Hello! Can you talk to me a little bit about Valyria? Is it 100%unsavable? Anything still hiding there? Maybe some dragon eggs? I'm sure my question is answred somewhere in the books, but I've just started reading them! And I love the idea of Valyria being rebuilt.
Hello! I am sorry I took some time to answer your ask.
Look, I made this PDF document for you - the 12 pages dedicated to Valyria from The World of Ice and Fire (I created it from my own PDF file of TWOIAF so it’s safe to download). They will make you understand Valyria much better than I ever could! :) There are some other minor passages about Valyria in the book
(like a description of the wars between Valyrians and Rhoynar but it’s some obscure lore for a beginner and I didn’t think you’d want that), but this is the main text about it.
I love Valyria! It was such a beautiful and modern place in comparaison to all the rest of Planetos. While the world in ASOIAF seems to be forever stuck in a sort of Early Middle Ages, Valyria’s era equivalent would be somewhere in between the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery, with many aspects of ancient Rome, and of course many elements of Fantasy. Valyrians were really an advanced civilization.
At its apex Valyria was the greatest city in the known world, the center of civilization.
Apart from taming dragons, and mixing their blood with dragon’s blood (the expression “blood of the dragon” is not a metaphor, Valyrians did mix their DNA with the dragons’ DNA, to have a better affinity with them), they also practiced magic. We don’t know much about their sort of magic, but we know that they used it to build castles and skycrapers and roads, just as they used it to forge Valyrian steel. Nobody knew how to make Valyrian steel apart from Valyrians themselves, and since the Doom the knowledge and art of it was lost. And only the most skilled armorers could hope to re-work the existing Valyrian steel (for example, Ice was re-forged into 2 new blades, Oathkeeper and Widow’s Wail, but the process was difficult and the armorer couldn’t achieve the coloring he wanted).
In A Dance with Dragons, Tyrion travels along Valyrian roads.
During one stop, he used the time to have a closer look at the road. Tyrion knew what he would find: not packed earth, nor bricks, nor cobbles, but a ribbon of fused stone raised a half foot above the ground to allow rainfall and snowmelt to run off its shoulders. Unlike the muddy tracks that passed for roads in the Seven Kingdoms, the Valyrian roads were wide enough for three wagons to pass abreast, and neither time nor traffic marred them. They still endured, unchanging, four centuries after Valyria itself had met its Doom.
Come moonrise, they were back in their saddles, trotting eastward under a mantle of stars. The old Valyrian road glimmered ahead of them like a long silver ribbon winding through wood and dale. For a little while Tyrion Lannister felt almost at peace. “Lomas Longstrider told it true. The road’s a wonder.”
Valyrians also practiced a pre-modern form of democarcy, a bit like the Roman Republic according to GRRM. They did not have a King or an Emperor, and every one had a voice, though of course some were more influential and powerful than others.
Women in Valyria were treated differently from women in Westeros - Valyria seems to have been much less misogynistic. We know it thanks to Visenya who was a warrior and who trained since very young age apparently without facing disapproval from her family; and thanks to her blade, Dark Sister, which was originally forged for a woman’s hand back in Valyria - which suggest that Valyrian women could be warriors. We also know about a Valyrian woman explorer, Jaenara Belaerys, who flew on her dragon to discover the unknown lands of Sothoryos.
Jaenara Belaerys flew her dragon, Terrax, farther south than any man or woman had ever gone before, seeking the boiling seas and steaming rivers of legend, but found only endless jungle, deserts, and mountains. She returned to the Freehold after three years to declare that Sothoryos was as large as Essos, “a land without end.”
The negative side of Valyria was the practice of slavery, which started following the fifth and last war between the Freehold and Old Ghis (the ancestor of Slaver’s Bay). I can understand why the Ghiscari people were enslaved (they were defeated enemies, and Valyrians decided to put an end to these wars forever) though I do not support this choice, but there was absolutely no need to continue with slavery. Valyrians were already extraordinary and powerful and superior to all the rest, and they achieved their greatness through their own effort and own work, not through slaves. Slavery was a very dark chapter in the story of Valyria, and was what probably brought the Doom.
Unfortunately, I do not think Valyria could be rebuilt. I like this idea too, and after I first finished reading the novels the ending of Daenerys rebuilding Valyria was very appealing to me, but now I understand that it’s highly unlikely to happen. Valyria is a shattered, ruined land of very active volcanoes, haunted by “demons”, and is uninhabitable for normal humans.
This is a passage from a Tyrion’s chapter, when he is sailing towards Slaver’s Bay and passing well south of where Valyria once stood, 400 years after the Doom:
A dull red glow lit the sky to the northeast, the color of a blood bruise. Tyrion had never seen a bigger moon. Monstrous, swollen, it looked as if it had swallowed the sun and woken with a fever. Its twin, floating on the sea beyond the ship, shimmered red with every wave. “What hour is this?” he asked Moqorro. “That cannot be sunrise unless the east has moved. Why is the sky red?”
“The sky is always red above Valyria, Hugor Hill.”
A cold chill went down his back.
And this is how the people perceive it:
Every man there knew that the Doom still ruled Valyria. The very sea there boiled and smoked, and the land was overrun with demons. It was said that any sailor who so much as glimpsed the fiery mountains of Valyria rising above the waves would soon die a dreadful death.
Whatever happened to Valyria was not only a simple volcanic eruption (like in Pompeii) - it was a much more cataclysmic event. When the spells the Valyrians used to control the Fourteen Flames collapsed, it appears that all these volcanoes exploded at once, and rained down magma and ashes and acids. Earthquakes broke the land and provoked great tsunamis that destroyed the cities.
“So those are fires of the Fourteen Flames we’re seeing, reflected on the clouds?”
“Fourteen or fourteen thousand. What man dares count them? It is not wise for mortals to look too deeply at those fires, my friend. Those are the fires of god’s own wrath, and no human flame can match them. We are small creatures, men.”
“Some smaller than others.” Valyria. It was written that on the day of Doom every hill for five hundred miles had split asunder to fill the air with ash and smoke and fire, blazes so hot and hungry that even the dragons in the sky were engulfed and consumed. Great rents had opened in the earth, swallowing palaces, temples, entire towns. Lakes boiled or turned to acid, mountains burst, fiery fountains spewed molten rock a thousand feet into the air, red clouds rained down dragonglass and the black blood of demons, and to the north the ground splintered and collapsed and fell in on itself and an angry sea came rushing in. The proudest city in all the world was gone in an instant, its fabled empire vanished in a day, the Lands of the Long Summer scorched and drowned and blighted.
And this is what happened to the Isle of Cedar, located hundreds of miles away from Valyria:
On the day the Doom came to Valyria, it was said, a wall of water three hundred feet high had descended on the island, drowning hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children, leaving none to tell the tale but some fisherfolk who had been at sea and a handful of Velosi spearmen posted in a stout stone tower on the island’s highest hill, who had seen the hills and valleys beneath them turn into a raging sea. Fair Velos with its palaces of cedar and pink marble had vanished in a heartbeat. On the north end of the island, the ancient brick walls and stepped pyramids of the slaver port Ghozai had suffered the same fate.
It does not seem to me like a salvageable place. There are a lot of things hiding there I do not doubt, from beasts like firewyrms to the remnants of Valyrian buildings and sorceries (if Euron’s armor is really made of Valyrian steel, and if he really got it from Valyria as he boasts, then it’s safe to say that more Valyrian treasures could be found). About dragons’ eggs I am less sure, though it is not impossible I guess (Euron, again, claims he found a dragon egg but threw it overboard in the sea “during one of his dark moods”, though he didn’t say where he found the said egg) but anyway the only dragons that will be important for the plot of ASOIAF are Daenerys’ dragons. Maybe after the War for the Dawn these potential eggs would come into play? I certainly do not want the dragons to die (a fantasy world without dragons where dragons once were is a sad world), it would be nice if Valyrian eggs could be found and hatched for the beginning of a new era of dragons. I cannot say that GRRM will go in this direction though.
I am sure we will see and learn more about Valyria in Winds of Winter! There were a lot of world-building around it and a build-up of information in the fourth and fifth novels, and a prominent villain (Euron) is heavily associated with it. I also believe that Daenerys will cross the demon-road (a Valyrian road north of Valyria that runs from Volantis to Meereen and that everyone is afraid to go to) on her way to Volantis, and maybe divert her trajectory and fly over the ruins of Valyria, if only for a short while. It would be great if she found a cache of Valyrian steel! If anyone should have a Valyrian steel armor in the story then it’s definitely her, the last true Valyrian and the last dragonrider. Not to mention that it would be very helpful in the fight against the Others! But two Valyrian steel armors may be one too many for GRRM.
We only have to wait now :)