game of thrones

What’s West of Westeros?

Photo: HBO

All things considered, Sunday night’s Game of Thrones finale ended pretty well for House Stark. Bran is the King on the Iron Throne, with Bran himself being the only person who saw that coming. Sansa is Queen in the North and currently rocking a great gown. Jon Snow had to murder the woman he loved, yes, but at least he’s still alive and back at the Night’s Watch, where he’s got a new mandate that includes being nice to the Wildlings and, I assume, eventually rebuilding the gigantic hole in the Wall. Last but not least, Arya has decided not to join her siblings in picking up the pieces. Instead, she’s taken a ship and a loyal crew out to find new worlds and answer her question “What’s west of Westeros?”

Wondering what she’ll find? Here’s an extremely literal-minded answer to Arya’s question, based on what we know from George R.R. Martin’s series.

First, we need to get our bearings. The sea to the immediate west of the continent of Westeros is called the Sunset Sea, for obvious reasons. According to current knowledge, there’s not much out there. If Arya passes the Iron Islands and sails northwest, a week or so later she’ll run into a rocky outcropping surrounded by seals and walruses as well as a castle, The Lonely Light, home of the most isolated noble house in Westeros, the Farwynds. The Farwynds are technically sworn to the Greyjoys, but the other Ironborn tend not to have much to do with them as they’re considered slightly off their rockers. They may have the same skin-changing gifts as the Starks do, except with sea mammals; some in the fandom have speculated that their ancestors include Northmen who were blown off course. A Farwynd shows up to campaign at the Kingsmoot in A Feast for Crows, and his big plan is for all the Ironborn to sail off into the Sunset Sea. (He does not win the election.) If Arya stops by for a cuppa, I’m sure plenty of Farwynds would eagerly join her on her adventure.

Further to the southwest, a few weeks’ sail from Oldtown, lies the most westerly known land in the world: three small islands dubbed Aegon, Visenya, and Rhaenys, after the trio of Targaryens that conquered Westeros. No humans have ever tried to inhabit the islands, but they are apparently full of bountiful plant and animal life. An excellent place for Arya to stop for supplies, but maybe slightly boring to hang out in.

Other than that, as far as anyone knows, it’s just endless ocean, and people who sail off on voyages of exploration tend to disappear. Thousands of years before the events of the series, a Stark called Brandon the Shipwright attempted to cross and was never heard from again; his son, Brandon the Burner, decided to destroy the rest of the North’s fleet, and since then the Northmen have not been a seafaring people. More recently, 50 years after Aegon’s conquest, a woman named Elissa Farman took to sea after getting in way too deep with some very messy Targaryens. She stole some dragon eggs and sold them in Braavos — it’s implied those were the three eggs that Daenerys ended up with — and then decided to head out into the Sunset Sea. Elissa was the one who discovered Aegon, Visenya, and Rhaenys; she left one of her ships there after it was damaged in a storm. Then she lit out west once more, and she too was never heard from again.

However! Martin has confirmed that the world of Westeros is round, though he says it may be slightly bigger than our own. And, a few decades after Elissa’s voyage, another traveler made a great voyage to the east, ending up in Asshai, the mysterious sorcerers’ city that’s the farthest-known civilization in that direction, (Remember Quaithe, the mask lady from season two? She was from Asshai.) While there, this traveler reported seeing a ship that looked remarkably like Elissa Farman’s. If she indeed did it, that would make her the first person to successfully cross the Sunset Sea. But I wouldn’t bet against Arya — after all, before her, no one had killed a Night King, either.

What’s West of Westeros?