A fair point.K. A. Pital wrote: ↑2018-01-04 11:30amIf the setting is not immune to progress, technically they should be entering pre-industrial age by the time of the books. GRRM does not describe economy that much, but politically it seems like really early feudalism, with serfdom, primarily agrarian mode of production, no manufacture or factory in sight, sieges and actual keeps and castles, not palaces. They had over half a millenia to move to late feudalism, but it does not seem like there was a lot of movement. Even the seven kingdoms and the ruling noble houses are implied to last for from over a thousand years to several millenia by the time of the books. I mean, a thousand something years before events of ASOIAF there is an invasion of Dorne with all the bookverse’ feudal attributes seemingly already in place.
I blame the fantasy winters...
Personally I blame it on "authors have no sense of scale." Martin didn't want to portray a deep backstory with the forms of society changing significantly over time, so he stretched out 400-500 years' worth of history over a thousand-plus years of timeline.
That said, Martin hasn't explicitly declared this; there is no specific force enforcing technological stasis. So I'm inclined to assume that future events could progress as fast as they do on Earth, in which case proto-industrialism could emerge within a few hundred years of the "High Middle Ages" society we see in Westeros.
I look at that and I bear in mind that Marx's notion of slavery naturally evolving into feudalism was heavily informed by medieval European history, and was not informed so much by the history of other parts of the world where widespread slavery persisted rather longer....although it does fail to explain why the other parts of the world aren’t undergoing a transition faster. Slaver’s Bay is also locked in the slave production mode for an extremely long time.
Furthermore, for a long time the Slaver's Bay area has been subject to depredations by the Dothraki, who are well equipped to pillage the countryside and set back economic development outside the major fortified cities their usual tactics cannot easily topple. Dany's actions in reducing the Dothraki numbers (by drawing many off to Westeros) and... 'adventurism' (by quelling some of the more brutal and aggressive factions and habits within Dothraki culture) may prove just as much a force for progress in Slaver's Bay as her abolitionist campaign.
I think it would help to model Valyria as being, in effect, ancient Rome; it was a very high point of economic, technological, and infrastructural progress.The merchant class is weak, although sea trade exists and even plays into the story at key moments. Braavos looks like a stand in for Netherlands or a city-state with more progressive policies and flourishing commerce, but it also existed for a loong time (just google about when Valyria was)...
Venice, the most direct model for Braavos, began its rise to prominence within a few centuries of the fall of Rome, and continued to slowly expand its influence over the Mediterranean for several centuries before running into the rising naval powers of the Ottomans and later the Spanish, plus the fact of the Spanish/Portuguese sea trading routes making Venice's naval position in the Mediterranean inherently less valuable.