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Literature: The Rift War Cycle
Written by Raymond E. Feist, this is one of the longest-running High Fantasy series (32 books and counting) ever written note . The Riftwar Cycle encompasses 10 sagas (most of which are set up as trilogies) and a collection of short stories, all of which are set in the same universe if in distinct Time Periods. The first volume was published in 1982 and the final novel was published in 2013.

Most of the action of the series centers upon The Kingdom of the Isles on the world of Midkemia, which was originally developed by Feist and his friends for an in-house Dungeons & Dragons campaign. However, the novels take place some five centuries before the time when this campaign was set.

Feist has said there will be five total rift-wars during the cycle. During each of these wars, Midkemia is threatened by invasion from Another Dimension through portals known as rifts. Though a different enemy is at the heart of each invasion, these are all consequences of the same underlying evil.

The books are split into several sub-series, displayed here in chronological order of the world's history:

  • The Riftwar Saga - The First Riftwar. The Kingdom of the Isles must deal with enemies from within and without, including an alien invasion, a mad monarch, a dark-elf uprising and the return of an ancient evil force.
    • Magician - the western Kingdom is invaded by the Tsuranni, a pseudo-oriental empire from the planet Kelewan. Divided for Publication into two books in paperback; Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master.
    • Silverthorn - a princess is accidentally poisoned on her wedding day by the dark forces who seek the death of her fiance.
    • A Darkness at Sethanon - a legendary dark-elf chieftain returns from the dead to lead his people against The Kingdom of the Isles.

  • The Empire Trilogy - co-written with Janny Wurts and set on Kelewan, this series overlaps with the events of The Riftwar Saga.
    • Daughter of the Empire - Mara of the Acoma must lead her followers through terror and peril while surviving the ruthless political Game of the Council.
    • Servant of the Empire - After buying a group of Midkemian prisoners-of-war, Mara discovers one of them is a noble, who reveals himself as a great asset in regards to the Game of the Council.
    • Mistress of the Empire - After rising to power, Mara of the Acoma must now face the power of the brotherhood of assassins, the spies of rival houses and the might of the Assembly, who see her as a threat to their power.

  • Legends of the Riftwar - Set during the events of Magician, Feist co-wrote these three books with other authors he was friends with, effectively giving them a chance to "play with his toys".
    • Honored Enemy - During the first Riftwar, a group of Midkemian soldiers and Tsurani form an uneasy alliance to survive a moredhel assault. Co-written with William R. Forstchen.
    • Murder in La Mut - Three mercenaries deal with a conspiracy in a town on the front lines of The First Riftwar. Co-written with Joel Rosenberg.
    • Jimmy the Hand - The titular boy thief gets mixed up in a conflict with a mad nobleman and his pet magician. Co-written with S.M. Stirling.

  • The Riftwar Legacy - set ten years after A Darkness at Sethanon.
    • Krondor: The Betrayal - a dark elf chieftain joins the side of the humans to warn them of a dreaded Big Bad's return. The Novelization for the first Riftwar Video Game, which made its events Canon.
    • Krondor: The Assassins - Another manifestation of the Guild of Death is dealt with.
    • Krondor: Tear of the Gods - The titular artifact is captured by the villains for evil ends and the heroes must retrieve it. The Novelization for the second Riftwar Video Game, which was not nearly as well received as the first.
    • There were another two books planned, Krondor: The Crawler and Krondor: The Dark Mage. Reportedly, they have been put on-hold due to rights issues involving the original games.
    • Jimmy and the Crawler - Explains Jazhara's fate and who the Crawler really was. Released as an eBook and then a physical copy in selected countries.

  • Krondor's Sons - Two books centering upon the adventures of Prince Arutha's sons. Covers a period of time 20-30 years after the end of the First Riftwar.
    • Prince of the Blood - Two spoiled princes become heroes in a foreign land.
    • The King's Buccaneer - The third son of Arutha and some others must deal with a new menace from across the western seas.

  • The Serpentwar Saga - The Second Riftwar. Midkemia is invaded by lizard-men, fleeing a demon invasion of their home-world. Begins nearly 50 years after A Darkness at Sethanon, 20 years after The King's Buccaneer.
    • Shadow of a Dark Queen - A dark queen is gathering armies across the Western Sea. Desperate men of the Kingdom of the Isles are sent on a suicidal mission to confront this evil.
    • Rise of a Merchant Prince - Newly pardoned for his crimes, a young man begins his quest to become a rich trader in the capital city of Krondor. Notable for the central role of high finance.
    • Rage of a Demon King - The Emerald Queen's army - and the demonic power behind it - moves upon The Kingdom of the Isles.
    • Shards of a Broken Crown - The Kingdom forces struggle to oust the forces of two nations that now lay siege to the ruins of their capitol.

  • Conclave of Shadows - Set 30 or 50 years after Shards of a Broken Crown (the books are inconsistent on this point), this book shows us the work that has gone into establishing a group capable of fighting the various dark forces seeking the destruction of Midkemia, through the eyes of one young man who is recruited into the Conclave.
    • Talon of the Silver Hawk - A young barbarian, the last survivor of his destroyed clan, is adopted into The Conclave of Shadows and slowly molded into an agent for their use.
    • King of Foxes - Now in the service of the man responsible for killing his clan, Talon of the Silver Hawk (aka Talwin Hawkins) must play a dangerous game in order to get his revenge and serve the interests of The Conclave of Shadows.
    • Exile's Return - Exiled to a foreign land, Duke Kaspar suddenly finds himself in possession of a device which could spell doom for Midkemia.

  • Darkwar Saga - The Third Riftwar. Details the Conclave of Shadows' efforts to stop an invasion by The Dasati; a race from a parallel plane, ruled by evil and destructive forces.
    • Flight of the Nighthawks - A new evil threatens Midkemia, its web stretching from the deepest criminal underworld all the way up to the highest seats of power in ancient Kesh.
    • Into a Dark Realm - Chaos threatens to overwhelm two worlds as the most dangerous force yet encountered threatens to invade Midkemia, while the most treacherous magician in history - the madman Leso Varen - begins to wreak havoc on the world of Kelewan.
    • Wrath of a Mad God - The Darkwar has fallen upon the worlds of Kelewan and Midkemia; a time of heroes, trials and destruction. Following their mission to the realm of the alien Dasati, Pug and the other members of the Conclave must now find a way to use what they discovered to help save their own people from the Wrath of a Mad God.

  • Demonwar Saga - The Fourth Riftwar, set 10 years after the Darkwar. Details the invasion of Midkemia by a group of war-like world-conquering elves, who may have inadvertently brought the demonic forces they were fleeing with them, as they came to Midkemia.
    • Rides a Dread Legion - The Taredhel (star elves) return to their native homeworld of Midkemia, ready for conquest despite the demonic threat that nips at their heels.
    • At the Gates of Darkness - In the face of the demonic threat and the questions it poses, the Conclave find themselves on a perilous search for some much-needed answers even as their enemy forces them to take action.

  • Chaoswar Saga - The Fifth Riftwar.
    • A Kingdom Besieged - The Empire of Kesh moves to invade The Kingdom of the Isles as The Conclave of Shadows and their allies investigate the disappearance of their spies, discovering that enemies long thought dead have returned.
    • A Crown Imperiled- As The Conclave of Shadows seek the homeland of the Pantathian serpent priests, three Kingdom princes try to slow the Keshian invasion and prevent a new civil war.
    • Magicians End - The climax of the entire saga, in which the threat behind everything the protagonists have faced in finally revealed, while the Kingdom spirals towards civil war. The final adventure of Pug and Tomas.

Midkemia, an online MUD based on the series, can be found here.


Provides Examples Of:

  • Abandoned Mine: The Mac Mordain Cadal.
    • The dwarves are trying to get it un-abandoned, though.
  • Abusive Precursors: The Valheru.
  • Action Girl: Several examples.
    • Bree from A Darkness At Sethanon.
    • Sister Sandreena, The Knight Adamant of Dala.
    • Mara
    • Lady Bethany in A Kingdom Besieged. She saves two of the male protagonists from a wyvern.
    • Carline during the Tsurani siege of Crydee in Magician: Apprentice.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Magnus meets a boy named Philip on the Crydee shores while he's trying to get some crabs for dinner. His friends and family all call him Pug though and after learning a bit about him, Magnus offers to make him his apprentice.
  • Adaptational Badass: Queen Aglaranna - a purely spiritual leader of the elves in the books - gets a bit... closer to the action in the graphic novels.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Occured a few times in the computer games and graphic novel adaptation.
    • Pug is described in the novels as having dark brown hair with a full beard and he usually dresses in black robes. In Betrayal at Krondor, he is portrayed by an actor who is clean-shaven with blond hair and a white robe.
    • Also from Betrayal at Krondor - the curly blond-haired Locklear is played by an actor with chestnut-brown hair in a pageboy cut.
    • In the graphic novels, Aglaranna's reddish-gold hair becomes a stark scarlet.
    • In the graphic novels the Moredhel (Dark Elves), described in the novels as being virtually indistinguishable from Eldhel (Regular Elves) are depicted as Dungeons & Dragons style dark elves a.k.a. Drow.
  • Adventure
  • Aerith and Bob: Most people in identifiable cultures have appropriate names. People from the western sphere have English names, Rodezians have Spanish names, Bas-Tyrans have French names and so on. The Royals, however....
  • Affably Evil: Duke Kaspar is a cultured gentleman, a gracious host, and will betray an ally or order genocide without batting an eye.
  • The Ageless: Powerful magicians have this.
  • All Myths Are True: There's a very fine line between Elvish History and Human Legend.
  • Aloof Ally: Marcus in The King's Buccaneer. While willing to put aside his personal arguments with Nicholas for the sake of the people he rules over, he's still reluctant to be anything but civil to his cousin.
    • Also, Sandreena in Rides A Dread Legion. Given her background, it's understandable why she has issues with men in general - never mind that, for the sake of the world, she is asked to work with her ex and the man who sold her as a Sex Slave!
  • All Trolls Are Different: Feist's are described as short, broad humanoids who walk on all fours, looking like "some comic parody of an ape, their bodies covered by thick grey hide".
  • Always Chaotic Evil: An interesting variant are the Moredhel (a.k.a. dark elves) who literally have to be evil. If one stops being evil, he stops being a Moredhel. Indeed, all Feist's elves are of one race, though separated by distance, culture and - in the case of the dark elves - moral alignment. The moredhel are also an interesting variant in that they defy the "drow" dark elf conventions of Dungeons & Dragons. Dark Elves look just like regular elves to humans... at least, until they can look into their eyes and see the violent hatred of all that is different.
    • Played straight with the Dasati, but justified - they're from a lower level of reality, which is a lot harsher and evil-aligned than ours to begin with. And then there's the fact that nearly the entire race have been corrupted by one of the BigBads to become its perfect minions.
    • Anything from the levels of reality below the Dasati level almost certainly counts too, though that's largely a case of such beings being too alien to coexist peacefully with anything from the mortal world. Literally, as demons and other extra-planar creatures wither grass by stepping on it, so corrupting is their influence on the plane of Midkemia.
      • The Valheru. The ONE exception seen involves a VERY large Plot Coupon and six-book Gambit Roulette (though they're described in-universe as more like Always Chaotic Above Good and Evil. Rather than evil, they have simply a strong "might makes right" mentality).
      • And the Pantathians, justified because one of the Valheru created them and genetically hardwired them to be her absolutely loyal servants. Subverted in the Chaoswar books; a community of peaceful Pantathians is introduced. It turns out that not all of their race get the hardwired-Valheru-servant gene; those who do are drafted into their priest caste, and the rest aren't that different from anyone else.
    • The Dread are worst of all; even the demons are less evil than they are. That would be because there's really only one Dread that manifests avatars of varying strength as needed. The core consciousness of the Dread is basically the personified idea of entropy and oblivion.
  • Always Lawful Good: Played straight with the eledhel. Why is unclear, especially since only nurture separates them from being like their more war-like counterparts, the Moredhel. While a Moredhel can Return and become Eledhel, the reverse does not happen. Ever. Though never explored in the books, the magic of the Spellweavers is likely responsible for both phenomena.
  • Ancient Tomb: The Con Doin bury the royal family in one.
  • Another Dimension: Many of the threats Feist's protagonists deal with come from this.
  • The Anti-God: This is the ultimate nature of the Dread, as revealed in Magician's End.
  • Anti-Villain: Guy Du Bas Tyra, who plots regicide and treason, nearly causing a civil war... all in the name of saving his kingdom from a Royally Screwed Up King.
    • Also, Duke Kaspar, who is quite an honorable and likeable villain before reforming and having a Heel-Face Turn in Exiles Return
  • Apocalypse How: Several of them are shown in Wrath of a Mad God: the fourth abyssal plane, where a Dreadlord entered the multiverse from the Void, was reduced to a fine powder to power its ascent to the third; most planets and stars were shattered into rubble to power the ascent to the second plane. The second plane isn't shown, but most intelligent life on one planet of the first plane is exterminated to power the ascent to the plane containing Midkemia. Stopping that ascent involves turning one planet into an expanding vapor cloud.
  • The Artful Dodger: Young Jimmy the Hand is very much this at the time he runs into Prince Arutha and helps him evade the people trying to capture him. Several of his descendants share the trait.
  • Artifact of Doom: Quite a lot of these, including The Lifestone and The Talnoy.
  • Anyone Can Die: This is to be expected in a saga that spans generations, but it's invoked and formalized during the Serpentwar saga: Pug will live to see everyone he loves dead.
    • So...Anyone can die except Pug.
    • In Magician's End, Pug does die, but some quick deal-making with the goddess of death lets him save the people he cares about, with the exception of Tomas, who sacrificed himself to stop the same Big Bad Pug did.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: The Valheru were the epitome of this, being a completely Might Makes Right / Above Good and Evil race of Dragon Lords.
    Draken Korin: We are. We do. What more is there?
    • Not surprisingly - for a race trying to follow in the Valheru's footsteps - leadership positions among the Moredhel seem to get filled out by virtue of skill in battle and woodcraft and sharpness of mind and tongue as much as by blood.
    • The Demons also work like this, since if one demon kills and eats another, they acquire that demon's strength and memory. Demons tend to literally kill and eat their way up their hierarchy. The Demon King Maarg encouraged this. His rival Dahun managed it more carefully; by controlling who ate who, he was able to guide the paths of evolution his followers took and make sure that some of his servants were powerful, some were smart, some were good at magic- but none developed the right combination of abilities to actually threatedn Dahun's own position.
  • Author Avatar: Pug is described as a bearded man with dark hair going grey. Raymond E. Feist is a bearded man with dark hair going grey.
  • Author Catch Phrase: Every chapter in every novel begins with a one-sentence paragrpah, many as simple as "the noun verbed" (or, rarely, "charactername verbed").
  • Automaton Horses: Averted with gusto. Horses are often ridden to death, freeze to death and are eaten when the rest of the food supply runs out. They are abandoned when rocky terrain is encountered or it would be impossible to move stealthily,
  • Awesome Backpack: Nakor's Rucksack Full of Oranges/Apples. Not only is it a near-endless source of nutritious fruit (and other handy items) but it also doubles as a weapon if he rolls the oranges (or apples) up inside it. The demon with Nakor's memories has this bag too.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: The end of Magician. Also the ending for Magician's End.
  • Babies Ever After: The eventual fate of most of the heroes of the first Riftwar, as most of them are dead before the second Riftwar starts.
  • Back from the Dead: Macros The Black, who has returned from the dead (or dimensions so remote he might as well be dead) at least once per Riftwar.
    • Pug technically counts, since he was at death's door and there's no reason he should have survived.
    • As of A Kingdom Besieged, it looks like Nakor and Miranda have found a way to bring themselves back. Subverted in that the next two books make it plain that the gods just grabbed a likely pair of demons and implanted their memories into them; Child and Belog aren't the actual Miranda and Nakor, which disturbs them, Pug, and Magnus greatly.
  • Backstory: There's a lot of it, especially in the most recent books.
  • Badass Boast: Amos Trask has the best ones.
    Amos Trask: I'm Captain Trenchard! The Dagger of the Sea! I've sailed the Straits of Darkness on Midwinter's Day! My ship's the Raptor and I've taken her into the Seven Lower Hells, drunk ale with Kahooli and sailed home again! My mother was a sea dragon, my father was lightning and I dance a sailor's jig on my victim's skulls! I fought with the war god and kissed death herself. Men tremble at my shadow and women swoon at my name and no one lives who can call me liar!
  • Badass Normal: Even with all the magical and divinely-empowered heroes running about, each series features the heroics of at least a few ordinary mortals. Prince Arutha might be the epitome of this, as he's the hero everyone else is measured against for generations to follow.
    • Jimmy the Hand/Lord James I, as well as his great-great grandson Jim Dasher are definitely this.
  • Bad Moon Rising: Used and Averted in Silverthorn. The book opens with the Big Bad consulting the signs - a group of red stars - and being told now is the time to strike against the one who will defeat him. When his assassination attempts fail, he says that the stars weren't PRECISELY lined up just yet and next year shall be the time for their attack.
  • Bag of Holding: Nakor's Sack of Infinite Oranges (or apples).
  • Batman Gambit: It is revealed in A Darkness At Sethanon that Guy Du Bas Tyra's actions in Magician were all part of a plan to get Royally Screwed Up King Rodric off the throne.
    • It's entirely possible that all of the Nameless God's actions through Sidi were one of these to inspire Pug to create the Conclave, so that there would be an organization in place to deal with the real threat.
  • Bearer of Bad News: Generally, the only time Macros The Black shows up is to deliver a dire warning of something bad that is about to happen.
  • Berserk Button: Do not engage in the following behavior:
    • Threaten Arutha's wife or sons.
    • Remind Billy Goodwin that his mother was a whore.
    • Rape his foster sister in front of Erik von Darkmoor.
    • Pug uses his clout to forestall Kesh's attempted conquest of Krondor in a moment of the Kingdom's weakness. Prince Patrick taunts the retreating Keshians by telling them that Pug is his personal weapon and they'd better clear out before he turns that weapon upon them. Pug is a little miffed by this implication.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Pug's the sweetest guy in the world, but he will explode you from halfway around it if you give him reason to.
    • Also Mara...although she is, perhaps, only "nice" by Tsurani standards.
  • Big Bad: Escalating serially:
    • Magician doesn't really have one, actually; the Kingdom vs. Tsurani conflict is more between Worthy Opponents on a national scale than anything. The Tsurani Warlord is probably the closest thing to one.
    • Then in Silverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon, Murmandamus, the dark elf warlord takes the throne but he's actually a fake, being manipulated by the remnant of the Valheru and the Pantathians who still worship them.
    • The Pantathians remain the main antagonists for the next several books, though they ally with the Emerald Queen during the Serpentwar Saga. But it's a case of Bait-and-Switch Boss when the demon lord Jakan kills and replaces the Emerald Queen, and the Pantathians get largely wiped out midway through that series.
    • However, Rage of a Demon King reveals that Nalar the Nameless One, the local God of Evil, is the Bigger Bad indirectly behind everything.
    • The Conclave of Shadows trilogy spends most of its run dealing with Leso Varen, a servant of the Nameless One, as Big Bad, with Duke Kaspar as The Dragon until he does a Heel-Face Turn.
    • The Darkwar Saga moves away from the Nameless One by giving him competition in the God of Evil deparment, namely the Dark God of the Dasati, who is the ultimate villain of that trilogy but is rather permanently defeated by means of having a moon dropped on him at the end.
    • The Demonwar Saga lowers the overall threat level down slightly, with a Big Bad Duumvirate of Belasco (Leso Varen's equally evil brother) and the demon lord Dahun, but with hints that there's something so horrible out there that both are running scared.
    • The Chaoswar Saga, true to its name, has a Gambit Pileup like you wouldn't believe going on, but finally clears up for good the identity of the Big Bad of the entire 'verse. It's not the Nameless One, who may not have actually been behind anything recently. Rather its the Dread, the race of horrors to which the Dasati Dark God belonged and lesser members of which had shown up at various points across the series, now revealed to all be manifestations of a single, nearly omnipotent entity which is essentially the antithesis of life, now threatening to devour the entire universe. It/they has already started eating Hell, which is why Dahun was trying to get away from there as well.
  • Bitchin Sheeps Clothing: Sylvia Esterbrook.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Ultimately, this is how the entire series ends. Tomas dies so Ashen-Shugar can fight the Dread for eternity, Pug dies sealing them at the cost of Magnus's life and the lives of hundreds of magicians and clerics but due to a fluke on his part, he is given the choice to return to life, since the Dread will eventually return. He refuses this in favour of Magnus being saved and Magnus survives due to Pug's intervention. Due to what Pug had to do to seal the Dread away, a large amount of damage occurred across Midkemia and thousands of lives were lost, but the Kingdom is at peace with a new King and the world is safe.
  • Black Cloak: Averted, since two of the main heroes use the title "The Black Sorcerer" but play off people's expectations to protect their privacy.
    • Also averted in the Tsurani magicians (Great Ones), whose uniform is a black robe.
  • Blind Seer: Rogen in Silverthorn.
  • Blue and Orange Morality:
    • The Valheru, as the ultimate agents of chaos, aren't exactly without morality, but from a human perspective are still little more than extremely arrogant, warlike demigods with a strong vein of might makes right thrown in for good measure. The Blue and Orange Morality of the Valheru comes in handy, though, in Magician's End. The Sven'ga-ri are magical beings that produce a profound sense of bliss in anyone who approaches them, convincing them that they are a Cosmic Keystone. They're actually a beacon for the Dread, allowing them/it to zero in on a specific point in space-time. Even knowing that, no human, elf, dwarf, or even Pantathian could bring themselves to destroy such wondrous beings. Ashen-Shugar has no such compunctions- if they're a threat to his world, they go, end of story. Their destruction disorients the Dread and greatly hinders its attempt to consume Midkemia.
    • The center of the Pantathians' lives is the worship and service of the Valheru Alma-Lodaka. Anyone who isn't devoted to her - which means almost every non-Pantathian - is either a tool to be used or an enemy to be destroyed.
    • The Dread just want peace. Peace meaning the complete unmaking of everything, returning the universe to its pre-creation state of absolute nothingness.
    • Valko of the Dasati has his own encounter with a blue and orange morality in Into a Dark Realm. "Good" and "evil" are so far outside his frame of reference that the words are meaningless to him, and he struggles to understand the concepts associated with them.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Captain Amos Trask - the Bad Ass pirate Jack Sparrow only wishes he was.
  • Book Ends: In perhaps one of the most epic examples of the Book Ends trope ever, Magician's End (the final book in the series) ends with [[spoiler: a young boy called Pug gathering stranded shellfish after a storm in Crydee, the same way that Magician, the first book, began. It's implied that this Pug is to become a wizard's apprentice, and that he may be reborn for a new cycle on the Wheel.
  • Bored With Insanity: Nakor notes you can only be insane for so long and that he has owned his artifact for a very long time...
    • Usually a foolish, fun-loving gambler, his light moods are broken up by amazing moments of insight. This was later explained as being a side-effect, due to his owning an artifact of the dead God of Knowledge, which can reveal any knowledge at all at the cost of the owner's sanity. And then it all made sense...
      • And Nakor may have been indirectly been putting everyone on since he was unknowingly an avatar for the god of trickery.
  • Boring Invincible Hero: Generally averted for the most part. Most of Feist's protagonists are exceptionally gifted but they do make mistakes, or find that their powers come with drawbacks (Pug can't act openly without lighting himself up as a target for every enemy wizard on the planet, Tomas' Valheru side makes him extremely reluctant to leave Elvandar to bother saving anyone else, etc.).
    • The most notable examples are Talwin Hawkins and Roo Avery. The former turns out to be a natural for the life of a master swordsman/spymaster despite being an unskilled barbarian who hadn't yet become a man by the laws of his people. The later turns out to be a gifted master merchant, despite having no charisma, little experience in running a business and being openly known as a ruthless bastard.
      • Although Roo *is* stated right from the start as having a quite cunning mind that naturally lends itself towards barter and business, he just lacked the experience. He then gets himself a job as a waiter at the place where *all* the big name businessmen do their deals and gets to eavesdrop on it all. He *then* manages to become a junior partner in an endeavor thanks to basically having a good idea at the right time. His progress from village kid to merchant King actually makes sense if you read all of the intervening books, as...
      • The books make it very clear to the reader (and even to many people in-universe) that Roo's unprecedented rise to success is largely facilitated by Duke James so that the Kingdom can draw upon his wealth to finance the defense against the Emerald Queen. Roo does pull off a number of miracles on his own, but he also, several times, hurts himself badly because of his overconfidence and naivete, most notably in his long-running extramarital affair.
  • Bring News Back: The goal of the protagonists in Shadow Of A Dark Queen.
  • Bury Your Gays: In Rage Of A Demon King, Baron Manfred von Darkmoor, it is all but stated, is gay. He survives almost to the last page. Almost.
  • Cain and Abel: Amirantha and both his older brothers, Belasco and Leso Varen.
  • The Caligula: King Rodric.
  • Call Back: As one might expect in a saga so long running, there are several examples of this.
    • In one scene in Rage Of A Demon King, when Duke James finds himself lying in wait together with several soldiers and a good chance to die sometime during the next hour, he tells them the story of how he first met his long-lost half-brother - a reference to the events of Betrayal At Krondor.
    • In the Author's Preferred Edition of Prince Of The Blood, when the Empress of Kesh makes reference to the unfailing loyalty of her assassins, Earl James makes a dry remark regarding an adventure where he fought a corrupt group of said assassins, referring to the events of Krondor: The Assassins.
    • A brief reference is made to a tavern called "Captain Trenchard's" - apparently named in honor of reformed pirate captain Amos Trask.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Magnus does this to Pug in A Crown Imperiled, due to what he perceives as unnecessary sacrifices. He resolves to continue helping Pug, but he's still not happy about it.
  • Canon Immigrant: Abbot Graves, the thief-girl Kat and Jimmy the Hand's long lost half-brother Lysle Rigger all made the transition from the Betrayal at Krondor game into the non-game based books.
  • The Cavalry: The Armies of the West, platoons of Tsurani and Keshian soldiers and magicians from both The Stardock Academy and The Assembly on Kelewan in A Darkness At Sethanon.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The early books where the main villains are dark elves and snakemen are surprisingly light compared to the later novels where soul-drinking mages and demons are the main antagonists.
    • The later books are also more sexualized. Feist's earlier books Fade to Black whenever there is a sex scene. Compare that to later books where the relative decadence of Keshian nobility is flaunted (Prince Of The Blood), one villainess forces her female servants into threesomes with her and her male lovers (Rise Of A Merchant Prince) and one character freely admits to summoning a succubus for entertainment purposes (Rides A Dread Legion).
  • Challenging the Chief: Gorath's backstory includes conquering another tribe and joining it with his own by killing their chieftain in fair combat. This also seems to be how moredhel society works in general.
  • The Chase: The entire plot of Honored Enemy, with the moredhel doing the chasing, and the Kingdom and Tsurani soldiers doing the running while doing their best not to kill each other.
  • Chess Master: Quite a few.
    • Duke James in The Serpent War Saga. He basically uses his political pull to allow Rupert Avery to become the richest merchant prince in all the Western Realm in a matter of years... and then blackmails Avery into loaning the government all the money they need to finance The Serpent War, on the grounds that his wealth won't be worth much if the Kingdom falls.
    • The Upright Man, leader of The Mockers (Krondor's Thieves' Guild), in Silverthorn. He winds up negotiating a circular deal for his help in stopping the assassins targeting Prince Arutha. The deal ends with both parties being able to save face, both parties getting everything they wanted and - best of all - not spending one gold piece in concessions.
    • Macros the Black, especially with Pug and Thomas, though ironically he himself is the biggest pawn of all.
    • Guy de Bas Tyra with his plot to usurp the throne from Rodric, though it failed.
  • Citadel City: Armengar, heavily fortified to withstand goblin and moredhel.
  • Circles of Hell: Feist's cosmology is based on numerous planes, with the planes underneath ours ruled by increasingly evil and alien forces.
    • It's suggested by one character that there may be an infinite number of such planes stacked above and below, but mortals don't know of them because it's impossible for beings of any given universe to perceive or interact with anything more than seven levels removed.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Nakor The Blue Rider. Who is still Nakor The Blue Rider when he is wearing orange and doesn't have a horse.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The Moredhel indulge in this. So did mad mage Leso Varen.
  • Colony Drop: Pug finishes the Dark War by dropping a moon on the Big Bad.
  • Color-Coded Wizardry: Pug and Macros, both good universe-saving mages, are known as The Black Sorcerer.
    • And Nakor The Blue Rider. Even if he defies codification. And claims not to be a wizard.
  • Continuity Nod: Heaps upon heaps, as befits such a wide-spanning series.
    • The Empire Series constantly gives nods to Pug's story in Magician without him ever getting directly involved.
    • The events in Empire are in turn mentioned in passing in Honoured Enemy. There's also, in the epilogue, a subtle tie-in to the Great Uprising in Darkness at Sethanon.
    • In Exile's Return, a being who is a shadow of the slain Goddess of Good on Midkemia, calls herself Hildy - after appearing as Hilda in Krondor: Tear of the Gods.
    • Another example is Gorath's backstory. Towards the end of Darkness at Sethanon - written years before Gorath's character was first conceived for the story of Betrayal at Krondor - there's a short passage in which an unnamed moredhel chieftain comes looking for Murmandamus during the battle at Sethanon. Upon hearing that Murmandamus has disappeared from the battlefield, the chieftain bitterly concludes that the leader has betrayed them and is the first to order his clan to retreat, an example others soon follow. Guess what we later learn about Goraths actions in that battle...
    • Also in Betrayal at Krondor, it is mentioned that the reason that that Makala could pull off their scheme without The Assembly of Magicians on Kelewan noticing was due to The Assembly being distracted by Mara's actions in Mistress of the Empire.
  • Cool Sword: It is never given a name, but Macros The Black melds Prince Arutha's rapier with an amulet of protection he was given, making the sword powerful enough to cut through magical shields.
  • Constructed World: Feist and his friends who made the Role-Playing Game which inspired Midkemia created one of the best.
  • Contemptible Cover: Usually, Feist's book covers aren't that bad. But the first American paperback editons of The Serpent War Saga books contained some truly horrific generic fantasy artwork on the interior covers. Naturally, none of these characters are depicted in Rise of a Merchant Prince.
    • Some of the British editions have absurdly misinformed synopses, such as stating that Macros the Black is a villain.
    • The American edition of A Kingdom Besieged seems to give a major spoiler for the rest of the series, suggesting that Pug's son Magus is about to undergo a Face-Heel Turn.
  • Cowboy Bebop at His Computer: The cover blurbs for some editions of the books as well as some book reviews were clearly written by someone who didn't read the book.
    • One edition of A Darkness At Sethanon spoke of "the evil necromancer Macros the Black unleashing his undead hordes". Never mind that Macros The Black is a Merlin-style good guynote , not a necromancer and that while there are some undead in the story, there aren't HORDES of them.
    • Feist himself noted that one reviewer described Magician as "a typical fantasy novel where a boy saves the kingdom from an army of trolls". While the main protagonists, starting the books as boys in their early teens, are adults (at least by the standards of their kingdom) for most of the book and there are also only two trolls in the whole book - hardly an army, basically the only wrong thing is saying the army consists of trolls...
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Nakor, who alternatively plays at being a fool and a gambler who "knows some tricks", is actually a fairly powerful, if unorthodox, magician.
    • And by "fairly powerful", we mean "one of the top ten most powerful magicians in The Multiverse."
  • Crystal Ball: Pug accidentally triggers one as a preteen, prompting him to be taken as an apprentice by the local court magician.
  • Culture Clash: The clash between Kevin from the Medieval European Fantasy world of Midkemia and Mara's Honor Before Reason Far East counterpart culture is a major theme of Servant of the Empire; as Mara adopts Kevin's view of honor over the course of the book, the stage is set for the major conflict in the sequel.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: There are several throughout the series, but the most prominent one is Pug vs the Emerald Fleet. The Emerald Fleet wins and Pug is severely injured and barely survives.
  • Darkest Hour: The ending of A Crown Imperiled. Draken-Korin has returned, Pug, Magnus, Miranda and Nakor are supposedly dead and civil war is about to happen in the Kingdom of the Isles.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: There are several "black" themed magicians who are good guys.
    • Macros The Black, of course.
    • The Black Robes of The Assembly are, for the most part, decent men loyal to their Empire.
    • Pug, the main protagonist of the series, favors black robes and goes by the title The Black Sorcerer.
    • The Conclave of Shadows, an organization created to counter the ever-present threat of the other dark forces that endanger the world (and so called because they must do their work unseen).
    • And then there's Amirantha - a demon-summoner who, while being a bit of a pig and a con-man, isn't quite Evil with a capital E, unlike most demonologists.
    • Combined with Light Is Not Good in the case of the elves and dark elves. A in-universe stereotype exists where humans believe that all of the mordehel are dark-haired and deformed while the eledhel are all fair-haired and beautiful. In truth, there is no such true distinction given that the two elf varieties the same race who've chosen different moral "paths".
      • This is explored in Magician, when Martin Longbow's trainee scout Garret (literally) runs into a young moredhel woman and is surprised by how pretty she was. Martin answers that like the elves they are a fair race but a moredhel woman would cut his heart out as soon as kiss him. Consequently, if encountering someone with pointy ears in a neutral area and not knowing whether they're eledhel or moredhel, appearance would be a bad thing to judge by.
  • Deadly Decadent Court:
    • A Tsurani specialty. Assassinating a political opponent is seen as an acceptable, even admirable method of defeating them, so long as one cannot be proven to be responsible. An extreme example takes place during the election of a new Warlord in Servant of the Empire: political horse-trading in the form of who is seen talking to who by day, urban warfare with black-clad soldiers by night.
    • In the Kingdom of the Isles, the eastern court in Rillanon is seen as this by the western nobles. (The eastern nobles, in turn, see the western kingdom as a bunch of rural bumpkins.)
  • Deadpan Snarker: Roo, and to a lesser extent Kitty. Both from the Serpentwar saga.
  • Death by Falling Over: After all the adventures and battles, Arutha dies by breaking his hip falling off his horse.
  • Death from Above: Pug's method of destroying an arena where gladiatorial combats are held in Magician (also seen from Mara's perspective in 'Servant of the Empire). Also how he fights the Big Bad in Wrath of a Mad God''.
  • Death's Hourglass: Feist's golden dragons know the exact moment they will die.
  • Defector from Decadence: The Bloodwitches and the White, secret societies among the Dasati who don't like where their civilization is headed at all (though they're still pretty ruthless by our standards).
    • The moredhel chieftain Gorath allies himself with humans because it's the only way to stop his savage people from destroying themselves.
  • Demon Lords And Arch Devils: Appear at various points during those series that feature the Fifth Circle. Maarg, The Dragon Tugor, The Starscream Jakan, and rival King Dahun are the most important. At the end of the series, Child/Miranda appears to plan on returning to the Fifth Circle and setting herself up as one, albeit with the intention of creating a kinder, gentler demon race.
  • Determinator: Baru the Hadati Warrior in Silverthorn, who manages to survive being hounded by dark elves along with the rest of the party and then wins a brutal duel to the death against Murmandamus's warchief Murad before being cut down by a renegade dark elf. Yet he managed to survive all that and was called the toughest human they'd ever seen by the healers of Elvandar.
  • Devil but No God: Justified: the God of Good was killed in the Chaos Wars, while the God of Evil remains alive and fairly active, despite being sealed within a prison in another dimension.
    • Played straight and lampshaded somewhat in the later books, where after repeated attacks by demons and Dasati from the lower planes, someone mentions that Angels from the higher planes also exist and wonders why none of them ever show up to help out.
      • Possible Fridge Brilliance. The only reason Midkemians ever interact with the lower planes is to summon or fight off invaders to their own world, not to help out the lower ones.
    • Averted in A Kingdom Beseiged, when a seemingly angelic being is from a higher plane is depicted.
  • Dirty Old Woman: Upon encountering a young man who reminds her of her late husband, an elderly Princess Carline orders her guards that if he is ever seen near her granddaughters, he should be executed... or brought to her chambers.
  • Disability Superpower: Gamina is mute (at first), but her telepathic abilities make up for that. Then there's Blind Seer Rogen.
  • Discontinuity Nod: Later books do this at least twice toward Rise of A Merchant Prince, generally regarded as the most disposable entry in all the Riftwar books. Tal Hawkins happens to come upon the memoirs of Rupert Avery, give it a quick read, and declares it to be boring and absurd, clearly written by a self-absorbed egomaniac whose life and career was surely not as interesting as he wants others to think.
  • Distressed Damsel: Princess Anita, who serves little purpose in Magician and Silverthorn apart from being rescued/saved.
  • Divided for Publication: Some paperback editions of Magician are split into two parts, with Apprentice and Master volumes.
  • Doomed Hometown: Several examples.
    • Armengar and Sethanon in A Darkness at Sethanon
    • Crydee in The King's Buccaneer
    • Krondor in Rage Of A Demon King
  • Door Stopper: The hardcover edition of Magician, which is more of a tome than a book.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Bobby De Longville in The Serpentwar Saga.
  • Dumb Muscle: Soldier-demons from Dahun's realm. Justified because Dahun controls the evolution of his minions to make sure the ones who are powerful don't have brains, and the ones who are intelligent aren't very powerful.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Tends to vary between being played straight and subverted.
    • In Darkness at Sethanon, Roald goes down holding off moredhel pursuers.
    • During the Serpentwar, Jimmy and Gamina die in the explosion the former triggered to take down the enemy army.
    • In Krondor: The Betrayal, Gorath is killed in his effort to prevent the activation of the Lifestone.
    • Prince Arutha conDoin dying from a broken hip after falling off a horse.
    • Owen Greylock being killed by a freak shot from a still loaded crossbow at his own camp.
    • In Rides a Dread Legion we have Caleb randomly crushed by a collapsed building and Miranda dying of a torn throat after being snuck up on by a random demon.
    • And of course, plenty of characters (including Arutha, of the above examples) die off-panel or just fade into presumed death from old age as the years pass.
    • Played straight in Magician's End with [[spoiler: Pug and Tomas who die holding off the Dreadking from entering Midkemia and ultimately sacrifice themselves to ward the Dread away for good]].
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Most of Feist's non-immortal protagonists.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The end result of Pug's dealing with the Big Bad of Wrath of a Mad God.
    • To be exact he Tore the MOON out of orbit and smashed it into the planet. Even the * god* who was watching was impressed with that one.
  • Easing Into the Adventure: Magician takes some time in establishing the world around Crydee before getting to the first major plot point.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Dread, nightmarish inscrutable creatures from the Void that are so horrible even Demon Lords run scared from them. Oh, and they're all manifestations of the ultimate Big Bad.
  • Elemental Powers: There are Elemental monsters, based on the four classical elements, who can be banished only by contact with the opposing element. Air Elementals, for instance, dissipate if forced to touch the ground.
    • Pug also shows amazing magical command of the elements, summoning all four in mass quantities to destroy an arena and humiliate The Warlord in Magician: Master.
  • Elite Mooks: The Black Slayers. You thought the assassin was bad before? Imagine him as a zombie who can't be killed by anything short of holy magic or a lot of fire. Or having his heart cut out while downed before he rises again. Consider Baru's CMoA.
  • Elves VS Dwarves: Completely averted, in that the two races get along better with each other than with humans.
    • Played straight with the Taredhel, a conquest-bound elf subrace who regard dwarves with the traditional contempt. And while they regard all other races with contempt to a certain extent, dwarves are the one race they haven't been able to conquer.
  • Enemy Mine: The entire premise of Honored Enemy. In the midst of a bloody war between the Empire of Tsurannuani and the Kingdom on Kingdom soil, Tsurani and Kingdom soldiers are forced to work together and put aside their differences for a while to survive the pursuit of the dark elves, who are hostile to both sides. Despite many bouts of dangerous tension, bonds of friendship are forged.
    • In ''Betrayal at Krondor', this is Gorath's initial reason for seeking out Prince Arutha for help. Prince Arutha wouldn't want another moredhel invasion because he's in charge of protecting the Kingdom, and Gorath wouldn't want another moredhel invasion because they've always ended with heavy losses in the past and he's one of the few with the common sense to recognise that fact. Thus, the two work together.
    • Gorath's son took up this cause to protect a man in a black robe, whether it's Pug or Magnus is unclear.
  • The Empath: Gamina fills this role most of the time, despite being capable of true Telepathy.
  • Expy: Durine, Kethol and Pirojil, in Murder in La Mut are straight transplants of the characters with the same names from co-author Joel Rosenberg's Guardians of the Flame series.
  • Enemy to All Living Things: Dreads, Dasati, Demons and pretty much anything from the Lower Plains and/or Lower Hells, as their touch literally leeches the life out of things.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Despite all of his many flaws and actions, Belasco wanted to kill Sidi/Leso Varen for killing their mother. She was insane, but she was still their mother.
  • Evil Chancellor: Guy Du Bas Tyra in Magician and Nirome in ''Prince of the Blood.
  • Evil Overlord: Murmandamus, the Overlord of the City of Serpent River, and the Dasati TeKarana.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Leso Varen, his brother Belasco, and the Emerald Queen.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The castle on the Sorcerer's Isle has one.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The Pantathaian Serpentmen tend to screw over a lot of other evil people (Dark Elves, mercenaries, corrupt monarchs) in the enacting of their plans.
  • Expansion Pack World: Averted, in that while Feist does seem to "add on" to the map a little more with each book, he is generally good about referring to the other regions earlier on, so that it seems more like we are traveling the globe rather than having new lands dropped in front of us.
  • Faking the Dead: Arutha and his allies do this at the start of A Darkness At Sethanon in order to confuse the Dark Elves.
  • Fanservice with a Smile: The various scenes of Erland and his servants in Prince of the Blood
  • Fantastic Racism: Played Straight AND Averted.
    • Played straight with the various culture conflicts, such as those between the humanoid cultures of the Feudal Japan inspired Tsurani and the nomadic barbarian Thuril. Also, The Moredhel (dark elves) hate pretty much everyone who isn't a Moredhel.
    • Averted in that the usual elf/dwarf rivalry is non-existant. Indeed, the two races get along with one another better than they do with most humans.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Pretty much every human culture is based on at least one or two real-world societies.
    • The Tsurani are Feudal Japan with a little Aztec religion and Roman Empire in decline.
    • The Hadati are Scottish Highlanders with a little Buddhist philosophy thrown in.
    • Kesh is basically Ancient Egypt as founded by African tribals, with a crack military unit - The Dog Soldiers - which mixes elements of Roman Imperial Army and the Mamluk slave soldiers.
    • The Quegans are the Roman Empire, dabbling in piracy.
    • The moredhel are basically Native Americans, complete with the tribalism, the animal motifs and the hostile relations with human occupationists invading their lands.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Several examples.
    • During the Serpent War, Pug is allowed a choice between death and life with the curse that everyone he has ever loved will die before him. He later regrets choosing the option that let him cheat death for a time.
    • The Returning, from the point of view of the moredhel.
    • The final fate of traitors in the nation of Kesh probably qualifies, even though it does involve physical death... eventually. What makes it a true Fate Worse than Death is that the sentence is also meant to destroy your soul, as you are Excommunicated and denied entry into the Keshian afterlife. What is more, your name is forbidden to any noble children for the rest of time and any reference to you in public record is replaced with "a traitor", in the hopes that your soul will be forgotten by the gods and lost to oblivion.
      • This almost takes the edge off the slow execution, which will leave you begging for a quick death by the time they are through with you. In brief, it involves several days of public humiliation, starvation and exposure before being castrated then thrown, bound and bleeding, into a crocodile filled swamp. Suffice it to say, after this sentence is declared once in Prince of the Blood, the other traitors were glad to be let off with the option of Seppuku or maybe, if the Empress was feeling merciful in their particular case, exile.
  • Fetch Quest: Betrayal at Krondor was full of these. Also, Silverthorn.
    • So was Krondor: Tear of the Gods. In both the computer game and the novelization.
  • Feuding Families: The Proud Warrior Race Honor Before Reason Deadly Decadent Court of the Tsurani elite tends to generate these; the generations-old feud between the Acoma and the Minwanabi is at the core of the Empire trilogy.
  • Find the Cure: The main plot of Silverthorn was a Fetch Quest for a poison cure.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Several examples.
    • Tomas becomes a friend to both the Elvish and Dwarven races because of his skill in battle.
    • Drill Sergeant Nasty Bobby De Longville is a mean SOB to new recruits. Become a soldier to his satisfaction, however, and he's your brother for life.
    • The Kingdom Soldiers and Tsurani Soldiers in Honored Enemy.
  • Flower from the Mountaintop: Silverthorn is literally based around the hunt for a rare plant in the mountains.
  • Flying Dutchman: Macros, in one of his origin stories, has a unique take upon the Wandering Jew curse.
  • Foreshadowing: In A Darkness at Sethanon, Fannon tells Martin that his oath renouncing his claim to the throne on behalf of his heirs won't mean squat if some faction of the Congress of Lords wants a descendent of his on the throne at some point down the line. In the last chapter of the last book, Martin's great-great-grandson Hal becomes King.
  • Friendly Enemy: A common enough mentality among the moredhel.
    Gorath: A friend may betray you, but with an old enemy, you always know where you stand.
  • Fruit of The Loon: Nakor and his bottomless bag of oranges. Or apples. It just depends.
  • Functional Magic: Most of the categories are covered at some point in the series.
    • Inherent Gift: Some innate ability is required to use magic.
    • Rule Magic: Magic, regardless of type, does seem to follow some basic rules and codified spells are taught, though it is possible for mages to create their own.
    • Theurgy: The divine magic used by priests.
    • Alchemy: The life-lengthening potion Nakor gives to Erik Von Darkmoor.
    • Force Magic: Feist's Greater Path
    • Device Magic: Feist's Lesser Path
    • Divination: Blind Seer Rogen and The Oracle of Aal.
    • Necromancy: Used by Big Bad Leso Varen and the Panathians
    • Transmutation: Referred to in one story, regarding a thief called The Grey Cat who was changed into his namesake after foolishly breaking into a magican's tower.
    • Mentalism: Gamina and her Tele Pathy.
    • Wild Magic: William con Doin and his ability to talk to animals.
    • Summoning Magic: Demonology, as practiced by Amirantha.
    • White Magic: Healing magic and banishment spells are common to the priests of various good gods like Sung (goddess of healing and purity) and Dala, The Shield of the Weak.
    • Black Magic: Anything dealing with death or demons.
  • Gambit Roulette: The entire series is the final stages of one set up by the Gods of Midkemia to save one Valheru from the destruction of the Chaos Wars, throw him at the Dread, and create a magician with the power, ability, and will to seal both of them of them outside of time.
  • Generation Xerox: The entire Jamison line, beginning with boy thief turned noble Jimmy The Hand/Duke James all the way down to his great-great-grandson James Dasher Jamison in the most recent books. All of them are gifted rogues/spies and most are named James or Dash.
    • Averted with Martin conDoin in A Kingdom Besieged. While he is named for his great-great-grandfather Martin "Longbow" conDoin, he is an incompetent archer and more closely resembles his great-great-granduncle Arutha conDoin - both in temperament and his amazing skill with a sword.
      • ...In short, he's a copy of Arutha in all but name. Literally.
  • God of Evil: Nalar. The Dasati Dark God looks like this at first, but ultimately turns out to be a particularly nasty form of Eldritch Abomination called, appropriately enough, a Dread.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: On the one hand, someone who's in a position to know states that without devotion, gods tend to wither away; on the other hand, a few pages later the same character notes that gods do not die easily, and even when you kill them, they tend not to stay dead.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Everywhere in varying degrees. A common example is Prince Arutha, repeatedly described as "stern, but fair" and only showing his softer side in private, along with many other authority figures. Occasionally, our heroes resort to torturing captives and executing anyone who presents a threat to security. At the most extreme is the brutal and manipulative conditioning of Talwin Hawkins by the Conclave of Shadows in order to use him as an agent.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: A number of good characters smoke pipes in the various Midkemian novels. In the entire empire trilogy, the only person to smoke is Tasaio, incredibly dangerous and aroused by death and pain; he smokes a narcotic opium/coca expy.
  • Heel-Face Brainwashing: The Returning seems to qualify. The affected Moredhel hears the "Call of Elvandar" and over a span of years, culminating in a single, sudden switch, converts to an Eledhel. The conversion involves a full-scale Loss of Identity, complete with taking on a different name. Their previous self is explicitly said to be considered dead by all involved. Barring the Moredhel, who view the Returning as the result of magical manipulation and corruption of the mind, this potentially questionable aspect of the eledhel is never explored in-story.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Duke Kaspar gets one of these, being the protagonist of Exiles Return and becoming a hero in the later books after having been the Arch-Enemy of the protagonist of Talon of the Silver Hawk and King of Foxes.
  • Hellish Horse: The legendary Dark Elf chieftain Murmandamus had one of these in A Darkness at Sethanon. Indeed, it's on the cover of some editions of the book.
  • Heir Club for Men: The Kingdom of the Isles is a typical patriarchal monarchy. Also, the plot of Prince of the Blood centers upon fears of the Empire of Kesh becoming matriarchal.
  • Heroic Bastard: Jimmy The Hand/Duke James. In both senses of the phrase, as he is a Son of a Whore and a Magnificent Bastard.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Roald in A Darkness At Sethanon. Gorath in Betrayal, Pug and Tomas in Magician's End.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Though they may not be the ultimate Big Bads, in A Kingdom Besieged it's revealed that the Pantathians and the Valheru, who were believed dealt with, are still quite alive and may have masterminded the war between the Kingdom of the Isles and Kesh.
  • Hive Mind: The cho'ja have some variation on this. The will of the queen is all, but the other cho'ja have some independence and identity. The queen began life independent, but merged with some sort of greater consciousness in maturity. They speak to one another using vocal language, but that language somehow doesn't need to be physically heard to be part of the hive memory.
    • The Dread also operate on this principle. All of the Dread are actually manifestions of a single entity.
  • Hive Queen: The ant-like cho'ja race of Kelewan live in hives and are ruled by queens.
  • Honor Before Reason: The Tsurani culture is shown to be built on this in the Empire trilogy. (Also results in plenty of Honor-Related Abuse.)
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: Being caught between worlds can really suck.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Most of Feist's chapters have a one-word heading, describing the focus of the chapter. (i.e. 1. Slave, 2. Estate)
  • I Have Many Names: Macros The Black.
  • Immortality Immorality: There's a lot of evil wizards using necromancy to obtain Eternal Youth/Eternal Life.
  • I Never Told You My Name: Played with. Erik von Darkmoor is approached by a friendly man, whom he has never met, but who calls him Erik. When the man switches to calling him "von Darkmoor" instead, Erik's squadmates stick a knife in his back. When Erik asks how they knew this man was up to no good, the squadmate says that the man might have overheard "Erik" somewhere, but everyone was under strict orders not to use the name "von Darkmoor".
  • Inn Between the Worlds: Honest John's - a bar/inn located in The Hall of Worlds, which links numerous worlds and planes of reality.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Most of the servants in Kesh play this role towards Erland in Prince of the Blood.
    • Well, for a given value of innocent. The servants know damn well what they are doing (and do it damn well) but since Keshian nobility doesn't the same taboos regarding public nudity and pre-marital sex that the Kingdom of the Isles nobility do, the innocence comes more from their not understanding why anyone would object to having a dozen nude women (or men) waiting in an honored guest's quarters to help them bathe and ... ahem ... relax before dinner.
  • Interspecies Romance: Human/Valheru hybrid Tomas and elf queen Aglaranna.
  • Jerk Ass: Roo has his moments in Rise of a Merchant Prince. Tim Jacoby is definitely a major jerkass.
    • Prince Patrick.
    • The Regent Lord of the Taredhel.
  • Kesh Called; They Want Bosania Back: Some political factions in the Keshian Empire wish to reclaim all of the northern provinces that were annexed by the Kingdom (Basically the entire Western Realm). This is despite the fact that by the time of the last attempt by those factions to reclaim them, they hadn't been Keshian for more than four hundred years. More level heads realize that even if they could spare the manpower to make a serious attempt at doing this it would take a century or more to recoup the cost of such a war.
  • Kill 'em All: Most of the original cast from the first book is dead, the series having spanned some two centuries now.
    • The end of The Serpentwar Saga is notable for killing off most of Feist's more popular protagonists and destroying a major city where many of the books' were set.
    • Feist may have topped himself when, in The Darkwar Saga, he destroyed the entire planet of Kelewan.
  • Kill It with Fire: Standard practice of dealing with Nighthawks after the Riftwar, where they displayed the bothersome habit of coming back stronger only minutes after being killed. Though they never demonstrated this power since, Nighthawk bodies and lairs are still thoroughly torched whenever possible.
    • Also, the battle magic of the priests of Prandur, the fire god. Such a priest sets a wing of Krondor's palace ablaze while confronting a magical shadow slayer in Krondor: the Assassins. He was nice enough to save it as a last resort though.
  • King Trope the Nth: King Rodric The Fourth
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Prince Arutha, who is a genuinely noble Noble but has always been disposed toward a gloomy demeanor and snarky humor. His mother's pet name for him was "little storm cloud".
  • Last Stand: Mercenary Roald gets one in A Darkness at Sethanon, volunteering to stay behind and hold off the scouts perusing him and his companions.
  • Left Hanging: The plot of the unfinished Riftwar Legacy series. Who is the Crawler? How does Jazhara die? Will we ever find out?
    • Well, considering that William, who had a relationship with Jazhara, said that he will never love again as a result of her death, indicates that she was Stuffed In The Fridge.
  • Legendary Weapon: The Hammer of Tholin is an ancient weapon that belonged to the last king of the dwarves, believed to be lost to the ages. The lore attached to it is so strong that its recovery allows Dolgan to become the first king of the dwarves since its loss. It's lost in Magician's End, along with Dolgin.
  • Light Is Not Good: Ashen-Shugar may have been the only Valheru with a smidgen of wisdom, common sense, and responsibility, but don't make the mistake of assuming he didn't joyfully do all those things the other Valheru did just because his colour scheme is white and gold.
    • Zaltais of Eternal Despair, a being summoned by the ultimate Big Bad from the 7th Circle of Hell/dreamt up by the ultimate Big Bad looks like an angel made of light.
  • Long Bus Trip: Given that the cycle spans over two centuries by now, it's expected for characters to be Put On The Bus now and then, and occasionally die off-screen as time goes on. But the most extreme example is Owyn Belefote, who is introduced as a central Betrayal at Krondor character, accepted as part of the canon in the novelisation, and then disappears, with barely even a mention in the two sequels to the novelisation. Despite becoming a magician of some power at the end of the Betrayal, he allegedly abandoned the path of magic, went home, reconciled with his father and lived a normal life.
    • Interestingly, that is the exact opposite of what Owyn does in the game. In the game he is rewarded for his service to the crown with a full scholarship to Stardock (Which incidentally ensures that he will be spending the next several years around Pug so that he can ensure that the boy doesn't accidentally mention the Lifestone). He is not seen or mentioned in the next game. So basically he got put on a different bus.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Lysle Rigger to Jimmy The Hand.
  • Long-Running Book Series
  • Loveable Rogue: Jimmy The Hand is pretty much the embodiment.
  • Mad Lib Fantasy Title: Since The Riftwar Saga, most of the titles have fallen into a pattern of BLANK of a/the BLANK BLANK. (i.e. Shadow of a Dark Queen, Rise of a Merchant Prince, Rage of a Demon King, etc.)
  • Mad Oracle: Pretty much any sentient being who acted as a host to The Oracle of Aal eventually became this. At least until Pug finds The Oracle a suitable soulless body in A Darkness At Sethanon.
  • The Magnificent: Nakor the Blue Rider! Who is always Nakor The Blue Rider, even if he is wearing orange robes and doesn't have a horse.
  • Meaningful Rename: Pug, upon completing his training as a Black Robe, is given a new secret name as well as a new name to be called by; Milamber. We are not told his secret name but we are told that it means, in the ancient Tsurani tongue, means "one who stands between worlds".
  • Medieval European Fantasy: The Kingdom of the Isles.
  • Metal Poor Planet: The series gets started when magicians from metal-poor Kelewan develop a way to create rifts leading to other worlds. Scouts report that the world of Midkemia has unimaginable wealth in metal just lying around; a Midkemian viewing a magical recording of the events recognizes the "wealth" as being trash heaps and slag piles.
  • Might Makes Right: This is the basis of Valheru morality. If a Valheru wants to do something, the only reason they won't is if someone is strong enough to stop them.
  • Moral Dissonance: Many issues concerning the Moredhel. One particularly jarring scene involves two scouts deliberately leading a troop of Tsurani into a group of migrating Moredhel women and children. After dooming them to be cut to shreds, they talk in surprise about how unexpectedly pretty those Moredhel were for a race that's supposed to be evil. While this could be a realistic depiction of the sort of enemy dehumanisation typical in prolonged warfare, one of the scouts, Martin, has been raised by Eledhel, whose moral uptightness is placed on a pedestal many times in the series. However, the Moredhel are not called the Brotherhood of the Dark Path for nothing - signs at least point to that Path being what keeps them from re-joining their kin. Ambition Is Evil, much?
    • One controversial issue is the Returning (i.e. when a Moredhel leaves behind their former life and embraces the ways of the eledhel): Heel-Face Turn, or Heel-Face Brainwashing? note 
  • Multiple Choice Past: Macros tells a couple of mutually exclusive backstories for himself.
  • The Multiverse: Feist's universe is made up of an extensive cosmology.
  • Mutually Exclusive Magic: Magic in Feist's cosmology was originally set between two types of magic; Lesser Path (they get their power from books and artifacts) and Greater Path (they channel magic directly through their bodies). By the time of A Darkness at Sethanon, Pug has determined that magic is magic and that there are no limits, save what the magician imposes on themself.
    • And then there's Nakor, who insists that There Is No Magic at all and what everybody calls magic are just simple tricks anyone can do.
  • Mythopoeia: Feist's universe is one of the most complex in all of High Fantasy.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Miranda coerced Pug into trying to destroy the Emerald Queen's fleet and it almost got him killed.
  • Never Found the Body: Delekhan used this to claim that Murmandamus was still alive and being held prisoner in Sethanon (No Moredhel saw him fall, and the body left behind after Arutha killed him was Pantathian, not Elven). To prevent this from happening a second time, Pug created an illusion of Delekhan rescuing Murmandamus only for both of them to be killed in front of a sizable portion of the Moredhel army, thus ensuring that there are plenty of witnesses to state that both of them were definitely dead.
  • Nice Hat: By the time of the Serpentwar, Amos Trask's hat is known throughout the Bitter Sea. Prince Nicholas wears it as part of his admiral's uniform, and to paraphrase the books, nobody made sport of that hat.
  • Nonindicative Name: Macros The Black. He is a wizard in the service of good. He favors simple brown monk-style robes. And he is described as being of Caucasian appearance. There is nothing "black" about him in any sense of the word. He pretty much invented the Black Sorcerer myth himself convince people to avoid landing on his island.
    • There is also Nakor The Blue Rider, who is without a horse and is clad in an orange robe when we first encounter him. At the end of Prince of the Blood, the only reward he asks for his part in averting a war between the two most powerful nations in the world is for a blue robe to wear and a black horse to ride, so that he can again be Nakor The Blue Rider.
  • Noodle Implements: Nakor the Blue Rider's prior visit to Novindus
    Nakor: It's a long story having to do with a trick that didn't work the way I thought it would, some temple relics I thought were abandoned, and a secret priesthood with no sense of humor.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Prince Arutha faces off against the Big Bad in A Darkness at Sethanon, due to a prophecy that says the Lord of the West must be defeated before said Big Bad can lead his people to victory.
    • It's worth noting that Lord of the West is not an official title of the Prince of Krondor, although it could easily be understood to apply to him, since Krondor is the seat of The Western Realm of the Kingdom of the Isles. Also, since prophecies are difficult to interpret, sometimes being fulfilled multiple times under different circumstances, and especially since "Murmandamus" was a fake who deliberately invoked the prophecy just so he could raise an army, this might not even have applied to him at all. (Didn't stop him from pulling it off, though...)
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Feists's dragons are, for the most part, dumb beasts. The one exception is golden dragons, who are capable of amazing magical feats and shape-shifting. Any dragon that lives long enough may eventually shed its skin and become a golden dragon.
  • Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Feist's dwarves are the standard issue Tolkien model.
  • Our Elves Are Better: Feist's elves are one race which break down into separate "types". Chief among these are the Eldehel (Wood Elves), Moredhel (Dark Elves), Eldar (High Elves) and most recently, the star elves from another planet - yes, Space Elves. There is also the warlike and almost annihilated Glamredhel (Wild Elves) eventually being assimilated in Elvandar, and the Ocedhel (Lost Elves) of Novindus, who've long since become scattered and absorbed into the human societies there. The other elf race is the Sun Elves, who protect the Peaks of the Quor.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The Black Slayers - near unstoppable undead warriors, created when one kills an assassin who is sworn to the service of The Guild of Death.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Arutha goes incognito using the name Arthur. Justified and deliberate, since, as Amos Trask points out, if someone accidentally calls him by his real name, it can be waved away as a mishearing.
  • Pepper Sneeze: Used in The King's Buccaneer to take down a soul-drinking sorceress. A face full of pepper makes it very hard to focus on spell casting.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Arutha and Anita, to everyone's mutual happiness.
    • Although their marriage wasn't exactly arranged. Their parents were planning to arrange their marriage, but the Riftwar broke out before they could make it official. After the war ended, Arutha proposed to Anita on his own initiative.
  • Planet England: Averted, in that while the world was named (Midkemia), the continent upon which most of the early stories took place was not named until later.
  • Print Long Runners: The Riftwar Cycle has averaged nearly one book a year over the better part of three decades.
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: From some sources, yes. The ones involving the return of the dark elf hero Murmandamus, not so much.
  • Psychic Powers: Some forms of magic resemble this, such as Gamina's Tele Pathy, which her adopted father Pug is able to emulate to some degree with his magic.
  • The Quest: The centerpiece of most of the plots.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Macros The Black. We have no idea how old he really is but he has been fighting evil for a very long time.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Most conDoins before Prince Patrick, the Empress of Kesh during Prince of the Blood, Kaspar after the events of the Dark War, Pug, Tomas, Lord James, infact, it's just easier to say that any character with authority from Roldem or the Kingdom of the Isles is one of these, outside of Prince Patrick.
  • Red Herring: Much of the series from Rage of a Demon King on operates under the assumption that the Nameless One is the ultimate Big Bad directly or indirectly behind most everything Pug has faced. Magician's End reveals he was only responsible for Zaltais and the actions of Leso Varen/Sidi. The actual Big Bad was the Dread all along.
  • Retcon: Repeatedly, often without any explanation, regarding the nature of the metaverse and the layers of reality. The system seems to be set up differently every series. Also, established facts are often changed, such as Macros's backstory, Ralan Bek's nature or the source of Nakor's powers with a simple "I lied to you before but here's the real story" Hand Wave.
    • This is particularly jarring when it renders Bek's meaningful Sdrawkcab Name... well... meaningless.
    • However, all of this confusion over the cosmology pales to the royal stink some fans made when Lord Erik Von Darkmoor said that he regretted never having married and had children... despite having married girl-thief Kitty in Rage of a Demon King
    • Considering how many times we've had to revise our understanding of just one universe in our history, it's reasonable that anyone in a magical metaverse is going to have theories and incomplete understanding at best... it just never happens in fantasy stories for some reason. And Macros? He just loves telling wild tales and seeing who bites.
    • Post-Darkwar, the cosmology largely seems to have stabilized; as laid out in Magician's End, it's basically a more detailed version of what we got in that series, rather than a retcon. Magician's End also makes a point that the cosmology is so complicated no human mind can wrap around it in any accuracy, leaving it easily open to say previous understandings were just wrong.
  • Ret Gone / Un-Person: The ultimate goal of the harshest sentence for traitors to the Empress of Kesh is to ensure that their soul be forever alone, forgotten even by The Gods. To that end, the traitor's name is erased from the written records and forbidden to any child of noble birth. They are personally Excommunicated by the high priest of the chief god of the Keshian faith and denied entry into their afterlife.
  • Retirony: Arutha kept Gardan in the state of "You can retire as soon as the current situation is resolved" for twenty years.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: Most of Feist's magicians do favor robes, though only Kulgan is said to have a special wizarding hat. Patrus in Krondor the Betrayal has a floppier hat - anyone who didn't know he was a wizard might think he just wandered out of his house in his sleepwear. Magnus has to crawl through a hole in a wall in Flight of the Nighthawks, and wishes that Pug had not established that magicians should wear robes.
  • Royal Blood: It turns out that Martin Longbow has it.
  • Royally Screwed Up: King Rodric
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Too many to mention specifically, so let us just cite most of the protagonists up until the end of The Serpent War.
  • Running Gag: Jimmy The Hand's constant reply whenever he is asked for a reward in Silverthorn - "You could make me Duke of Krondor".
    • It eventually becomes such a Running Gag that Prince Arutha over-promotes James to Duke of Rillanon (the King's seat of power) just to see the expression on James' face when he finds out he's been given something better than Duke of Krondor.
      • It's even funnier when James eventually DOES become Duke of Krondor... just after Arutha dies.
    • Amos Trask's constant complaint to Prince Arutha: "You take all the fun out of life!"
      • Which was also James' response to being made Duke of Rillanon; "Amos Trask is right about you, you know. You DO take all the fun out of life."
      • And Amos Trask made the same accusation about Arutha's son Nicolas.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Lifestone
    • The Dread, at the end of the series
  • Sealed Evil in a Duel: Pug traps the Dreadking in a duel with Ashen-Shugar at the end of Magician's End.
  • Second-Hand Storytelling: Amos Trask is fond of this. Luckily, he's a very good storyteller.
  • Seppuku: The Tsurani practice this, with defeated warriors killing themselves rather than face the indignity of being captured or enslaved on the battlefield. They may also, if shamed, beg for the right to kill themselves.
    • The heads of Keshian noble families are allowed to do this if they aided but did not actively mastermind a treasonous plot against the Empress. Their families and servants are also allowed to go into exile with whatever they can carry off.
  • Sex Slave: Sandreena was raised as one.
  • Shoo the Dog: In Honored Enemy, the elf Tinuva "shoos" his friend Gregory of Natal to keep him from accompanying him on a suicide mission - though, owing to the pressing time, Gregory's stubborness and Tinuva's Moredhel origins, it's less "shoo the dog" and more "slash the dog with a dagger and threaten to permanently defang it unless it wisens up and leaves right now".
  • Signature Style: Feist likes the words "alien" and especially "quietly." A sizable proportion of all chapters begin with "(Character) sat quietly".
    • In fact, the first paragraph of every chapter in the cycle is a single simple declarative sentence, always structured "Subject verbed." The longest of these is six words.
  • Simultaneous Arcs: Most of the books have these, usually alternating between the mortal protagonists and whatever Pug is doing at the time.
  • Small Annoying Creature: Fantus the Firedrake.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Sandreena. A rare justified example, as she was forced into prostitution as a child because of it. Besides her disgust with the way most men look at her now, her relationships with them have ranged from awkward to miserable ever since, with only a single exception. She also isn't taken seriously as a warrior by some members of her order because of her looks.
  • Something Only They Would Say: The oath that Sidi, Amirantha and Belasco made as a child. It's the closest thing to sacred they have and it helps Amirantha deduce that the Big Bad of the Demonwar books has pulled a Grand Theft Me on Belasco.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Zig-zagged. The direct threat goes up from Magician to its sequels, then goes down again for Krondor's Sons, then follows a similar pattern between the successive series, culminating in the Chaoswar Saga where the Dread plan to eat the universe, kill the gods, and twist time so that none of it ever existed at all.
  • Son of a Whore: Jimmy the Hand is one.
    • As is Billy Goodwin in Shadow of a Dark Queen. Bringing it up is like jamming your thumb on his Berserk Button. Corporal Foster does it on purpose.
  • Soul Jar: Used by one of the major baddies; a necromancer named Leso Varen
    • Also used by Feist's demons on those they wish to play with AFTER killing them.
  • Spell Construction: Averted, as the more powerful magicians seem to be capable of performing magic through sheer force of will - no fancy rituals, tools or words needed.
  • Split Personality: Tomas/Ashen Shugar.
  • Sssssnake Talk: Used by the Panathians when they try to speak the language of the Kingdom of the Isles.
  • A Storm Is Coming: A Darkness At Sethannon opens with an ill wind moving around many of the protagonists, giving them a chill even as the Big Bad is making his first move against them.
  • Stable Time Loop: Subverted. Several books have Pug receiving messages sent to himself from the future to ensure things turn out correctly. Turns out they're actually being sent from the present by the Trickster God Banath.
  • Standard Fantasy Setting: The Kingdom of the Isles a fairly standard medieval Western European land, with elf and dwarf monarchies on their far borders.
  • Standard Royal Court: The Eastern Kingdom of the Isles, as well as the courts of Kesh are thick with politicking courtiers.
  • Succession Crisis: Magician ends with one, as one of the heroes is revealed to be a bastard son of the royal line and the eldest male, at a time when the Kingdom is already bleeding from a near civil war.
    • An impending succession crisis over the Earldom of LaMut drives most of the plot in Murder in LaMut. The fact that this issue was resolved in favor of someone who doesn't appear in the book in the much earlier published Magician seriously reduces the quality of the story.
    • Mistress of the Empire also features an argument over the Imperial Seat at the heart of its main plot.
    • Succession Crises in Kesh occur in Prince of the Blood and Flight of the Nighthawks.
    • Magician's End has this as the B-plot.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Not surprising considering that the books span a handful of generations - but still surprising in some cases. The most extreme perhaps being Prince Arutha, hero of the Riftwar, Lord of the West and all around badass dying shortly after falling off his horse just before the start of Shadow of a Dark Queen
  • Suddenly Suitable Suitor: Hal of Crydee falls in love with a Roldemish princess, but realizes that a minor duke whose domain is on the opposite side of the continent from Roldem has little to offer her father in the way of a political alliance (Especially once he learns that Crydee has been occupied by a foreign power while he was out). Then he ends up as King of the Isles after a short civil war.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Nakor's view is that there is no magic, there are only aspects of the universe that we do not understand yet, and that what he does is simply tricks that anybody can learn. This lets him dispense with much of the ritual and effort that magicians use.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Everyone knows that the Keshian Intelligence Service does not exist.
  • Sword and Sorcerer: Pug and Tomas, during the rare occasions they team in battle together.
    • To a lesser degree, Kulgan and Meecham. And Miranda and the mercenary Boldar Blood. And Gorath and Owyn. And Amirantha and Brandos.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Many of Feist's villains are revealed to be The Pawn of a greater evil and to have suffered just as much as the heroes. More frequently, they are revealed as Not So Different from the heroes.
    • The best example are probably the Moredhel. In Darkness at Sethanon, a Pantathian disguises himself as their legendary leader Murmandamus come back from the dead in order to raise an army - which he leads against the Kingdom, deliberately causing massive casualties on both sides, as he is actually feeding off the escaped life force to power himself up.
  • Take Up My Sword: After Pug's Heroic Sacrifice at the end of Magician's End, his role as Midkemia's most powerful guardian transfers to Magnus.
  • Tele Pathy: Gamina, adopted daughter of Pug, is a natural born telepath. Other beings, like the Oracle of Aal, also communicate through some form of Mind Speech.
  • They Fight Crime: "I'm goodhearted and honest." "I'm goodhearted and sneaky." Together, They Fight Evil!
  • Thieves' Guild: The Mockers of Krondor are one of the best in all High Fantasy.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Lady Mara, in The Empire Trilogy
  • Title Drop: Several of the books (Daughter of the Empire, Servant of the Empire, Mistress of the Empire, and Shards of a Broken Crown, at a minimum) use the title in dialog on the last few pages of the book, generally in a summation of recent events.
  • To Absent Friends: At the end of Betrayal, the main characters have a toast in honour of Gorath's Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Pug was a helpless apprentice wizard until it was discovered that the problem wasn't with him, but his teachers were doing it wrong. Practically overnight (okay, through 4 years of training) he becomes powerful enough to take on the entire Empire and quickly became the most powerful magician in the series.
    • This is what Robert de Loungville intended to have happen to the "desperate men.", he succeeded.
  • Torture Always Works: Played straight, Lampshaded and subverted in various books.
    • Played straight in Flight of the Nighthawks, when the heroes torture an assassin-guild member for information on their secret base. Even then, it takes several days and they only get the information after tricking him into thinking of the location with a telepath present.
    • Lampshaded in Krondor, The Betrayal, ex-thief James notes that information gained through torture is unreliable, as the innocent will agree to anything to stop the pain and the guilty are generally strong-willed enough to resist anything you can do to them while leaving them capable of speech.
      • His companion, the Moredhel Gorath, counters that Torture Always Works if you know what you are doing.
    • Averted in Silverthorn, when the heroes attempts to torture a would-be assassin for information lead to the creation of a Black Slayer.
    • Averted again in Silverthorn, when the heroes attempt to torture another assassin and he scoffs at their efforts, saying that whatever they do to him is nothing compared to what The Guild of Death and the power behind it will do to him if he talks.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Tomas and his transformation into a hybrid human/Valheru, complete with a heaping helping of terrorizing megalomania before the elven Spellweavers helped reinforce his self-control. This happens a couple of times later, to other people- the Emerald Queen was trying to become a human/Valheru hybrid, but got eaten and replaced by a demon before she managed it. In the Chaoswar books, a mercenary successfully becomes the emobodiement of another Valheru, Draken-Korin.
  • Trainingfrom Hell: What Erik, Roo and the "desperate men" went through.
  • Treacherous Advisor: Guy du Bas Tyra in Magician.
  • Trickster Mentor: Nakor, both during his brief time at Wizarding School Stardock and later as a trainer with the Conclave of Shadows.
  • Trilogy Creep: The Riftwar Saga was written as a trilogy, but the sheer size of Magician caused the publisher to break it down into two books.
    • Averted with the 10th year anniversary edition.
    • Likewise, The Serpentwar Saga was originally planned as a trilogy, but Feist's desire to spend more time and detail describing one character's journey from Loveable Rogue to Master Trader, resulted in Rise of a Merchant Prince being added into the series.
  • Tsundere: Carline, first towards Pug, then towards Laurie.
  • True Neutral: Members of the Order of Dala, Shield of the Weak, are supposed to support the weaker side in any conflict. In practice, this usually means they support the side of good. There are exceptions: for example, when a group of mercenaries decide to massacre the death cultists who hired them, Sandreena first helps the cultists' slaves/sacrificial victims escape, then awakens the cultists just before the mercenaries attack to make it more of a fair fight.
  • Twilight Of The Gods: The immensely powerful, universe-conquering, godlike Valheru who originally ruled Midkemia were defeated in a major battle, leaving the remaining races behind to carve out an existence without their powers.
  • Unexpected Successor: Several examples.
    • As the second son of a minor Duke, Arutha conDoin wasn't really next in line for becoming Prince of Krondor, the capital city of the Western Kingdom, second in power only to the king himself. But then the war happened.
    • In Betrayal at Krondor, this is part of Gorath's backstory. A Speaker's Peace ends in a bloodbath. While a moredhel would need a few centuries and lots of experience behind their belt before expecting to become chieftain, the near-massacre of his clan - including the former chieftain, his father - thrusts the leadership on Gorath... at the age of twelve.
    • In A Kingdom Besieged, Duke Henry of Crydee dies suddenly, leaving his eldest son Hal (who is currently halfway around the world, at university) as the new Duke and his middle son Martin (who is the highest ranking nobleman left in Crydee following an invasion) as the Warden of the West - commander of all the armed forces in the area.
  • Using You All Along: When Armengar is besieged by a vast army of moredhel, led by the legendary moredhel leader Murmandamus, the good guys make the most of the city's defenses to make the death toll of the moredhel invaders trully staggering, including blowing up the whole city when the army finally does break through the walls. Turns out Murmandamus (who was, unknown to the moredhel he was commanding, a pantathian in disguise) was gathering up all that escaping life force for power to access the Lifestone in Sethanon, and it didn't matter to him in the slightest if the dead soldiers were moredhel or Kingdom.
  • Vain Sorceress: Jorna/Lady Clovis.
  • Variant Chess: The Tsurani have a game called 'shah', which is exactly the same as the Midkemian game 'chess'. It's an early hint that the two worlds have a relatively recent shared history.
  • Vertebrate with Extra Limbs: The Tsurani have six-legged pack animals, similar to cows.
    • Actually, pretty much all life native to Kelewan is six-limbed. The Tsurani aren't native; neither are their dogs.
  • Vestigial Empire: Queg considers itself the last true remnant of the Keshian Empire. Subverted in that Kesh is still doing just fine; it just lost control of some outer provinces (including Queg) when a civil war a few centuries earlier forced the recall of their garrisons.
  • Walk into Mordor: Arutha and Company do this in Silverthorn (walking into the one valley they can find the titular plant, which is guarded by moredhel) and A Darkness at Sethanon (walking into the moredhel-dominated Northlands).
    • Pug leading an expedition into the Dasati realm.
  • Wandering Jew: Macros The Black's father might have been him.
    • To a degree, Macros himself seems to be similarly cursed.
  • Warrior Poet: The Moredhel chieftain Gorath - he's striving to save his people from self-destruction - which, since it implies being less hostile to their neighbours, is something they're generally not happy to hear.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Martin Longbow.
  • Whatever Mancy: Makes mention of geomancy (manipulation of earth and rock) and necromancy.
  • Where It All Began: A Darkness At Sethanon has two groups of heroes racing the villains to the place where the original Final Battle between The Gods and The Valheru occured. This location is used as the setting of the climax again and again in later books, such as the story of Krondor: The Betrayal and the Serpentwar Saga. It also shows up as the site of a major battle in Magician's End, but not the climax this time.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Pug may not be completely immortal but he has been cursed with the certainty that he will outlive every single person he has ever loved.
  • The Wise Prince: Prince Arutha of Krondor.
    • A darker and grittier version is the moredhel chieftain Gorath, whose chosen purpose in life is to protect his people and who flinches at nothing to save them from those seeking to manipulate them as well as from themselves and their own murderous self-destructive ways.
  • Wizard Beard: Played straight, averted AND subverted in Magician.
    • Pug's teacher Kulgan is pretty much the stereotypical fat, bearded, pipe-smoking wizard.
    • Tsurani Great Ones forgo beards, as the culture disapproves of free men sporting facial hair. Only male slaves - who are not allowed small sharp blades for obvious reasons - have beards.
    • Pug, who lives on Kelewan as a slave before his magical talents are discovered, keeps his beard upon becoming a Great One, despite the cultural taboos against it.
  • Wizards Live Longer: Most magicians, for one reason or another, seem to be capable of Immortality. The good ones just seem to manage it and the bad ones seek out the bad ways of doing it.
    • It's more like being a magic user of significant power will slow down your aging considerably, but won't make you immortal and you can still be killed. The good guys are content with this, mostly. The bad guys aren't, and use various unethical means to try and get the real deal.
    • Justified in the case of the good guys, since the gods need them to protect Midkemia and you can't do that with a typical human lifespan.
  • Wizarding School: The Assembly of Magicians on Kelewan. Later, Pug's academy at Stardock and the school on Sorcerer's Island.
  • Word of God: Feist's official website has an FAQ section, answering several common continuity questions.
  • The Worf Effect: The original Riftwar trilogy establishes the Valheru as having been a race of Badasses par excellence. When the demons, dread, and Dasati are introduced later, their badass-cred is established with the revelation that all defeated the Valheru (or at least fought them to a draw) in their backstory.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: The first Riftwar was started after the Tsurani discovered that Midkemia was rich in metals that their home-world lacked. Indeed, silver is so rare on Kelewan that the silver coins used to pay for one meal in a tavern in Midkemia would be worth enough on Kelewan to support a noble family for one year.
    • Conversely, gems are so common upon Kelewan that the modest amount one lord gives his son as he journeys to Midkemia are worth enough for two young men to retire in comfort on Midkemia. Then again, gems see a lot more use on Midkemia than in our world. Betrayal at Krondor states that you see as many rubies as coins when doing any major business in the Kingdom.
  • Worthy Opponent: How the Tsurani and Kingdom forces wind up regarding each other.
  • Write Back to the Future: Pug recieves messages through a magic box, which he believes were written by his future self, giving him advice on what actions he must take at certain times.
  • You All Meet in an Inn: Nearly half the party is recruited this way in Silverthorn. A year later in A Darkness At Sethanon, the separated heroes rejoin at the same inn.
  • You Shall Not Pass: Roald's Heroic Sacrifice in A Darkness At Sethanon.
  • Undying Loyalty: Calis earnt Robert de Loungville and Erik von Darkmoor's. Erik later ends up earning this from the Crimson Eagles.


Riddley WalkerLiterature of the 1980sRihannsu
The RifterFantasy LiteratureThe River Kings' Road
Realm of the ElderlingsLong-Running Book SeriesShannara

alternative title(s): The Riftwar Cycle
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