Alaric Morgan has been pledged to the service of King Donal, still
grieving following the death of his out-of-wedlock son, Kelson.
Alaric brings peace of mind to Donal because he is Deryni, a race
of people who employs powerful magic --- a magic that can be used
to protect 14-year-old Prince Brion. Yet, as comforting as that
thought may seem, Donal carries a great burden.
First of all, the Deryni are a feared group, watched by the Church
with scrutinous eyes. And the Camberian Council secretly oversees
their activities. Donal walks a precarious edge as the Church and
its bishops would love nothing more than to excommunicate him,
especially Bishop Oliver de Nore, whose brother was executed by
Donal's order for involvement in the murder of Kelson.
Secondly, while Alaric will have the power to aid the Prince, the
Deryni is currently only four years old. In order for the Prince to
have the protection he needs, Alaric must first be protected
himself. Not only does the Church have interest in Alaric but so
too do factions from neighboring Torenth. Prince Hogan and his
mage, Zachris Pomeroy, want the throne and they know that the first
step to success is eliminating Alaric.
So goes CHILDE MORGAN, a new novel in the world of the Deryni. Once
again, Katherine Kurtz displays an incredible talent for inspired
storytelling and a masterful gift for fantasy without resorting to
the pitfall cliches of the genre. In many ways, CHILDE MORGAN, as
well as Kurtz's other works, are historical artifacts --- the tomes
of a far gone time that resembles our own past with just enough
magic thrown in to make it seem otherworldly. Much like George R.
R. Martin's realistic fantasy-world feel, Kurtz's land of Gwynedd
ultimately feels genuine and honest, with strict rules and a sense
of actually having existed. Her capacity as a writer of tremendous
ability prevents the story from being a dry historical read, though
you sense the weight of history and time on every page --- which
only inspires the story and invigorates it.
While it does have its more kinetic moments, CHILDE MORGAN rests
solely in the hands and mind of King Donal, and it is with him that
the soul of this story exists. Donal is a tremendous character to
get to know, and through Kurtz we are with him in his most
introspective moments. We endure his tiresome but necessary
struggle to ensure the safety of his son and young Alaric,
withstand the betrayals by those around him, and fight the enemies
from neighboring lands and from the Church.
Picking up this novel as a new reader may come as a confusing
endeavor initially. Names fly fast and furious, and you are
instantly caught up in events that reference the past. It is quite
unfortunate that the vast majority of titles in this series have
gone out of print, though the first two books, DERYNI RISING and
DERYNI CHECKMATE, have been issued in hardcover recently, 30 years
after their original printing. However, this should not dissuade
you from pressing on with CHILDE MORGAN. To do so would result in
your missing out on a tremendous and beautifully told tale from a
gifted and overlooked talent.
Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard on December 26, 2010