In the Wizard of Earthsea when Ged first enters the school at Roke, he meets with the Archmage Nemmerle, and a "raven of Osskil" wanders towards the Archmage (his familiar, maybe?) and when the Archmage vanishes

Only the raven stood eyeing him, its beak outstretched as if to peck the vanishing staff. It spoke, in what Ged guessed might be the speech of Osskil. "Terrenon ussbuk!" it said croaking. "Terrenon ussbuk orrek!" And it strutted off as it had come.

What is the raven saying to Ged? The one thing I do note is that when Ged is in Osskil, he encounters the evil stone in the Court of the Terrenon; I assume this is somehow connected.

  • at the start of chap 4, the other boys told each other tales that the raven had greeted Sparrowhawk as "Archmage to be"
    – BigFan
    Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 20:56

1 Answer 1


The raven's words are never explicitly translated, but they are referenced later.

In Chapter 6, "Hunted", of the same book A Wizard of Earthsea:

Hope and mistrust struggled in Ged’s mind as he listened. A wizardly man soon learns that few indeed of his meetings are chance ones, be they for good or for ill.

"In what land is the Court of the Terrenon?"

"In Osskill."

At the sound of that name Ged saw for a moment, by a trick of memory, a black raven on green grass who looked up at him sidelong with an eye like polished stone, and spoke; but the words were forgotten.

Google Books ref

Aside from that, I don't think we ever learn any more about the raven's words. Various fans have speculated, of course, just as you have. For example, this forum poster "figured it was a reference to the later trial at Terrenon with the spirit trapped in the stone", and this dictionary compiler listed the raven's phrase as "unknown; perhaps a warning about the Terrenon stone".

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