Elder Scrolls
Elder Scrolls

Hitting the Books is a quest available in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The quest serves as the third quest in the College of Winterhold's questline. To unearth important information about Saarthal, Urag gro-Shub asks that three books hidden within Fellglow Keep be recovered. The books, Night of Tears, The Last King of the Ayleids and Fragment: On Artaeum, were stolen by Orthorn, who is being held prisoner there by the Caller.


With Tolfdir still occupied in Saarthal, I need to speak to Mirabelle Ervine to find out about researching the discovery in Saarthal.


  1. Speak with Mirabelle Ervine
  2. Speak with Urag gro-Shub
  3. Find the stolen books
  4. Free Orthorn (optional)
  5. Return the books


"Orthorn stole a number of books when he ran off to Fellgow Keep to join those Summoners. Some kind of peace offering. I think one of those volumes may have had some relevant information."
Urag gro-Shub[src]

To begin, speak with Urag gro-Shub about any documents that might explain the connection between Saarthal and the Psijic Order. Urag sits at his desk inside the Arcanaeum. Urag confesses that the needed documents were recently stolen by an apprentice by the name of Orthorn, who took the books and ran off to Fellglow Keep to join up with a group of mages who left the College. He suggests "speaking" with Orthorn about the books. Before this happens, the Dragonborn may be found by Faralda, who warns them that Ancano was looking for them and she believes he is a spy for the Thalmor, using his advisory position to gather intel for them. Ancano will then confront the Dragonborn after they speak with Urag, regarding the news they delivered to Arch-Mage Savos Aren regarding what they found in Saarthal. Once Ancano has his chat with the Dragonborn, he'll excuse them to resume their mission from Urag.

Fellglow Keep exterior[]

The Fortress grounds are guarded by two leveled mages and a flame atronach. The best way to kill them is to get atop the tower and sneak and shoot them with a bow. Once they are killed, the main entrance is found to be locked and can only be opened with a key. There is, however, another entry point through the dungeons. In the base of one of the ruined towers, there are steps down to the Fellglow Keep dungeons. 

Fellglow Keep dungeons[]

The dungeons contain several rooms with water covering the floor. In the second of these rooms, there is an ice mage and two frostbite spiders. A table at the top of the stairs holds several Soul Gems. A set of stairs leads down to the southeast to a poison dart trap, where a set of stairs leads further down to the northeast, and another leads up to the southeast. The latter stairs lead to a dead end, with a wooden door that has an apprentice-locked chest behind it. Back at the junction, the stairs to the northeast lead down to an exploding rune trap. Beyond this is a prison with several leveled vampires in the cages and a leveled conjurer sitting at a table. The vampires, if released from their cages, will attack any enemy mages. Depending on their level at the time of entering the dungeon, the victors could be either of them.

Through the wooden door to the southeast is a torture chamber with several enemy magic users and several dead vampires, Khajiit, and Nords on tables or in cages. A door to the northeast leads to stairs down to another prison, where Orthorn can be found, along with a necromancer, who will release the wolves from their cages if given the chance. Orthorn, when asked about the books, says the Caller has them. After this conversation, Orthorn can be released by using the middle of the three levers. He can then be a temporary follower for the remainder of quest, or he can be left in the cage until the dungeon is cleared, or told to get out of there, in which case he will retreat all the way back to The Frozen Hearth in Winterhold for the remainder of the quest.

Note: It is easier if Orthorn is freed and following, as the final battle is quite challenging. Also, an option to make an arrangement with the Caller is only available if he is present.

From the prison, an adept-locked door to the west leads to a room with an apprentice-locked chest and some weapons on a table. A set of stairs to the northwest leads to a door to Fellglow Keep that requires a key. A door to the southeast leads to stairs that go down to a room where there are three other magicians practicing their skills. It is recommended you have snowberries and a potion of resist cold. Sneaking here is very effective. Otherwise, the best defense is to attack.

The next steps to the northwest lead to a room with several Necromancers and some skeletons. The summoned undead will disappear as soon as all Necromancers are dead, so the Necromancers should be targeted first. At the end of the corridor is a Raise Zombie spell tome on a pedestal. To the left (northwest) is a door which leads to the main portion of Fellglow Keep.

Fellglow Keep[]

In the next area, there are a conjurer and a mage. If Orthorn is in the party, it is best to attack whomever he chooses. There are bits of treasure throughout the room. Upon the pedestal directly across from the room's entrance is the Conjuration skill book, The Doors of Oblivion. Through the door to the east is a dining room, where a Novice Necromancer lies in wait. An adjacent room leads to a hallway with a key-locked door to the north that returns to the dungeons, plus a doorway to the east that leads to a common room with an atronach of some kind, as well as a mage, though at lower levels, it will be a familiar instead. The bottom floor also has a key-locked door on the north wall that leads outside, plus a door to the east that leads to a room where a mage and necromancer are resting.

Up the stairs are open doorways to the right and left, plus a closed door leading forward (south) that is barred from the other side. To the right is a room with an Arcane Enchanter, an Alchemy Lab, an anvil and a workbench. On the desk next to the alchemy lab is an Unusual Gem, while on the bookshelf next to the workbench are three Quicksilver Ingots. Back at the top of the stairs, to the left and up another flight of steps, there is a room with a mage and conjurer inside an inner circle of shelves. The skill book A Hypothetical Treachery, which boosts destruction skill, is on a table nearby.

On the opposite side (south) of the room entrance is a pathway leading to stairs up to another hallway. There are bedrooms on the left wall, and an atronach at the other end of the hall. The second bedroom on the left contains a sleeping mage who holds the Fellglow Keep key. A good strategy, if wanting to keep Orthorn alive until confronting the Caller, is to leave him in his cell until killing the mage with the key, as it will unlock the keep's main entrance and the door that leads directly to the dungeon, providing a shortcut to get back to the Caller's location without having Orthorn be killed by one of the various mages on the way up. Through the door at the other end is an adept-locked door that can be opened with the Keep key. Inside is a shrine of Julianos, which temporarily increases magicka by 25 points for several in-game hours. Another door in that room leads to a room with an adept-locked chest.

The Caller[]

Back in the hallway where the atronach was, there is a wooden door leading to a grand staircase, curving west-northwest, to the top. At the top is the door to the Fellglow Keep ritual chamber. Inside is the Caller. The Dragonborn can either fight against the sorceress or come to an arrangement with her. Note that the game auto-saves at this point, regardless of the settings the player set for auto-saving, before entering the Caller's chamber.

  • Arrangement: If Orthorn is with the party, an arrangement is possible. Otherwise, she will say that the Dragonborn has nothing to trade. In the course of the conversation she offers to trade, requiring a team as a replacement for the mages and the books. She responds and waits. The bargain is completed by talking to the witch again. She must be talked to again to make the trade. If the books are taken before talking to her again she will attack. The three books should be taken and the room must be left quickly. Note that opening the exit door after leaving is not possible.
  • Fight: In a fight, she summons two level-dependent Atronachs (which can be looted for frost, fire, or void salts when defeated, as they are not the result of a Conjuration spell), which appear in the rooms behind her. She primarily uses frost and lightning Destruction spells, but also uses Restoration spells and periodically teleports around the room. Note that if she is killed before the Atronachs, they disappear.
  • Persuade: She can be persuaded to not fight, allowing the Dragonborn to take the books and leave unhindered (requires 50 Speech).
  • Assassinate: After speaking with her, if she is still neutral, it is easy to sneak behind her and kill her in one blow.
  • One Hit Kill: If you have a high enough sneak and archery skill, you can one shot her before she summons the atronachs, avoiding damage altogether.


If an arrangement was made, the door behind the Caller cannot be used. In that case, the Dragonborn can just leave through the entrance door. If not previously dealt with, a Novice Storm Mage will be there to fight at the bottom of the stairs. She can be killed, and the Fellglow Keep key will be on her body. After backtracking to the room where the Apprentice Ice Mage was, the key-locked door to the outside can be used to leave the keep.

If a battle was fought, the three books (located on pedestals, but they may fall onto the floor during the fighting) can be taken, and the Fellglow Keep key can be looted from the Caller. The door directly behind the middle pedestal leads to a lot of loot and a trap door exit, which leads through the barred door and back to Skyrim.

Upon returning to the College of Winterhold, Urag gro-Shub can be spoken with to return the books. He will then offer the quest "Good Intentions."



Hitting the Books – MG03
ID Journal Entry
10 With Tolfdir still occupied in Saarthal, I need to speak to Mirabelle Ervine to find out about researching the discovery in Saarthal.
  • Objective 10: Speak with Mirabelle Ervine
20 Since Tolfdir is not available, I've been asked by Mirabelle Ervine to look into information on the object we found in Saarthal by talking to Urag gro-Shub in the Arcanaeum.
  • Objective 20: Speak with Urag gro-Shub
30 I've been asked to find more information on the object found in Saarthal. Urag suggested that useful books may have been stolen from the Arcanaeum by Othorn [sic] [Do not change this to Orthorn. This misspelled word is how it appears in-game.], a former Apprentice at the College. His last known location was Fellglow Keep.
  • Objective 30: Find the stolen books (<Global=MG03BooksFound>/3)
50 In attempting to track down books that may have information about Saarthal, I've been exploring Fellglow Keep and have located Orthorn, the former apprentice who stole the books in the first place. He's now a prisoner, and has begged me to free him.
  • Objective 50: (Optional) Free Orthorn
55 I've freed Orthorn from Fellglow Keep, and he has offered to help me find the books I'm looking for.
60 I was asked to find books that may have information about the object discovered in Saarthal, and traveled to Fellglow Keep to retrieve them from Orthorn, a former Apprentice at the College. I've found the books and now need to see them returned to the College.
  • Objective 60: Return the books
200 I've returned to the College with the books from Fellglow Keep. One of the books, "Night of Tears," has some information about Saarthal that Urag found very interesting.
  • Quest complete


This section contains bugs related to Hitting the Books. Before adding a bug to this list, consider the following:

  1. Please reload an old save to confirm if the bug is still happening.
  2. If the bug is still occurring, please post the bug report with the appropriate system template  360  /  XB1  ,  PS3  /  PS4  ,  PC  /  MAC  ,  NX  /  PS5  ,  XS  , depending on which platform(s) the bug has been encountered on.
  3. Be descriptive when listing the bug and fixes, but avoid having conversations in the description and/or using first-person anecdotes: such discussions belong on the appropriate forum board.
Click to show
  •  PC   360   PS3   XB1   PS4   The quest might not start.
  •  PC   If the agreement is accepted, but the Caller is killed anyway, the book on the pillar in the right room possibly cannot be taken. There is no way to solve this problem.
    •  PC (Fix)   When the game is reloaded from a save, note the book will be on the ground.
  •  PC   360   Using a Scroll of Mass Paralysis (or paralyzed by the Bullseye perk in Archery) on the Caller and after she teleports causes her to remain paralyzed but immune to damage (Destruction spells still work). Reloading a previous save will easily fix this.
  •  PC   360   During the conversation with the Caller, if she is Persuaded or asked to "leave," then Orthorn will say, "How could you leave me here?" and may not open the final dialogue. This can be avoided by immediately closing the dialogue with the Caller and attacking her; then re-entering the room until Orthorn appears.
  •  360   Sometimes, when fighting the Caller, she will teleport, but after that she may become invisible. However, a red dot will representing her on the compass will remain. This can be fixed by simply opening and closing the start menu, and then she will reappear, but not attack, although she can be attacked and killed.
  •  360   When rescuing Orthorn and telling him to go to safety, he will be found at the Frozen Hearth in Winterhold. When trying to talk to him he will just say, "How could you just leave me here?" When leaving and coming back after a short amount of time, he may disappear and will be nowhere to be found.
  •  360   PS3   Even if the arrangement is made to leave Orthorn behind, the door out may not unlock. In this case, the Dragonborn will either have to backtrack the entire dungeon or kill the Caller to get the key anyway.
  •  360   PS3   If Fellglow Keep was previously cleared, trying to load the main floor of the keep (from any entrance to it) may cause a console hard-lock. Reloading, restarting, and patching will not fix this bug.
  •  360   The journal entry that says that the Dragonborn has already talked to Orthorn and he has agreed to help may appear, when in fact, the Dragonborn has never been to Fellglow Keep or ever talked to Orthorn. Upon arriving at the cage where Orthorn would be found, he is behind another door, dead.
  •  PS3   Using Dead Thrall on the Caller may cause her to come back and act as she normally would while alive. She will start attacking (she is still a dead thrall so companions and summons will not attack).
  •  PS3   Sometimes the keys for the keep and the ritual chamber will get switched around but will still allow access to the ritual chamber even without the right key.
  • This quest may not initiate after talking to Savos Avren after the quest "Under Sarthaal."
  •  PS3   If the Dragonborn is accompanied by a housecarl or follower, they can still be followed by Orthorn if he is not dismissed. By exiting the dialogue, he will proceed to follow anyway. This makes the final battle much easier, since both, the follower and Orthron, will help in killing the Caller and will distract the atronachs.
  •  360   If the Wabbajack is used on any atronachs or the Caller, they may become unbeatable.
  •  PS3   If dead thralls are brought into Fellglow Keep, the game might freeze and/or crash. Deactivating the dead thralls by using any Destruction cloak spell outside Fellglow Keep will avoid the problem.
  • After killing the Caller, one of the books may not be there. The book could have been knocked to the floor by magic during the Caller battle. If not, reloading from the autosave will allow the Dragonborn to get the books after the dialog but before killing the Caller.
  • If Orthorn's cell is opened with the key, he may act as if he is still imprisoned and will not follow the Dragonborn (does not show up in his dialogue).
  • Occasionally, it may be impossible to trade with merchants while this quest is active. This can be avoided by deactivating the quest in the quest log when needing to trade.
  • Sometimes the center pillar book may not show up or get propelled to the ceiling.
  • Backstabbing the Caller with a poison of paralysis may glitch her due to her teleportation. She appears stuck on the ground, but she can be killed just the same. This also occurs if Ice Form is used on her.
  • With the Decapitate perk, it is possible to cut her head off during a teleportation. She will not die but will be missing her head. It is also possible to kill her during a teleport and she may turn up with no robes on but they are still in the inventory.
  • Upon entering the room with the Caller. Sometimes Orthorn may not enter the room, and actually walks back through the entire dungeon.
  • If loading the last save does not remedy the problem of taking the books, and they can only be read, repeatedly pressing the action button should pick them up.
  • Power attacking the Caller may cause her to disappear into the ceiling.
  • Sometimes, after being told that the books can be taken, she may still attack. Orthorn may also attack. This can be fixed by waiting for approximately five seconds after she says the books can be taken. The Dragonborn should exit the conversation, and after the five seconds, take them. If this does not work, they must be killed to complete the quest.
  • If the Dragonborn cannot find any kinds of books they are looking for, casting Dead Thrall on the Caller, then killing her again, should cause her inventory to be re-stocked.
  • One of the books may get trapped behind a pillar, rendering it completely unreachable unless loading an earlier save, which will make the quest unfinishable.