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YMMV / The Riftwar Cycle

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  • Complete Monster:
    • The Riftwar Saga: Murmandamus is the Big Bad of Silverthorn and A Darkness at Sethanon. A Pantathian serpent-priest who plans to bring the long-banished Valheru back into the world, Murmandamus disguises himself as the reincarnation of the moredhel's (dark elves) greatest leader, uniting the mountain, forest, and hill clans in a campaign of genocide against their human and eledhel enemies. He sends assassins after the Prince of Krondor, which gets numerous people caught in the crossfire. He steals the souls of his human servants in a ritual that involves sacrificing a nine-year-old girl. He creates the Black Slayers, soulless moredhel, bound in service to him forevermore. He murders a seer who gave him the information he wanted, and massacres hundreds of slaves when he realizes that his campaign isn't going to start when he wants it to. In A Darkness at Sethanon, he destroys the cities of Armengar and Sethanon, lines his headquarters at Sar-Sargoth with a thousand human heads on pikes, kills hundreds of his own men in a fit of rage, tramples his right-hand serpent-priest, Cathos, to death, consumes the souls of all those who have died aiding him, and in the end, tries to activate the Lifestone, an Artifact of Doom that will slay all life on Midkemia from bacteria to humanity, in order to loose the Valheru. Believing that he will attain demigodhood when the Valheru return, Murmandamus dies laughing about how "I am a thing of death, Lord of the West. I am ever the servant of Darkness."
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    • The Riftwar Legacy: Bear, the Big Bad of Krondor: Tear of the Gods, is a vicious mercenary pirate initially employed as muscle by the sorcerer Leso Varen, aka Sidi, to gain the Tear of the Gods, quickly becoming something far more uncontrollable and ambitious. With the power of a dark amulet making him impervious to all forms of harm, Bear forces a pirate crew led by Knute to join him under the threat of death—making good on his threats by tortuously murdering two men for slights—and massacres the Ishapian ship carrying the Tear. Once he loses the Tear and is further betrayed by Knute, Bear resurfaces and comes down on Krondor in a vicious fury. Bear slaughters his way into a tavern, pleasuring himself with Sir William's fiancée before murdering her, kills his way into the city jail and vengefully cuts Knute apart, and indiscriminately murders his way out of Krondor and through the sewers, lining dozens of bodies behind him and setting a populated orphanage on fire purely as a diversion. Once he's finally tracked down by William and a score of Krondorian soldiers, Bear gleefully tosses his own men to die in his stead even despite his own invulnerability before single-handedly ripping apart the Krondorian guard and attempting to slay all those who stand before him and the Tear, proclaiming he'll be nothing more than a god. A barbarian too much even for the sinister Leso Varen, Bear is little more than animalistic wrath and savage fury on legs.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: At least for thousands of people from Midkemia in Riftwar Saga, who ended being slaves of the Tsurani during the invasion. Is not stated what happened to them and by Pug POV (and the statement of Asayaga) they either ended in hellish conditions dying like animals or as a sex toys of the conquerors. You know, a happy alliance between worlds.
    • Later books (in particular The Empire Trilogy and the circumstances of Kevin leaving Mara's service) seem to indicate that a prisoner exchange and release of Midkemian slaves back to their homeworld followed.
  • Idiot Plot: A last-minute plan change in Shadow of a Dark Queen arises when Roo remarks that the Emerald Queen will need to build a new armada before she can send an army halfway around the world, and Calis and company decide to try destroying Novindus' biggest shipyard to put her back several years. Until Roo spoke up, nobody thought to ask where she would get ships of the size and number she would need to carry out her inevitable invasion.
    • To be fair, everyone was so focused on not dying that they didn't have much time until then to stop and think.
  • Iron Woobie:
    • James Jamison/Jimmy the Hand. He grew up on the streets after watching a drunken sailor kill his mother and once he becomes Arutha's squire, he goes through alot of physical abuse throughout his life and sees alot of death and horrible things and nearly dies a few times. Not once does he complain beyond snarky comments here and there. Luckily his determination pays off as he meets Gamina and they have a long and happy life together until their deaths.
    • Mara, in The Empire Trilogy. To elaborate, the first book begins with her learning the deaths of her father and her brother, before being forced to become the ruling lady of a weakened House while one of the most powerful noble families in the Empire wants her dead. During the Trilogy, she has to struggle to keep herself and the House Acoma alive, while the attempts of her enemies hurt and kill the ones she loves. In the first book, she starts off with no resource, is nearly murdered before she could even mourn her father and brother, has to marry an abusive husband and to plan his death after he gave her a son (which deeply scars her) and loses Papewaio (one of her Parental Substitute). In the second book, her surrogate mother Nacoya dies to protect her son against an assassin and she has to send her lover Kevin back in his world. In the third book, she has to challenge the Great Ones themselves. Her first son Ayaki dies in the first chapter because of an assassin and she loses her third baby because of a poisoning attempt. She also becomes sterile after her fourth birth and, because of that, ultimately chooses in the end of the book to divorce with her loving second husband Hokanu in order to let him have a male heir for his own noble House. Then, in the end, the Great Ones' wrath causes the deaths of some of her closest servants and friends (including her last remaining Parental Substitute Keyoke). During all this time, after each breakdown, she forces herself to keep the impassive face expected from a Tsurani woman. At least she ends up victorious, with her second son Justin becoming emperor, Hokanu finding a new loving wife, and her being reunited with Kevin. But still, talk about earning your happy ending...
  • Mary Sue Topia: The eledhel in Elvandar. They are all morally upstanding, all beautiful, all skilled. Their very home is a work of art, the mere sight of it sure to drive the most grizzled veteran to tears. They harbor no resentment for anyone, regardless of reason. Any elves who don't live as they do are considered unfortunate deviations from the ideal (as the term "The Returning" implies), but are generally happy to abandon their whole life's worth of teachings and values (and, in the case of the moredhel, family and friends too) and go live with the eledhel as soon as they realise how awesome they are. The glamredhel literally skip off to Elvandar as soon as they learn it exists. And of course, moredhel can go "good" and become eledhel, but no eledhel ever goes bad. Ever.
    • There is ONE character in all the books who's been to Elvandar and has anything negative to say about it: Calis, Tomas and Aglaranna's son. He considers its static, unchanging ways to be "boring" and vastly prefers human company.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Duke James/Jimmy The Hand, in either sense of the word.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: Avoided, as Betrayal at Krondor received critical acclaim and Feist liked it enough to novelize it personally. He even transported some of the game characters into his later books.
  • The Scrappy: Prince Patrick. He's an arrogant spoilt brat who rules over the Western Realm and is clearly unfit for the position to the point that no one really seems to like working for him and Pug can barely tolerate him.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: In King of Foxes, second book of the Conclave of Shadows trilogy, Talwin Hawkins joins Kaspar of Olasko and becomes The Mole for the Conclave of Shadows. Since the end of Talon of the Silver Hawk, the narration mentioned several times that, in order to keep his cover intact, Talwin may have to hunt down and try to kill his friends of the Conclave if he's ordered to. So, you think the book will be the story of how he'll have to play a dangerous double-dealing, informing the Conclave while also hunting them in a convincing manner to not raise Kaspar's suspicions? Actually no. Talwin only accomplishes two missions for Kaspar, none of them having something to do with the Conclave. He's then betrayed by Kaspar after the third and thrown in jail, not because he's been unmasked, but because he failed. The rest of the book is him jail-breaking and devising a plan to invade Kaspar's fortress.
  • Unfortunate Implications: In The Kings Buccaneer, it is revealed that Pug and several other priests attempted to use healing magic to fix the club foot of Nicholas conDoin while he was a child but it never worked. Pug theorizes this was because Nicholas' status as "the deformed child" gave him an excuse for his failures in life and made him subconsciously resist the healing magic as being cured would rob him of his excuse. While this was meant to establish a dramatic speech about how fear can be a seductive thing that drives men to seek comfort and prevent them from striving to be better, it still sounds somewhat ableist out of context to present a protagonist who cannot be cured of his disability until he wants to be normal bad enough.
  • The Woobie: Quite a few examples, actually.
    • Pug conDoin, The Hero of the overall series. Despite his amazing powers, he was cursed to see everyone he loves die before him due to a deal with the Goddess of Death. All of his family and closest friends die and he can do nothing but watch it happen. The only life he's able to save is his son Magnus' due to a fluke on his part as well as a deal with the gods to die in his place. Basically, Pug's life sucks.
    • Pug's son, William conDoin's life sucks too, but not as much. He sees two women he loves die, the first woman is also heavily implied to have been raped before being murdered and dies in his arms. The second woman is who he considers his One True Love and he has to Mercy Kill her since she was possessed by a demon and it would have been impossible to save her. Thanks to these experiences, William gives up on romance forever and dies alone in the Serpentwar.
    • Nicholas conDoin, Arutha's third son. Mocked endlessly behind his back due to his deformed foot and bullied alot by his elder brothers he admired. He doesn't have much in the way of confidence as a young adult and when he has to kill for the first time, he's pretty horrified.
    • Erik von Darkmoor's surrogate sister Rosalynn. She's brutally raped by Erik's half-brother Stefan and ends up pregnant with his child. She probably found closure in the form of Erik killing Stefan though.
    • Eye of the Blue Winged Teal, or Teal for short, aka Talwin Hawkins' wife. Kidnapped when the Orosini were practically wiped out as a fifteen year old girl and raped endlessly until Talwin finds her when they're in their mid-late twenties and has a child from that rape who Talwin raises as his own. She's stated to never fully recover from her traumas, but she recovers enough to be Happily Married with Talwin and have another son.

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