A glossary of people, places & objects in Earthsea

Now showing glossary items relating to time & the calendar


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


The days of the waning moon after Sunreturn; an unlucky time

'It is an unlucky time for travellers and for the sick; children are not given their true name during the Fallows, and no Deeds are sung, nor swords nor edge-tools sharpened, nor oaths sworn. It is the dark axis of the year, when things done are ill done.'

[The Open Sea, WoE]


Anniversary of the date of passage into manhood, celebrated in the Archipelago with a party, feasting, music and dancing, and in the west of Havnor island, also with gifts of clothes to neighbouring children. Also sometimes used for the day of passage into adulthood itself

Sources: Darkrose and Diamond, TfE; Dolphin, OW

Telling the hours

In Havnor City on Havnor, four trumpeters mark the passage of time (according to sand clocks and the Pendulum of Ath) by blowing fanfares at set points during the day from the Tower of the Kings. The fanfares are derived from the Lament for Erreth-Akbe; the full tune is played only at noon, with different fragments at each of the other hours

'…four trumpeters went out on the high balcony from which rose the highest tower of the palace, the one that was topped with the slender steel blade of the hero's sword, and at the fourth and fifth hours before noon, and at noon, and at the first, second, and third hours after noon they blew their trumpets one to the west, one to the north, one to the east, one to the south. … And if you wanted to be somewhere at a certain hour, you should keep an eye on the balconies, because the trumpeters always came out a few minutes early, and if the sun was shining they held up their silver trumpets to flash and shine.'

[Palaces, OW]


Time measurements are given in years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds; as with other units of measurement, presumably these are silently translated from the Hardic or Kargish units for time. There are six hours from midnight to noon and six hours from noon to midnight, so either one Earthsea hour equals two earth hours, or the day is half the length. In Havnor City, time is measured using sand clocks and the Pendulum of Ath housed in the Tower of the Kings, from which trumpeters tell the hours by blowing their trumpets at fixed times (see telling the hours); a sandglass is also used to regulate debate in the King's Council. A sundial is referred to, which may be a major method of formal timekeeping outside Havnor City. The School of Wizardry at Roke has a bell tower which might be used for denoting passage of time. The Children of the Open Sea (raft people) have a relaxed sense of time, only keeping account of whole days and nights, with no hour measurement

Sources: Palaces, OW

Related entries: Calendar



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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