The Riftwar Saga - An overview of Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar books
Crydee lies in the westernmost duchy of the Kingdom of the Isles. Here, an orphan kitchen boy named Pug was made an apprentice magician. An indifferent student of magic, he nevertheless rose to high station and became a squire of the court.
With his best friend Tomas, Pug discovered the wreckage of an alien vessel from Kelewan, a world dominated by the mighty Empire of Tsuranuanni. After several of the Duke’s men studied the remains of the ship, they surmised it had come through a magical gate called a rift and feared warships would follow.
Leaving his eldest son Lyam behind, Duke Borric and his younger son, Arutha, led a company of men south to Krondor to warn Prince Erland of the possible attack. In the woods they found themselves beset by Moredhel, but eventually escaped to the relative safety of the Mac Mordain Cadall, an ancient dwarven mine.
During the trek through the Mac Mordain Cadall, Tomas became separated from the group and found one of the last of the golden dragons, ancient and near death. The dragon told of his life and his encounter with a strange sorcerer, Macros the Black. Dying, he left Tomas with a magical gift of golden armor that would forever change his life.
When the anticipated Tsurani invasion came to pass, Borric took command of the Armies of the West and rushed into battle. Realizing the importance of learning more about the magical rifts, the Duke sent Pug into Tsurani-held territory, but the boy magician fell captive and was taken to Kelewan.
Enslaved by the Tsurani, Pug began a new life and fell in love with a girl named Katala, but was snatched away from his slave owner when it was learned he knew something of magic. Immediately he was taken to the Assembly of Magicians and began training in the Greater Path, a magic nonexistent in Midkemia.
Tomas matured into a warrior of stunning power, made so by his ancient armor, once worn by a Valheru — a Dragon Lord. Little was known of these legendary first people of Midkemia, save they were cruel and powerful and had kept the Elves and the Moredhel as slaves. Aglaranna, the Elf queen, feared Tomas was being consumed by the power of Ashen-Shugar, the ancient Dragon Lord whose armor he wore.
The Riftwar raged into its ninth year. Arutha feared they were losing the struggle and went to Krondor to appeal for help from the Prince. Finding the city besieged, Arutha was captured by the Mockers, the Guild of Thieves, and was befriended by a young pick-pocket named Jimmy the Hand, who would figure prominently in the future prince’s life.
Pug attended the Imperial Games on Kelewan, commemorating the Warlord’s smashing victory over Lord Borric. Pug became enraged at the cruelty displayed at the games, especially the brutal treatment of Midkemian prisoners. In a fit of rage, he destroyed the arena, shaming the Warlord and throwing the politics of the Empire into chaos. Pug then fled with Katala and his son William back to Midkemia.
In Midkemia, the war was going badly for the Kingdom of the Isles. During a mad offensive against the Tsurani, the King became mortally wounded and, lacking an heir, named Borric’s eldest son Lyam as the successor to the throne, also making Arutha the Prince of Krondor.
Eventually the Tsurani and the Kingdom sued for peace and brought the war to an end, but during the ceremony Macros the Black appeared and closed the rift between worlds. In the process, he was assumed to be killed.
All returned to the throne city of Rillanon for Lyam’s coronation, save Arutha and Pug who visited the isle where Macros had lived. A servant of Macros told them the sorcerer had destroyed the rift to avoid drawing attention to the Enemy, a vast and terrible power known to the Tsurani in ancient times who could use the rift to find its way to Midkemia.
For a year peace reigned in the Kingdom, but violence erupted once more as a member of the Nighthawks guild of assassins attempted to take Arutha’s life. Having saved the Prince’s life, Jimmy the Hand was forced to leave the Mockers and became a squire of the Prince’s court where he met Squire Locklear. Despite the differences in their upbringing, they became lifelong friends and comrades in arms.
Using Jimmy’s knowledge of the seedier elements of Krondor, the Prince created a plan to capture his assassins, but when confronted most of them chose suicide rather than surrender. One captive, a magically disguised moredhel, rose up from the dead and called upon his master Murmandamus, the evil leader of the Moredhel Nations of the North.
Alarmed, Arutha told his advisers of the danger but decided to proceed with his plans to wed Anita, daughter of the former Prince of Krondor. Unfortunately, a Mocker assassin slipped into the wedding and made a second attempt to kill Arutha. He struck the bride-to- be with an arrow tipped with a rare poison, Silverthorn.
While on a quest to find the antidote to the deadly Silverthorn and save Anita’s life, Arutha learned the Moredhel were acting on a prophesy that they would rise to power once the “Lord of the West” was dead. They believed Arutha was the “Lord” in question.
Pug determined that the dark forces behind Murmandamus’ incredible power were of Tsurani origin. The Enemy — the ancient terror mentioned by Macros’ servant at the end of the Riftwar — was attempting to find a way through the rift.
In Elvandar, Tomas was reunited with Pug who told him the Tsurani Enemy was trying to find a way into Midkemia. Pug also said both Kelewan and Midkemia faced their worst threat since the days of the Chaos Wars. He asked Tomas to come with him. Tomas agreed and, using his special powers, summoned a dragon, Ryath, upon whose back they could travel between dimensions and times.
Ryath took them to a being known as the Oracle of Aal who informed them that only Macros the Black knew the answers they sought.
In search of Macros, they travelled to the City of the Dead Gods where they discovered countless monuments. Tomas pointed out the gods and their duties and explained that originally Ishap had created a hundred gods, but only sixteen survived the insanity of the Chaos Wars to become the gods of Midkemia.
After he discovered yet another plot against his life, Arutha staged his death to throw his enemies off-track. While Krondor mistakenly mourned Arutha, he headed north to kill Murmandamus. At the boundary between the Kingdom and the territory of Murmandamus, the party was taken captive by strangers. They were led to the most militarily impressive city that any of them had ever seen — Armengar. They realized the city would be one of the first major targets that Murmandamus would attack before heading into the Kingdom.
Pug and Tomas eventually found Macros in the garden of the mysterious City Forever, but also found themselves caught in a time-trap set by the Enemyn who had stripped Macros of his power. They managed to outwit the Enemy and broke free from their temporal confinement.
At Armengar, Murmandamus attacked the city. Realizing they would be unable to hold the citadel from the Moredhel, Arutha and the city’s Protector, Guy du Bas-Tyra, ordered the city burned in an effort to incinerate Murmandamus’s army. Unfortunately the Moredhel leader escaped the city unscathed and Arutha and the rest of the refugees headed for Highcastle, the next stop on Murmandamus’s path.
En-route to assist Prince Arutha — Pug, Tomas and Macros passed through the Hall of Worlds, a place that gave them access to Midkemia. Tomas asked Macros about the Valheru. In response, Macros passed a hand over Tomas’s eyes and Tomas began to “remember” a past life as a Dragon Lord.
Years before, when Tomas had received the armor, he inherited the powers and mind of Ashen-Shugar, father of all the Valheru, who once strode the lands of Midkemia. Ashen-Shugar, like the rest of his kind, was continually at war with every being that lived and was one of the most powerful entities in the universe. Tomas and Ashen-Shugar shared a mind-link that spanned centuries, both learning from the link and gaining qualities of the other. This was how Tomas had become a legendary warrior and how Ashen-Shugar learned the quality of compassion.
Eventually the gods of Midkemia came into being and the Valheru warred upon them. In the process, time and space became warped. This was the time of the Chaos Wars, when the Valheru warred with thousands of different races on thousands of different worlds. Finally, one of the Valheru, Draken-Korin, forged a tool to use in the war, the Lifestone, an item tied to all life in the world. Since the gods were also tied to that life, the Valheru hoped to extinguish the gods with the Lifestone and escape through time, returning later to reclaim their world. Ashen-Shugar would not allow it and slew Draken-Korin. Later, as Ashen-Shugar grew old and tired, his life essence drained into his armor — the armor that was given to Tomas.
Macros explained that Murmandamus was likely to be swarming over Highcastle on the way to Sethanon, a city built on the ancient site of the Lifestone. They realized the Enemy was not a single entity, but was the combined will of all the ancient Valheru trying to come back and take Midkemia.
At Highcastle, the moredhel armies massed for the assault and Prince Arutha discerned part of the moredhel plan, though unaware of their goal. Realizing that Highcastle would be easily taken, he told the Baron to leave the castle; but the Baron insisted they could take anything the moredhel threw at them. The battle went terribly wrong and the Baron was killed during a Moredhel raid. The Prince was finally able to convince the surviving Highcastle commanders to quit the castle and head for Sethanon.
Pug contacted his daughter, Gamina, and summoned the magicians of his magical academy and the armies from Kelewan to meet him at Sethanon.
Sethanon was under attack and the defenders attempted to hold out for the arrival of reinforcements. Confronting Murmandamus on the walls of the city, Arutha identified himself to the moredhel as the “Lord of the West,” knowing Murmandamus was using this allegation to manipulate the will of his troops.
Tomas, Macros, Pug, Arutha, and Ryath descended to the Lifestone chamber far below the city. Macros informed them that if the moredhel reached the Lifestone, it would mean the end of all life on Midkemia.
Murmandamus strode through the bodies of the dead and drew his magic from death itself. Steeped in power, he decided that he was now strong enough. He abandoned his monstrous army and headed to the chamber of the Lifestone.
Protected by a talisman from Macros, Arutha began an incredible duel to the death with Murmandamus. Pug and Macros tried to hold closed the rift that the Enemy was attempting to open with the help of Murmandamus.
After great effort, Arutha killed Murmandamus. In death, Murmandamus's true nature was revealed. He was not a moredhel but a Pantathian snake priest, a race of beings dedicated to bringing their Valheru mistress, Alma-Lodka, back into the world. With his death, Pug and Macros felt a sudden surge of energy as the rift opened for a brief second, just long enough to let the ancient spirit of Draken-Korin into the room.
Tomas/Ashen-Shugar intercepted Draken-Korin as the evil Dragon Lord strode toward the Lifestone and the two began a fearsome battle. Finally, when it seemed Draken was going to activate the Lifestone, Tomas killed him and drove his golden sword through the Valheru and into the Lifestone.
For a moment there was a brilliant sparkle in the skies as the ghostly forms of the Dragon Lords appeared, but their power wasn’t equal to the powers of life that rejected them from the world. Suddenly everyone in the area was swept by a sense of joy and happiness. The Dragon Lords were defeated!
King Lyam dispensed titles and honors to the heroes of Sethanon while Pug and Tomas said a reluctant farewell to Macros. Ryath was mortally injured in the battle and Macros placed the Oracle of Aal into the dragon’s emptied mind and placed her in charge of the future defense of the Lifestone. Slowly, the veterans of the war went their separate ways.
Peace reigned. For ten years, the Kingdom prospered. Prince Arutha’s twin sons Borric and Erland grew into rambunctious teenagers; Squire Jimmy matured, becoming a much respected Seigneur of Krondor’s court; Pug returned to his Academy of Magic at Stardock and began a program of information exchange with the Assembly of Magicians on Kelewan, though refusing information specific to the battle of Sethanon; and Squire Locklear briefly entered military service under a daring garrison leader named Baron Moyiet who watched the moredhel with an unforgiving eye. His watch would not go unrewarded.
Still bitter over their defeat at Sethanon, the moredhel yearned for revenge, driven by a belief the Kingdom had tricked them and imprisoned their leader, Murmandamus. Battles raged between rival clans who sought to control the future of the Moredhel. Those who had migrated from the Green Heart during the Riftwar chafed to return to their ancient forests, but were captured or killed as various chieftains attempted to brutalize the clans into a fearful union. When at last a moredhel chieftain named Delekhan seized control of the ancient fortress Sar-Sargoth, he vowed revenge for the wrongs done to the moredhel as he unfurled a banner not seen for ten years… the battle standard of Murmandamus.
War would soon follow.