December 01, 2004

Deryni

Another series that I've foisted upon the teenage boy in the house is one that I liked fairly well in high school, and my friends (who were real book snobs) liked more: Katherine Kurtz's "Deryni" series. The original trilogy consists of "Deryni Rising", "Deryni Checkmate" and "High Deryni". There have been about a dozen more books (including two more trilogies) since this first trilogy was published long ago.

The setting is a typical sword-and-sorcery fantasy world (Gwynedd) with more parallels to medieval Europe than most fantasies. In this world, there are some people, known as Deryni, who are capable of magic, and they have to practice their magic in secret. Despite their spirituality and good nature, the Deryni are, of course, despised and persecuted by the church, which has great power and influence (and they are mostly pretty crappy people). The young 14-year-old set to be king after the assassination of his father is, of course, secretly Deryni, and so is his regent (and so are some of his enemies), so there is naturally some great conflict to read about.

The plot has more intrigue and surprises than, say, anything by David Eddings, but it isn't up to the level of Steven Brust either. It is a natural evolutionary step to read something like "The Belgariad", followed by a couple of trilogies from this set. The magic in this series is very different, much more of a ritual nature (like witchcraft in Brust's world of Dragaera), and at first, it is interesting to see it all described. After about the tenth time I saw the whole counting-in-Latin sequence, it felt a lot like filler, though.

I liked the "Camber" trilogy which is a prequel to "Deryni" but not so much the "King Kelson" sequel trilogy (is there such a thing as a "sequel trilogy"?). I didn't read any of the others in this series, but I haven't heard good things.

Posted by Observer at December 1, 2004 09:51 PM
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Turtledove has written several sequel trilogies, so they definitely exist, but whether that's proper phrasology I can't say.

Never read any Kurtz. Never heard it recommended, either.

Speaking of fun magic systems, have you read "Master of the Five Magics" by Lyndon Hardy? Well done magic system.

Posted by: Humbaba on December 1, 2004 10:28 PM

Oh, and I picked up an omnibus of the entire CS Lewis Narnia series in hardback from Costco for $17 this weekend.

Posted by: Humbaba on December 1, 2004 10:29 PM

I was almost certain Camber was a sequel, not prequel, to Deryni.

I genuinely didn't like any of these. There were a few interesting bits, but I already live in a world where power politics and pursuit of wealth completely overshadow morality on any level, and I found that same description applies to Kurtz's world. Stories of evil versus evil don't do much for me.

Posted by: Feff on December 1, 2004 10:34 PM

Camber is a prequel. In the Deryni series, he is referred to as "Saint Camber", a legendary Deryni from a past era. In the "Camber" trilogy, his story is told in full. He basically leads the Deryni out of a time when it is far more repressive into an era in which there is somewhat more of a widespread enlightened view toward the Deryni. I didn't really consider this series evil vs evil. Kelson and his allies are pretty decent, but not perfect.

I've never read Lynn Hardy.

I read Narnia too long ago to properly review. I only have the vaguest of memories, but we did cover it to some extent in the Parageography class I took when I was an undergrad (a class all about SF worlds, including Tolkien, Lewis, etc. on the reading list along with classics like Homer). Mostly classics in the first semester, but we got to a lot more modern stuff in "Advanced Parageography", but I don't know if they offer that anymore.

I remember the professor being really pissed off about the way it all ended, as if he expected better from Lewis than a Christian allegory about the end of the world.

Posted by: Observer on December 1, 2004 11:18 PM