- "The men of Ib are short, thick and hairy."
- ―Euron Greyjoy
Ib is an island nation off the northeastern coast of Essos, surrounded by the polar waters of the Shivering Sea. It is located several thousand miles east of Westeros. It is one of the largest islands in the known world, and part of an archipelago with a few much smaller islands.
Despite its remote location and harsh living conditions, the local Ibbenese are a hardy folk who maintain a large fleet of whaling ships which spread out far across the world's oceans. Ibbenese whaling ships visit ports in both Westeros and the Free Cities, and are even seen as far south as the Summer Islands.
Although located far away from mainland Essos, Ibben is much too small to be considered a continent in its own right, so it is loosely considered part of Essos. Understandably it has a much colder climate that the Dothraki Sea.
The capital and major city of Ib island is the Port of Ibben (also called just "Ibben").
The island is very large, apparently near in size to Dorne or the Disputed Lands. It is irregularly shaped but is more or less longest along a line running from southwest to northeast. Ib sits at roughly the same longitude as Vaes Dothrak and Qarth - loosely almost as wide on a map as the Red Waste is. The entire island is slightly north of the latitude of White Harbor in The North, but its most northern point doesn't extend much farther than the latitude of Skagos island.
Despite these vast distances, the whale-hunting, Inuit-like Ibbenese travel very far across the world's oceans, trading across much of Essos and sometimes in Westeros as well. The Port of Ibben is on the island's south-eastern coast
- See main article "Ibbenese"
The Ibbenese are a hardy folk who gain their livelihood from the sea, in large fishing fleets and particularly whaling fleets. Ibbenese whaling ships are found as far away as the Narrow Sea and even the Summer Sea. Adapted to the cold climate, they are very stocky and hairy.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Ibben (also sometimes called Ib) is home to a hardy race of sailors. The Ibbenese are an Inuit-like people adapted to the cold, frequently described as hairy and short. They chew whale blubber to keep their metabolism high in the cold temperatures. They principally trade in whale blubber and meat.
Ib has mountains and large forests on the western and eastern coasts, but also plains and tundras where mammoths roam. The mountains are rich in gold, iron, and tin, and the forests provide abundant timber, amber, and animal pelts. The northern seas are also filled with marine life harvested by their large fishing fleets. Agricultural production is understandably limited: even the best lands are limited to goat-herding.
The island's principal city is the Port of Ibben, located on its south coast. The northern part of the island is cold and sparsely-inhabited, and mammoths are said to exist on the island as well. Any foreigners who dock at the Port of Ibben are legally obligated to remain within its confines; venturing beyond into the heart of the island is forbidden without express invitation (rarely given) and must be done in the company of an Ibbenese host. The only other city mentioned on the isle is the much smaller Ib Nor on the north coast, which seems of little note.
In ancient times Ib was ruled by a series of god-kings, but in the aftermath of the Doom of Valyria they were overthrown (it is unclear why, possibly due to the trade disruptions). The god-kings were then replaced by a council of magisters, like the ones that rule several of the Free Cities. In Ib it is known as the Shadow Council, whose members are chosen by the Thousand, an assembling of wealthy merchant guildsmen, nobles, and priests.
The Ibbenese have colonized several smaller nearby islands, chief of which is Far Ib, between Ib itself and mainland Essos - but it started out as a penal colony and is overall a smaller and bleaker place.
The Ibbenese also have some settlements along the remote northern coast of Essos, particularly the woodland region immediately to their south, between the coast and Vaes Dothrak. In prior centuries of expansion the Dothraki warred extensively with the Ibbenese, who stubbornly refused to submit or offer tribute. Nonetheless the tide of these conflicts turned against them and most of their settlements were burned out. They were not completely driven off, however, and a few heavily fortified lumber producing settlements still cling to the coasts, chief among which is New Ibbish. Fundamentally it is impossible for the Dothraki to totally defeat the Ibbenese because their main base of territory is an island, and the Dothraki will never cross the sea to finish them off - thus after a few centuries the Ibbenese will simply return and try to carve out new settlements along the coasts again.
The Ibbenese maintain smaller or more temporary settlements across the rest of Essos's northern coast, often as resupply bases for their whaling and fishing fleets. In the west, they have claimed lands as far as the Axe, due north from Qohor, which they vie for control over with Lorath and Norvos. To the east their ships have sailed as far as the Thousand Isles, encountering the one or two ports of the Jogos Nhai and their kin, but otherwise there are no other major ports in these bleak eastern stretches so even the Ibbenese have ventured no farther. Ibbenese explorers and chartmakers have found no other lands north of Ib island in the Shivering Sea, only inhospitable polar ice.
Originally, George R.R. Martin stated that Ib island is roughly the same size as real-life Iceland. This was apparently revised by the time he developed the full world maps from 2012 to 2014, in which it appears quite large, and the World of Ice and Fire sourcebook (2014) states that it is actually the second largest island in the known world (the largest is Great Moraq, across the straits from Qarth, forming the western edge of the Jade Sea).
The Ibbenese are only mentioned in passing in the earlier novels, and their homeland was not described in much detail for some time. The references were mostly to the "Port of Ibben" - though in this context it wasn't clear if the text was indicating that "Ibben" is the name of the island, or referring to "the port-city named Ibben" - using the same turn of phrase also used to describe "the port city of King's Landing" / "the port city named King's Landing".
The Lands of Ice and Fire (a companion map collection for the novels, not the TV series, released in 2012) seemed to indicate that the island as a whole is officially named "Ib", and the major port city on it is named "Ibben". The World of Ice and Fire sourcebook (2014) supports this naming pattern, outright titling the sub-chapter devoted to the Ibbenese as "Ib", not "Ibben". The World book also consistently refers to the "Port of Ibben" specifically with regard to their primary city. The world map given to the TV series by Martin starting in Season 2 contained labels for "Port of Ibben", and also "Ibben" for the island, but this was apparently just an incorrect assumption.
This issue was settled when the island was first referred to by name in the TV series continuity, in the Season 6 Histories & Lore video for "The Summer Sea", in which the island is referred to as "Ib", not "Ibben".
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