The Citadel

The Archive of 'A Song of Ice and Fire' Lore


12.9. The Ghiscari Cities
  • Yunkai, Meereen, and Astapor are great slaver cities on Slaver's Bay (II: 138. III: 96)
  • The cities of Slaver's Bay are descended from Old Ghis, which was destroyed by the might of young Valyria 5,000 years ago. Its legions were shattered, its brick walls were pulled down, its streets and buildings turned to ash and cinder by dragonflame, its fields sown with salt, sulfur, and skulls (III: 257)
  • The gods of Ghis were destroyed with its fall, and so were its people. The inhabitants of the slaver cities are mongrels, and the Ghiscari tongue is largely forgotten; the slave cities speak the High Valyrian of their conquerors, or what they made of it (III: 257)
  • The harpy was the symbol of the Old Empire of Ghis, though the harpy of Ghis had a thunderbolt in her claws, unlike the harpies of the modern slavery cities (III: 257, 473)
  • The High Valyrian of the slavers twisted and thickened by the growl of Ghis, and flavored with words of slaver argot (III: 258)
  • The slavers of Astapor name themselves the Good Masters (III: 258, 262)
  • The slavers of Slaver's Bay wear oiled beards and hair (III: 258, 314)
  • Slavers wear tokars, some of them of silk fringed with gold. It is wound about the body and over a shoulder, but the left hand is used to hold it in place as one walks. It is cumbersome, its fringes carefully layered so as to be displayed. If it is wound too loose, it falls off, and if too tight, the wearer will be tangled and tripped. Walking in it requires careful, mincing steps (III: 258. V: 35)
  • Dogs and horses are favorite meats in the slaver cities. Beef is seen as a food for unwashed savages (III: 259)
  • Slaves hold up striped silk awnings to ward off the sun from their masters (III: 260)
  • The Ghiscari use their own glyphs (III: 262)
  • Old Ghis ruled an empire while the Valyrians were still savage, or so it's said (III: 265, 479)
  • Slavers consider jellied dog brains a delicacy, and eat rich stews of red octopus and unborn puppy, and honeyed dormice as well (III: 265, 649)
  • Astapor is beside the Worm River (III: 265)
  • Astapor, Yunkai, and Meereen are rivals but not enemies (III: 272)
  • The Dothraki sea lies north of the slave cities (III: 272)
  • The slave cities are protected from attack by the Dothraki in part because they are a ready market for the slaves the Dothraki take in their wars (III: 272)
  • The sons of the harpy give lavishly to every passing khal (III: 272)
  • Slaves do not refer to themselves in the first person (III: 304)
  • Grazdan is a common name in the slave cities, after Grazdan the Great who founded Old Ghis at the dawn of days (III: 305)
  • Ghiscari tend to be fleshy. They have amber skin, broad noses, and dark eyes. Their wiry hair is black or dark red, or a curious mixture of red and black that is peculiar to them (III: 305)
  • Tokars are only permitted to freeborn men and women of the cities (III: 305, 311)
  • The fringe on a man's tokar proclaims a man's status. Silver, gold, and fat white pearls are among those used (III: 305, 479)
  • The Ghiscari lust for dragons. Five times had Old Ghis fought with Valyria when the world was young, and five times it lost because the Freehold of Valyria had dragons and the Empire had none (III: 307)
  • Ghiscari, the old pure tongue, is still spoken by some. "Mhysa" means mother in it (III: 487)
  • The Ghiscari inter their honored dead in crypts below their manses (III: 806)
  • There is a city on an island named New Ghis (III: 807)
  • In the Free Cities, well spoken and gently born slaves are prized. They will become tutors, scribes, bed slaves, and even healers and priests (III: 809)
  • Gorghan of Old Ghis once compared prophecy to a treacherous woman, so sweet when pleasuring a man with her mouth, until she bites down on his member (IV: 682-683)
  • A tokar of sheer white linen with a golden fringe (V: 36)
  • A tokar of maroon silk with a golden fringe (V: 37)
  • A very wealthy man's purple tokar fringed with amethysts and pearls (V: 40)
  • Men can set aside their wives in Ghis (V: 41)
  • The work of a famous weaver in one city might be highly sought in New Ghis, Astapor, and Qarth (V: 41)
  • A Ghiscari repast of flatbread, olives, figs, and cheese served with Ghiscari wine made from small, pale yellow grapes that make an inferior vintage and leave behind a metallic taste (V: 43)