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Can you explain the "circles" of existence in more detail?

From: Raymond E. Feist
Date: Mon, 24 Mar 1997
Subject: Re: cosmology questions

OK, let me see if I can clarify. 1st of all, the "Seven Circles" are not literal. What it is: Midkemian superstition. By now I would hope some of you would realize that I don't suggest that what my characters believe is "what is." So if some sailor brags on Amos taking them to the Seven Lower Hells and back, that's how that sailor's view of reality is shaped. OK, 1st of all the Dread aren't from the 7th, but rather the 6th Circle. No one knows what's in the 7th, but it's a region of time/space so alien that perhaps even the gods of Midkemia couldn't survive there. The 6th Circle is the Dread, the nastiest of all the "children of the void." The touch of their foot upon the grass drains life from it. They are "energy black holes" when they're in the Midkemia frame of reference. The 5th Circle is the demons you've met in the last three books. They are less destructive by mere presence, but they do nasty things to the environment, tending to eat everything they find before them. They do have the ability to suck down "mind" or "soul" as opposed to merely eating it. The 4th Circle is a plane much like the 5th, but beings that we might consider "sort of normal" exist there. A human might survive for a while in that environment, but he would have to carry provisions. The 3rd Circle is a less hostile, but far from forgiving. A human might eke out an existence but with a great deal or work. The energy states there are lower than on Midkemia, so magic is weak. The world where Gamina was captured in BaK is this type of world. Pug had to find "mana" in solid form to use it. The 2nd Circle is very much like Midkemia, save it's inhabited by lots of critters who subsist on energy, what we might think of as wraiths, spectres, ghosts, etc. It's also something of a way station for those making the run from life to afterlife. The 1st Circle is one step away from Midkemia, save it's far more chaotic in it's structure. Midkemia would be at "zero." Also, there are "heavens," too, which if you haven't guest are the same places, but seen through a different filter. Always remember, while it's easy to discuss such things in game terms, the fact is these are fantastic places with often extend beyond human senses and ability to understand.

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