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review 2017-09-16 01:54
Camber of Culdi by Katherine Kurtz - My Thoughts
Camber of Culdi - Katherine Kurtz

Book One of The Legends of Camber of Culdi


Every once in a while I get the urge to revisit old favourites and Katherine Kurtz's Deryni novels are definitely faves of mine.  I think the Camber books and the Heirs of Camber books are some of Katherine's strongest work.

Yeah, there's stuff in here that might be problematic these days - I mean, it was originally published in 1976 - but I can deal with that.  I'm happy to say that although I notice the problems over 40 years later (with a few rereads between), they don't impinge on my enjoyment of the book. 

Magic, intrigue, memorable characters, tension, humour, tragedy, it's all here.  I still cry at certain passages and chuckle out loud at others.  (More crying than chuckling in this one.)

Yeah, still faves, even 40+ years later.  :)

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review 2017-08-28 08:19
St. Patrick's Gargoyle by Katherine Kurtz
St. Patrick's Gargoyle - Katherine Kurtz

This short and sometimes emotional novel is told from the perspective of Paddy, the gargoyle who guards St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland.  It is a tale of good vs evil, as Paddy enlists the help of 82 year old Francis Templeton, a Knight of Malta with a fondness of his old Rolls Royce.

The book is somewhat weak on plot but heavy on theology and church functioning, including a section on bell ringing (which was rather interesting).  I didn't feel that the author was preaching, despite the religious themes of the book (which couldn't really be helped in a book like this).

The author's portrayal of gargoyles is original and something I enjoyed immensely.  The story also makes use of miracles (sort of), demons, angels and a cat.  This is a sweet little mystery story, with lovable characters, delightful interactions and a unique perspective.  It is not gritty or dark, though there are intense moments, nor is it quite fluffy either.  I found this book to be a pleasant and enjoyable diversion.

The book isn't particularly meant for children but i is safe for their consumption, i.e. no gore, excessive violence or sex.

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review 2016-05-18 20:08
Camber of Culdi - Katherine Kurtz

Camber of Culdi was originally published in 1976, following on the heels of the thrilling exploits of the young King Kelson Haldane in The Chronicles of the Deryni trilogy. In Deryni chronologically terms, however, this novel is the oldest, going back in time to shed light on the mysterious Saint Camber, who is reviled and revered in equal measure by the populous of the Kingdom of Gwynedd in Kelson’s time.  And here readers come face-to-face with this Deryni legend.


The ruler of Gweynedd at this time in Camber’s life is the young Imre; his ancestor Festil I, the Conqueror, having brutally overthrown the human kings centuries before, seizing power for the Deryni race.  These very human-like people living along side the population, normal in every way except in their extraordinary mental powers which are rumored to be magic.  And while the Deryni overlordship of the land has not been all bad, it has taken a decidedly downward turn upon the ascension of Imre, who is a horrible racist (He views humans as nothing more than livestock to be worked, taxed, and killed as needed.) and more than a little insane.  These qualities having caused Camber MacRorie, Earl of Culdi, to retire from court; his duties to the crown passed to his eldest son, Cathan, who has been fast friends with Imre since childhood.


This self-imposed retirement of the Earl seems to be for the best.  The quiet life suiting him, allowing Camber to spend his days on ecclesiastical and historical study as well as family time: his daughter Evaine mainly, though he is close with his sons Cathan and Joram too.  The greater goings-on of the kingdom still of interest to him, but his belief that younger men should guide the king into more prudent rulership.  But then two events occur simultaneously: Imre decreeing that innocent humans must die in punishment for the murder of a Deryni, and an elderly human on his deathbed passing along a deadly secret to Camber’s son-in-law Rhys Thuryn.  These unrelated events setting off a chain reaction which forces Camber of Culdi to contemplate betraying his ruling monarch and, perhaps, the Deryni race itself!


Having read this (and the other Deryni novels) as a teenager growing up in the 1980s, picking up Camber of Culdi again after all these years was both a welcome return to a childhood haunt and a trepidatious homecoming  for an older, more cynical me.  And, after finishing my re-read, I have to admit being both pleased and disappointed with the novel, though I definitely feel more of the former rather than the latter.


On the pleased side, I have to point to the wonderful world of the Deryni, which I still found as engrossing and as entertaining as it was decades ago.  This fantasy version of medieval Europe filled with royal houses, political machinations, and the unique Deryni.  What set it apart from other series is Katherine Kurtz’s wholesale inclusion of the Catholic Church in her story; medieval Christianity fully in place with Jesus Christ having died on the cross, his followers having spread across the world, monasteries and militant orders dotting the landscape, and the learned quoting Latin Psalms.  This inclusion of religion allowing the author to capture the true nature of this historical setting, to show the clash of secular and religious powers, and to juxtapose the dual nature of devotedly religious people committing horrible deeds in the name of secular power.


On the disappointed side, I have to acknowledge this group of characters were a bit of a letdown for me (though, to be completely honest, I never loved them as much as I did Kelson, Morgan, and company).  Camber always seemed more a saint than a real person.  His children Cathan, Joram, and Evaine (as well as other confidantes like Rhys) had brief flashes of personality, but never received a real opportunity to grow into anyone truly special.  King Imre and other “bad guys” were penned as fairly one dimensional creatures, easily labeled as the “insane tyrant”, “the “evil temptress”, or the “scheming liar.”  And there was a complete absence of female main characters, though that might be a result of the time period when the book was first published more than anything else.


Overall, Camber of Culdi is a fine fantasy read filled with political scheming, dynastic intrigue, and a touch of magic, set in a wonderfully developed faux-medieval Europe with a fully realized Catholic Church.  For longtime lovers of the Deryni novels, it will be a joyful return to a familiar home, replete with iconic characters and an easily followed tale told in Katherine Kurtz memorable style.  To those new to the series, I would encourage them to read the first trilogy, The Chronicles of the Deryni, before delving in here, because the revelations in this book could ruin very important plot elements there.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.

Source: bookwraiths.com/2016/05/14/camber-of-culdi
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text 2015-04-03 13:13
To not forgetting how we got here...
A Wizard of Earthsea - Ursula K. Le Guin
Deryni Rising - Katherine Kurtz
The White Hart [First in the Book of Isle Trilogy] - NANCY SPRINGER

I read an interesting post on Strange Horizons about Katherine Kurtz and the impact she had on early fantasy, and I started thinking about how I got into SFF in the first place. It happened like this:


I have an older brother, he's 10 years older than I am and when I was about 9, he joined the RAF. Which meant that although he still had a bedroom at the family home, he wasn't there much except for weekends once he'd finished his basic training and that in turn meant I was free to explore the contents of his bookshelves without any comment. (And to find his poorly-hidden porn stash, but that's another story completely!)


This was the late 1970's, by the way, to help put what I found into context. My brother was into SF and so you can probably imagine what his books consisted of - reams of Asimov, Heinlein, EE 'Doc' Smith, Poul Anderson (but just the Ensign Flandry books, iirc), John Brunner, Harry Harrison and so on. I think I remember some Larry Niven in there as well. I've had flashbacks to those books a couple of times since - once when I visited a particular SF bookstore in Nova Scotia and again at last year's WorldCon, when one of the booksellers had pretty much my brother's collection in one box.


Anyway, that was pretty much my introduction to SFF, though clearly the SF side of things rather than the final F. For my introduction to fantasy, I'm going to credit three women - Ursula K. LeGuin, Katherine Kurtz and Nancy Springer. Of course, LeGuin has done sterling work (and long may she continue to do so!) in both SF and F fields, but it was the Earthsea trilogy (as it was at that time) that I fell in love with. She's the one most people will know of, out of those three, but all three helped start what has turned out to be a lifelong addiction and none of them should be forgotten.

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review 2014-12-07 20:18
The King's Deryni by Katherine Kurtz - My Thoughts
The King's Deryni - Katherine Kurtz

Deryni Rising, the first in the Deryni novels by Katherine Kurtz was published in 1970 and was the book that instilled a love for fantasy that is still strong today, almost 45 years later.  


The King's Deryni is the latest of Katherine's Deryni novels, closing The Childe Morgan trilogy.  The previous book in this series, Childe Morgan, was published in 2006.  It's been eight years, yes.  EIGHT years.  George R.R. Martin doesn't even compete.  *LOL*


Now the books of the last 15 years, beginning with King Kelson's Bride, have not been as totally wonderful as the previous books and series.  Too many characters, not enough important and interesting events plot-wise and just... they've not been the same.  That being said, The King's Deryni was more than I expected, even though some of the events were just retellings of incidents that we had seen before in Deryni Tales and flashbacks in other Deryni books.  


The King's Deryni is basically telling us the story, the broad strokes of which we know quite well, of Alaric Morgan and his king, Brion Haldane, and how Morgan came to be the man and the hero we were introduced to way back in Deryni Rising.  If you're not a fan of the Deryni, you will not enjoy this book at all.  It's a book for the longtime fan, I think.  Fleshing out characters and tales that we all know.  Although, I need to do some research to find out what happened to Llion, Alaric's long-time mentor and protector.  


I took my time reading this book, savouring it because I fear that it might be Katherine's last.  She has just turned 70, but I hope... oh, I do hope, that she has enough left in her to write the book about the year 948.  I know she intends to, but I don't know if there's another 8 years left!  


So, the writing is not what it once was.  The plotting is not what it once was.  Characterisation has taken a bit of a hit - and yes, I still bitch about the precociousness of Alaric the child.  But this is a book about my beloved Deryni by my favourite Katherine and since it's official publication date was December 2nd, the day before my own birthday, I like to think it was written just for me, and as such I have cut it some slack.   I have loved reading it and some of the passages, some of the tales told therein have shown flashes of the wonder of earlier volumes.  The scenes concerning the grey mare especially were of that sort.  


So, yes.  Definitely not of the ilk of The Legends of Camber of Culdi trilogy, nor The Harrowing of Gwynnedd nor High Deryni - this Deryni book, The King's Deryni was still a treat for me.  :)

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