Deryni Rising by Katherine Kurtz
In the kingdom of Gwynedd, the mysterious forces of magic and the superior power of the Church combine to challenge the rule of young Kelson. Now the fate of the Deryni — a quasi-mortal race of sorcerers — and, indeed, the fate of all the Eleven Kingdoms, rests on Kelson’s ability to quash the rebellion by any means necessary . . . including the proscribed use of magic! (From Goodreads)
I heard this is a very long fantasy series (which is still ongoing), although it is divided into sets of trilogies so the collecting and reading order is easier. There is a chronological order, and order by publishing date and it’s up to the reader which way to pursue.
I love how this book gives you a nice blend of magic, fantasy, and it’s setting is in a fictional version of the British Isles. This is nice because not only do you have a solid established setting without too much world building, but it also focuses more on the fantasy/magic aspect so you don’t have to worry much about the setting itself. Besides, I think a setting set in this particular time period is perfect for fantasy to blend into.
There is a little background history scattered here and there for the reader, to understand what the current world is going through so that it is more easy to understand. It’s very similar to the world where the Christian Church wielded immense power, and a small group of people (you could call them ‘pagans’ if you wanted to) are either under immense persecution or in hiding practicing their own beliefs. Just add magic to these small group of people and you have the Deryni. I liked this aspect of the book. It gave it a more solid feel, nothing flaky or whimsical about it.
It was also nice to see the magic was not over the top, although I’m not sure what to say about some spell incantations. (Especially during the ‘epic final battle’) The spells are said out loud, and it almost has a lyrical rhyme to it although it seems like the magic users just think of the words to the spells randomly as if they’re writing poetry. What irks me a little is since Kelson is technically a beginner when it comes to magic, how in the world did he manage to find the words to the spells? or is it just an innate skill they were born with? it’s like a poetry battle, the one who says the best lines wins. It’s different but I can’t help but think it’s a little childish, I thought it could have been much better.
The political aspect of the book is good and I enjoyed reading this. As a fan of intrigue in any royal court fictional or otherwise, it’s always nice to see a bit of political infighting, backstabbing, betrayal, and all the rest. It is a typical story plot of “Old King gets killed whodunit, younger inexperienced King comes in” but the writing style is good and the reader is kept interested with a rich assort of characters, the main ones with distinct personalities to make them easily identifiable.
The characters in the novel are well done. I liked how they were portrayed. My favorites would be Morgan, Kelson and Duncan. Kelson developed quickly and fast yet some parts of him still show he’s still a boy growing up. I like Morgan and Duncan because although they’re your average typical heroes, they make a great team. Charissa is the usual archetype of a villainess but her descriptions and personality fit the role well. The one character I did not like was Jehana, although she was a protective mother (overly protective) she annoyed me and her attitude was horrible. I liked how Kelson gave her a good tell off, it did put her back in her place as she was really starting to get to me during a certain part in the book. Towards the end, she still didn’t get any sympathies from me.
This is a good read, and I think it’ll be great for those who are into epic fantasy. Be prepared, it is a long series, and not completed yet. Rich in detail with an almost realistic setting it might also please those that like historical fiction, and who don’t mind the deviation from real history.
I give it an 8 out of 10.