Thanks to a couple new fan-made maps making the rounds on Reddit, now seems like a good time to bring up a Game of Thrones fan theory that’s been around for a while: the theory that Westeros and Essos are connected through the Lands of Always Winter, where the White Walkers live.
First, some history: regardless of whether this theory is true, Westeros and Essos were definitely connected at one time through the Arm of Dorne, a land bridge that linked southwesters Westeros with southeastern Essos. The First Men arrived in Westeros from Essos by crossing the Arm of Dorne. Once in Westeros, they went to war with the Children of the Forest, the continent’s original inhabitants. The Children used magic to bury the Arm of Dorne beneath the ocean. All that remains of it now are the Stepstones, a chain of islands.
Might Essos link to Westeros in another way? Some theorists figure that, assuming George R.R. Martin’s world is curved like ours, the far east of Essos may connect to the far north Westeros through the Lands of Always Winter, as shown here.
That’s the flat way of looking at it. Commenter Alternating_Sum pitched in with this handy three-dimensional-looking version.
The area marked with a star would be the planet’s North Pole, located smack dab in the middle of the Lands of Always Winer, naturally.
This theory ties into something Daenerys hears from Quaithe, the Shadowbinder she meets in Qarth, in A Clash of Kings.
"To go north, you must journey south, to reach the west you must go east. To go forward you must go back and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow."
This line from Quaithe never made it onto the show (Quaithe in general has a lot less presence on the show), but Dany thinks about it a fair amount in the books. The bit about going east before reaching the west has some fans thinking that Daenerys can reach her ultimate destination by heading east from Meereen, trudging through the Lands of Always Winter, and invading Westeros from the north. The line about “pass[ing] beneath the shadow,” could refer to going through Asshai, a mysterious city on Essos sometimes referred to as “Asshai-by-the-Shadow.”
Does this theory hold water? Highly unlikely, not least of all because George R.R. Martin has said that it isn’t true, but it’s nice to imagine.
One more map of the possible Westeros-Essos link, from Reddit commenter acadian_cajun, before we go. This one is definitely the most accurate: