The whole multi-continent aspect of A Song of Ice and Fire seems to be getting out of hand. Do the other continents suffer those long winters? Can the Others harm the other continents?

In The Lord of the Rings there were other realms than Middle-earth, but Middle-earth was still all of humanity and dwarf population and hobbits. Sure there are stories like Romeo and Juliet where the only thing that matters is whether those 2 are going have a chance to love. But in these fantasy / sci-fi stories there's usually danger of world domination by evil. It's not usually just one continent is going to be a terrible (or impossible) place to live but other civilizations will flourish.

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    “The whole multi-continent aspect of ASoIaF seems to be getting out of hand.” Er... how, exactly? Do you think there are just too many continents in the story now? Dec 7, 2015 at 10:11
  • @Paul, well what could be a satisfying end at this point? Does justice have to prevail in just Westeros? Or does it have to be Essos and Westeros or the entire known world? As Westeros goes down the tubes, you start ponder on the fact that Westeros wasn't exactly the cradle of civilization in the GRRM's world anyway, and there are plenty of other places for people to live.
    – Joe C
    Dec 7, 2015 at 15:01
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    JoeC - Ahhhh, you think that justice is going to prevail at the end of a GRRM novel series... Sweet summer child :-) Dec 7, 2015 at 15:20
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    P.s. I'm pretty sure that the reader is supposed to be musing on the growing realisation that, far from being the centre of the world, Westeros is a backwards, self-crippling continent much like "dark ages" Europe was. The summer isles have far better ships, Essos have greater cities and architecture and more sophisticated systems of government, the far eastern empires have more advanced technology (e.g. telescopes) and understanding of magic, etc. Dec 7, 2015 at 15:25
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    @JoeC Arguably the story has ceased to be exclusively about Westeros now.
    – Andres F.
    Dec 7, 2015 at 23:41

2 Answers 2


Here's a low-ish resolution preview of the official map published by GRRM's publishers as 'The Lands of Ice and Fire' in 2012.

As you'll see, nothing extends nearly as far north as the North, except for a sea whose name tells us all we need to know about how wintery it gets ("the Shivering Sea"), and only Westeros has any land connection to the uncharted icy wastes to the far north.

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Braavos is nearly as far north as the Vale, so it could be surprising that the latter seemed much more bothered about winter and affected by it than the former, but this is easily explained by altitude. The Vale is extremely high, while Braavos and its canals are barely above sea level. When the residents of the Eyrie retreat from encroaching winter in that epic AFFC chapter where Sansa talks about lemon cakes and then walks down a hill, it's to get downhill more than to go south.

And don't forget that, even within Westeros, northerners are always commenting that southerners don't know real winter, don't take the risk of winter seriously, can't handle northern winters, etc. The difference in attitudes can largely be explained by distance from the north (and particularly, distance from those uncharted frozen wastes). Dorne is on Westeros's southerly tip, but they're not worried about winter.

But that doesn't mean you don't get weird, spooky trouble similar to unnatural winters and the 'others' elsewhere, it just takes a different form:

  • Down in the bottom right, you have the Shadow Lands, which are at least as strange, foreboding and uncharted as the icy wastes the others came from. You have mysterious shadowbinders, as well as wilding-like raiders covered in mysterious tattoos (Euron's company includes one) that protect them from even weirder unknown dangers almost certainly comparable to the others. It's also alluded to that here and beyond is where the first dragons came from, and where Dany's dragon eggs were procured from. Melisandre is probably the least mysterious and strange person to come from this region, which says a lot.
  • There's even a parallel to The Wall - Jinqi, on the edge of the shadow lands, once a fortress used by the once-great Yi Ti empire to guard against what lies beyond, now neglected. Yi Ti seems to have had as bad a time of it as the Starks have - first their empire declined to just one city, and now as of AFFC rumour says they've been hit by "grey plague".
  • Then down in the lower centre you have whatever the heck the doom of Valyria was.

Something strange is going on, and it's not just winter and ice monsters. It seems to involve multiple elements in multiple regions.

In particular, there seems to be a possible pattern of ice-related creatures and strangeness from the North, alongside a plague of dead people becoming mindless blue-eyed zombies, and fire-related creatures and strangeness from the south, alongside a plague of living people becoming mindless grey-skinned zombies.

  • I don't think Shadow Lands have much in common with the long winters and the ice zombies; might be worth a mention, but you barely answered the question imo Dec 7, 2015 at 11:04
  • Would it not make sense that the rest of the world experiance a drop in temprature as well. As I understand it the cycle of seasons is driven by magic or some sort of mystical force. So when winter comes it means that the average temprature drops alot. Most likly not enough to give Dorn for exampel, snow. But enough to disrupt every day life.
    – Daniel
    Dec 24, 2015 at 21:45

Generally, throughout the books and the Show, I don't remember people from Essos (or some other place besides Westeros) feeling anxious about long winters. We know that they have tropic climates and dress way more lightly than people in Westeros; this doesn't mean that they don't have long winters, but so far we haven't seen people worry about them. But if there were long winters there too, wouldn't dry and hot places (like Slaver's Bay) have turned to places with temperate weather?

Essos is pretty big, so it might be that the northern areas (like the Dothraki Sea) might have longer winters than the southern ones. We don't know that much about Essos' history to make a clear statement. Most of the POVs we've seen are on the south side of Essos, so it's natural not to have heard much of winter in those areas.

As far as the Others go, when they first came, during the Long Night, they came from the land of always Winter, which is in Westeros, right North of the Wall. So far they have caused trouble to the Westerosi. We don't know yet if they have some kind of base somewhere else on the map and plan to (or already have) attacked other places.

If I remember correctly, GRRM once said that Westeros is the only continent that stretches that far north, so we couldn't assume that Essos is connected with the North some way off map. So, the Others would have trouble getting to Essos; we don't know if they can swim or sail (as of yet).

If we go back in time, the Long Night is something that happened to the whole Known World (including Essos), so we can see that Essos isn't excluded from every 'magic' event that takes place in the world. During that time, the east side of Essos, especially the areas of Rhoyne had their rivers frozen.

TL;DR: We don't know much about the others yet; we don't know what woke many centuries ago and we don't know why they were sleeping for so many years, until now. So, we cannot know for sure how they can (or will) affect Essos.

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