A glossary of people, places & objects in Earthsea

Now showing glossary items starting B

Back door

The main entrance to the Great House of Roke. The doorway is of solid ivory, cut from a tooth of the Great Dragon, said to be found on Mount Onn. The door is of polished horn, carved on the inside with the motif of the Thousand-leaved Tree. There is no grand entrance to the school, however: from the outside it appears as an ordinary small wooden door, opening straight from a narrow street near one corner of the outer wall of the Great House. The door is guarded by the Master Doorkeeper, one of the nine Masters of Roke, and it is said that no spell could open it if the Doorkeeper has closed it

Sources: The School for Wizards, WoE; Dragonfly, TfE

'"…from inside you see that the door is entirely different---it's made out of horn, with a tree carved on it, and the frame is made out of a tooth, one tooth of a dragon that lived long, long before Erreth-Akbe, before Morred, before there were people on Earthsea. … They found the tooth on Mount Onn, in Havnor, at the center of the world. And the leaves of the tree are carved so thin that the light shines through them, but the door's so strong that if the Doorkeeper shuts it no spell could ever open it."'

[Dragonfly, TfE]


See Weatherworkers


Also known as: Bailies

Along with sea-sheriffs and officers of the peace, carry out law enforcement on Gont, reporting to the mayor of each district and to the village councils. They receive a wage derived from local taxes

Sources: Home, T; Winter, T; The Master, T

Balance, the

See Equilibrium


See Roads of Balatran

Bar Oth

Young dragon killed by Keor, Prince of Enlad three hundred years before The Farthest Shore, the last dragon to be seen in Enlad. Its skin was preserved at Serilune on Enlad

'I saw the skin of Bar Oth. It is heavy as iron, and so large that if it were spread out it would cover all the marketplace of Serilune, they said. The teeth are as long as my forerarm. Yet they said Bar Oth was a young dragon, not full grown.'

[Hort Town, FS]

Related entries: Dragons

Barley gruel

See Gruel


Medium-sized island in the Gontish Sea to the north-east of Havnor, near Torheven and Oranéa

Sources: The Shadow, WoE

Bars of Uny

String of islets in the southeast of the Archipelago, lying north of Uny and east of O in the Closed Sea

Base crafts

Also known as: Witchcraft, Base spells

The lesser arts of magic, as defined by Archmage Halkel in 730, including finding, mending, dowsing and animal healing; as opposed to the high arts. Under Halkel's rules, all magic practised by women or witches was considered to be a base craft

Sources: A Description of Earthsea, TfE

Related entries: Curer

Bath tub

Mentioned in a farmhouse on Semel; the water is heated using kettles and the tub filled by the fire, then put away when not needed. Oak Farm on Gont has a soaking tub used for laundry

Sources: Winter, T; On the High Marsh, TfE

Bay of Havnor

Also known as: Great Bay of Havnor, Havnor Bay

Huge calm bay in the south of Havnor Island, fed by the Onneva river and reached from the Ebavnor Straits via natural portals named the Gates of the Bay. The huge port of Havnor City lies at its north-east

Sources: Voyage, ToA; The Mending of the Green Pitcher, OW; Palaces, OW; The Dragon Council, OW

'…the bay that lies locked in the heart of Havnor…'

[Voyage, ToA]

Bay of Thwil

See Thwil Bay


Beards are said to be rare in the Archipelago. Examples include Seppel of Paln, who has a short, clipped beard; Nemmerle, who has a white beard as an old man; Hare in Hort Town; and fur-cloaked merchants at Gont Port. Blackbeard's beard is rare enough to give him his usename. Ged usually seems to be clean shaven, but acquires a sparse beard travelling on Atuan; prisoners there have tangled beards, though, as other Kargish men are not described as having facial hair, this may well be a sign of neglect

Sources: The Rule of Names, W12Q; The Shadow, WoE; The School for Wizards, WoE; The Prisoners, ToA; Hort Town, FS; Dolphin, OW

Related entries: Hair styles

Beds and bedlinen

Also known as: Pallet, Cot, Bunk, Hammock

Modern-style beds with a frame, such as the sumptuous bed in the Court of the Terrenon with its canopy, silk sheets, satin coverlet and down mattresses, seem to be the preserve of the relatively prosperous. The court of Enlad has beds with soft furs as covers; the prosperous Oak Farm on Gont has a bed with an oak frame with feather coverlets and sheepskins. Most country people, however, sleep on straw pallets: straw-filled mattresses resting directly on the ground, also called pallet-beds. A heavy canvas mattress cover is mentioned on Gont. A cot of rushes is mentioned for a baby in a small village on Atuan, and Duny's bed at Ten Alders is also termed a cot, which in this instance probably just means a child's bed. A whale-gut hammock is used in a fisherman's hut on Gont. Narrow bunks are mentioned in the cabins of the trading vessel, Sea Otter, and the Dolphin has bunks and hammocks.

Felt & goat's wool blankets, sheepskins, furs, feather coverlets and linen sheets are mentioned as bed coverings in the Archipelago. The market at Hort Town sells bedlinens of unspecified nature. Sheepskin rugs and fur blankets, apparently placed directly on the ground, are used at the Place of the Tombs on Atuan. The Children of the Open Sea perhaps sleep on sealskin rugs

Sources: The Hawk's Flight, WoE; Hunting, WoE; The Eaten One, ToA; The Wall around the Place, ToA; The Masters of Roke, FS; Hort Town, FS; Kalessin, T; Winter, T; Dolphin, OW

'…he was in a bed, but no such bed as he had ever slept in. It was set upon a frame held by four tall carven legs and the mattresses were great silk sacks of down … and over it all a crimson canopy hung to keep out drafts. On two sides the curtain was tied back … A coverlet of downfilled satin slid aside as Ged sat up…'

[The Hawk's Flight, WoE]


Sorcerer of Valmouth on Gont; in his forties, mild-looking and tending to fat. Described as shrewd, modest, kind and sensitive, with a diffident manner. A pupil of a pupil of Ogion's

Sources: Going to the Falcon's Nest, T; Home, T

'…a smooth-skinned, mild-looking man in his forties, tending a little to fat, with dark half-circles under his eyes that belied the blandness of his face…'

[Home, T]

Beech Springs

Inland village or town in the southeast of Gont, presumably the location of a spring; near Ovark, Wiss and Down Wiss

Sources: Frontispiece map, T


Also known as: Ale, sour beer, brown ale

Beer is commonly served in inns and taverns in the Archipelago and the Reaches, being served by the pint. Beer is the normal drink served at feasts and parties. Sour beer is served to the Masters of Roke with breakfast

Sources: The Masters of Roke, FS; Darkrose and Diamond, TfE; On the High Marsh, TfE

Related entries: Beverages, alcoholic


Beggary is said to be uncommon in the Archipelago during the main period of the Earthsea cycle, though the existence of itinerant beggars is mentioned, eg on Gont and Semel. Wandering wizards own few possessions and often beg for food and shelter, though this seems to be closer to an informal trade of services for hospitality; other itinerant professions may operate in a similar fashion. Beggars, sometimes violent, become common on Gont during the few years of unrest immediately preceding the restoration of the Archipelagan monarchy; they were also common on Havnor, and probably elsewhere, during the Dark Years

Sources: The Shadow, WoE; The Western Mountains, ToA; Going to the Falcon's Nest, T; The Finder, TfE; On the High Marsh, TfE


Titles: Goody Beltow

Woman of Sattins island in the East Reach; owns a ginger cat

Sources: The Rule of Names, W12Q


Titles: Lord of the Terrenon, Lord of the Stone

Lord of the land from Keksemt Moors to the Mountains of Os on Osskil and Keeper of the Stone of Terrenon. Married to Lady Serret

'Thrice her age, bone-white, bone-thin, with clouded eyes…'

[The Hawk's Flight, WoE]


Medium-sized island in the North Reach, near Udrath and N&S Enwas; the inhabitants are white skinned

Sources: Mending the Green Pitcher, OW


Also known as: City of Ivory

Capital of Enlad in the west of the island, described as being 'white above its bay'a (the Bay of Berila), with golden roofs and 'bright, cool streets'b. It has a marketplace where cattle and sheep are sold. Historically, Berila was the seat of the monarchy from before the time of Morred until Akambar moved the court to Havnor City

Sources: Hunted, WoE (a); Hort Town, FS (b)

Related entries: King of All the Isles

Berry of Havnor

Elderly servant at the court on Havnor; described as intelligent and competent, and apparently sympathetic. She comes from a village in inland Havnor

'Berry was an intelligent, competent woman, born in a village in inland Havnor…'

[The Dragon Council, OW]

Berry of Semel

Dairy farmer living on the High Marsh on the island of Semel; brother of Emer; a drunkard. Described as 'a nobbly, dried-up man'a with dull eyes

Sources: On the High Marsh, TfE (a)

'"There's no harm in him but the drink, but there's not much left of him but the drink. It's eaten up most of his mind, and most of what we have."'

[On the High Marsh, TfE]


Roke-trained wizard on Ea, serving the Prince of Éa and Lord of Taon

Sources: Mending the Green Pitcher, OW


Islet off the west coast of Havnor island in the Pelnish Sea, near Bishi; its port town may be Esen

Beverages, alcoholic

Beer is commonly served in the Archipelago and the Reaches. Wine is widely drunk both by country folk and by noblemen. No stronger alcoholic beverages are mentioned; perhaps distillation has not been invented in Earthsea

Beverages, non-alcoholic

Water, goat's or cow's milk, warm barley or oatmeal gruel, and rushwash tea and other herbal teas are the only non-alcoholic beverages mentioned


Animal belonging to Moss, possibly a hen

Sources: Mending the Green Pitcher, OW

Big House

House in the Place of the Tombs on Atuan where the lesser priestesses and novices live. Stone built, it contains a narrow refectory, long low-beamed dormitories, attic weaving room, workrooms, kitchens, cellars and store rooms, and a courtyard with water cisterns and a well. The cellar beneath the kitchens has a concealed spyhole to the Labyrinth

Sources: The Wall around the Place, ToA; The Man Trap, ToA


Titles: Master of Iria of Westpool

Owner of the central, richest lands of the domain of Iria on the island of Way, comprising farms, orchards and vineyards. Married to niece of the Lord of Wayfirth; they have several daughters, including Rose of Westpool

Sources: Dragonfly, TfE


Young fisherman of Sattins island in the East Reach; a large, blue-eyed man, described as brave and inarticulate. Owns the fishing-sloop Queenie in which he leaves Sattins with his love, the schoolmistress Palani

'a large, brave, wordless young man'

[The Rule of Names, W12Q]


Many men and women with prominent birthmarks or other blemishes become witches or sorcerers being said to be 'marked for it'

Sources: Mending the Green Pitcher, OW


Islet off the east coast of Semel, in the Pelnish Sea; near Ebishi and Besu

Black Mage

Historical mage; enemy of Nereger of Paln, who defeats him by learning his name from overhearing the conversation of dragons

Sources: The Open Sea, WoE

Black Ships

Fleet driven back by Morred, according to the Deed of the Young King; presumably that of the Enemy of Morred

Sources: Home, T; Winter, T

Black Well of Fundaur

Also known as: Fundaur, Black Well of

The capping of the Black Well of Fundaur is reckoned among Ged's famous deeds. Emanations from Fundaur are mentioned as making the Acastan Spells powerless. It may have been a site where the Old Powers were strong

Sources: The Rowan Tree, FS; The Bones of the Earth, TfE


Titles: Sealord of Pendor

Fairly young wizard and voyager; descendant of the Lords of Pendor. Described as handsome, he has a black beard and black eyes; though his manner is cheerful, he appears arrogant. His staff is oak. Killed by the dragon Yevaud on Sattins island while seeking the emerald Inalkil and other treasures of Pendor in the dragon's hoard

'the voyager was quite young, a handsome black-bearded fellow'

[The Rule of Names, W12Q]


Witch of Elini on the island of Taon, with a large wine-red birthmark; mother of Alder

'She had a birthmark, a red stain from the right eyebrow and ear clear down over her shoulder. Many women and men with such a blemish or difference about them become witches or sorcerers perforce, "marked for it", people say. Blackberry learned spells and could do the most ordinary kind of witchery; she had no real gift for it, but she had a way about her that was almost as good as the gift itself.'

[Mending the Green Pitcher, OW]


Seventeen-year-old youth of the Children of the Open Sea (raft people), tatooed with a blue crab on his back; married to the fifteen-year-old Albatross

'…he looked not more than twelve in height and build: a grave-faced fellow, with a blue crab tattooed all across his back.'

[The Children of the Open Sea, FS]


See Ship-building

Boatwright Street

Street in the old part of Havnor City, near the harbour and the shipyards, where lives a small community of people from Paln; has a tavern

'The houses were ancient, crowded close, with the bridges between roof and roof that gave Havnor Great Port a second, airy web of streets high above its paved ones./…[The roof] was joined to other roofs by a bridge on each side, so that there was a regular cross-roads and thoroughfare across it. Awnings were set up by the low parapets, and the breeze from the harbor cooled the shaded air.'

[Dolphin, OW]

Bog Lake

Lake near Re Albi in the south of Gont

Sources: The Bones of the Earth, TfE

Bond Rune

Also known as: Lost Rune, King's Rune, (Lost) Rune of the Kings, Rune of Peace, Sign of Peace

When the Ring of Erreth-Akbe was broken in two, one of the nine True Runes was on the fracture line, and that rune was destroyed. The Lost Rune is the Bond Rune, the rune that binds the lands, the sign of dominion and of peace, described by Lebannen as 'a mighty enchantment of blessing'a; no king could rule well without it. It is restored when Ged makes whole the Ring of Erreth-Akbe

Sources: The Ring of Erreth Akbe, ToA; Palaces, OW (a)

Book of Names

Ancient book compiled by the great mage, Ath; said to be the greatest of all lore-books, it brought together much scattered knowledge. Lost for centuries when Ath went west to fight the dragon Orm, it was recovered by Medra from Pody and taken to Roke in around 650, where it is housed in the Isolate Tower

'the foundation of the knowledge and method of Naming, which is the foundation of the magic of Roke.'

[The Finder, TfE]

Related entries: Books

Book of Runes

Also known as: Runebook

Runebook belonging to Ogion, and presumably earlier Heleth, who is said to have got his lore-books from Ennas of Perregal. Includes the Six Hundred Runes of Hardic. Given the importance of True Runes in the practice of wizardry, presumably similar books were owned by many wizards

Sources: The Shadow, WoE; Mice, T

Related entries: Books

Book of Shaping

Lore-book of the art of changing, containing Spells of Shaping and of Change

Sources: The Loosing of the Shadow, WoE

Related entries: Books

Book of the Dark

Account of the Dark Years after the death of Maharion, written around 600 years ago in Berila on Enlad

Sources: The Finder, TfE

Related entries: Books

Book of the Undertakings of the Makers

Book held in the Isolate Tower on Roke; presumably a history

Sources: The Loosing of the Shadow; WoE

Related entries: Books


Also known as: Lore-books, Runebooks, Scrolls

Books appear rare in the Archipelago and Reaches, largely being associated with magic. Books and scrolls are handwritten in ink on vellum/parchment or paper, using Hardic runes or (for lore-books) True Runes; no form of printing is mentioned. The School of Wizardry on Roke has a library called the Room of Shelves, housing books of lore and runebooks, and the Isolate Tower also has a collection of books of names. The Library of the Kings is a famous ancient library destroyed by the time of the Dark Years. The book-collector Crow amassed a large collection during the Dark Years, which forms the basis of the Roke School's libraries. Books are found in a prince's treasury in Havnor; one contains a description of the Tombs of Atuan. Ogion keeps a shelf of leather-bound books including a runebook and two ancient lorebooks passed down from his master, Heleth and before that from the mage Ennas of Perregal. Ged takes some lore-books from Roke to Low Torning. No Kargish books are mentioned; writing was outlawed in the Kargad Lands under the Godking.

Named books include magic texts, the Book of Names, Book of Shaping, Book of Runes, Glosses of Danemer and Arcana of the Enlades, and histories such as the Book of the Dark, Chronicles of Enlad, History of the Wise Heroes, Book of the Undertakings of the Makers and Matter of the Dragons. Books of information are also mentioned, including a bestiary dating from Akambar's time and a beast healer's manual

Sources: The Shadow, WoE; The Loosing of the Shadow, WoE; The Ring of Erreth-Akbe, ToA; The Finder, TfE; The Bones of the Earth, TfE; Palaces, OW

Bordger of Way

Historical wizard who took on bear shape so often he turned permanently into a bear and killed his own son, before being hunted and killed

Sources: The Hawk's Flight, WoE

Borilous Rocks

Rocks in the Inmost Sea, to the east of Roke, a danger to ships in poor visibility

Sources: The Shadow, WoE


Small island in the west of North Reach, north-west of Rogmy and south of Hogen Land. Osskili is probably the language spoken there

Sources: A Description of Earthsea, TfE


Titles: Master Summoner, Brand the Summoner, Brand of Venway

The Master Summoner at the School of Wizardry on Roke during The Other Wind. A big, tall, broad, dark-skinned young man, often described as bear-like, with small, fiery eyes. He comes from the island of Venway in the East Reach, and was sent to Roke as a boy by Vetch. His staff is yew

Sources: Mending the Green Pitcher, OW; Dolphin, OW; Rejoining, OW

'…a big, deep-chested, dark-skinned man who held a heavy staff that matched his own height.'

[Rejoining, OW]


Dairy farmer of the High Marsh on the island of Semel, husband of Emer. He died of marsh fever two years before 'On the High Marsh'

Sources: On the High Marsh, TfE


Old man of the Middle Valley on Gont; owes money to Flint and Tenar, but is said to have nothing with which to pay it

Sources: The Master, T

Bronze-smith of Ten Alders

Bronze-smith of the small village of Ten Alders in the north-east of Gont island, said to be hardheaded, and 'a grim unspeaking man'a. Father of Ged (Duny) and six considerably older sons; he employs Ged as a smith's boy, but doesn't seem to have been an affectionate father. The Witch of Ten Alders is his dead wife's sister

Sources: Warriors of the Mist, WoE (a)

'[The Kargs] went up the Vale wrecking and looting, slaughtering cattle and men. … Duny's father the bronze-smith was one who stayed, for he would not leave his smelting-pit and forge where he had worked for fifty years. All that night he laboured beating up what ready metal he had there into spearpoints…'

[Warriors of the Mist, WoE]


Village sorcerer of Iria on the island of Way

Sources: Dragonfly, TfE


Great mage of historical times, remembered in a story on Gont

Sources: Bettering, T

Related entries: Children's tales

Brown Bucca

Brown hen, favourite of Heleth. The other chickens are named Red Bucca, Grey, Leggings, Candor, and the King

Sources: The Bones of the Earth, TfE


Young shepherd boy of Iria on the island of Way, described as grubby

Sources: Dragonfly, TfE

Building materials

Buildings in towns or cities in the central region of the Archipelago are typically constructed of dressed stone, with roofs of slate or red tile. Bricks are also commonly used, for example, in Pendor, Orrimy on Hosk, for the barracks of the Samory mines on Havnor and a mixture of brick and stone for stables on Way. Rural huts are usually constructed from wood, with thatched rooves. Elsewhere in Earthsea, other materials are used: plastered clay in Hort Town, hurbah-twigs for thatch in Lorbanery, wattle in Astowell, yellow clay bricks on Atuan, marble in the Court of the Terrenon on Osskil & Re Albi mansion house on Gont, plastered stone, cedar, red-veined marble & gilt in the Kargish temples on Atuan. The wealthy Havnor City boasts towers of white marble & alabaster, bridges faced in mosaic work, and roofs of tile and bronze; even the quays are marble

Related entries: Houses, town

Burning Bush

Nickname of whore in Oraby on the island of Semel

Sources: On the High Marsh, TfE



WoEA Wizard of Earthsea
ToAThe Tombs of Atuan
FSThe Farthest Shore
OWThe Other Wind
W12QThe Wind's Twelve Quarters
TfETales from Earthsea

Earthsea and its inhabitants were created by Ursula Le Guin, and no infringement of her copyright is intended in this fan site