A glossary of people, places & objects in Earthsea

Now showing glossary items starting I


Marketer of Re Albi on Gont

Sources: Mending the Green Pitcher, OW


Hilly populous island in the East Reach, near Tok; main town is Ismay, also hill village of Quor. An Islandwoman of Iffish serves on the King's Council at the time of The Other Wind. Tiny dragon-lizards called harrekki are native there

Sources: Iffish, WoE; The Dragon Council, OW

'…the low blue hills of a great island… The smoke of hearthfires lingered blue over the slate roofs of little towns among those hills, a pleasant sight in the vast sameness of the sea.'

[Iffish, WoE]


A small island in the Inmost Sea. One of the principalities of the kingship, tracing its descent from Gemal Sea-born via Maharion. Described as having many towns and cities

Sources: The Shadow, WoE; The Masters of Roke, FS

'…the two fair islands Ark and Ilien, towered and terraced with cities…'

[The Shadow, WoE]


Also known as: Illusion-Change

Apparent change which, though convincing to all the senses, does not alter the true nature of the object; giving the object's true name in Old Speech will negate the illusion. Taught at the Roke School of Wizardry by the Master Hand, it is considered among the easiest, and the least, of the high arts of magic

'"By the Illusion-Change, you can make it look like a diamond -- or a flower or a fly or an eye or a flame --" The rock flickered from shape to shape as he named them, and returned to rock. "But that is mere seeming. Illusion fools the beholder's senses; it makes him see and hear and feel that the thing is changed. But it does not change the thing."'

[The School for Wizards, WoE]

Immanent Grove

Also known as: Grove, the

Grove of trees on Roke, near Roke Knoll: 'the oldest trees in the world, and the source and center of magic'a. Said to have been planted by Segoy, and considered to be a manifestation of the Old Powers; Kalessin referred to it as the forest that is at the centre. Said by Elehal to stretch '"As far as the mind goes"'a, it is larger inside than out; Azver claimed that the roots of the trees 'mingled with the roots of all the forests that were or might yet be.'b Though the outer trees are varied (including oak, willow, alder, chestnut, ash, hemmen, fir & other evergreens), the trees towards the middle are predominantly of a single type with no name in Hardic (arhada in the Old Speech, though in 'The Finder' each of the trees is said to have its own name), whose leaves have a hint of gold. There is always a faint light under the trees, and the Grove burns with a light like moonlight when the nine Masters of Roke meet there. The leaves of the trees are said to speak to those who know how to listen. Generally south west of the Great House of Roke, but appears to move location; actually, the Grove is stationary while the world moves around it. The paths and clearings within are never in quite the same place. Near its margins stands the Otter's House and the Thwilburn flows out of the Grove. Home of the Master Patterner; ordinary people, especially women, and novices are forbidden entry

Sources: The Rowan Tree, FS; The Finder, TfE (a); Dragonfly, TfE (b); Mending the Green Pitcher, OW; The Dragon Council, OW; Rejoining, OW

'There is no place for it on maps, and there is no way to it except for those who know their way to it. But even novices and townsfolk and farmers can see it, always at a certain distance, a wood of high trees whose leaves have a hint of gold in their greenness even in the spring. And they consider -- the novices, the townsfolk, the farmers -- that the Grove moves about in a mystifying manner. But in this they are mistaken for the Grove does not move. Its roots are the roots of being. It is all the rest that moves.'

'"If the Grove were cut, all wizardry would fail. The roots of those trees are the roots of knowledge. The patterns the shadows of their leaves make in the sunlight write the words Segoy spoke in the Making."'

'"You can walk and walk in their shadow, in their light, and never come to the end of them."/ "But is Roke so large an island?"/ … "The forests here on Gont Mountain are that forest," he said. "All forests are."

[The Rowan Tree, FS/The Finder, TfE/Rejoining, OW]


An ancient goal of the art magic, especially the Lore of Paln. The earliest mages, the Rune Makers, sought for immortal life after bodily death, using the arts of naming to lay 'a great net of spells upon all the western lands, so that when the people of the islands die, they would come to the west beyond the west and live there in spirit forever'a and so created the Archipelagan afterlife, the dry land. Cob and Thorion sought to bring the dead in the dry land back to life in the bodily realm.

The people of the Kargad Lands believe that they achieve immortality through reincarnation: 'We die to rejoin the undying world'a

Sources: Rejoining, OW (a)

'"Men fear death as dragons do not. Men want to own life, possess it, as if it were a jewel in a box. Those ancient mages craved everlasting life. They learned to use true names to keep men from dying. But those who cannot die can never be reborn."' …/ "Life immortal … In a great land of rivers and mountains and beautiful cities, where there is no suffering or pain, and where the self endures, unchanged, unchanging, forever… That is the dream of the ancient Lore of Paln."'

[Rejoining, OW]

Related entries: Religion and the afterlife

Imperial measures

Imperial measures, including the mile, yard, foot, inch, acre, pint & pound, are quoted in the Earthsea novels; presumably these are silently translated from the Hardic or Kargish unit


Also known as: Greenstone, Inalkil the Greenstone

Great emerald belonging to the Lords of Pendor; part of the dragon Yevaud's hoard

Sources: The Rule of Names, W12Q


Unit of distance used in Earthsea; as with other imperial measures, presumably silently translated from the actual unit

Sources: Voyage, ToA


Also known as: Technology

Earthsea is a pre-industrial society; the most advanced crafts practised are smithying, weaving, tanning, dyeing, pottery, glass-blowing, metal refining, mining, quarrying, masonry and ship-building. Milling of grain appears to be performed by hand on some islands, though a water mill is mentioned on Gont. Mining involves some use of machinery: 'rusty wheels and machines by a pit'a are mentioned. Many crafts are traditionally gender specific, mining and domestic building & weaving being performed by women, ship-building by men. Although some items are traded, the great majority are produced in situ. Some crafts, such as dyeing and possibly metal refining, require magic.

The level of technology varies greatly throughout the islands and between cities and villages. In Havnor City, even in the Dark Years, relatively advanced tools such as a bubble level are used by shipbuilders; mining and mercury refining in the Samory mines on Havnor use machinery. Rural areas, islands in the Reaches, at least parts of the Kargad Lands and the Children of the Open Sea, however, appear to be entirely pre-industrial, using bronze, copper, wood, stone, shell or bone implements

Sources: The Finder, TfE (a)

Related entries: Materials


Small island in the easterly West Reach, near Risk and the Toringates

Sources: The Dragons' Run, FS

Inmost Sea

Central sea of the Archipelago between Havnor in the north and Wathort in the south, in which lies Roke, Ark, Ilien, Leng, Vissti, Kamery, Issel and other small islands

'…they entered on the long waves, full of light, of the Inmost Sea.'

[Hort Town, FS]

Inner Isles

See Inner Lands

Inner Lands

Also known as: Inner Isles, the West

A Kargish term for the Archipelago; also used among Archipelagans & inhabitants of the Reaches to denote the Archipelago, as opposed to the Reaches. The Inward Isles seems to denote a rather smaller region: Oranéa is said to be the eastmost Inward Isle

Sources: The Shadow, WoA


Also known as: Lodgehouses

Inns are found in towns on many islands in the central Archipelago and the Reaches, including Lorbanery, Semel, Way, Iffish and Sattins; they provide accommodation and food to travellers, as well as beer or wine to townsfolk. The inn at Ismay on Iffish is called The Harrekki. Ged pays two silver trade-counters for several nights' accommodation at the inn in Lorbanery.

In other places, such as Serd (Ninety Isles), hospitality to travellers is provided at a Sea-House, and Astowell has a place called a lodgehouse; taverns or pothouses seem to provide drink, but usually not food or accommodation

Sources: The Rule of Names, W12Q; Hunted, WoE; Iffish, WoE; Lorbanery, FS; On the High Marsh, TfE


Islet near Tok and Holp in the East Reach


Titles: High Priest Intathin

Kargish High Priest of the House of Tarb, who defeated Erreth-Akbe in Karego-At; he is said to have broken the Ring of Erreth-Akbe and his staff. He gave the half of the Ring he retained to the Tombs of Atuan. The Priest-Kings are descended from him

Sources: Dreams and Tales, ToA

Inward Isles

Also known as: Inward Lands

Islands of the central Archipelago, excluding outlying islands such as Gont, as well as the Reaches. Oranéa is the eastmost of the Inward Isles; Pendor lies in their west

Sources: The Shadow, WoE; A Description of Earthsea, TfE


Young son of Pechvarry of Low Torning. Died of redfever, despite Ged's efforts to save him

Sources: The Dragon of Pendor, WoE


Large, beautiful and formerly prosperous domain on the island of Way, with oak forests, hills and rich farming land, including vineyards. Divided between four families a hundred years before the events of 'Dragonfly' [TfE], and in decline

'That prosperity and the beauty of the meadows and upland pastures and oak-crowned hills made the domain a byword, so that people said "as fat as a cow of Iria", or "as lucky as an Irian." … But though the farmers and shepherds went on from season to season and year to year and generation to generation as steady and regenerative as the oaks, the family that owned the land altered and declined with time and chance. … By the time the girl called Dragonfly was born, the domain of Iria, though still one of the loveliest regions of hill and field and meadow in all Earthsea, was a battleground of feuds and litigation. Farmland went to weeds, farmsteads went unroofed, milking sheds stood unused, and shepherds followed their flocks over the mountain to better pastures.'

[Dragonfly, TfE]

Iria Hill

Hill in the centre of Old Iria in the domain of Iria on the island of Way. The Old Iria mansion house stands on top of it, the unnamed village of Old Iria lies at its foot, and a shallow pool with a spring lies immediately beneath it

Sources: Dragonfly, TfE

Iria, Master of

See Master of Iria


Also known as: Dragonfly, Orm Irian
Titles: Lady Irian, Daughter of Kalessin

Young woman of Iria on the island of Way, daughter of the Master of Iria and an unnamed woman from a western island. Described as fiercely beautiful: tall, strong, large featured with a sharp face, long arms and legs, mannish long dirty hands, dark hair, strange smoky amber eyes and a deep husky voice; she is ignorant, curious, strong-willed, brave, blunt of speech and quick to anger. Good with animals, she runs the farm on her father's estate; aged around twenty-three, she naively accompanies the sorcerer Ivory to Roke disguised as a man, but is prevented from joining the School of Wizardry by Thorion, the Master Summoner. She stays at the Otter's House by the Immanent Grove, being taught by Azver, the Master Patterner; when Thorion comes to drive her from Roke, she defeats him by leading him onto Roke Knoll, where her other form, the dragon Orm Irian, manifests, and flies off westwards to seek her kin. She returns eight years later to negotiate peace between dragons and humans

Sources: Dragonfly, TfE; The Dragon Council, OW

'She was very tall, very sweaty, with big hands and feet and mouth and nose and eyes, and a head of wild dusty hair. … Her eyes were clear orange-brown, like dark topaz or amber. They were strange eyes, right on a level with his own.'

'A big, strong, awkward, ignorant, innocent, angry woman, yes. But ever since Irian was a child Rose had seen something more in her, something beyond what she was.

[Dragonfly, TfE]

Related entries: Dragon-humans


Also known as: Gully, Otak

Former mage from the School of Wizardry on Roke where he had lived since a child; over forty during 'On the High Marsh'. Ged describes him as 'my dear companion, teacher, rival, friend'a. Born on the Isle of Ark, son of an understeward in the household of the Lord of Ark. Given his true name by Nemmerle, he studied with Thorion, the Master Summoner, having great power in changing and especially in summoning. In jealousy and fear, perceiving himself passed over, he does the forbidden, using his powers to summon the living. Broken by fighting with Ged and Thorion, he flees to the island of Semel. There, described as 'mad in patches'a, he becomes a skilled cattle healer or curer, finding shelter with the widow Emer, who perceptively describes him '…like an animal himself, a silent, damaged creature that needed protection but couldn't ask for it.'a Thin and moderately tall, with a fine face and dark eyes; his voice is said to be beautiful, like a chanter. In character he's said to be kind and gentle

Sources: On the High Marsh, TfE (a)

'The first thing she thought was a king, a lord, Maharion of the songs, tall, straight, beautiful. The next thing she thought was a beggar, a lost man, in dirty clothes, hugging himself with shivering arms. … His dark eyes were large, deep, opaque like a horse's eyes, unreadable.'

[On the High Marsh, TfE]

Iron door

Underground door between the Labyrinth and the Undertomb at the Place of the Tombs; sealable from the Undertomb side with a long iron lever in a fashion that resists Ged's opening spells. It has a pocked surface

'He spoke, one word only, in a low voice. "Emenn," he said, and then again, louder, "Emenn!" And the iron door rattled in its jambs, and low echoes rolled down the vaulted tunnel like thunder, and it seemed to Arha that the floor beneath her shook. / But the door stayed fast.'

[Light under the Hill, ToA]

Iron, craft with

See Craft with iron


See Isle-Men

Isle of the Ear

Also known as: Ear, Isle of the

Large uninhabited island to the east of the South Reach

'"…the Isle of the Ear where men do not go. …a disagreeable part of the world, they say, full of bones and portents. Sailors say that there are stars to be seen from the waters by the Isle of the Ear and Far Sorr that cannot be seen anywhere else, and that have never been named."'

[The Open Sea, WoE]

Isle of the Wise

See Roke


Also known as: Islandmen, Isle-Women, Islandwomen, Islemen, Islewomen

Rulers of some islands in the Reaches and the Ninety Isles, as well as other small islands

Sources: The Dragon of Pendor, WoE; The Open Sea, WoE; A Description of Earthsea, TfE; The Dragon Council, OW

Related entries: Government

Isles of Sand

Also known as: Sand Isles

Scattered set of tiny islands between Obehol and Lorbanery in the South Reach; source of pearls

Sources: The Dragon Council, OW


See Isle-Men


Small port town on the island of Iffish, in the East Reach. Features include The Harrekki inn and a town square

'…a light snow was falling, and [Ged] idled about the lanes and byways of the town to watch the people busy at their doings. He watched children bundled in fur capes playing at snow-castle and building snowmen; he heard gossips chatting across the street from open doors, and watched the bronze-smith at work with a little lad red-faced and sweating to pump the long bellows-sleeves at the smelting pit; through windows lit with a dim ruddy gold from within as the short day darkened he saw women at their looms, turning a moment to speak or smile to child or husband there in the warmth within the house.'

[Iffish, WoE]

Isolate Tower

Tower on the furthest northmost cape of Roke Island, thirty miles from the Great House; home of the Master Namer. Here students come to learn lists of names in Old Speech. The tower houses the Book of Names of the Mage Ath, as well as many lesser books of names, maps and charts

'…to the furthest northmost cape, where stands the Isolate Tower. There by himself lived the Master Namer… No farm or dwelling lay within miles of the Tower. Grim it stood above the northern cliffs…'

[The School for Wizards, WoE]


Small island in the south of the Inmost Sea, near Roke and Wathort

Sources: Hort Town, FS


Sorcerer from the School of Wizardry on Roke; born in Havnor Great Port. Clever and skilled with illusions, but neither modest nor wise, he studied with Master Hand for two years before being expelled from Roke without gaining his staff, after being caught with a town girl in his room. Later employed by Birch at Westpool on the island of Way. He is a handsome, slim young man, said to be charming and arrogant; his hair is braided, with the braid clubbed

'Ivory never noticed that the girl was ailing, nor the pear trees, nor the vines. He kept himself to himself, as a man of craft and learning should. He spent his days riding about the countryside on the pretty black mare that his employer had given him for his use when he made it clear that he had not come from Roke to trudge about on foot in the mud and dust of country byways.'

'He told Dragonfly very little of his plans, largely because he made few, trusting to chance and his own wits, which seldom let him down if he was given a fair chance to use them.

[Dragonfly, TfE]


Village witch probably of Oak Village in the Middle Valley on Gont; her cottage is at the end of Mill Lane. Keeps a fat black cat with one white moustache. Skilled in healing, she's described as dour but honest

Sources: A Bad Thing, T; Home, T

'…a great deal cleaner and more reliable than Moss…'

[Home, T]


Titles: Lady Iyesa

Old noblewoman at the court in Havnor City; appears to be blunt in speech

Sources: Palaces, OW



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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