The years working with the Forgotten Realms universe have served Salvatore well; he seems determined to make a world just as detailed and expansive as Abeir-Toril and good headway has been made. There’s history, racial politics, defined culture and aesthetics, lore on the big things, lore on the little things, and a really big sandbox to play in.
The map alone is mind-blowing, never mind the faction, destiny, and race descriptions (which are fairly extensive, even incomplete as they are).
There’s a definite Nordic influence (the names for the Alfar sub-races are the same as those used in the Prose Edda), as well as the various giant species calling to mind the importance of the giants in Norse mythology.
There also seems to be some influence from the Irish legends. Notice; Tuatha Deohn—Tuatha Dé Danann, also known as the Aos Si (who some might recognize by their more common designation, the Sidhe).
Beyond the name, another powerful similarity can be seen in the concept of the courts of the elves, one Summer, the other Winter. Which, in turn, represent associated elements; Summer is about life and growth, Winter is death and decay. Granted, the original courts in Irish mythology are Seelie and Unseelie (or Seely and Unseely) and seem to simply indicate how mean you can expect the fairies from them to be. The whole Winter/Summer thing is more likely drawn from the Dresden Files, which seems to have made the Aos Si and their associated mythology very popular in recent fiction.
The Dokkalfar are definitely the more proactive and vicious of the Alfar, advocating the total destruction of the Durek people, which the Ljosalfar refused to do and led to their schism. They also arranged the defeat of the Kollosae by causing their floating city Idylla to crash (Karsus’ folly and The Fall of Netheril anyone?). However, they’re still a far cry from the evil or sociopathic representation you might find in some modern literature. They’re definitely not parallels for the Drow of the Forgotten Realms setting.
When you have an hour or three, head on over to the revised site, now located at reckoning.amalur.com to check things out.
One major concern of mine that’s persisted since I heard about this game’s development was how exactly one goes about fitting the (presumably) famous figure of the main character into the history of the MMO that will be based on Kingdoms of Amalur, while keeping the anonymity of that character. I suppose they go the way of Mass Effect and have a designated “default” character to take that place. It would work, but I would hope for something more original.
P.S. It’s nice to finally see dark elves (Dokkalfar) that get along with their cousins (Ljosalfar).
P.P.S. Kollosae, as in Colossi, as in Colossus, as in something big. Because, you know, they’re giants. Just in case you didn’t get that.
Note: From what I could glean in Wikipedia, the Tuatha Dé Danann are, if not the ancestors, then an older name for the Aos Si. They’re either gods, fairies, or some combination thereof, in the legends of ancient Ireland. Sidhe is essentially just another name for them, but just Sidhe is incorrect, the more correct terms would be “aes sidhe” or “daoine sidhe.”