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"In the Summer Isles they worship a fertility goddess with sixteen teats."
Varys[src]

The Summer Islands (or Summer Isles) are an archipelago of large islands in the Summer Sea. They are located southeast of Westeros, southwest of Volantis and northwest of mainland Sothoryos. The island of Naath is located to the east, between the Summer Islands and mainland Sothoryos. The inhabitants of the Summer Isles are notably dark-skinned.

Known Summer IslandersEdit

  • {Xaro Xhoan Daxos}, established in Qarth, where he rose to become a member of the Thirteen. Locked inside his own vault for betraying Daenerys Targaryen.
  • Salladhor Saan, a pirate-lord and mercenary sailor. Moved to the Free City of Lys many years ago, and generally considers himself to be a Lysene by geography if not ethnicity.
  • Grey Worm, birth name unknown, captured by slavers as an infant and forcibly trained as an Unsullied by the Great Masters of Astapor. Now serving Daenerys Targaryen as a free man and commander of the eight thousand Unsullied she freed.

HistoryEdit

Season 2Edit

Xaro Xhoan Daxos was born in the Summer Islands, but has since become resident in the eastern city of Qarth.[1]

According to Varys, the Summer Islanders worship a fertility goddess with sixteen teats. Tyrion jokes that they should sail there immediately.[2]

Season 4Edit

The Unsullied commander Grey Worm says that he was taken from the Summer Islands by slavers as a baby. Missandei, who is from the neighboring island of Naath, asks if he remembers anything of the Summer Islands or his life before becoming an Unsullied, but he says that "Unsullied" is all he remembers. He does not even remember when the slavers castrated him at the beginnning of his forced training to be one of the Unsullied.[3]

Image galleryEdit

In the booksEdit

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Summer Islands are among the southern-most explored parts of the known world. An ancient and advanced civilization, Summer Islanders are quite distinct- ethnically and in many ways culturally- from the peoples of both Westeros and Essos.

People from the Summer Islands are dark-skinned and tend to wear colorful clothes, including cloaks made of interwoven tropical bird feathers. They are famed sea-farers, as they have to rely on extensive maritime transport due to the archipelago nature of their homeland. Many Summer Islanders re-applied these skills to take part in international shipping: the islands are rich in natural resources- spices, gemstones, hardwood timber, and exotic animals- and possess a large merchant fleet which operates across much of the known world. Swift and well-crewed, Summer Islander merchant ships can be found in most major ports across both Westeros and the Free Cities, from Oldtown to King's Landing, and from Braavos to Volantis. Many crews also make the long trade route around the Jade Sea far to the east, visiting Qarth and distant Asshai. Summer Islanders are also famed as skilled archers, using powerful bows that far outrange similar weapons from Westeros. Ship crews make use of these archers to drive off pirates and raiders at long range, before they can attempt to board their vessels.

Summer Islander culture is very much what might be called "sex-positive" in real life. Summer Islanders believe sex to be a gift from the gods for humanity to enjoy, regarding it as a joyous and life-affirming act. Although specific details about the Summer Islander religion have not been revealed, it is said that they consider sex to be an outright "holy" act, and therefore nothing to be ashamed about. Prostitution is considered a very respectable profession in the Summer Islands and is even practiced by highborn islanders (who do not financially need to do it, but perhaps as some form of temple-prostitution). Funerals are not somber occasions mourning the dead but celebrations of the lives they led, with wine and lovemaking. Summer Islanders also have great respect for their elderly. Being warm islands, the diet of the islanders consists mostly of fruit and fish.

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 principality, 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.[4]

Grey Worm's backstory and ethnic origins are not given in the books: when directly asked, George R.R. Martin said he had no specific plans to develop it. The TV series invented the backstory that he was taken from the Summer Islands by slavers as a baby - though Grey Worm also says in the TV series that he has no memory of the Summer Islands or of life before being an Unsullied. While it is invented for the TV series, this backstory is entirely plausible within the books.

The World of Ice and Fire reveals that Queen Nymeria did not lead the Rhoynar refugees directly from the Rhoyne River (in the modern Free Cities) west to Dorne in Westeros, when they were fleeing from the advance of the Valyrian Freehold. Rather, Nymeria's fleet first sailed to the Summer Islands, regrouping on what later became known as the Isle of Women (most of her followers were women and children, because most of the Rhoynar men had been killed in battle against the Valyrians). The Rhoynar refugees stayed there for some time, before leaving the Summer Islands to migrate into Dorne.

GeographyEdit

The Lands of Ice and Fire, a companion map collection for the novels released in 2012, revealed for the first time a full map of the Summer Islands and their orientation to the main continents in the story. The Summer Islands are a large island chain curving along a northwest-to-southeast axis: the northwestern-most of the islands is located due south from the Narrow Sea between Westeros and Essos, roughly at the same latitude as the southernmost tip of the Valyrian Peninsula to the east. Observing from a map, the northernmost of the Summer Islands is roughly the same distance south of the Stepstones as the distance that Braavos is north of the Stepstones.

Because the island chain curves to the southeast, however, the southern islands are located farther away from Westeros: the southernmost is roughly at the same line of longitude as Dagger Lake in the Free Cities. The entire archipelago is spread across a large area, loosely the same size as the Valyrian Peninsula (in width and height on a map). The northwestern-most island is roughly equidistant between Westeros and Essos, while the southeastern-most island is roughly equidistant between Essos and mainland Sothoryos. The island of Naath is the closest other land to the Summer Islands, to the east between the archipelago and Sothoryos.

Further information was also given in the World of Ice and Fire sourcebook (2014). There are three main islands in the chain, from north to south: Walano, Omboru, and Jhala. Walano and Omboru are each less than half the size of Jhala - but either of those two are still larger than the total land area of the Stepstones (so at a rough guess, the combined land area of the Summer Islands is over four times that of all the Stepstones combined). There are about fifty islands in the whole archipelago, though many are so small that a man can walk across them in a single day and uninhabited. Other than the main three islands only about a half dozen other smaller islands are also settled - nine out of every ten people in the Summer Isles live on the three main islands.

While Jhala is the largest island, Walano has the largest population (both in total numbers and density), boasting three major cities: Tall Trees Town, Lotus Port, and Last Lament. The only other major city indicated is Ebonhead, at the southwestern tip of Jhala - though, as with Westeros, there are apparently numerous large market towns throughout them which are smaller than full-fledged "cities". All of the islands have a lush tropical climate filled with rainforests. Many precious hardwoods, however, particularly goldenheart, don't grow on Walano itself, only on Omboru and Jhala farther south. The sparsely populated interior of large Jhala is home to silverback gorillas, and various species of monkeys abound in the canopies of all the islands.

The half-dozen smaller islands of appreciable size include Koj and the Isle of Birds (between Walano and Omboru); Xon, Doquu, and the Bones (in Parrot Bay south of Jhala); and spread out a long distance west from Omburu and Jhala are Moluu, the Isle of Love, the Singing Stones, and the Three Exiles. Koj is disproportionately important because, while not one of the main three islands, three quarters of all of the large sea-going galleys in the Summer Islands are built in its dockyards. Each of the smaller islands is ruled by its own independent prince (or princess); the main three islands are large enough to be divided between several rival princedoms.

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.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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