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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 located to the east of Westeros. It lies south of Pentos, northwest of Volantis and north of the Summer Islands. The city stretches across several islands,[1] which are separated from mainland Essos by narrow straits. Lys also has territorial possessions on the nearby regions of the mainland, east of Tyrosh and south of Myr.

The famous pleasure houses of Lys are known to train the best courtesans and prostitutes in the world, and the city 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]

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.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13]

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.[14]

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.[15]

Season 4Edit

Prince Oberyn Martell notes that Varys speaks in a Lysene accent even though Varys believes he has totally lost his accent.[16]

In the booksEdit

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, Lys is one of the more powerful of the Free Cities, as well as the most beautiful: the land is covered with palm and fruit trees, the surrounding waters are abundant with fish, and sunsets in Lys are said to be the most beautiful in the world. The island chain known as the Stepstones lies to the northwest of the city and the Disputed Lands to the northeast. Lys frequently wars with the cities of Myr, Tyrosh, and Volantis over control of both these regions.

As with most of the Free Cities, Lys was originally a colony of the Valyrian Freehold, specifically a retreat/resort. Since it was founded from scratch by the Freehold rather than being a conquered territory, Lys retains stronger Valyrian bloodlines than any of the other Free Cities. Even the smallfolk often possess Valyrian features, including light-colored hair, skin and eyes. The Valyrians themselves looked like the Targaryens, with platinum-blonde to silvery-white hair and purple eyes, though in the present-day common 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, dark eyes and olive skin.

Slavery is legal in Lys and it has a fairly large slave population, outnumbering freeborn citizens three to one. The pillow-houses of the city are far-famed, and they are known for producing the finest bed-slaves and prostitutes in the world. Beauty and blood purity are highly valued by the Lysene, who deliberately breed attractive slaves together in the hope that their offspring will be even more lovely and refined. Besides its bed-slaves and prostitutes, Lys is known for its production of tapestries, perfumes and sweet wines. The alchemists of the city also produce two rare and deadly posions; the tears of Lys and the strangler.

Lys is home to a native love goddess (whose image graces the city's coinage), but temples to many deities can be found within its walls, including a temple to the red god R'hllor, the Lord of Light. Another of these deities the Weeping Woman or the Weeping Lady of Lys, whose statue can also be seen in the House of Black and White in Braavos. So far, it is not clear in-universe if the Weeping Woman and the love goddess are the same figure or if they belong to separate traditions. 

While the Lysene are noted for their love of the sensual arts, 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 Lysene freesails can be found in many of the ports of the world. 

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 the city overreached and launched an attack on Tyrosh. Myr rose in rebellion and an exiled Lysene 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.

When Lord Eddard Stark came to arrest Ser Jorah Mormont, Lord of Bear Island, for selling poachers to slavers, Jorah and his wife Lynesse fled to Lys where Jorah attempted to make his living as a sellsword, but he was unable to provide an income acceptable to Lynesse and she ran out on him to become a concubine to the Lysenes merchant Lord Tregar Ormollen.

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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