Midkemia is a fictional world created by a fantasy role-playing group and popularized by Raymond E. Feist where most of the Riftwar books take place. Only the Empire Trilogy, which was co-written with Janny Wurts, takes place entirely on Kelewan, another world connected to Midkemia by magically created rifts in space.
Midkemia is very similar to Earth in climate, and its flora and fauna. It has three continents: Triagia, Novindus and Wiñet. It has two oceans, though there are various names for them depending on the continent or nation. The Endless Sea is west of Triagia and is east of Novindus where it is called the Blue Sea. The Sea of Tears is east of Triagia and west of Novindus where it is called the Green Sea.
Triagia is the largest continent on Midkemia. Humans form the vast majority of the population of this continent, with other races contributing almost negligibly to the total. The extreme north is mostly sparsely inhabited wilderness with few enduring settlements. The continent surrounds, but does not completely enclose, two large seas, the Bitter Sea to the west and the Sea of Kingdoms to the east, which together form a moderately-sized isthmus in the middle of Triaga located about one-third of the length of the continent from south to north. The northern portion is heavily forested, but the south has few forests and is described in ways that would suggest a more equatorial latitude. The Jal-Pur desert is the most notable desert on the continent and occupies most of the central expanse of the southern landmass. The two largest nations on this continent are, from south to north, the Empire of Great Kesh and the Kingdom of the Isles.
The vast majority of Feist's work which feature Midkemia occur at least in part on Triagia, and most take place there in their entirety.
Novindus is the second largest continent on Midkemia with a variety of landscapes. It is to the west of the Triagia across the Endless Sea and to the east across the Sea of Tears, and it is not immediately clear from the literature which is the closer distance, suggesting that it is probably close to halfway around the globe in either direction. Politically, it has a collection of largely independent city-states which are spread out across the continent but form no overarching political system. The continent featured highly in Feist's Serpent War saga, in which the continent was largely laid to waste.
Macros the Black owns at least one map of this continent, and when Pug inherits this chart it is the first mention of another continent on Midkemia. Before learning of this map, the Endless sea was believed to be infinite. The first novel to describe the continent and have part of its story set there is The King's Buccaneer, in which the youngest Son of Prince Arutha travels there to rescue two young noblewomen who were captured during a raid on Crydee, on the west coast. Although few characters have any knowledge of the continent before actually going there, the gambler Nakor claims to have been there before, but did not know the continent's name.
The third continent on Midkemia. Sometime ages ago, part of the continent rose up some 600 feet creating an isolated plateau. The lower portion of the continent was settled by refugees from Triagia, during the purging of the Ishapian Temple of the Heretics of Al-maral. The upper portion (The Ethel-Duath) was populated by the Saaur lizard-men, a race of nomadic warriors also created by Alma-Lodaka but who were left on the world of Shila, rather than Midkemia, and who were brought to serve the Emerald Queen during the Serpentwar Saga. After the war was concluded, they were relocated by the magician Pug, who sought to remove them from the Kingdom without fighting.
Technology and Magic
During the period in which Feist's current books are set, Midkemia is on a technological par with 14th to 15th century Europe, with a few anachronisms. For example, shipbuilding seems to be as advanced as 17th-century Europe, with three-masted square-riggers in evidence but no gunpowder or cannons, though naphtha and Quegan fire oil is known. Generally, the world seems to be in a mostly pre-industrial agrarian state.
Magic in Midkemia is practiced by very few people. To the eyes of any nonmagician, anything that a person can do that cannot be explained is labeled magical. In the more superstitious rural areas, magic-users are usually shunned, or worse, captured and killed. Duke Borric of Crydee, with his foresight, bequeathed an island to Pug to start an academy devoted to magical studies, where magicians can gather without fear of discrimination and prejudice.
With Pug's education on Kelewan, it is revealed that these Midkemian arts are considered the Lesser Path of Magic, and the Kelewan magic is the so-called Greater Path. The Lesser Arts were seen as rudimentary talents, more focused to the very nature of magic, while the Greater Arts were seen as having greater effectiveness and practicality such as teleportation, conjuring energy from nothing, and so on. Pug's "parting shot" in Kelewan was to destroy the Tsurani Imperial Coliseum using a magically conjured windstorm and earthquake. The Paths are normally mutually exclusive - a Greater Path magician would not be able to invoke Lesser Path powers and skills.
There are several great magicians on Midkemia whose powers do not fit this dual-path model; Macros the Black, Pug conDoin (in his later years), Nakor the Isalani, Miranda, and Magnus, son of Pug and Miranda (and Robert De Lyse a student of Pug). Macros possessed abilities transcending the traditional Greater and Lesser Paths of magic; it is inconclusive whether this ability is a part of his gift upon becoming the agent for Sarig the "Lost" God of Magic (in truth it is Ban-ath, the God of thieves and gambler) , or if Macros was simply born with the ability like Pug. Similarly, Macros's protegé Pug, his daughter Miranda, and his grandson Magnus also possessed the ability to invoke Lesser or Greater path powers at will. Nakor also wielded magic not confined to the classical definition of Lesser and Greater paths, though he insists upon the idea that "there is no magic", but merely "tricks" in manipulating some elemental forces of the world. As the books progress, Pug comes to the realisation that Nakor is correct, and the limits of magic are merely a result of a lack of understanding among magicians.
These are instantaneous links between two places, often on entirely different planets or levels of reality. The Riftwar Saga involved the rift between Midkemia and the world of the Tsurani. They can be created (with difficulty) by proficient users of the Greater Magic, but the Tsurani maintained one using a machine. They are sometimes created by accident and fluke. Most rifts are unstable, and so move about in space. The Tsurani's machine was one of the first known devices to stabilise a rift and to make it fixed in one position. Rifts, whilst a powerful device for travelling, are a risky device as they attract the attention of the Enemy, an evil being of immense power and the foe behind the events in the books Silverthorn and A Darkness At Sethanon.
Throughout the rest of Midkemia's history various other rifts have appeared that are different from the norm. At the end of the SerpentWar Saga Pug, Nakor, Tomas and Miranda encounter a rift that is connected to Nalar. They fight Zaltais who is a being from Nalar's thoughts and force him into the rift.
During Kaspar's exile on Novindus he encounters some strange creatures and also 'wrong' armour. After his visit to the Pavilion of the Gods he learns that these creatures are coming from magnet driven rifts. The magnets being the 'wrong' armour, which is known as Talnoy who come from a dark planet on a separate plane of reality known as Kosridi.
Nakor is also found to have the ability to create what are thought to be controllable rifts of a diminutive size which are undetectable to the Enemy (possibly due to their size).Though when questioned by Pug he is unsure if referring to them as rifts is adequate but he suggests that they are foldings in space but is quite sure they are not rifts but different. Much the same as anything else to do with Nakor his bag is a mystery still to be revealed. These "rifts" are placed in the lining of his travel bag allowing access to a cave, where Nakor stores items he may need, and a warehouse containing oranges (one of Nakor's most well-known traits is the seemingly never-ending supply of oranges he carries with him).
Humans fled to Midkemia through rifts in space-time when the Dragon Lords rose up to challenge the gods and have become the dominant race on the planet. Humanity on Midkemia is as diverse as it is on Earth, with many clear analogues to real-world cultures, from Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.
- Eldar; the wise ones
- Eledhel; the light ones
- Moredhel; the dark ones
- Glamredhel; the mad/wild ones
- Ocedhel; the "people from across the sea" are elves from the continent of Novindus.
- Anoredhel; elves of the sun
- Taredhel; elves of the stars
The elves were originally the servants of the Valheru, until Ashen-Shugar released them when the other Valheru went to fight the chaos wars. The Anoredhel, or Tirithedhel (Guardian Elves) in the Valheru language, were freed, but Ashen-Shugar requested that they remained in the position as guardians of the Quor.
Many years before the Riftwar, a moredhel chieftain Murmandamus once united the moredhel clans of the north in a Great Uprising to conquer the glamredhel. When Murmandamus was killed, the moredhel clans scattered and fled back to the Northlands, never again uniting under a single true leader.
After the war between Kelewan and Midkemia, the Moredhel, Goblins, and several bands of renegade humans again united for a couple years to wage war against the Kingdom (chronicled in 'Silverthorn' and 'Darkness at Sethanon'), under the false prophet Murmandamus, who was actually just a powerful Pantathian (serpent man, servant of the Dragon Host) priest in a magical disguise. Under his leadership and magic powered by death, the Valheru were briefly freed again upon Midkemia, only to be immediately imprisoned within the Lifestone due to the combined efforts of Milamber (as Pug is also known), Arutha, Tomas/Ashen-Shugar, Macros, Hochopepa, Elhagar, Dolgan (and his armies), Black Guy (and his Hadati refugees), Amos Trask, Squires Jimmy and Locklear, Duke Martin, the hadati Baru (who killed Murmandamus' general in 'Silverthorn'), Duke Laurie, Galain (and his small elven host), the Sethanon Garrison, a greater dragon Ryath, and several other prominent characters.
In recent history the Glamhedrel joined the court of the Eledhel and they uneasily became one people.
Dwarves are a long-lived race, living to be hundreds of years in age. The main Dwarves found in Feist's works are the dwarves of the West. Most often the Grey Tower dwarves led by Dolgan, of Tholin's line, at village Caldara. There is another dwarven kingdom in the West; the Stone Mountain dwarves, led by Harthorn, of Hogar's line, at village Delmoria. In the east, the dwarves make their home at Dorgin, under the banner of King Halfdan. There is also mention of a dwarven city, Sarakan, across the sea on the continent of Novindus, found in the Ratn'gary Mountains.
Valheru, also called The Dragon Lords, were the first race on Midkemia, and among the most powerful in the known universe. They rode on the backs of great dragons, travelling throughout the cosmos in search of plunder. Arrogantly presuming themselves to be gods, they also created lesser races to serve as slaves.
As a result of their wanton acts of destruction throughout the universe, energy was released from what were once mighty civilizations. Reaching a critical point, these energies formed a new pantheon of gods. While the new gods strove among themselves, the Valheru, exhorted by Draken-Korin, attempted to overthrow the new order of gods.
Ashen-Shugar was the only Dragon Lord to disapprove of his son's plan, but he did nothing but watch as the other Dragon Lords rose to battle the gods. Ashen-Shugar, the most powerful of the Valheru, felt something "alien" to his kind, a desire to protect the world, and the presence of Tomas via the magics of Macros the Black. With the coming of the new gods Ashen Shugar felt himself become alien to the new order, as if reality rejected his nature and he fell into a torpor, sleeping in his mountain on his throne many ages after the rest of the Valheru had gone away. Upon his death his essence became infused in his armor so that Tomas could replace him as guardian of Midkemia.
Space and time became warped as the Valheru battled the gods in the time known as the Chaos Wars. Of one hundred gods, only sixteen survived, but the Valheru were defeated. With the exception of Ashen-Shugar, the Valheru were cast away into another dimension to prevent them from returning to their homeworld, Midkemia.
In A Darkness at Sethanon the Valheru briefly returned to Midkemia at the end of the book, Draken-Koren and Tomas/Ashen-Shugar fought and Tomas impaled Draken-Korin to the Lifestone, and the Lifestone sealed the Valheru in it and prevented the end of Midkemia. Tomas's blade was left in the Lifestone for 50 years until Rage of a Demon King.
In Rage of a Demon King, Pug, Miranda, Nakor, Tomas and Calis, along with Brother Dominic of the Priesthood of Ishap and Sho Pi (a former Monk of Dala and, until near the end of Shards of a Broken Crown, Nakor's disciple), went to Sethanon to the Lifestone. Calis, being human, elven and Valheru, managed to undo the Lifestone over a period of many hours and amidst a battle with Jakan, a demon who sought the Lifestone for his own selfish gain. After defeating Jakan, the Lifestone (Which had the Valheru trapped inside) was destroyed forever, and with it the Valheru. Calis and Tomas/Ashen-Shugar suffer a painful transformation as this occurs, as their Valheru parts are "returned to the world", but being "more than Valheru", they survive.
- Ashen-Shugar - Ruler of the Eagles Reaches; the most powerful Valheru; son of Hali-Marmora; father and husband to Alma-Lodaka; father of Draken-Korin; the last of the Valheru; reincarnated in the body of Tomas Megarson, son of Megar and Magya of Crydee, Prince Consort of Queen Aglaranna and Warleader of Elvandar, father of Calis.
- Draken-Korin - Lord of Tigers, son of Ashen-Shugar and Alma-Lodaka, slain by Ashen-Shugar at the end of the Chaos Wars; returned briefly to activate the Lifestone but was slain again by Tomas/Ashen-Shugar. Returns a second time a the end in Book 1 of the Chaoswar Saga, by reincarnating in the body of a mercenary warrior.
- Alma-Lodaka - the Emerald Queen of Serpents; daughter and wife of Ashen-Shugar; mother of Draken-Korin; nearly reincarnated in a body of Lady Clovis, also known as Jorna, wife of Nakor then of Macros, mother of Miranda by Macros.
- Algon-Kokoon - Tyrant of Wind Valley, slain by Ashen-Shugar
- Alrin-Stolda - Monarch of the Black Lake
- Hali-Marmora - Mother of Ashen-Shugar; slain by Ashen-Shugar
- Lowris-Tanaka - King of Bats; Ashen-Shugar's first Dragon Lord kill
- Lyron-Baktos - Lord of the Dragons; whose talisman was used to incapacitate the Oracle of Aal
- Kindo-Raber - Master of Serpents; torn apart by the Dasati
Tomas Megarson was born a kitchen boy in Castle Crydee. Due to the manipulations of the sorcerer Macros the Black, he received a gift of white and gold armor and a golden sword from the dragon Rhuagh and merged with the essence of the long-dead Dragon Lord, Ashen-Shugar, to be a weapon against the outworld invaders.
For a while, the newly melded being was consumed by the battle-madness of the Valheru, before the compassion of a human boy won through, and Tomas, the human, mastered the powers of a Dragon Lord. While the elves, whom he sought refuge with, feared dominion from the Dragon Lord, Tomas assuaged their fears, becoming merely the prince consort of their Queen Aglaranna. While Tomas gained the full might of Ashen-Shugar, he eventually lost much of this power during the events of the Serpentwar. Tomas still stands as one of the most powerful people in Midkemia, with few able to match him.
Due to some unforeseen circumstances, the human-turned-Valheru and the Elf Queen conceived a child possessing the heritage of all three races. Calis, son of Tomas and Aglaranna, would be unique throughout the world, neither human nor elf. He would also be instrumental during the Serpentwar invasion, first by creating the Crimson Eagles military commandos, then later dismantling a powerful artifact capable of draining all life in the world.
Finally accepting his lot in fate, Calis settled down in Elvandar with a widowed elf, also adopting twins who were refugees from the recent war.
For more information on Tomas, see Ashen-Shugar/Tomas
Midkemia is a deeply magical place, though predominantly populated by humans. Elves, trolls, dwarves, giants, goblins, dragons, and other, more exotic forms of intelligent life can be found, representing most usual species in fantasy literature.
Also, Feist has made his own more unusual additions, including the Pantathians, a race of serpent-men bent on returning their evil goddess to this plane of existence; the Valheru, an ancient race of godlike warriors and dragon-riders who plundered the universe for millions of years before being banished by the gods; and the gwali, a shy forest species.
Dragons - the most ancient race in Midkemia after the Dragon Lords. They served the Valheru as mounts. Since the fall of the Dragon Lords, the dragons have generally isolated themselves from contact with any other race. A notable character, Rhuagh, was an ancient gold dragon who lived in the Mac Mordain Cadal mines. He befriended Macros the Black. Many years later, Tomas and the dwarf chieftain Dolgan would stand on his deathwatch as he told them of his life. His daughter, Ryath, aided Pug and Tomas in their search for Macros the Black. She perished in battle with a Dreadlord, though her body lived on as a vessel for the Oracle of Aal. In return for her sacrifice, Pug took in her daughter Ryana, to his island where she would be cared for until she could survive on her own.
Giants - standing at an average of twelve feet tall, giants form no civilized society, living as little more than wild animals in the Northlands. The moredhel were known to recruit giants into their army.
In the beginning, there were only two gods. Rythar, Goddess of Order, took the 'threads of power' and weaved them together, forming the fabric of space-time. Mythar, God of Chaos, took this fabric and tore them asunder. The remains are then gathered back by Rythar and the cycle begins again. Eventually however some threads were unseen by Rythar and fell not to be rewoven, forming the race that would come to be known as the Valheru .
The two Blind Gods of the Beginning were deposed when the universe reordered itself. Without Rythar to knit together the strings of power, they became the new order of gods, a hundred in total. There were the seven Greater Gods and the other 93 are Lesser Gods. Ishap is the most important of the Greater Gods being the one who created all of the lesser Gods and Goddess, being the Balancer. Slightly less in power and authority are Arch-Indar, Goddess of Good, and Nalar, God of Evil. The other four Greater Gods are called the Builders, composed of the four traits within all mortal races.
During the Chaos Wars, when the Valheru rose up to challenge the new order of gods, the gods were unprepared while they still contended against each other for control of various domains. As a result, most of the gods were slain, including Ishap, Arch-Indar, Wodar-Hospur, and many others. The remaining gods worked in concert, and cast the Valheru into another dimension, but the damage was done. Without the Goddess of Good to offset the God of Evil, and without the Balancer to balance all actions, the four Builder Gods exiled the God of Evil to a distant universe. Nalar is to remain imprisoned until the continual worship from the mortal races could revive the 'dead' Ishap and Arch-Indar.
Many important Lesser Gods also perished, with great consequences. Tith and Onanka combined their essences to form a new being, the two faced god of war. Killian, Goddess of Nature, took over the domain of Eortis, God of the Sea. Sarig, God of Magic, sought to return by appointing an avatar to work for the betterment of magic, to eventually ascend as the new god of magic.
Nakor the Isalini also theorized that the universe itself is another, ultimate god, having become reality as mortals perceive it in an attempt to understand itself.
The first gods.
- Rythar - the Goddess of Order
- Mythar - the God of Chaos
After the falling of the first gods
- Ishap - the Matrix; God of Balance (order); He who is Above All - (currently dead, but returning).
- Arch-Indar - the Selfless; Goddess of good; She who is perfection - (currently dead, but returning).
- Nalar (the Nameless one) - the Selfish; God of Evil; The Mad God - (currently sealed away).
- Abrem-Sev - Forger of Action; the Giver of Laws.
- Ev-Dem - Worker from Within; Calculator of Odds.
- Graff - Weaver of Desire
- Helbinor - the Abstainer
- Astalon - The Just; the Builder; Who Brought Order.
- Banath (Kalkin) - The Artful Dodger; the Prankster; the Nightwalker; God of Hopeless Quests and Misadventures.
- Dala - Shield of the Weak; Goddess of Passive Strength; the Protector
- Guis-wan (Fimbulstran) - The Bayer after Moons; the Red-jawed Hunter; the Wanter of All Things.
- Ka-hooli - The Howler After Fugitives; the Unraveller of Mysteries of Truth; God of Justice/Vengeance.
- Killian - The Singer of Green Silences; the Gatherer of Quiet Pleasures; the Goddess of Love; Goddess of Nature.
- Lims- Kragma (Zandros)(Khali-shi) - The Drawer of Nets, She who Waits; the Mistress of Death; Judger of Souls.
- Prandur (Jehan-suz)(Agni) The Burner of Cities; the Light Bringer; God of Fire.
- Ruthia - The Dancer through Men's Hearts; the Goddess of Love Scorned; Lady of Luck.
- Silban - The Earthmother, the Bringer of the Harvests; Sleeper without Dreams.
- Sung (LaTimsa) - The White; the Pure; the Follower of one Path.
- Tith-Onanka - The War God; the Tactician (Planner of Battles); the Joyful Warrior.
The dead gods might some day return to power.
- Drusala - Goddess of Healing. (Sung reigns in her sister's place)
- Eortis - God of the Sea. (Killian reigns in his place)
- Isanda - Goddess of dance
- Onanka-Tith - the dead half of Tith-Onanka
- Sarig - "Lost" God of Magic.
- Wodar-Hospur - God of Knowledge; the Lorekeeper. (Banath is custodian in his place)
Though all fantasy works published after Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings are usually acknowledged as indebted to him to some extent, Feist has fairly directly borrowed elements amounting to entire cultures. The elves are described using Tolkien's own words, including borrowings from his Elvish languages (for example, moredhel, Feist's name for his "dark elves", is found in Tolkien and comes from the Sindarin elements mor 'dark' and edhel 'elf'). The Elven city of Elvandar is heavily borrowed from Lothlórien, and the Mac Mordain Cadal is certainly influenced by Moria. Feist's Dwarves are also distinctly Tolkienesque. Feist himself is forthcoming about the influence, calling his use of Sindar an "homage." Readers have noted that the influences are less pronounced in later books.
Also Feist has borrowed and used cultures throughout history to base his nations, countries and people in, such as Roman influences in the Quegan culture, Arabian influences in Keshian culture, and Asian influences in the Tsurani culture. From references, it can also be inferred that Kinnoch is influenced by Ireland, Krondor by London, Darkmoor by Germany, Bas-Tyra by France, Novindus by India and Australia, and Rodez by Spain.
Midkemia is the world setting from Feist's college role-playing group, also known as the Thursday Nighters (until they became the Friday Nighters due to late games and early morning classes), which had begun as an outgrowth of the Triton Wargaming Society at UCSD. D&D, published by TSR, Inc., formed the root of the Midkemian game, but like many groups playing D&D at that time, the Thursday Nighters modified and evolved the rules wholesale, until they were barely recognizable as having any relationship to D&D. Feist came into this group after the original campaign had been developed by fellow students at UCSD, and played for three years before he began writing his stories, the first of which were humorous short stories set in the game realm. None of those stories were ever published. Later Feist decided to try his hand at serious fantasy, and asked if anyone objected to his using Midkemia, as it saved him the trouble of world-building from scratch. Feist has mentioned on many occasions that many of the constraints of that world created dramatic issues he would never have dreamed up on his own, and for which he was grateful. Several of the novels are dedicated to other members of that group from college. None of his books are based on campaigns, as the game takes place roughly 500 years after the novel Magician. Feist has likend himself more to historical novelists rather than fantasy writers, stating that he writes "historical novels about a place that doesn't exist." None of his characters are "player characters" from these Friday Nighter sessions, save two, Praji and Vaja, introduced in the novel The King's Buccaneer, characters created for Feist's campaign, by his college friend, Richard Spahl.
- Midkemia.com Midkemia Press, the Official Midkemia Website
- Crydee.com The Official Raymond E. Feist Website
- Elvandar.com The official online atlas to the worlds of Raymond E. Feist
- IRE's MidkemiaOnline The official website for IRE's newest game development based on the world of Midkemia.
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