The Kingdom of Riva was located on the Isle of the Winds in the Sea of the Winds to the west of Cherek and Sendaria. Riva was mountainous, and its capital city (also called Riva) was only accessible by the River of Veils on the eastern side of the island. Its climate was such that Riva had been known to receive rain for six contiguous months and snow for the rest of the year. As such, it was cold and the people of Riva (known as the Rivans) had to wear grey cloaks made of goat's wool that they could not dye as there were no types of dye that the wool would accept. Partially because of this, and also because of the reclusive nature of the Rivans (necessary to protect the Orb of Aldur), the Rivans were themselves considered grim-faced and grey, though in reality the country held skilled artisans who had a tendency towards brightly colored home-arts, and many Rivans were warm and friendly.
Most people believed that the line of Rivan kings had ended when one of the Salmissras' Nyissan assassins murdered King Gorek the Wise and his family in 4002. However, the Nyissans missed Gorek's youngest grandson, Prince Geran, who jumped in the sea and was rescued by Polgara the Sorceress and Belgarath the Sorcerer, after which point Polgara hid the Rivan line in relative obscurity throughout Sendaria and the Alorn nations. The ultimate descendant of the Rivan line, Belgarion the Godslayer, eventually helped recover the Aldur's Orb and reclaimed the throne of Riva. During the interregnum between the rules of Gorek the Wise and Belgarion the Godslayer, the Rivan Warders (regents), who were all traditionally named Brand, took control of the nation.
In large-scale strategic battles with other armies, Rivans fought as small-unit infantry. They often engaged in ambush tactics, and in battles with sworn enemies of the Alorns, they fought with grim-faced ferocity.
The Rivans followed this social ranking system:
- King: The Rivan King was the highest ranking person in all of Riva. Reffered to as "Your Majesty" or "His Majesty" and had several other titles as well, which varied depending on the current King.
- Rivan Warder: Traditionally named Brand upon ascending to the post. The Rivan Warder was selected from the twenty city Barons by the king, or was elected by the twenty Barons when the king was unavailable. Reffered to as "My Lord Brand" or "Lord Brand."
- All Barons were reffered to as "Sir [name]" and had the full title: "Sir [name], Baron of ."
- within the city: There were twenty barons within the city, and each baron represented a district of the city. Men living within a district were that district's baron's men, and the baron was responsible for the protection of that district.
- outside the city: Some landholders with large amounts of land had the title "Baron".
- Referred to as "Friend [name]", although it wasn't unusual for lower-class Rivans to call speak to barons using this form as well.
- "We ourselves wear the gray cloak. It's a useful garment - woven from the wool of goats - light, warm, nearly waterproof - but it won't accept dye, so it's always gray. But even though we're gray on the outside, that doesn't mean that we have no love of beauty." -Castle of Wizardry