To say Game of Thrones has been a worldwide phenomenon would be an understatement. It introduced us to the world so charming, mysterious and alluring that soon everyone dreamed to be a part of that fantasy. George RR Martin created a world not just gargantuan in narrative but also in magnitude. But the problem with the books and the TV show is that they could only show this world from a limited perspective. And rightfully so. The North. The Iron Islands. The Reach. The Vale. The Crownlands. The Westerlands. The Storm Lands. Dorne. That is all most of us think there is to it. When it comes to the kingdoms from the Game of Thrones universe, there is so much more than what meets the eye. Dive deeper into this world and you will discover people, cities, cultures, empires even, that are way, way more exotic and interesting than the rather monotonous nations of Westeros.
Located to the north of Essos in the shivering sea, Ibben consists of the large island of Ib and certain fortified settlements in the mainland of Essos. It is known mostly as a land of traders and whalers that sail on fat bellied ships with blackened hulls renowned for their durability. Described as short, thick and hairy who prefer axes and shields into battle, the Ibbenese are the closest thing you get to Tolkien dwarves in the Martin-verse. The people of Ibben are well known for their stubbornness and are the only race to have defied the Dothraki since centuries and still refuse to pay tribute. All in all, the land of Ibben reminds me a little of Moria or the Lonely Mountain of the dwarven realms of the LOTR universe.
Why is it interesting:- Ibben has a strict no-outsider rule. The closest one can get to is the Port of Ibben, its chief city. To go any further would require an invitation rarely given to foreigners. Several centuries of isolation from the outside world is what makes it even more captivating. Did I mention that Ibben reportedly still has mammoths? Drooling?? Yeah me too.
5. The Kingdom of Sarnor
The time period the events of the book belong to claim the empire to be extinct by then. The Sarnori reportedly derive their namesake from the mighty river Sarne which flowed from northern Essos into the the Dothraki sea. Known as the Great Grassland Kingdom, the people of Sarnor were called the Tall men who fought against the mighty khalasars of the old and lost. Before they met their doom, the Sarnori had a dozen flourishing cities and were a regional power. Kasath was called the city of caravans and Kalosh was called the city of scholars. Sarnath, the capital of the empire used to be a hub of power but is now reduced to ruins. Only a single city stands today – Saath. Its white walls successfully defended against the barbarian hordes while the rest of its sister cities kept falling.
Why is it interesting:- A Kingdom as rich in history as Sarnor deserves to be mentioned. Not only have its people, who used to be in millions but now numbering in thousands, left behind the past as vast as the eye could see yet still vehemently record and protect their rich history. Think of Greece. Sarnor is just that. A past superpower that lost to foreign invaders but left behind an unforgettable legacy to behold.
4. Ancient Empire of Rhoynar
Another great nation built on the banks of a river, the Rhoynar derive their name from the river Rhoyne. Rhoynar used to be a thriving civilization and possessed incredibly advanced social fundamentals for its time. Gender inequality did not exist. Homosexuality was allowed. The Rhoynish have been also claimed to have influenced the design of the seven pointed star that hangs above the Iron throne in Kings Landing.They worshipped the river Rhoyne as their Goddess and practiced water magic. Its people finally met their fate at the hands of the Targaryens.
Why is it interesting:- The Rhoynish people were the only people of their time to use water magic in battles. Isn’t that something? The last great leader of Rhoynar was Princess Nymeria who led an exodus of ten thousand ships and landed on Dorne. That’s right. The people of Dorne are of Rhoynish descent. Take that, First Men!!!! And in case you have already noticed, Arya Stark named her dire-wolf Nymeria in honor of the great Rhoynish warrior queen.
3. Patrimony of Hyrkoon
Whoever in here have seen Wonder Woman say AYE!!! For those of you sorry losers who haven’t, Wonder woman is the story of a woman living in a martial society of warrior woman in a far away land called Themyscira who goes to Man’s world to fix their problems. And for those who know Themiscyra, the Patrimony of Hyrkoon is kinda the next best thing. A society where men are the homemakers and women pick up the swords and the shields. But don’t get too cocky, the men who live here are castrated before they could reach manhood (Ouch?!?). Only a select few are allowed to mature and eventually become one of the “Great Fathers”, people that rule the three cities of the empire of which only one remains till date. Oh, and their sworn enemies are Pointy headed sword wielding midgets, the Jogos Nhai, that ride on Zebra-Horse hybrids called Zorses.
Why is it interesting:- Do I really need to answer this one?
2. The Island of Naath
Picture Gandhi. Now picture an island. Now picture an island of Gandhis. I Give you the Island of Naath. Naath is the Zenith of pacifism. You can literally slap a Naathi twice on the same cheek and the person won’t utter a single word of resistance. The island is located neither in Westeros nor in Essos. It belongs to the continent of Sothoryos, the third and least explored land mass of the Martin-verse. The island used to be famous for its silk trade. But when the Targaryens left for Westeros, there was no one to control the seas and Naath became a frequent target of slave raiders. The raids became so frequent that the Naathi decided to move further inland rather than fight (Pacifist Gandhis remember?).
Why is it interesting:- This is where the T.V character of Nathanie Emmanuel hails from, popularly known as Missandei. Hubba hubba. Plus the island is located far far away beyond the malice of the seven kingdoms and the barbaric Dothrakis and inhabited by silk worm rearing peace lovers who probably sing and dance their weekends away.
1. Yi Ti
Yi Ti is to Westeros what the Far East was to Renaissance era Europe. A complete, damning mystery. The people of Yi Ti wear monkey tail hats. Called as a place of a thousand gods and a hundred princes, it is located on the south eastern point of Essos on the fringes of the known world. They have a God-emperor in anything but name. The true power lies with the regional lords that name themselves according to a color of their choosing. Pearl White, Sea green, Jade Green, Scarlet, Indigo, Grey, and whatnot. The people of Yi Ti wear monkey Tail hats. The Yi Tish worship the Lion of Night, a twisted animalistic version of the Great Other. That’s the guy who gives the night king his juice. Told ya this lands a mystery.
Why is it interesting:- Among all the mentions in the list, Yi Ti is the only one that still prospers and flourishes. Since a little known is known of it by the people who have even read the books to heart, Yi Ti is a fascinating piece of history that has stood the test of time and could become the frontier for new exploration should Mr. George get high on mushrooms and decide to ramp up the world building. Did I mention that the people of Yi Ti wear monkey tail hats??
Honorable Mentions:- Asshai, Valyria and The Ghiscari Empire. Decided to exclude them because they have been more or less featured in the books as well as the show and the title says ‘obscure’ not ‘famous’. So stop complaining and get a grammar book ;-P …..