The Jade Sea is a large body of water located in the far east of Essos. Its western end connects to the Summer Sea at the Straits of Qarth, and from that city ships from many nations travel eastwards to the great trading centers along its shores, including the Golden Empire of Yi Ti and the forbidding sorcerer-city of Asshai.
Many valuable trade goods, such as rare spices, gems, and silks are found along the Jade Sea, but few Westerosi have ever traveled far enough to reach their sources. The mercantile route from Westeros to the Jade Sea and back - known as the "trader's circle" - is very long and dangerous; the round trip can take two years, and only the hardiest merchant ships dare to make the voyage. Even so, many traders (and smugglers) dream of saving up enough resources to make the trip, for while it is long, the profits from its successful completion will allow a merchant to live richly and comfortably for life.
During his time away from the Iron Islands, Euron Greyjoy went raiding as far east as the Jade Sea. While there he apparently lost his mind during a storm, and had to be tied to the mast of his ship to prevent him from jumping overboard. After the storm passed and he was released, Euron cut out the tongues of the entire crew - as he later glibly explained - because he needed silence.
- The plant required to make the infamous poison known as the strangler is found only on a few islands in the Jade Sea.
In the books
In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, the Jade Sea is connected to the Summer Sea by the Straits of Qarth, also known as the Jade Gates. Qarth lies at the westernmost end of the sea, Yi Ti is in the middle of the northern shore, and Asshai is to Yi Ti's southeast.
The southern extent of the Jade Sea is unknown: it is unclear whether the Jade Sea is a massive, landlocked bay connected to the Summer Sea (similar to the relationship between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean), or a totally distinct ocean which separates Essos from the southern continent of Sothoryos.
Traders from Westeros, the Free Cities and the Summer Islands are known to perform the "trader's circle" around the Jade Sea, stopping at every port to trade goods before taking them back to Westeros, usually via Qarth and Slaver's Bay. A single voyage to Asshai and back, performing the circle, can make a merchant crew rich, but it's also extremely hazardous. This kind of voyage can take two years or more.
The Lands of Ice and Fire, a collection of maps of the Song of Ice and Fire world, show that George R.R. Martin has radically reconceptualized the Jade Sea and its coastlands from what has appeared on the HBO maps (which are based on earlier drafts). In the new version, the Jade Sea now forms the southern coast of Essos, with Qarth located at the north-western edge of the sea rather than the south-western. A large island, Great Moraq, now separates the Summer Sea from the Jade Sea, with Qarth guarding the northern straits into the Jade Sea. There also exist southern straits (which run between the island and the continent of Sothoryos) into the Jade Sea, known as the Cinnamon Straits. A towering mountain range, the Bone Mountains, now separates the Dothraki Sea from unknown lands further east. Asshai is located at the eastern edge of the sea, roughly due south-east of Qarth and about as far from Qarth as Qarth is from Valyria.
Despite speculation that HBO would change its maps to match The Lands of Ice and Fire, the subsequently-airing seasons retained the same outline for Essos. This implies that the TV show and books have differing versions of the same continent, although since these lands are supposed to be mysterious and unknown to the Westerosi, it may be an intentional, albeit retroactive, in-universe error.
The Further East of Essos
Seas of the Known World
|Lesser and Inland Seas:|