This Game of Thrones article contains spoilers.
The Game of Thrones Season 8 (and series) finale makes sure every major character gets as satisfying an ending as possible. Jon is sent back to the Wall, Tyrion gets to be Hand of the King again, and Ghost finally gets the head scratching he so richly deserves.
There is one ending, however, that doesn’t feel like much of an ending at all. Arya Stark’s final moment in “The Iron Throne” feels like more of a beginning than a conclusion. Once the Mad Queen (both of them) is dispatched and a competent ruler is sat upon the seat of power in Westeros, Arya announces that she will be taking her leave of the continent altogether. The powerful woman who has seen every bit of Westeros and much of Essos decides that she wants to continue her travels. Arya will sail to the west of Westeros because “that’s where all the maps stop.”
Yes our favorite Faceless (Wo)Man has decided to get her Amerigo Vespucci on and see what lies west beyond the contents of the known world. What will she find there? Is there anything west of Westeros? Is this world even a globe? As is usually the case when talking about the A Song of Ice and Fire tale, the clues to the future lie in the past. The A Song of Ice and Fire book series via Fire and Blood actually features a character who, like Arya, wanted to see what is west of Westeros.
Elissa Farman was a member of House Farman during the reign of King Jaeherys I (the fourth king in the Targaryen Dynasty). She was actually quite a bit like Arya – headstrong, independent, and fearsome. As the daughter of the Lord of Fair Isle, Elissa befriended many members of the Targaryen family. After her brother married Princess Rhaena Targaryen, Elissa became close enough to the princess to ride her dragon, Dreamfyre.
Elissa and Rhaena’s relationship became strained, however, when Rhaena denied Elissa leave to explore the western seas like she wanted to. As a daughter of an important lord, she was fair more important at home and on the continent. In response, Elissa stole three dragon eggs and ran off to Essos. Three dragon eggs in Essos, huh? Where have we heard that before?
Elissa sold the eggs to the Sealord of Braavos and used the funds to buy a ship that she named the Sun Chaser. Always believing that there were lands west of Westeros, Elissa took off across the Sunset Sea. She was never seen from again. Notably, however, many years later another famed adventurer claimed to have made an important discovery. Corlys Velaryon, while sailing as east as east goes, believes he saw the old, weathered Sun Chaser in Asshai. If Corlys saw correctly then this confirms a long-believed suspicion about the known world: there are no lands west of Westeros…save for the east lands.
It would seem that the known world is indeed a globe and traveling west would simply take Arya to the most eastern point on the map. The sad news for Arya here is that the eastern point on the map is not a particularly happy place. Asshai is where Melisandre and many other red priestesses hail from. Asshai is a port where the Ash River meets the Jade Sea. It’s in a part of the world known as the Shadowlands due to black obsidian like stone that populates it and draws away most of the natural light. It is a dark, mysterious place that very few Westerosi know about and even fewer Westerosi actually ever visit.
Just because no one ever heard from Elissa again doesn’t mean that there isn’t land west of Westeros (that’s not on Essos). Perhaps Arya really is the Christopher Columbus of Westeros and will encounter a new, strange land, unmarked on any map. For the purposes of the story, however, it’s not even really important if she finds new land, simply arrives in the Shadowlands, or is never heard from again at all. The important thing here is that Arya made a choice to leave. She wisely surmised that there was nothing left for her in Westeros. She had had all the adventures she was meant to have in Westeros and Braavos and then some.
Just like a certain hobbit at the end of a very long journey, Arya realized that the world didn’t belong to her anymore. She had seen too much and done too much. Time to find a new gig and leave the known world to the Westerosi.
But having said that…a spinoff series with Arya arriving in Yi Ti would be amazing.
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