The "History of the Isle of Despair" is a book in the University Court Library, in Tarant. It weighs 30 stone. Membership is required to access the library's books.
Geographical and Magickal Properties of the Isle of Despair: a Brief History of the Dreaded Penal Colony by Sir Isaac Thrush, esquire.
The Isle of Despair
It has long been debated as to who first discovered the peculiar properties of the Isle of Despair, and how it came to be used as a prison colony. There are historians who attribute this discovery to the first master mages of Tulla, others who believe the elves found it during their journeys before their eventual building of Qintarra. In any case, it is well-documented that the Isle of Despair has housed Arcanum's more diabolical social element for well over 400 years, and that is a perfect environment for that element due to both its geographical and magickal properties.
Geographically, the Isle of Despair is perfect for housing criminals and derelicts. Being that it is surrounded by water, with the nearest coast almost 1,000 miles to the east, there is little danger of its inhabitants swimming to the mainland. The Isle itself is situated between three strong ocean sub-currents; consequently, the waters around the island are invariably rough, and violently crash upon the rocky shore both day and night. Massive whirlpools are known to appear suddenly and without warning. There is an account of three Ashburian merchant ships being swallowed by one of these very whirlpools in 1783.
But it is not only the geographical characteristics of the island that make it the perfect prison. Inexplicably, the island seems to negate certain types of magickal practices, but most importantly those of the Conveyance College. Mages find it impossible to transport themselves from the island's surface to the mainland. Various theories have been postulated concerning this phenomenon. Some scientists believe that the island itself sits upon a massive vein of mithril ore. Mithril, having the ability to harbor magickal flows, might just be the cause behind this most curious distortion. Archaeologists have theorized that the Isle of Despair might once have harbored an ancient civilization that used an early form of technology, and that old ruins might exist beneath the island's surface to verify that fact. Both theories might be scientifically sound, but none has yet been proven.
Regardless, the Isle of Despair will continue to harbor our social convicts until the day comes when its vagaries are no longer sufficient, or until we, as a society, no longer have the need for it.