- "We could've been ten miles away from here by now, on the way to Asshai. You would've been safe."
- ―Ser Jorah Mormont to Daenerys Targaryen
Asshai is a city located on the far side of the explored world from Westeros, in the far southeast of the continent Essos, on the far eastern shore of the Jade Sea. This places Asshai far to the distant east of the Free Cities, Dothraki Sea, and Slaver's Bay. Qarth is located closer to it, given that the Straits of Qarth form the western entrance to the Jade Sea, but it still takes many months for a ship to travel from Qarth to Asshai.
Little is known about Asshai save that it is a great seaport and its people are exotic. Beyond Asshai lies an area known as the Shadow Lands, which are said to lie "under the Shadow". What is casting "the Shadow" is not known, nor is the exact nature of "the Shadow."
Notable people from Asshai
- Melisandre, a Red Priestess of R'hllor, the Lord of Light and a shadowbinder, serving as an advisor to King Stannis Baratheon.
- Quaithe, a mysterious woman encountered by Ser Jorah Mormont in Qarth. Like Melisandre, she is also a shadowbinder.
Ser Jorah suggests to Daenerys that they flee Khal Drogo's khalasar by night so as not to be caught up in the chaos unleashed when he dies. He says there is a port in Asshai they can head to; Daenerys refuses.
Behind the Scenes
According to costume designer Michele Clapton, Quaithe's mask was designed to display a stylistic link to Melisandre, because both of them are from the region of Asshai. Melisandre wears an ornate neck piece featuring a repeated design motif of elongated hexagons. Quaithe's mask was constructed using the same hexagonal shapes as links, though filled in with metal. Further, the dresses of both Melisandre and Quaithe have the same hexagonal design motif (elongated so they are taller than they are wide). Melisandre has different dresses, and she usually wears an all-red one, but the one with hexagons which match her neck piece appears prominently in "The Night Lands" when she has sex with Stannis.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Asshai is said to lie on the far south-eastern shores of the Jade Sea, a body of water far to the east even of the Free Cities and Slaver's Bay. It is located close to an enigmatic area called "the Shadow" or "Shadow Lands", and the city is sometimes known as Asshai-by-the-Shadow. The city is usually traveled to by ship, but it can also be reached overland by a circuitous route. The Dothraki consider the city and surrounding area to be ill-omened. The city is reputed to hold large amounts of arcane lore, including knowledge of dragons.
It is not unusual for a voyage from the Free City of Volantis to Asshai and back to take two years.
According to the TV series official pronunciation guide developed for the cast and crew, "Asshai" is pronounced "Uh-SHY", as opposed to "ASS-high", "Uh-SIGH", etc.
The Lands of Ice and Fire places Asshai south-east of Qarth, on the eastern shores of the Jade Sea (which has been completely moved from its location on the HBO map). The Saffron Straits link the Jade Sea to as-yet-unknown seas to the east, and Asshai sits at the mouth of the straits. A major river empties into the Jade Sea at Asshai. The river flows out of the Shadow Lands, an area of mountains and hills north-east of the city surrounded by ghost grass. Further upriver from Asshai is the ruined city of Stygai. The large island of Leng lies north-west of Asshai, whilst the fabled Manticore Isles lie south-west of the city. The continent of Ulthos lies just south of Asshai across the Saffron Straits. Asshai is located approximately six thousand miles south-east of Westeros.