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Mercantile city-state
Places of note
Date of founding
"Lys is the... "easiest" of the Free Cities, full of pleasure houses catering to every taste, no matter how peculiar. Many men lose themselves in Lys and are never found... at least alive. When a man runs out of coin, the Lysenes may grant him their other specialty on the house: Poison."
―Ser Jorah Mormont[src]

Map showing the location of Lys off the coast of Essos.

Doreah still

Doreah, a Lysene pleasure-slave.

Lys is one of the Free Cities to the east of Westeros. It is located far to the south of Pentos, southwest of Volantis and north of the Summer Islands. The city is actually located on an island separated from the mainland of Essos by narrow straits, though it has territorial possessions in the nearby regions of the mainland, east of Tyrosh and south of Myr. The city spans several islands.[1]

The famous pleasure houses of Lys are known to train the best courtesans and prostitutes in the world, and it has a thriving export industry in bed-slaves. Lys is also known for producing a rare and difficult to detect poison known as the Tears of Lys.[2]

People from Lys are known as Lysene.[3] The majority of Lysene are fair-skinned.

Notable LysenesEdit



Like the other Free Cities, Lys was a colony of the Valyrian Freehold, until the Doom of Valyria four centuries before the War of the Five Kings. Lys has frequently feuded with the neighboring Free City Myr, located to the north.

Irogenia of Lys was a famous courtesan from the city, whose beauty is legendary, and is said to have been the most attractive and skilled courtesan to have ever lived.[4]

Season 1Edit

Doreah tells Daenerys Targaryen how in Lys she was trained in the carnal arts. Her training started at nine, though she was not permitted to lie with a man until she was twelve, to Daenerys's bemusement. Doreah tells Daenerys of the famed Irogenia of Lys.[5]

During the Tourney of the Hand, Lord Petyr Baelish wagered Renly Baratheon 100 Gold Dragons that Ser Gregor Clegane would win against Ser Loras Tyrell in the joust. Baelish mused that 100 Gold Dragons could buy a dozen barrels of expensive Dornish wine, or a very high-end prostitute from the pleasure-houses of Lys.[6] Soon afterwards, Varys reveals to Hand of the King Eddard Stark that he suspects that Jon Arryn, his predecessor as Hand, was killed using the fast-acting and difficult to detect poison known as the Tears of Lys.[7]

Season 2Edit

When the War of the Five Kings breaks out, King Robert Baratheon's younger brother Stannis proclaims himself as legal heir to the Iron Throne. Based at Dragonstone island, Stannis's trusted advisor and former smuggler Ser Davos Seaworth sets out to bolster his forces with sellsails, which he does by hiring an old friend from his smuggling days, the flashy Lysene pirate Salladhor Saan. Salladhor contributes his sellsail fleet of thirty ships.[8]

Season 3Edit

Salladhor and his sellsail ships were in the rearguard of Stannis's fleet during the Battle of the Blackwater, and thus were not caught in the disastrous wildfire explosion that destroyed most of Stannis's fleet. After Stannis and his few remaining forces fled back to Dragonstone, Salladhor decided that Stannis would probably lose the war and never be able to pay him, so he stopped serving him.[9]

Outside of Yunkai in Essos, Daenerys Targaryen meets with the captains of the sellsword company known as the Second Sons, in the hope of swaying them from her enemies' service to her own. The meeting does not go well, as their crass captain Mero makes lewd and insulting remarks to Daenerys, openly saying that he thinks he might have had sex with her once in a pleasure-house in Lys.[10]

In the booksEdit

Lys is one of the more powerful of the Free Cities, located on a series of islands in the Summer Sea near the Stepstones and the Disputed Lands. Lys frequently wars with the city of Myr and more distant Tyrosh and Volantis over control of both regions. The people of Lys are known as Lyseni and are noted for their love of the sensual arts, though they are also formidable sailors.

Lys's navy is one of the most powerful on the Summer and Narrow seas, aside from that of Braavos, and Lyseni freesails can be found in many of the ports of the world. Slavery is legal in Lys and it has a fairly large slave population. Besides its bed-slaves and prostitutes, Lys is otherwise known for its tapestries, perfumes, and sweet wines. Lys is home to a native love goddess, but temples to many deities can be found within its walls, including a temple to the red god R'hllor, the Lord of Light.

As with most of the Free Cities, Lys was originally a colony of the Valyrian Freehold. When Valyria was destroyed in the Doom, Lys became an independent state. It was then conquered by Volantis, which was trying to reforge the Freehold. Lys and Myr remained subservient to Volantis until Volantis launched an attack on Tyrosh. Myr rose in rebellion and an exiled Lyseni lord liberated the city with the help of 100 warships loaned to him by Braavos. Additional forces from Pentos and the Westerosi Storm King helped defeat Volantis and destroyed its armies in what are now the Disputed Lands.

Lys regained its independence following the war, but the alliances soon fell apart, so that Myr and Lys have been perpetually warring with each other for the better part of the past three hundred years. The great rivalry of Myr and Lys is usually played out in the Disputed Lands between them, so-called because they are constantly changing hands between the two. Volantis and Tyrosh sometimes get dragged into these wars on one side or the other, as the alliances shift around.

As Lys was a direct colony of the Valyrian Freehold, founded from scratch by the Valyrians rather than being a conquered territory, the Lyseni still have notably Valyrian features, including light-colored hair and eyes, and light skin. The Valyrians themselves looked like the Targaryens, with platinum-blonde to white hair and purple eyes, though in the present day (possibly watered down from generations of intermarriage) the classic physical features associated with the Lysenes are blonde hair and blue eyes. In contrast, the inhabitants of Lys's great rival Myr tend to have dark hair and eyes, and olive-brown skin.

Doreah has classic Lysene features in the books, including blonde hair and blue eyes. The TV series did not make the actress change her appearance for the role, so she has brown hair in the TV series. Salladhor Saan was also cast with a black-African actor so he doesn't have stereotypical Lysene features in the TV series either - though due to the cosmopolitan and polyglot culture of the Free Cities, it can easily be explained that Salladhor is "from Lys" and was born there, but his parents were not ethnically Lysenes.

Lord Varys the Master of Whisperers on the king's small council was born in Lys as a slave.

According to the TV series official pronunciation guide developed for the cast and crew, "Lys" is pronounced "LEESE", as opposed to "Liss", "Lice", etc.

See alsoEdit


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