The Isolate Tower

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Name: The Isolate Tower
Owner/Maintainer: Espresso Addict
Dates: 15 November 2004[1] – present
Type: information
Fandom: Earthsea
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The Isolate Tower is a fansite for Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea universe, created by Espresso Addict in 2004. The subtitle is An Earthsea Compendium, and it describes itself as A compendium of information regarding the people, places & things of Earthsea, created by Ursula Le Guin. The name comes from the home of the Master Namer on Roke. The site is associated with the Earthsea Fanfiction Masterlist, and uses the same design.


The site was created in November 2004. It was the first Earthsea information site, but was swiftly followed by To Light a Candle by Rizwan Virk (now offline). The first version had over 300 glossary entries, but included information from the text of the original trilogy only.[2] The initial version of the glossary also lacked hyperlinks between items, which were added later in November after a suggestion from Neil Faulkner, the compiler of the Blake's 7 Sevencyclopaedia.[3]

The site expanded between 2004 and 2006; Tales from Earthsea material was next to be added,[4] followed by The Other Wind, Tehanu[5] and the early short stories, 'The Word of Unbinding' & 'The Rule of Names'. Other early feedback requested a complete listing of islands from Le Guin's Earthsea map, and these were eventually added.[6] Espresso Addict wrote about the indexing process in January 2006:

Glossary index
Back this week to indexing Tehanu for the Isolate Tower... It's still very slow going; the writing's dense with domestic trivia (I'm sure there's more domestic detail in a single chapter of Tehanu than in the entire original trilogy). Though there have been relatively few new entries, a simple sentence can send me scurrying off amending entries under, say, fabrics, dyeing, clothing and plants.[7]

Although the site states that compilation is ongoing, the last major update of the glossary was in March 2006; updates to the links continued to 2011.[1] The Isolate Tower remains online as of June 2023.


Sample glossary output


The glossary contains just over a thousand entries under the headings people, places, objects, flora & fauna and abstract concepts. Entries can be a few words for places only appearing on maps, to long lists of, for example, animals from Earth also found in Earthsea, to a brief essay, for example, on materials, government or religion. Many items have a quotation from the source, occasionally two, and the main sources of information are stated. Line drawings by Ruth Robbins & Gail Garraty illustrate the glossary index page.



The dictionary documents words & phrases from Le Guin's invented languages: Old Speech, Hardic, Kargish, Osskili & the Enlad language. All words & phrases in the source material are included where any meaning is given or can be guessed.


The timeline includes events with dates stated by Le Guin, dates conjectured by Espresso Addict (in square brackets), and undated events (in italics). Events are divided into those occurring in the Archipelago and those happing in Kargad. The site notes Many of the dates given conflict; some of more problematic conflicts are noted in the footnotes.[8]



  • Maps
  • List of the Roke masters
  • Character profile of Ged
  • Book covers
  • Links to other Earthsea sites

Affiliates & Reviews

Isolate Tower is affiliated with Song of Life, the Earthsea fanlisting[9] and is linked by Speak Again, the fanfiction site of Wild Iris,[10] and Dreamy Aspirations, Eledhwen's fanfiction site, which describes it as a fabulously interesting Earthsea compendium, including a glossary and timeline for Ursula Le Guin's classic fantasy series.[11] The site is occasionally acknowledged in fanfiction.[12]


  1. ^ a b The Isolate Tower: Updates (accessed 5 July 2016)
  2. ^ "espresso-addict: The Isolate Tower (again, for those on my f'list) (accessed 5 July 2016)".
  3. ^ espresso-addict: Isolated Indexing (accessed 5 July 2016)
  4. ^ espresso-addict: Isolated update (accessed 5 July 2016)
  5. ^ espresso-addict: IT, again (accessed 5 July 2016)
  6. ^ espresso-addict: IT milestone (accessed 5 July 2016)
  7. ^ espresso-addict: Grinding away at IT (accessed 5 July 2016)
  8. ^ The Isolate Tower: Timeline (accessed 6 July 2016)
  9. ^ Song of Life: Affiliates (accessed 5 July 2016)
  10. ^ Speak Again: Links (accessed 5 July 2016)
  11. ^ Dreamy Aspirations: Links (accessed 5 July 2016)
  12. ^ For example, Leaf Litter in Calling to the wind thanks The Espresso Addict for maintaining The Isolate Tower, which saved me from a few errors of canon late in the piece.