Category Archives: Sketch

A Sketch of the System: The Making of the Strangler

We consider the making of the poison commonly called the Strangler to be a microcosm of a key feature of the world system, the manufacturing power of the Free Cities and the impact they have on societies to their East, South, and West. Revealed in the list of raw materials and an analysis of the final product are the mercantilist policies by which Free Cities siphon off resources and foreign exchange. An examination of the buyers in turn demonstrates the parity in social power that exists between various Essosi merchant aristocracies while also highlighting the disparity of power that exists between said merchant aristocracies and the less sophisticated nobility of Westeros. Westeros consequently is shown to benefit the least from the world system and suffers a great deal owing to its inferior position.

A description of the Strangler, its material components, manufacturing process, and use comes to us curtsey of Maester Cressen of Dragonstone:

 It was made from a certain plant that grew only on the islands of the Jade Sea, half a world away. The leaves had to be aged, and soaked in a wash of limes and sugar water and certain rare spices from the Summer Isles. Afterward they could be discarded, but the potion must be thickened with ash and allowed to crystallize. The process was slow and difficult, the necessaries costly and hard to acquire. The alchemists of Lys knew the way of it, though, and the Faceless Men of Braavos… and the maesters of his order as well, though it was not something talked about beyond the walls of the Citadel. All the world knew that a maester forged his silver link when he learned the art of healing-but the world preferred to forget that men who knew how to heal also knew how to kill. Cressen no longer recalled the name the Asshaii gave the leaf, or the Lysene poisoners the crystal. In the Citadel, it was simply called the strangler. Dissolved in wine, it would make the muscles of a man’s throat clench tighter than any fist, shutting off his windpipe. They said a victim’s face turned as purple as the little crystal seed from which his death was grown, but so too did a man choking on a morsel of food. (CoK Prologue)

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A Sketch of the System: Made in Myr

Part I

When reading a Song of Ice and Fire we come to know Myr primarily through its manufacture. Bit by bit, the city is defined by its vast and bewildering array of products, by the power of the “Myrish” brand to denote quality craftsmanship, and by the prices wealthy consumers are willing to pay to enjoy them. Myr is the world’s workshop, its goods bought and sold from the Iron Islands to Asshai by the Shadow. Here we are going to examine these products in detail, from the materials out of which they are made to the uses to which they are put.

Myr map

Above in black are the locations or given destinations of every explicitly identified Myrish manufacture. In gold are Myrish items owned and carried abroad by sailors and mercenary outfits. The most commonly encountered goods are textiles, primarily lace and carpets. Glasswork and weapons are close seconds, being more speciality items, followed by works of art and medicinal alchemy. Continue reading

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