A glossary of people, places & objects in Earthsea

Now showing glossary items starting C


Several dating systems exist, the most widely used being the Archipelagan one in which the year Morred ascended the throne was termed year 1. In this dating system, the date when Lebannen is crowned is approximately 1050. A lunar-based calendar appears to be followed. Months are named in English, presumably silent translations of the Hardic names; in Kargish, they're often given numbers (eg the fifth month). No names for days are given

Sources: A Description of Earthsea, TfE; The Dragon Council, OW

Related entries: Time


Hen belonging to Heleth. The other chickens are named Red Bucca, Brown Bucca, Grey, Leggings, and the King

Sources: The Bones of the Earth, TfE


See Headgear


Carding using carding combs is mentioned on Gont, as part of the preparation of goats' wool for spinning

Sources: Finding Words, T

Cart, the

Constellation of the Archipelago

Sources: Mending the Green Pitcher, OW

Cat's cradles

A variety of cat's cradles are played on Gont; simple rhymes accompany the string manipulations

'Churn churn cherry all!
Burn burn bury all!
Come, dragon, come!

[Kalessin, T]

Cave at Aurun

See Lips of Paor


Wizards and mages in modern times normally practise strict celibacy; this is perceived as a means of conserving their power. It is achieved with spells of chastity, which bind both the wizard and observers not to think of sexual matters. This was not always the case: as powerful a mage as Morred was married, with a child. The sorcerer Ivory uses seduction spells on women, and disparagingly refers to the practice of celibacy as turning wizards into eunuchs, castrating themselves with spells to be holy. Most witches and many sorcerers do not practise celibacy, and sometimes have families (though witches rarely marry). The priestesses at the Place of the Tombs on Atuan promise their virginity to the gods they serve

Sources: Hawks, T; Dragonfly, TfE; A Description of Earthsea, TfE

'…"that's the power of 'em, dearie. You don't think! You can't! And nor do they, once they've set their spell. How could they? Given their power? It wouldn't do, would it, it wouldn't do. You don't get without you give as much. … it's an uneasy thing for a man not to be a man, no matter if he can call the sun down from the sky. And so they put it right out of mind, with their spells of binding. And truly so. Even in these bad times we've been having, with the spells going wrong and all, I haven't yet heard of a wizard breaking those spells, seeking to use his power for his body's lust. Even the worst would fear to."'

[Hawks, T]

Ceremonies of the darkness

Also known as: Dances of the dark of the moon

Ceremony of the dark of the moon at the Place of the Tombs on Atuan; the One Priestess dances and sings in a drugged haze before the Empty Throne in the Hall of the Throne. One of the sacred dances involves throwing and catching a miniature sacrificial knife

Sources: The Prisoners, ToA; Dreams and Tales, ToA; Voyage, ToA

'Arha breathed in the drugging fumes of herbs burning in broad trays of bronze before the Throne, and danced, solitary in black. She danced for the unseen spirits of the dead and the unborn and as she danced the spirits crowded the air around her, following the turn and spin of her feet and the slow, sure gestures of her arms.'

'She had liked that dance; it was a wild one, with no music but the drumming of her own feet. She had used to cut her fingers, practising it, till she got the trick of catching the knife handle every time.

[Dreams and Tales, ToA/Voyage, ToA]


See Master Changer


Transforming the true nature of matter or bodies, usually reversibly, by changing their name; uses Spells of Shaping and Great Spells of Change from the Book of Shaping. Some changes are irrevocable, for example, Heleth's transformation of himself into the earth. One of the high arts of magic, also considered a part of the art magic. Taught at the Roke School of Wizardry by the Master Changer, it is among the most perilous arts, especially when the change is applied to the wizard himself (shape-changing) who can become trapped in the assumed form

Sources: The Loosing of the Shadow, WoE; The Bones of the Earth, TfE; A Description of Earthsea, TfE

'…the true Spells of Shaping. He explained how, if a thing is really to be changed into another thing, it must be re-named for as long as the spell lasts, and he told how this affects the names and natures of things surrounding the transformed thing.'

[The Loosing of the Shadow, WoE]


See Master Chanter


Knowledge of the oral lays, deeds and songs, as well as sung spells. Considered one of the high arts of magic, though witches traditionally teach the songs to children. Taught at the Roke School of Wizardry by the Master Chanter

Sources: A Description of Earthsea, TfE

Related entries: Songs


See Songs

Charcoal stove

A little charcoal stove aboard Lookfar is used for heating wine and, presumably, for cooking food

Sources: Magelight, FS

Related entries: Fuel


See Talismans


See Maps


Small elongated island in the eastern North Reach, near Komokome and Sort


Resident of Middle Valley on Gont; owns an outhouse

Sources: Winter, T

Childhood name

Also known as: Child-name

Name given by the mother to a baby, sometimes retained as a use-name in adulthood. Examples are Duny, Arrendek

Related entries: Names


See Childhood name

Children of Segoy

See Dragons

Children of the Open Sea

Also known as: Raft people, Raft-Folk

Dark-skinned people who dwell on great rafts made of logs in the Open Sea of the west. Their existence is only a legend to the Archipelagans, and they share very little of the lore of land-dwelling men. The rafts are made of square-cut logs, and have shelters and masts; the largest raft houses a temple called the House of the Great Ones. At the Roads of Balatran, in spring to midsummer, seventy rafts in a circle a mile across cluster together to form a floating town; at this time of the year, the Long Dance is held and people marry before the rafts separate for the rest of the year, following the grey whales (whom they worship as Great Ones). They only come to shore once a year in autumn, at the beaches of Emah on the Long Dune by Wellology, to cut wood and refit the rafts. They are very slender and only the height of children; some bear tatoos. They speak a heavily accented version of Hardic, are ruled by a chief, eat fish, swim like dolphins, measure time only in days and nights, practise polygamy (the chief has three wives), use whale ivory for tools, and sealskins and a fibre made from the nilgu seaweed for cloth and rope

'… stalk-thin and angular, great-eyed, like strange, dark herons or cranes. Their voices were thin, like birds' voices.'

[The Children of the Open Sea, FS]

Children's tales

Also known as: Tales, children's, Stories, children's

Stories told to children on Gont include variants of Earth fairy tales, featuring wicked witches, enchanted sleep and kisses from mage princes, or, as told in the story of Andaur and Avad, woodcutters and trees with human voices. A more distinctive Gontish fable tells of an ant taking a hair of the mage Brost, making the ants' nest glow in the dark to the eye of the wise. Another story on Gont tells of cat ghosts. Tales often begin with the phrase 'as long ago as forever, as far away as Selidor'a, the Archipelagan equivalent of 'once upon a time'. Stories are timed to the seasons; the cat ghost story is said to be a summer story, while the great stories, such as the Creation of Éa, Winter Carol & Deed of the Young King, are learned in winter

Sources: Kalessin, T; Bettering, T; Finding Words, T (a); Home, T

'"Come into the forest with me, dearie!" said the old witches in the tales told to the children of Gont. "Come with me and I'll show you such a pretty sight!" And then the witch shut the child in her oven and baked it brown and ate it, or dropped it into her well, where it hopped and croaked dismally for ever, or put it to sleep for a hundred years inside a great stone, till the King's Son should come, the Mage Prince, to shatter the stone with a word, wake the maiden with a kiss, and slay the wicked witch…'

[Kalessin, T]


Small poled boats, commonly used in the canals of Havnor City

Sources: Dolphin, OW

Related entries: Ships


Inland village or town by the river Ar in the east of Gont; near Toss, Medu and Lotin

Sources: Frontispiece map, T

Chronicles of Enlad

Book telling the history of Enlad

Related entries: Books

City of the Kings

See Hupun


Elderly shepherd employed at Oak Farm in Middle Valley on Gont for over twenty years; he has arthritis. Married to Shandy; they live in a cottage round the hill from the farm

Sources: Going to the Falcon's Nest, T; Kalessin, T; Home, T; Winter, T; The Master, T

Closed Sea

Sea south and east of the isle of O containing small rich isles including the Bars of Uny which, in the Dark Years at least, did not trade with the islands of the Inmost Sea

Sources: The Finder, TfE

Clothing, men's

Typical male winter clothing consists of a linen or woollen shirt, leather or sheepskin tunic or jerkin, woollen leggings or trousers, laced sandals and a woollen cloak, sometimes described as belted. A farmhand is described as wearing a smock and leggings. Leather or sheepskin coats are commonly worn; leather jackets, jerkins, breeches and gaiters are mentioned. As footwear, laced shoes, leather boots and moccasins are also mentioned. Wealthier men's clothing includes a tunic, shirt and breeches, sometimes made of fine materials such as silk, cloth of silver or gold, and fur: 'a tunic of silk and cloth-of-silver like a lord. ... boots of glove-leather and a cloak lined with pellawi-fur'a; more sober garments including leather breeches and a linen shirt embroidered with gold thread are also mentioned. Merchants from the Inner Lands wear dark robes of heavy silk. Lebannen wears a gold-weighted state robe. Students at the School of Wizardry on Roke wear dark-grey woollen cloaks, with hoods, clasped with silver at the neck for those who had gained the sorcerer status, while the Archmage wears a white woollen hooded cloak. Wealthier people might have fur-lined or -trimmed cloaks. Andradean merchants typically wear red cloaks trimmed with pellawi-fur. Children in Ismay wear fur capes in the snow. In the Dark Years, a wizard on Havnor is described as wearing 'a long robe of Lorbanery silk, scarlet, embroidered in gold and black with runes and symbols, and a wide-brimmed, peak-crowned hat'b, which might have been typical garb for wizards at that time.

Manan, one of the eunuch Wardens of the Place of the Tombs on Atuan generally wears tatty black robes, though he wears a belted gown of white wool when participating in Arha's dedication ceremony. Court dress for Kargish warriors during the time of the High King is silver mesh armour interwoven with feathers, with plumed headdresses.

The chief of the Children of the Open Sea (raft people) wears only a loincloth, and Ged is once described as wearing a loincloth and makeshift turban of sailcloth aboard Lookfar. Slaves in the heat of the roaster tower of the Samory mines wear only a breechclout and moccasins

Sources: Warriors in the Mist, WoE; The Hawk's Flight, WoE (a); Light under the Hill, ToA; Going to the Falcon's Nest, T; Mice, T; Home, T; Winter, T; The Finder, TfE (b); Dragonfly, TfE; Palaces, OW

'His clothes were those of any winter traveller or pilgrim, a short heavy cloak, a leather tunic, leggings of wool, laced sandals; there was a light pack on his back, a water bottle slung from it, a knife sheathed at his hip.'

[Light under the Hill, ToA]

Related entries: Headgear; Footwear

Clothing, women's

Peasant women in the Archipelago & the Kargad Lands commonly wear a skirt or trousers under a jacket or shift, with a shawl for warmth. Much peasant clothing appears to be homespun, coarse and undyed, described as 'plain as mud'a; however, dyes such as red madder are mentioned for finer wear. As a farmer on Gont, Tenar owns two dresses, worn over a shift. Irian wears a farm-woman's shift over trousers on Way. A full apron or white ruffled overdress of linen sheeting for best as well as an orange-brown apron for everyday use are mentioned for a child's wear on Gont; a shopkeeper in Gont Port wears a broad white apron; dairy farmer Emer also wears an apron on Semel. Typical peasant clothes on Atuan are described as 'a country-woman's brown skirt and jacket, and a large red woollen shawl.'b A Gontish fleecefell, 'a great cream and brown square, woven of the silky hair of the goats of the north-eastern isles'c is suggested for a woman's winter shawl. Goods sold in Hort Town include hats, hosiery, purses, shawls and woven belts. The only underwear mentioned is the shift.

Wealthy women wear dresses of embroidered silks; the dresses of ancient princesses in the Kargad Lands are described as 'soft white silks, embroidered with topaz and dark amethyst'd, and this seems very similar to the dress of princesses in present-day Havnor. Tehanu wears a silken shift and overskirt at the court at Havnor. Lady Serret of the Court of the Terrenon is dressed in white and silver. Trousers are not mentioned for wealthy women's wear in the Archipelago.

The priestesses at the Place of the Tombs on Atuan generally wear long-sleeved robes and hooded cloaks in rough homespun black wool, and sandals or bare feet; the One Priestess's garments also include a horsehair belt, a ring of keys and a small dagger. Arha wears a straight white shift with bare arms and legs during the ceremonies of dedication to the Nameless Ones. Well-born women of Hur-at-Hur in the Kargad Lands wear the feyag, an all-encompassing veil attached to a flat-brimmed hat or headdress; such veils don't seem to be worn elsewhere in the Kargad Empire. Underneath, Seserakh is described as wearing a long shirt and soft trousers

Sources: Light under the Hill, ToA (d); The Western Mountains, ToA (b); Hort Town, FS (c); Hawks, T (a)

'…her dress was of turquoise-coloured silk, bright and soft as the evening sky. It belled out full from her hips, and all the skirt was embroidered with thin silver threads and seed pearls and tiny crumbs of crystal, so that it glittered softly, like rain in April. … "It's like a gown I saw a princess wear once, at the Feast of Sunreturn in the New Palace in Havnor."'

[The Great Treasure, ToA]

Related entries: Headgear; Footwear; Dyeing

Cloud Cape

Rocky headland on the west coast of Atuan; it has cliffs above a sandy beach, a narrow cave 30 feet long just above the high water level, and a freshwater stream

Sources: Voyage, ToA


Also known as: Cob the necromancer, the spider mage
Titles: King of the Shadows, Lord of the Dark Place, King of the Dead, the Unmaker, Lord of the Two Lands, the Immortal One

Mage from Havnor who summoned the dead for money using the Lore of Paln. A tall, broad, long-armed man, old and white haired during Ged's lifetime but youthful in later appearance in The Farthest Shore. In an attempt to live for ever, he created a rift between the world of the dead and the living using the Pelnish Lore; he gains power over wizards, chanters and others by offering them a form of eternal life. Defeated and killed by Ged in the dry land

'"He was white-haired when I knew him, though still a quick, long-armed man, like a wrestler." '

'His hair was long and black, falling in a mass of glossy curls; he was broad-shouldered and tall, a strong, comely man.

[Sea Dreams/Selidor, FS]


Centres of learning termed colleges are located on Ea and the Enlades; described as old, they may date from the ancient monarchy. Whether they teach both men and women isn't stated. The Roke School of Wizardry also appears to have a similar function, though its learning is divulged only to men

Sources: The Dragon Council, OW


See Skin colour

Common tongue

See Hardic


Oral messages or written notes, carried by travellers or on ships, are used for communication over distances. Mention is made of a message bird, presumably carrying a written message. Wizards can communicate by sending, though sendings cannot cross water

Sources: The School for Wizards, WoE; The Rowan Tree, FS; Selidor, FS; The Dragon Council, OW

Related entries: Writing


Also known as: Magnet

The Archipelagans appear to understand the force of magnetism, and to harness it to navigational purposes. Compasses are used as a navigational tool on boats and ships; the compass needle can also be made to point at will, using the magic of the Seamasters referred to as craft with iron. 'The force that draws the magnet'a is one of the forces dealt with by the art of summoning

Sources: The Shadow, WoE; The Loosing of the Shadow, WoE (a)


Vineyarder of the Master of Iria on the island of Way

Sources: Dragonfly, TfE

Coracles, reed

See Ships


Corly-root smoke is used as a treatment for fever, though its efficacy appears doubtful

Sources: The Dragon of Pendor, WoE

Related entries: Healing; Herbal remedies


See Beds and bedlinen


See Huts

Council of Roke

See Council of the Wise

Council of the Wise

Also known as: Council of Roke

Formal council of the nine Masters of Roke, for example, when they meet in the Immanent Grove to choose the new Archmage; at other times, the Archmage may be included in the number

Sources: The Dolphin, T

Council Room

Long dark-walled, low-beamed room in the Great House of Roke in which the Masters of Roke meet. It has a row of high, pointed windows under which a table is set, a stone hearth opposite, and is reached by a corridor whose walls are engraved with runes, some inlaid with silver

Sources: The Masters of Roke, FS; Dragonfly, TfE

'Arren followed him into a long, low-beamed room, where on one side a fire burned in a stone hearth, its flames reflecting in the oaken floor, and on the other side pointed windows let in the heavy light of a foggy morning.'

[The Masters of Roke, FS]


After the restoration of the Archipelagan monarchy, Lebannen's court is established at the New Palace (also known as the Palace of Maharion) at Havnor City on Havnor. The court consists of various princes, princesses & nobles from all over the Archipelago, including Prince Sege (who functions as Lebannen's deputy), ladies-in-waiting/ladies of honour (eg Lady Opal), councillors of the King's Council and the wizard Onyx. It's serviced by a retinue including the king's guards, captains, lieutenants (eg Yenay) & other officers (including one whose duty is to precede the king crying "Way for the king!"), majordomos (eg Thoroughgood), officials, ushers, footmen, footboys, maids, servants (eg Oak, Berry of Havnor), gardeners, as well as musicians, singers and song writers.

In the Kargad Lands, the imperial court of, successively, the Priest-Kings, Godking & High King is at Awabath on Karego-At; before the rise of the Priest-Kings, it was at Hupun

'She did not mind the formalities of court life or the knowledge that under the civility simmered a stew of ambitions, rivalries, passions, complicities, collusions.'

[Palaces, OW]

Court of the Fountain

Central roofless court of the Great House of Roke. The first part of the Great House to be built, it forms its heart and is the home of the Archmage. Open to the sky, the little walled court contains a fountain, small central grass lawn, marble paving, and various trees including rowan, ash and elm

Sources: The School for Wizards, WoE; The Rowan Tree, FS; The Finder, TfE

'In the Court of the Fountain the sun of March shone through young leaves of ash and elm, and water leapt and fell through shadow and clear light. About that roofless court stood four high walls of stone. … the central place of the House is that small court far within the walls, where the fountain plays and the trees stand in rain or sun or starlight.'

[The Rowan Tree, FS]

Court of the Terrenon

Also known as: Terrenon, Court of the

Tall, stone tower-keep on a hilltop in the Keksemt Moors, home of Lord Benderesk and Lady Serret. The Stone of Terrenon is locked in an underground room

'…like a tall white tooth in the dusk…'

[The Hawk's Flight, WoE]

Craft with iron

Also known as: Iron, craft with

Magic which makes a compass needle point at will rather than to the north; a secret of the Seamasters

Sources: The Shadow, WoE

Crafty men

Early term for wizards, used during the Dark Years

Sources: The Finder, TfE


See Making

Creation of Éa

Also known as: Song of the Creation, Making

Oldest and most sacred poem or song, which recounts the creation of Earthsea by Segoy (the Making) in thirty-one stanzas and is sung every year at the Long Dance. At least two thousand years old in Hardic, and of unknown age in Old Speech, its language of composition. The foundation of education, it would be known by all adults in the Archipelago

'The making from the unmaking,
the ending from the beginning,
who shall know surely?
What we know is the doorway between them
that we enter departing.
Among all beings ever returning,
the eldest, the Doorkeeper, Segoy…

Then from the foam bright Éa broke.

Only in silence the word,
only in dark the light,
only in dying life:
bright the hawk's flight
on the empty sky.

[A Description of Earthsea, TfE]

Related entries: Songs


Also known as: Money-lending

No general system of money-lending is mentioned. Taverns are said to offer credit to their customers. Farmwoman Emer offers Irioth lodging on the strength of a gold crown's surety. The Roke-trained sorcerer Ivory receives an advance payment on his wages from his employer. Credit counters are mentioned on Gont

Sources: The Master, T; On the High Marsh, TfE; Dragonfly, TfE


Crime appears relatively uncommon in the central Archipelago during the main period of the Earthsea cycle. Hort Town on Wathort and the Hosk interior are described as lawless. During the few years of unrest immediately preceding the restoration of the Archipelagan monarchy, theft, poaching and violent crime, largely perpetrated by gangs of men, become substantially more common on Gont, though the murder, assault and rape committed by the group of tramps to which Handy belongs is still considered exceptional

Sources: The Shadow, WoE; Hunted, WoE; Going to the Falcon's Nest, T; Winter, T


In the Dark Years, a wealthy book-collector of Orrimy on Hosk; apparently a bit of a snob, he 'could bargain for a book very shrewdly, but nattering with common women about buttons and thread was beneath him.'a Teacher of Medra, he settled in Thwil, becoming the first librarian (and possibly the first Master Namer) of the School of Wizardry on Roke. Described as tall and proud

Sources: The Finder, TfE (a)

'…a wealthy recluse, who had no gift of magic but a great passion for what was written, for books of lore and history. … Crow was a strange man, wilful, arrogant, obstinate, and, in defense of his passion, brave.'

[The Finder, TfE]

Crown of Morred

Crown used in the coronation of the King of All the Isles

Sources: Home, T


Sorcerer or witch who heals animals. Unlike healing humans, animal healing is considered one of the base crafts of magic, though the mage Ged is happy to earn his lodging by curing goats. Curers are often itinerant, using remedies, spells, salves and balms. Examples are Irioth, who cures cattle of murrain by laying on hands, and Ayeth

Sources: The Western Mountains, ToA; On the High Marsh, TfE; A Description of Earthsea, TfE

'All those that came to him [Irioth] could cure. He laid his hands on them, on the stiff-haired, hot flanks and neck, and sent the healing into his hands with the words of power spoken over and over. After a while the beast would give a shake, or toss its head a bit, or step on. And he would drop his hands and stand there, drained and blank, for a while. Then there would be another one, big, curious, shyly bold, muddy-coated, with the sickness in it like a prickling, a tingling, a hotness in his hands, a dizziness. "Ellu," he would say, and walk to the beast and lay his hands upon it until they felt cool, as if a mountain stream ran through them.'

[On the High Marsh, TfE]

Related entries: Disease; Healing


Also known as: Money

Ivory pieces/counters are the main currency in much of the Archipelago, including Roke, Way, Havnor, Gont & Andrad; one design from Way is described as having the Otter of Shelieth on one face and the Rune of Peace on the other. In rural Gont, however, ivory pieces are used only for buying land or livestock, or dealing with city traders. Gold pieces appear to be the standard in the north, for example on Osskil & Enlad; a gold Enladian crownpiece is mentioned, of which it is said '"The whole village together couldn't change that!"'a Silver trade-counters are also mentioned. In rural areas, low-value copper pennies appear to be the usual currency; barter is also common. No form of banking is mentioned; Flint keeps his savings in a money-box on Gont.

Ged is paid ten ivory counters for his work on Low Torning and the same amount is advanced to Ivory for his work at Westpool; Lebannen pays four ivory pieces for a silver brooch in Thwil; Flint's lifetime savings from a prosperous farm on Gont amount to seven ivory pieces; Ged pays two trade-counters of silver for several days' lodging in Lorbanery; Irioth is (under)-paid six copper pennies for ten days' healing animals on Semel; Ged offers two coppers for accommodation on Semel

Sources: Mice, T; The Master, T; On the High Marsh, TfE (a); Dragonfly, TfE

Related entries: Trade; Credit

Cutnorth Cliff

Cliff on the Gont Port bay, just north of the city, near an unnamed village; a cove and beach lie below

'…the dark jagged bulk of Cutnorth Cliff, above which the snowy fields of the mountain rose up into cloud.'

[Hunting, WoE]



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

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