Sothoryos or Sothoros is one of the three known continents in the world. It lies to the southeast of Westeros and is south of Essos across the Summer Sea. East of Sothoryos is the southern Jade Sea.
Sothoryos is a large continent, covered in jungles, plague-ridden, and largely unexplored. The northern coast has been mapped, with the ruined cities of Zamettar, Yeen, Gogossos and Gorosh noted, but little else is known of them. Wyvern Point is in northeastern Sothoryos near Lesser Moraq. Explorers of the Summer Isles may have mapped southern Sothoryos, and may know the continent well. If so, they keep these maps a close guarded secret.
Ghiscari believed the continent to be as large as Westeros. Qartheen maps showed the continent as an island twice the size of Great Moraq, but their ships never managed to find the bottom of the continent. The Valyrian Jaenara Belaerys flew her dragon Terrax to explore Sothoryos from the air, farther south than any person before her. She sought the "boiling seas and steaming rivers" of legend, but found only jungle, deserts, and mountains. After three years, she returned to the Freehold to report that the continent was at least as large as Essos, possibly "a land without end".
The Sothoryi, also known as Brindled Men, have been described as "brindle-skinned half-men". Their skin is thick, brindled in patterns of brown and white. They are big-boned and massively muscled, with long arms, sloped foreheads, huge square teeth, heavy jaws, and coarse black hair. Their broad, flat noses suggest snouts, and together with their skin patterns, make them seem more hog-like than human. Sothoryi women are said to be unable to breed with men from Essos or Westeros, only bringing forth stillbirths or malformed offspring.
The Sothoryi mostly known to the corsairs of the neighboring Basilisk Isles are those who dwell closest to the sea on the northern shore, who have learned the Trade Talk. The Ghiscari consider them to be slow of wit, but fierce fighters that make good slaves. Farther south, the Sothoryi are more savage, known for cannibalism and worshiping dark gods with obscene rites. There are also unproven reports of other races and forgotten peoples that were driven out, destroyed, or devoured by the Brindled Men, as well as lizard men and eyeless cave-dwellers.
On the northern coast of the continent lie a score of small trade towns, described as wet, humid, and full of misery, where adventurers, rogues, and whores from the Free Cities and the Seven Kingdoms go seeking fortune. Corsairs prey on these settlements, carrying off captives to their holding pens on Talon and the Isle of Tears, before selling them to the flesh markets of Slaver's Bay or the pleasure houses of Lys.
Besides the savage Brindled Men, particularly the ghouls and cannibals from the deep jungles, Sothoryos is home to many fatal diseases, including blood boils, green fever, dancing plague, sweetrot, bronze pate, the Red Death, greyscale, brownleg, wormbone, sailor's bane, pus-eye, and yellowgum.
The Zamoyos and other streams are home to crocodiles and swarms of carnivorous fish capable of stripping a man's flesh in minutes. The continent swarms with stinging flies, venomous snakes, wasps and worms that lay their eggs beneath the skins of horses, hogs, and men alike. Basilisk Point is full of the eponymous animals, some of which are twice the size of lions.
Farther south, in the Green Hell, there are reports of white vampire bats that can drain the blood of a man in minutes, tattooed lizards that run down their prey and rip them apart with long curved claws on their hind legs, snakes fifty feet long, spotted spiders, and terrible wyverns. There are monkeys that walk like men, basilisks, and a hundred different kinds of deadly snakes. The jungle also contains flies, whose bite results in a fatal disease with symptoms including bleeding from all orifices and the skin sloughing off. Even the freshwater contains minuscule parasitic worms that lay eggs within anyone who drinks it.
The origins of the ancient city of Yeen are an enigma, the greatest one in Sothoryos, as it is a ruin "older than time". It is built of the same black stone as the idol in the Isle of Toads, in massive blocks, and though it has been abandoned for thousands of years, the surrounding jungle has barely touched it. Every attempt to rebuild or resettle Yeen has ended in horror.
The Old Empire of Ghis established outposts on the northern shores of the continent. They raised the walled city of Zamettar at the mouth of the Zamoyos, and the grim penal colony of Gorosh on Wyvern Point. The Valyrian Freehold established three colonies on Basilisk Point. The first was destroyed by Brindled Men, the second was lost to plague, and the third was abandoned when the dragonlords took Zamettar during the Fourth Ghiscari War.
During their migration, Princess Nymeria's Rhoynar settled on Sothoryos, mainly on Zamettar (abandoned for a thousand years), established towns on Basilisk Point, and even settled on the ruins of Yeen. However, weather, disease, parasites, and predators took their toll on them. Two towns on Basilisk Point were raided, their populations carried off in chains or put to the sword, whilst those in Yeen had to face attacks from "brindled ghouls" from the jungle's depths. The Rhoynar struggled to survive for more than a year, until a boat sent from Zamettar to Yeen found that all of its inhabitants - men, women, and children - had vanished overnight. Afterward, the Rhoynar abandoned Sothoryos entirely.
After the adventurer Ser Eustace Hightower's ship Lady Meredith was damaged by a leviathan in the Sunset Sea, he sailed for the Summer Isles - but since he was further south than he realized, he landed on the coast of Sothoryos. He and his crew were stuck there for a year, trying to repair the ship and discovering treasure, but the crew dwindled from disease, attacks of deadly animals, and unexplained vanishings. Luckily, Eustace eventually was found by a passing Summer Islander ship, and with their help, was able to sail for Tall Trees Town, hire a new crew, and return to Oldtown in 59 AC.
A Dance with Dragons
Victarion Greyjoy divides the Iron Fleet into three squadrons during their journey to Slaver's Bay. Ralf Stonehouse leads the fastest ships on the corsair's road off the northern coast of Sothoryos. Only nine of Red Ralf's ships rejoin Victarion at the Isle of Cedars, with Ralf himself among the missing.
There were fortunes to be had there [...] emeralds, gold, spices, aye, all that and more. Strange creatures… monkeys that walk like men, men that howl like monkeys, wyverns, basilisks, a hundred different sorts of snakes. Deadly, all of them. Some of my men just vanished of a night. The ones who didn’t began to die. One was bitten by a fly, a little prick upon his neck, nothing to fear. Three days later his skin was sloughing off, and he was bleeding from his ears and cock and arse. Drinking salt water will make a man mad, every sailor knows that, but the freshwater is no safer in that place. There are worms in it, almost too small to see, if you swallowed them they laid their eggs inside you. And the fevers… hardly a day went by when half my men were fit to work. We all would have perished, I think, but some Summer Islanders passing by came on us. They know that hell better than they let on, I think.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 56, The Iron Suitor.
- A Feast for Crows, Chapter 18, The Iron Captain.
- The Lands of Ice and Fire, The Known World.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Beyond the Free Cities: Sothoryos.
- Fire & Blood, The Long Reign - Jaehaerys and Alysanne: Policy, Progeny, and Pain.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Beyond the Free Cities: The Summer Isles.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Beyond the Free Cities: The Basilisk Isles.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Beyond the Free Cities: Naath.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 52, Daenerys IX.
- The World of Ice & Fire, Ancient History: Ten Thousand Ships.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 47, Tyrion X.
- So Spake Martin: Geographical Information (March 26, 2002)