A glossary of people, places & objects in Earthsea

Now showing glossary items starting W

Wall of stones

Low stone wall which forms the border of the dry land over which the dead pass. Only wizards can cross the wall and return living, and only at great peril. The wall is ruined at the end of The Other Wind, allowing the dead to leave

Sources: The Dry Land, FS; Mending the Green Pitcher, OW; Rejoining, OW

'"Along the top of the hill and running down the slope was a wall, low, like a boundary wall between sheep pastures. … And she reached out across the wall. It was no higher than my heart."'

[Mending the Green Pitcher, OW]


See Enemy of Morred


Various devastating wars are mentioned during the early history of Earthsea. Around two thousand years ago, Morred fought the Enemy of Morred, leading to the ruin of Enlad and the engulfment of Soléa. Kargish raids were common in the time of Heru and Maharion, with several north-eastern islands falling; Maharion and Erreth-Akbe defeated the Kargs with the loss of the entire Kargish fleet in 430-440. Erreth-Akbe defeated the Firelord in around 440, at cost of the burning of Ilien. Raids from dragons, including Orm, were also common during the period from around 350 to 450, with the burning of several islands including Paln and parts of Havnor. The Dark Years following Maharion's death without heir in 452 were full of minor battles between warlords. In 620, Roke was sacked by the Lords of Wathort, while in 665, the fledgeling School of Wizardry of Roke defeated the fleet of the mage Early.

Outright war between the different peoples is, however, uncommon during Ged's lifetime (from around the year 1000) and the immediate history. Enlad is said to have been at peace for at least three generations in The Farthest Shore, though swordsmanship and archery are taught in the Court at Berila. The rural people of Gont are said not to be warlike and do not store weapons, though Gont Port, the capital, is guarded by soldiers. The Kargad Lands appear more organised in military matters; soldiers guard the Place of the Tombs on Atuan and even a relatively small town on Atuan has watchtowers and guards on the gate (see Kargish architecture).

During A Wizard of Earthsea, the Kargish Empire is in expansion, with raids on the islands of the Torikles, Torheven, Spevy and Gont, raiding in fleets of red-sailed longships. Relative peace is restored for a time after Ged remakes the Ring of Erreth-Akbe, and restores the Bond Rune, or Rune of Peace; however by the start of The Farthest Shore, between eighteen and twenty-five years later, matters are said to be worse than ever. The restoration of the Archipelagan monarchy in around 1051, and particularly the rise of Thol a decade later, leads to a cessation in raids, with Thol sending peaceful ambassadors to Havnor in around 1066.

Some years before the events of The Other Wind, Lebannen fights at the Siege of Sorra

Sources: A Description of Earthsea, TfE; Palaces, OW

Wardens of the Place of the Tombs

Also known as: Priest-eunuchs

Ten eunuchs at the Place of the Tombs on Atuan, the only men serving in religious roles there. Dedicated to specific gods/temples, they include Manan, Duby, Uahto and Punti. In addition to caretaker roles, they appear to function as minor priests (though they are never referred to as such in The Tombs of Atuan); for example, Manan plays an active role in Arha's dedication ceremony; their functions are subsidiary to the High Priestesses and the One Priestess. The Other Wind mentions 'priest-eunuchs' in the service of the Godking at the Place of the Tombs

Sources: The Eaten One, ToA; The Wall around the Place, ToA; Palaces, OW


Man at the School of Wizardry at Roke soon after its foundation; an early advocate of celibacy, the mascularisation of wizardry and the demonisation of the Old Powers

Sources: The Finder, TfE

Warrior Gods

See Twin Gods


See Laundry


Small island south of Dunnel, at the northeastern edge of the South Reach


Water is commonly drunk by people of all classes and regions, being served, for example, at the River House on Havnor and by the Children of the Open Sea. Many towns, villages and some larger houses have wells, and pumps are also occasionally mentioned eg on Semel. Fresh water from springs or rivers is also commonly drunk, usually without boiling or mixing with wine; resultant water-borne disease generally appears uncommon. Water on the High Marsh of the island of Semel, however, isn't safe to drink without boiling for an hour; water-borne marsh fever and murrain are mentioned as causes of death of humans and cattle. Rainwater is also collected, especially perhaps on islands with no freshwater spring. Piped water is not mentioned, and fetching water would be a significant chore where there was no convenient well. Water is carried on boats in waterskins or water casks, though sea water can easily be freshened by magic; water bottles or flasks (sometimes called skin bottles) are commonly carried by travellers

Sources: The Hawk's Flight, WoE; The Wall around the Place, ToA; On the High Marsh, TfE; The Dragon Council, OW

'…to fetch water in summer when the wells ran low. That was a dreary business, to trudge through the searing white heat a half-mile down to the river, fill the two buckets on their carrying pole, and then set off as fast as possible uphill to the Place. The first hundred yards were easy, but then the buckets began to grow heavier, and the pole burned on your shoulders like a bar of hot iron, and the light glared on the dry road, and every step was harder and slower. At last you got to the cool shade of the back courtyard of the Big House by the vegetable patch, and dumped the buckets into the great cistern with a splash. And then you had to turn around to do it all over again, and again, and again.'

[The Wall around the Place, ToA]


Island south of Roke, in the south of the Archipelago; main city is Hort Town. The southern part of the island is hilly

Sources: The Rowan Tree, FS; Hort Town, FS


Large, wealthy island east of Havnor, with sheep and dairy farming, vineyards, orchards, oak forests and mountains. Towns/regions include Shelieth of the Fountains, the capital in the south, the port city of Kembermouth in the north west, Westpool, Wayfirth and the domain of Iria. Its inhabitants are dark-skinned. One of the principalities of the kingship, tracing the line of descent from Akambar and the House of Shelieth

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

Way of Power

Principle relating to the wise use of magic, taught to wizards. Possibly relates to maintaining the Equilibrium by using magic only at need, and with due regard for all the various direct and indirect consequences

Sources: Kalessin, T

Way of Roke

See Rule of Roke

Way, Lords of

See Lords of Way


Domain or place on the island of Way, ruled by the Lord of Wayfirth

Sources: Dragonfly, TfE


Islet off the southeast coast of Way, in the east of the Archipelago; one of the nearest islands to the East Reach. Site of a decisive defeat of the Kargs by Maharion & Erreth-Akbe in around 440

Sources: A Description of Earthsea, TfE


The king's guards at Havnor City carry swords and bows. The Gontish village of Ten Alders defends itself with hunting bows, bronze knives and makeshift spears. The band of Kargish warriors who attack Ten Alders carry swords and the long Kargish lance. Other weapons mentioned include handaxes on Astowell (made of shell), a bronze-headed throwing spear on Obehol, long whale-ivory harpoons by the Children of the Open Sea and multiple references to bronze or steel daggers or knives (see dagger). No firearms of any description are mentioned

Sources: Warriors in the Mist, WoE; Palaces, OW; The Dragon Council, OW

Related entries: War; Soldiers; Armour


Also known as: Bagmen, Windbringers

Sorcerers or wizards with power over the weather, commonly employed to work wind on ships, or by farmers to protect crops. Sometimes called bagmen; originally carried a leather sack in which they supposedly trapped the winds

Sources: The Shadow, WoE; Lorbanery, FS; The Finder, TfE

'Weatherworkers used to carry a leather sack in which they said they kept the winds, untying it to let a fair wind loose or to capture a contrary one. Maybe it was only for show, but every weatherworker had a bag, a great long sack or a little pouch.'

[The Finder, TfE]

Related entries: Magewind; Seamasters; Weatherworking


Also known as: Windbringing

Calling upon wind, water and weather; used both for safe and speedy passage on ships and to guarantee favourable weather for crop-growing and harvests. One of the high arts of magic, practised by wizards, sorcerers and specialised weatherworkers. Taught at the Roke School of Wizardry by the Master Windkey

Sources: The School for Wizards, WoE; Lorbanery, FS

'…practising steering by word, and stilling waves, and speaking to the world's wind, and raising up a magewind. These are very intricate skills …'

[The School for Wizards, WoE]

Weaver Fan

Weaver of Re Albi on Gont; in Tehanu, an old, nearly blind man, said to be reclusive. Employs a young woman as an apprentice. His house contains an old carved chair and a large painted silk fan from which his use-name derives. He owns a cottage next door to his house which he rented to Tenar when she was a pupil of Ogion

Sources: Hawks, T


Also known as: Looms

Handlooms are common household items throughout Earthsea, and much peasant clothing appears to be homespun. In all cultures of Earthsea, it appears to be predominantly women and girls who weave and spin cloth for domestic use. However, professional weavers on Gont include both women and men (eg Weaver Fan); men are also involved in making silk for export on Lorbanery, where professional silk-weavers operate in worksheds. Household weaving is not restricted to the lower classes; even ladies such as Lady Serret participate in the activity, and well-to-do Yarrow in Ismay has a tapestry-loom, 'its tall frame inlaid with ivory'a. All the woollen cloth at the Place of the Tombs on Atuan is woven locally by the novices/priestesses in the weaving room on 'great looms always warped with dull black wool'b. 'Weavings of different colors and weights of yarn'c are used in the Kargad Lands for keeping accounts. The Children of the Open sea (raft people) have looms on their rafts on which the women weave their cloth from nilgu fibre derived from a brown seaweed

Sources: The Hawk's Flight, WoE; Iffish, WoE (a); The Wall Around the Place, ToA (b); Lorbanery, FS; The Children of the Open Sea, FS; Hawks, T; A Description of Earthsea, TfE [c]

'…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.'

'It would be a decent living. The bulk of the work was dull, always the same over, but weaving was an honourable trade and in some hands a noble art. And people expected weavers to be a bit shy, often to be unmarried, shut away at their work as they were; yet they were respected.

[Iffish, WoE/Hawks, T]

Related entries: Spinning


Also known as: Welwai

Island on the west of the South Reach adjacent to the Long Dune. Called Welwai by the Children of the Open Sea (raft people)

Sources: The Madman, FS; The Children of the Open Sea, FS


See Wellology


Also known as: were light

Bluish or greenish faint magical light conjured by wizards, sometimes focused in the tip of their wizard's staff, sometimes as a free-floating ball. One of the first arts of true magic taught at the School of Wizardry on Roke it seems to be used relatively freely, without worrying about the Equilibrium. The practice isn't confined to wizards: witches are also occasionally mentioned as conjuring werelight. Unclear how it is related to magelight, which appears to be a stronger form of magical light

Sources: The School for Wizards, WoE; Light Under the Hill, ToA; Dragonfly, TfE

'…Vetch came to the door, a little bluish ball of werelight nodding over his head to light the way…'

'Not bright, but dazzling to the dark-accustomed eye, was the light that worked this wonder. It was a soft gleam, like marshlight… The light burned at the end of a staff of wood, smokeless, unconsuming.

[The School for Wizards, WoE / Light Under the Hill, ToA]

West beyond the west

See Other wind

West Hand

See Hands

West Reach

Also known as: Western Reach

Large, scattered group of islands to the west of the Archipelago, including Selidor, the Gate of Selidor & the Dragons' Run in the far west; Hille, Derhemen, Narveduen & Onon to the north; Ingat, Risk, Ully, Usidero, Ettil, Ontuego & the Toringates to the west of Paln; Simly, Kaltuel, Near Kaltuel, Arrins & Faltuel to the west of Ensmer; and Obb & Jessage to the south, near the South Reach. The middle of the West Reach lies around seven hundred miles west of Roke; the remote westernmost isles are the home of dragons

Sources: Orm Embar, FS; The Dragons' Run, FS; Selidor, FS; The Stone of Pain, FS; Palaces, OW

West Shore

Region of Sattins island, presumably in the west

Sources: The Rule of Names, W12Q

Western domain

Domain in the west of Havnor island, with hills covered with oak and chestnut forests. Contains the towns and villages of Glade, Reche & Easthill, and the river Amia. Ruled by the Lord of the Western Land

Sources: Darkrose and Diamond, TfE

Western Isles

See Archipelago

Western Land, Lord of the

See Lord of the Western Land

Western Mountains

Range of tawny mountains and wide valleys in the west of Atuan, between the Place of the Tombs and the western coastal plain. A fairly arid region, the predominant vegetation is sagebrush; the summits are snow-clad in winter

Sources: The Western Mountains, ToA

'Before them the western mountains stood, their feet purple, their upper slopes gold.'

[The Anger of the Dark, ToA]


Town on the island of Way in the domain of Iria, two days' journey from the city of Kembermouth

Sources: Dragonfly, TfE

Whale Isles

A group of three small islands in the far north of the North Reach, north of North Enwas

Where my Love is Going

Love or boat song from the western coast of Havnor island

'Where my love is going
There will I go.
Where his boat is rowing
I will row.
We will laugh together,
Together we will cry:
If he lives I will live,
If he dies I die.

[Darkrose and Diamond, TfE]

Related entries: Songs

White Enchanter

See Morred

White hallows

White-flowering herb growing in river meadows and marshes on Gont; prized by healers

Sources: The Shadow, WoE; Kalessin, T

'He came on a meadow between two streams where the flower called white hallows grew thick, and as these blossoms are rare and prized by healers, he came back again next day.'

[The Shadow, WoE]

Related entries: Healing; Herbal remedies


See Gelluk


See Rushwork


See Weatherworkers


See Weatherworking


See Master Windkey


Wine is drunk both by better-off country folk such as Ogion and by noblemen, being served at the courts of Enlad and Havnor City, and also at the Godking's feasts on Karego-At. Fine red and white wines are exported from the Andrades, including vintages known as the Dragon Year, Late Harvest and '639, but vineyards are also found on other islands including Gont, Enlad and Way (producing wine called Fanian). Ged gives Lebannen heated wine on Lookfar as a restorative. Hurbahberry wine (described as thin) is served in the inn on Lorbanery in the South Reach. Wine is carried in bladders, transported in barrels or halftuns, sold by wine merchants and stored in wine cellars; fine wine is described as a valuable commodity

Sources: The Rule of Names, W12Q; Lorbanery, FS; Mice, T; The Dolphin, T; Winter, T; Dragonfly, TfE

Related entries: Beverages, alcoholic

Winter Carol

Song traditionally sung at the Festival of Sunreturn

Sources: Hunting, WoE


Town in the east of Gont island, possibly in the East Forest region. Near Ovark, from which it is separated by a high pass, Beech Springs, Down Wiss and East Port. Westward lies uninhabited forest

Sources: Warriors in the Mist, WoE; The Shadow, WoE; Frontispiece map, T

Witch marriage

Also known as: She-troth

Two witches living together in an informal marriage. As witches rarely married men, such arrangements were common

Sources: Mending the Green Pitcher, OW

Witch of Ten Alders

Also known as: Ten Alders, Witch of

Ged's (Duny's) maternal aunt. She has tangled black hair and lives alone at Ten Alders, plying her trade as a village witch. She keeps a dog, Gobefore, which never barks. She taught Ged his first spells, beginning aged seven

Sources: Warriors in the Mist, WoE; Mending the Green Pitcher, OW

'Now the witch of Ten Alders was no black sorceress, nor did she ever meddle with the high arts of traffic with Old Powers; but being an ignorant woman among ignorant folk, she often used her crafts to foolish and dubious ends. She knew nothing of the Balance and the Pattern which the true wizard knows and serves, and which keep him from using his spells unless real need demands. She had a spell for every circumstance, and was forever weaving charms. Much of her lore was mere rubbish and humbug, nor did she know the true spells from the false. She knew many curses, and was better at causing sickness, perhaps, that at curing it. Like any other village witch she could brew up a love-potion, but there were other, uglier brews she made to serve men's jealousy and hate. Such practices, however, she kept from her young prentice, and as far as she was able she taught him an honest craft.'

[Warriors in the Mist, WoE]


See Base crafts


Also known as: Sorceresses

After the time of Halkel (730), all female practitioners of magic were denoted witches, and all their practices were denoted base crafts, even when they included things that would be considered high arts in the hands of a man. The arts of witches include 'The care of pregnant beasts and women, birthing, teaching the songs and rites, the fertility and order of field and garden, the building and care of the house and its furniture, the mining of ores and metals---these great things had always been in the charge of women. A rich lore of spells and charms to ensure the good outcome of such undertakings was shared among the witches'a; finding, mending, healing of humans & animals, bonesetting and herblore are elsewhere mentioned. Witches also prepare bodies for burial. Taught informally by other witches and sorcerers, they often know nothing of the Equilibrium, and rarely practise celibacy. Some witches/sorceresses, for example Serret, call on magic relating to the Old Powers, though many do not. Witches usually live on the margins of society, rarely respected and often feared; children's tales on Gont often include a wicked witch archetype as the villain

Sources: Warriors in the Mist, WoE; Ogion, T; Kalessin, T; The Finder, TfE (a); A Description of Earthsea, TfE

'Now the witch of Ten Alders was no black sorceress, nor did she ever meddle with the high arts of traffic with Old Powers; but being an ignorant woman among ignorant folk, she often used her crafts to foolish and dubious ends. She knew nothing of the Balance and the Pattern which the true wizard knows and serves, and which keep him from using his spells unless real need demands. She had a spell for every circumstance, and was forever weaving charms. Much of her lore was mere rubbish and humbug, nor did she know the true spells from the false. She knew many curses, and was better at causing sickness, perhaps, that at curing it. Like any other village witch she could brew up a love-potion, but there were other, uglier brews she made to serve men's jealousy and hate. Such practices, however, she kept from her young prentice, and as far as she was able she taught him an honest craft.'

[Warriors in the Mist, WoE]

Related entries: Midwifery; Curer; Mining; Death-related customs


Name in rural Atuan for the disease smallpox

Sources: The Wall Around the Place, ToA


See Sorcerers


See Magewind

Wizard of Gont Port

Ogion was the wizard of Gont Port before the death of Heleth. At the time of Tehanu, 'a stout middle-aged man with a short yew staff'a

Sources: Ogion, T (a); The Bones of the Earth, TfE


See Magic


Also known as: Crafty men

Practitioners of magic, especially the high arts and the art magic: changing, naming, summoning and patterning. After the time of Halkel (730), the term was restricted to men. In modern times, wizards are denoted by a wizard's staff, conferred by their teacher; in the case of those trained at the Roke School of Wizardry, this would usually be the Archmage. Wizards usually practise celibacy. Particularly powerful or wise wizards are termed mages

Sources: A Description of Earthsea, TfE

Wizard's staff

Also known as: Staff

A (usually) wooden staff carried by wizards of the Roke tradition, which seems to act as both a badge of office and a focus for their power; the staff is often described as burning with white magelight when powerful magic is performed. Staffs of oak (Ogion, Vetch) or yew (Ged) appear to be the most common, shod with copper, bronze or iron and the height of their owner, but pine (Aspen), willow (Azver), olive (Deyala) and even rosemary (Ivory) are also mentioned. Archmage Nemmerle's staff is white. Ged's in The Farthest Shore is set with the Bond Rune in silver. Other materials than wood are also mentioned: the staff of the Grey Mage of Paln is a long steel rod, engraved with runes; the white staff of the mage Early is made from the horn of a northern sea beast. The Pelnish wizard Seppel carries no staff, and the earliest mages, of the time of Erreth-Akbe and before, are said not have had staffs; it's not clear how the practice originated

Sources: The Rowan Tree, FS; Magelight, FS; Selidor, FS; Ogion, T; The Finder, TfE; Dragonfly, TfE; A Description of Earthsea, TfE; Mending the Green Pitcher, OW; Dolphin, OW

Woman of Kemay

Also known as: Dragon

An old fisherwoman living in a little house by the seawall in the fishing village of Kemay in north-west Gont; one of the dragon-humans. Ogion gives her true name as Dragon. Tall, with big hands, she's said not to be learned; she composes songs, including the song of the Woman of Kemay which tells of the Vedurnan

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

'"In that first moment, he told me, it was no woman he saw at all in the doorway, but a blaze and glory of fire, and a glitter of gold scales and talons, and the great eyes of a dragon. … Then that was gone, and he saw no dragon, but an old woman standing there in the doorway, a bit stooped, a tall old fisherwoman with big hands."'

[Going to the Falcon's Nest, T]

Woman on Gont, a

See Hama Gondun

Women of the Hand

Also known as: Hand, the

Community of women and men concerned with the ethical use and teaching of magic, established during the Dark Years around 150 years after the death of Maharion. Centred on Roke, but with an extensive network of secret cells on other islands around the Inmost Sea, including Havnor and Hosk; members identified each other by a secret hand gesture involving raising the first finger and then the other fingers, clenching the hand into a fist and finally opening it palm outwards. In around 650, members of the group, including Elehal, Yahan and Medra, founded the School of Wizardry on Roke

Sources: The Finder, TfE


Also known as: Otterhide

Impoverished mountain village on Mount Onn, in the west of Havnor Island; renamed Otterhide after hiding Medra (then known as Otter) from Losen's men

'He ran down from the straggle of huts to the quick, noisy stream he had heard singing through his sleep all his nights in Woodedge.'

[The Finder, TfE]

Workers' guilds

See Trade guilds

World view

The islands which make up Earthsea are surrounded by the Open Sea; there appears to be debate as to whether the sea goes on for ever empty beyond the known lands of the Outer Reaches or contains undiscovered lands on the other face of the world -- or even, as Vetch suggests, apparently facetiously, '"has but one face, and he who sails too far will fall off the edge of it"'a

Sources: The Open Sea, WoE (a); Sea Dreams, FS

'"For the world is very large, the Open Sea going on past all knowledge; and there are worlds beyond the world."'

[Sea Dreams, FS]


Hardic runes appear to be used for general writing purposes in the Archipelago and Reaches, for example Ogion's letter to Nemmerle. Writing implements mentioned include an inkstone, ink bottle, brush and goose quills with a substrate of vellum, parchment or paper. In the Archipelago/Reaches, reading and writing appear to be largely the province of wizards, lords/princes and the moderately wealthy (for example, the mender Alder reads very little); history is largely passed from generation to generation orally in songs and chants. In the original Earthsea trilogy, reading and writing are said to be outlawed in the Kargad Lands, being among the black arts. However, in later novels, writing using Hardic runes is mentioned for some secular purposes; Thol's emissaries bring Lebannen a gilded scroll written in big Hardic runes (though the ambassador speaks Hardic but doesn't read it)

Sources: The Shadow, WoE; The School for Wizards, WoE; The Masters of Roke, FS; Mice, T; Palaces, OW

Related entries: Books


Titles: Twin God, God-Brother

One of the Twin Gods, Warrior Gods of the Kargad Lands; said to be sons of the Old Powers of the Earth. Brother of Atwah. Thol claims descent from Wuluah

Sources: The Wall around the Place, ToA; Rejoining, 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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