- "In the Summer Isles they worship a fertility goddess with sixteen teats."
The Summer Islands (or Summer Isles) are an archipelago of large islands, located in the Summer Sea. They are located southeast of Westeros, south-west of Volantis and northwest of mainland Sothoryos. Its inhabitants are notably dark-skinned.
In the booksEdit
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Summer Islands are amongst the southern-most explored parts of the world. People from the Summer Islands are dark-skinned and tend to wear colorful clothes. They are famed sea-farers, as they have to rely on extensive maritime transport due to the archipelago nature of their homeland. Many Summer Islander ships re-applied these skills to take part in international shipping: the islands have a large merchant marine fleet which operates on sea lanes across much of the known world. Summer Islander merchant ships can be found in most major ports across both Westeros and the Free Cities, from Oldtown and King's Landing, and from Braavos to Lys. Many crews also make the long trade route around the Jade Sea far to the east, visiting Qarth and distant Asshai.
Summer Islander boats are swift and well-crewed. They are also famed as skilled archers, using powerful bows that outrange similar weapons from Westeros. Summer Islander ship crews make use of these crews to drive off pirates and raiders at range, before they can attempt to board their vessels.
In the novels, a Summer Islander prince named Jalabhar Xho has taken up residence in the Red Keep for the past several years. He repeatedly asked King Robert Baratheon for military aid in retaking his princedom, the Red Flower Vale, but has been repeatedly turned down. Robert kept him around because the idea of invading the Summer Islands intrigued him. Jalabhar Xho has not yet appeared in the television series.
Other minor characters in the books that hail from the Summer Islands are Chataya, a madame, and her daughter, a prostitute named Alayaya. During his tenure as acting Hand of the King, Tyrion pretends to visit Alayaya while having secret encounters with Shae instead, and Cersei has Alayaya arrested to spite Tyrion. This last development is fulfilled by Ros in the TV show.
The Lands of Ice and Fire (a companion map collection for the novels) reveals that the Summer Islands lie due south of the Narrow Sea and are a chain of islands located along a northwest-to-southeast axis. The tip of the northern-most island is at the same latitude as the southern-most coastline of Valyria, and at the same longitude as Tyrosh on the west coast of Essos. The southernmost islands are located slightly further south than Naath or Basilisk Point (on the mainland of Sothoryos), and roughly at the same longitude as the Orange Shore (just west of Volantis). Visible on the maps are three large islands and several smaller ones, but it is possible the chain extends further south than the edge of the map. The northernmost island is roughly equidistant between Westeros and Essos, while the southernmost island is roughly equidistant between Essos and mainland Sothoryos. The island of Naath, to the east, is the closest other land to the Summer Islands. The area of the Summer Islands as a whole is roughly similar in size to that of the Valyrian Peninsula.
According to The Lands of Ice and Fire, the major islands are named, north to south, as Walano, Omboru, and Jhala. The Smiling Sea divides Walano and Omboru, whilst the Indigo Straits divide Omboru from Jhala. The largest city of the Summer Islands, Lotus Port, is located on Walano. The towns of Last Lament and Tall Trees Town are also located on Walano. The settled valleys of Red Flower Vale (former home of Jalabhar Xho) and Sweet Lotus Vale are located on Omboru, along with the city of Ebonhead. Koj and the Isle of Birds are amongst the numerous smaller islands.
Official maps for the TV series, including the online HBO Viewer's Guide map, have not included the Summer Islands so far. The map which the TV series uses for Essos is actually slightly outdated, as it was produced before The Lands of Ice and Fire was released. The biggest differences are mostly in the far east, beyond Qarth and Vaes Dothrak: the TV series map assumed that Qarth is on the southern end of the Jade Sea, when Lands of Ice and Fire revealed that Qarth is actually located at the northern end of the Jade Sea.
Starting in Season 4, the astrolabe map which appears in the opening credits of the TV series finally portrayed the Summer Islands for the first time, as the camera swings from Westeros to Slaver's Bay in Essos. The design, which only briefly appears, does not correspond to the map of the Summer Islands revealed in The Lands of Ice and Fire, which revealed that the northwestern-most of the islands is located at the same longitude as Tyrosh, and the same latitude as the southern end of the Valyrian peninsula. The TV series's opening sequence depicts the northernmost island as being located further to the northwest, nearly as far west as the Red Mountains of Dorne, and nearly as far north as Volantis (which is located at the base of the Valyrian peninsula). This may have been done simply to fit them onto the screen, and not to specify actual distances, as the islands were viewed out of focus and at an angle as the "astrolabe" in the opening sequence swung around.