The Riftwar Saga Critical Essays

Raymond E. Feist


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Riftwar Saga is a classic example of the modern fantasy adventure epic. The plot is colorful and at times quite intricate, “world design” is adequate (although following existing cultures closely), and characterization is just deep enough to make the characters interesting. Raymond Feist’s imagery, however, is quite dramatic. Although the phrasing of his descriptions is not particularly unusual, some of the locales and beings described, especially in the final novel, are inventively surreal.

The series is replete with stock fantasy devices. One of the most interesting characteristics of the series is Feist’s ability to create a pastiche of different fantasy traditions. Feist’s elves and dwarves initially remind one of J. R. R. Tolkien’s, although the dwarves tend to give things Scottish names and the elves exist in a greater number of factions. The dark elves—the moredhel—are an interesting twist. Although a number of fantasy works make use of the notion of dark elves, Feist’s particular interpretation of them is unusual. The Valheru, rather than being reminiscent of Tolkien, instead bring to mind Michael Moorcock’s Melniboneans from the books of the Elric Saga (1972-1989). Like the dragon-riding Melniboneans, the Valheru are amoral anachronisms. Remnants of an earlier epoch in which compassion had no meaning, they were suited to their time but wreak only devastation in the present. There is a strong sense of “maturation...

(The entire section is 533 words.)