the gods.
    • The Northmen practiced this as part of their worship of the Old Gods of the Forest during the Dawn Age.
    • In ancient times, the Hyrkoon sacrificed tens of thousands of captured Jogos Nhai to their gods.
    • Stated to be part of the cult of the Black Goat of Qohor. In holy days criminals are sacrificed, while in times of danger and crisis it is the children of the high nobles.
    • Strongly suspected to be part of the magic required to forge Valyrian steel.
  • Human Subspecies: The Ibbenese, the Sothoryi, the people of Toad Isle, and the people of the Thousand Islands are apparently different enough from mainline humans that crossbreeds will be either sterile or too deformed to survive birth, although as these are the least-known lands it may fall under Unreliable Narrator. Valyrian dragonlords and their descendants claim to be be part dragon, and while they appear to be merely strange-looking humans there are many reference to stillborn children having draconic features (just like Daenerys' son in the main series).
    • There are also subspecies of Giants and Children in Essos, most of them known only from skeletons.
  • I Have Many Names: The chapter on Yi Ti reveals several other names for Azor Ahai in different cultures: Hyrkoon the Hero, Yin Tar, Neferion, and Eldric Shadowchaser.
  • Indentured Servitude: Practiced in the Free City of Pentos. Actually used as a form of Loophole Abuse after the city ended slavery, since the way it operates is closer to debt bondage than actual indenture, i.e. the costs for their room and board are added to the debt they're working off faster than it goes away.
  • Industrialized Evil: Valyrians were obsessed with extracting resources from the Fourteen Flames and used slaves to toil in the mines in appalling working conditions, and nobody knows, or wants to know for that matter, how many slaves died for the glory that was Valyria.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Maester Nicol argues in the "otherwise laudable" The Measure of the Days that the seasons may have been of standard length once upon a time, determined by the planet's tilt and orbit. Very few people accept this hypothesis due to a lack of historical evidence.
  • Lady Land/World of Action Girls: In the cities of Kayakayanaya, Bayasabhad, and Samyriana, ninety nine percent of all men are castrated. Only women serve as warriors in these places, learning to fight before they even learn to walk. On the other hand, it seems that the remaining men, the Great Fathers, are the ones that actually run these cities.
  • Lady Macbeth: It's speculated that Visenya poisoned Rhaenys's son Aenys I to put Maegor, her own son, on the throne. After Maegor was crowned, she went on to become an aggressive advocate for his authority, but his reign fell apart shortly after her death.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Since the book is meant to be a history, it mostly only contains information from before A Game of Thrones, and naturally spoils Tales of Dunk and Egg and Archmaester Gyldayn's Histories to some degree. That's not to say that readers still catching up on the book series are safe—Joffrey's death and Tommen becoming king are spoiled on the first page after the table of contents, while one of the final pages spoils Daenerys hatching her dragons.
  • Landmark of Lore: All over the place, with special mention to the buildings with the "oily black stone" such as the founding stone of the Hightower at Battle Isle, the city of Yeen, the Mazmakers of Lorath, and Asshai-by-the-Shadow.
  • Lizard Folk:
    • The Shrykes are described as such by the YiTish; Yandel mentions the possibility that they could be normal humans who dress themselves in lizard skins.
    • The people from the Thousand Islands apparently have green skin and pointed teeth, and the picture of an Islander woman very much resembles this trope.
  • Loophole Abuse: In the early years of Aegon I's reign, it was legal to chastise an adulterous wife with a rod thinner than a human thumb. However, the number of strikes wasn't limited, resulting in at least one woman being "lightly beaten" to death.
  • Making a Splash: The wizards of the Rhoynar specialized in raising waterspouts and "walls of water", and expected this to be an adequate countermeasure against Valyrian dragons. It even worked for a long while until the Valyrians overwhelmed them with hundreds of dragons at once.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The rather creepy shadowbinders of Asshai are known for wearing lacquered wooden masks.
  • Marry for Love: Aegon V Targaryen and Betha Blackwood. Aegon was very far down in the line of succession when they were married, however, so there was little controversy. Unfortunately, Aegon and Betha's sons also wanted to marry for love and it caused a lot more problems.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Yandel waffles on this several times; he generally argues for reasonableness and science over simply accepting magic, but the general lack of written records and the few undeniable examples of the supernatural weaken his case. There is also the Logic Bomb of him frequently disparaging Septon Barth's interest in the "higher mysteries" but insisting nonetheless that he is one of the most brilliant minds in the history of Westeros.
  • The Maze: The Free City of Lorath was built on the ruins of incredibly ancient and mysterious stone mazes. Nobody in the whole of the world knows anything about who built them, save that their bones were so large they might have been half-giant. Yandel and other scholars refer to this people as "the Mazemakers"
  • Monumental Damage: The Palace of Summerhall, seat of the Targaryen Kings and cousin of Dragonstone, lasted for 50 years until King Aegon V attempted to hatch dragon eggs leading to its destruction.
  • Moral Event Horizon: An In-Universe one for Bloodraven. While he was far from the nicest guy, his actions always had a decent reasoning for why they needed to be taken. His murder of Aenys Blackfyre after personally inviting him under a banner of peace to fairly present his claim was considered so vile and dishonorable, even by his standards, that Aegon V was forced to arrest him and either have him executed or sent to the Night's Watch.
  • Mordor: The Shadow Lands almost exactly match the trope description. Asshai is in a perpetual gloom, while Stygai, an ancient ruin deeper in the Shadow Lands, doesn't experience "daybreak" until noon due to its location at the bottom of a canyon. Everything in Asshai is built from the same mysterious, greasy black stone—presumably the same stone that the Seastone Chair and other out-of-place artifacts are made from—and it's purported to dim any nearby fires. Asshai is a Mecca for the practice of forbidden magic and other unspeakable taboos. Any animals that set foot in the city quickly fall ill and die, and for some reason not a single child is to be seen within its walls. No crops grow in the Shadow Lands—the only plant at all seems to be ghost grass, which has a rather inauspicious reputation (for example, the Dothraki apocalypse myth involves ghost grass covering the entire earth). The Ash river is polluted and full of bioluminescent plankton and blind, mutated fish that only shadowbinders dare to eat. Those last few points would imply that the locals somehow manage without food or water, but Yandel Hand Waves this with the explanation that the population is simply critically dependent on imports (however, Melisandre's chapter in A Dance with Dragons argues that shadowbinders, at least, indeed don't need food and water. This would imply that Asshai simply keeps up appearances to avoid scaring off trade—the place is creepy enough, after all).
  • Mutants: These are born fairly regularly in the city of Mantarys. This is blamed upon the Doom of Valyria.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: One of the six Dornish kings Nymeria sent to the Wall was Lucifer Dryland, King of the Brimstone and Lord of Hellgate Hall.
  • Necromancer:
    • Found in the cities of Qohor, Nefer and Asshai.
    • The Bloodstone Emperor of Yi Ti was said to be one, as well.
  • The Night That Never Ends: The Long Night, a generation-long winter that signaled the arrival of the Others. Yandel insinuates that it may not have been a literal complete lack of daylight that lasted decades, though. It is mentioned by many civilizations, so Yandel believes it did happen.
  • No Ontological Inertia: One of the possible causes for the Doom of Valyria. Too many of the mages whose spells kept the Fourteen Flames from erupting were assassinated, causing the spells to fail and all fourteen volcanoes to erupt at once.
  • Non-Indicative Name:
    • When describing the regions of Westeros, Yandel is quick to point out that even though the realm is called the "Seven Kingdoms" after the kingdoms that existed at the time of Aegon's Conquest, the sum doesn't really add up because Dorne was a principality and the Targaryen petty kingdom in Blackwater Bay is never counted. After the Conquest the math is even more off.
    • Speaking of the Seven Kingdoms, the Targaryen kings counted "Lord of the Seven Kingdoms" among their titles from the beginning, proclaiming dominion over Dorne when it didn't actually join the nation until Daeron the Good's reign. (Non top of that they technically controlled eight regions at the time.)
    • Yandel points out there probably were not literally Ten Thousand ships that fled with Nymeria from the Valyrians.
    • There are less than 300 islands in the Thousand Islands archipelago.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: This book reveals that the Ibbenese share a suspicious number of similarities with the standard issue fantasy dwarf. They're short and squat but ferociously strong, bearded and hairy (even their women are hairy). They're skilled craftsmen and badass warriors, but also very greedy, stingy, insular and suspicious of outsiders. And to top things off, Yandel implies they might not even be human, since they cannot produce fertile offspring with people from other nations. The books themselves contradict Yandel on the last point, as some non-Ibbenese characters are stated to have Ibbenese blood (Ben Plumm, for instance, claims to have a half-Ibbenese grandmother)note .
  • Our Orcs Are Different: Similarly to the above, the Brindled Men of Sothoryos share a few similarities to the standard fantasy Orcs of the "Tolkien" variety. They eat human flesh and worship dark gods, are similarly short and squat, they come in huge hordes and live in a Place Worse Than Death. They also have facial features reminiscent of pigs and long arms. Similarly to the Ibbenese, they are likely to be a separate species of the genus Homo.
  • Painting the Medium: The narrative gets to the events of the tragedy of Summerhall (which are fairly common knowledge in the books but haven't been explained to the readers) and gives all of the setup... and then there's just a blotch where Yandel spilled ink over the relevant passage.
  • Politically Correct History: Yandel skips over Robert's rebellion except for the broadest possible strokes for this exact reason; he even explicitly states that fact. No matter how he handles the subject, he would anger somebody powerful. He glosses over Ned's role and barely mentions Stannis, as when this book comes out they are officially traitors. He also glosses over how Tywin used dishonorable means to win the war, acting as if it was Aerys' fault.
  • Precursors: While the Valyrians act as precursors for most of present-day Essos, it is revealed that there is significant evidence—such as various structures made of oily black stone—for a civilization just as advanced (if not more so) that existed in the distant past and that everyone has forgotten. In-universe theories about them range from Advanced Ancient Humans to Deep Ones. There's strong evidence that there was more than one; the Five Forts and the base of the Hightower use Valyrian-style fused black stone but predate the Freehold by a considerable margin and are about as far from Valyria as it is possible to be (in fact given the ambiguity as to the size of the planet they may actually be closer to ''each other'' going the other way than either is to Valyria), the mazes of Lorath are in a similar style to the Hightower but made of normal stone, and the ancient cities of Yeen and Asshai are made from a completely different oily black stone that has mysterious magical properties.
  • Professional Buttkisser: Maester Yandel. His account of King Robert Baratheon's reign is exceedingly flattering. He even goes so far as titling the chapter devoted to it as "The Glorious Reign".
  • Puppet King: Lorath, Pentos, and Tyrosh all have singular monarchs, who are just figureheads for the magisters who really control the cities.
  • Really Gets Around: King Aegon Targaryen IV. He had nine official mistresses, more unofficial ones, and countless bastard children. Towards the end of his life, he boasted of having been with over nine hundred women.
  • Scenery Porn: The book is full of large, gorgeous illustrations of various locations and events.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: How the Kingdom of Omber manages to survive living right next door to the Dothraki heartland. Yearly payments to the horselords of grain, gems and girls.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Three Lords Tully were named Kermit, Elmo, and Grover.
    • H. P. Lovecraft references make up a large part of the book's sections on Essos, including the names of Leng (and a statement that the Old Ones are worshipped there), K'Dath (Kadath) and Sarnath; numerous mentions of an oily black stone, usually in connection with Deep Ones or other mysterious or fogotten cultures; references to the city of Qohor's worship of the Black Goat; speculation of the existence of Deep Ones; and a sinister fringe religion known as the Church of Starry Wisdom.
    • Central Essos was home to the Cymmeri people, established on the hills of what today is the Dothraki Sea.
    • There's a reference to a city named Carcosa, ruled by a Yellow Emperor.
    • One of the Basilisk Isles is named Skull Island. There is also mention of apes the size of elephants.
  • Slave Liberation: Braavos was founded when the cargo of a convoy of slaver ships managed to overpower the crew and seize control of the fleet, explaining both their strong naval tradition and their distaste for slavery and slavers.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Lengii women tend to be One Head Taller than the men of other nations and are renowned for their extreme beauty.
  • Succession Crisis:
    • When Aegon the Conqueror burned down Harrenhall, he didn't just kill Harren the Black but also his sons, leaving the Ironborn without anyone to take over. This led to lords on every island (and the priest Lodos) to declare themselves king and fight each other. This lasted until the Targaryens killed all the claimants except a couple who were smart to submit, and then appointed the Greyjoys as Lords of the Isles.
    • King Garth X Gardener slipped into senility without any sons to inherit the throne, leading to his daughters' husbands fighting for it. This was further complicated when the Dornish invaded, destroying Highgarden and killing everyone there. The chaos was eventually settled when the Tyrells rallied several other lords to restore order, and put one of Garth's cousins on the throne.
  • Talking Animal: In the series' modern day, ravens are used as carrier pigeons, while in the Dawn Age it's said that ravens simply verbally repeated messages verbatim. There are also accounts that skinchangers could speak while in animal form. (Of course in the series proper it's revealed that greenseers and skinchangers can possess ravens to bring messages directly, rather than having them carry written notes.)
  • Title Drop: A marriage pact between houses Stark and Targaryen during the Dance of the Dragons is revealed to have been named "The Pact of Ice and Fire". It was never completed but it does supply the Epileptic Trees.
  • The Theocracy: Every aspect of life in Norvos is controlled entirely by the Bearded Priests.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The Valyrians ultimately had to resort to this to overwhelm the Rhoynar under Prince Garin, who had managed to use their water magic to fend off an army led by three dragonriders. The Freehold responded by sending three hundred dragonriders; supposedly, the combined heat of all that dragonfire managed to boil away the waters of the Rhoyne—itself a river so wide that you can sail down the center at points and not see either bank—into steam.
  • Too Much Information: Certain descriptions regarding the depravities of the crueler Targaryen kings (particularly Maegor and Aegon IV) can invoke this on a meta level. Maegor feeding a former wife's heart to the dogs is one example.
  • Torture Technician: Tyanna of the Tower served as Maegor the Cruel's.
  • Trauma Conga Line: The flight of the Ten Thousand ships of the Rhoynar under Nymeria. After losing most of their men in an attempt to fend off conquest by the Valyrians, the Rhoynar flee Essos, traveling to Naath, Sothoryos, and the Summer Isles to find a new home, only to encounter slavers, pirates, disease, and other such awful occurrences. It's only when the Rhoynar reach Dorne and the protection of the Martell family that they find a permanent home
  • Truer to the Text: Martin commissioned illustrators who would portray his characters and settings as close as possible to how it was described in his text. He specifically cited Marc Simonetti's illustration of the Iron Throne as the closest to how it was described in the books — gigantic, asymmetrical, intimidating, towering, and looking like how a throne with 1000 swords actually bound together would look. He cited it as far more accurate than the one in the HBO show which he admits is a good design and suited to the needs of the show, as a more accurate throne would need the size of a much taller structure.
  • Turbulent Priest: The key obstacle preventing the Ironborn from assimilating into the rest of Westeros. The Drowned Men priests often prove to be far more resilient and determined than the Kings, especially Garlon Whitestaff (who is credited with uniting the Iron Islands into a single realm, something that is usually the task of kings) and Shrike, who rose against the three Harmunds when they sought to bring the Faith of the Seven and Andal influence to the Iron Islands and stop reaving.
  • Underground City: The city of Nefer, just east of the Plains of the Jogos Nhai. Nine-tenths of the city is built underground.
  • Unreliable Narrator: A given since this is history; the book is written according to in-universe academic consensus, meaning it operates on many popular in-universe assumptions about history, magic, and so forth that various characters of the book series have discovered to be wrong. To make matter worse, if Marwyn in A Feast for Crows is to believed, it's very likely that the Citadel deliberately vets historical records in order to discredit magic. Yandel's accounts notably clash with events depicted in Tales of Dunk and Egg, and the book is also obviously written in a way that would avoid offending the current regime—for example, the main records of Aerys II's reign and Tywin's tenure as Hand come from none other than Grand Maester Pycelle, who is shown in the main series to be a lying Lannister-loving toady, and in particular at least vice-president of Tywin's fan club, of the first order. This is visible in the account of the Sack of King's Landing where he speculates that Aerys killed Elia Martell and her children in madness, or that she killed them herself, when it's obvious from the main books that Tywin sent Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch to do the job. It's also unclear how much of Yandel's speculations on the genetics of various other human races—like the Ibbenese, the Sothoryi or the people of the Thousand Islands—is actually true or simply medieval racism.
  • The Un-Reveal: The section on the Tragedy at Summerhall gives all the setup known from the books (an attempt to hatch dragons which ended in a fatal fire), but the really important part about what happened is [inkstain].
  • Vestigial Empire:
    • The Golden Empire of Yi Ti on two levels:
      • The YiTish see their current, very ancient civilization as a remnant of the mythical Great Empire of the Dawn.
      • The current azure dynasty holds no real imperial power and the whole Golden Empire is an empire In Name Only, a shadow of what it was in past dynasties. Yandel points out that this kind of thing has happened before.
    • While it was only ever unified nominally, as the various city-states that made it up bickered almost constantly, Sarnor once covered much of the land east of Qohor and Lorath, including the entire Sarne River Valley. During the Century of Blood, the Dothraki systematically destroyed the Sarnori cities until only the relatively small settlement of Saath remained. Though Saath remains standing in the setting's present, it exists as a pale shadow of the Sarnori's former glory.
    • In the aftermath of the Doom of Valyria, the Free City of Volantis tried to set itself up as the last remnant of the old Freehold and exert its control over the other Free Cities of Essos. They lost, due in part to the fact that the Targaryens sided against them in their last overt attempt before Aegon's Conquest.
  • Vice City:
    • The Free City of Lys was founded as a "pleasure colony." It is still known for its pleasure houses, and its main import is comely girls and boys to be made pleasure slaves. Similarly, the remnants of old Ghis allow one to purchase slaves of many sorts—soldiers in Astapor, pit fighters in Meereen, pleasure slaves in Yunkai, and in all three of the cities slaves of other sorts—scholars, translators, etc.
    • It is said that no knowledge, magic or religion is forbidden in Asshai. Mystics of any kind can practice their rituals without interference, no matter how bloody or obscene, and can even fornicate with demons if such is their desire.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: A recurring problem that has led to the downfall of several civilizations, when they waited too long to put aside their factionalism in the face of an outside threat. It happened to the First Men with the Andals, to the Rhoynar with the Valyrians and to the Sarnori when the Dothraki invaded.
  • Wham Line: "And there are no children in Asshai." This line is the one to really hammer in just how wrong the already infamous city is, and the sentence is delivered in a single orphaned line instead of being part of a larger paragraph.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The book introduces previously unknown members of House Targaryen, but leaves their fates completely in the air, even when they or their descendants ought to still be around at the time-frame covered by the novels, like Maegor Targaryen the son of Aerion who was passed up for the crown in the Great Council of 233 AC.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: The people of the Thousand Islands have an absolute terror of the sea, and will not sail upon it or even set foot into it under any circumstances. This phobia may be derived from the strange, fish-like gods they worship...
  • Winged Humanoid: There are traveler's tales of winged people dwelling east of Yi Ti.

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