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In The King's Service [Mass Market Paperback]

Katherine Kurtz
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 28 2004 Deryni

In this first book of an all-new Deryni trilogy,  New York Times bestselling author Katherine Kurtz takes readers back in time--before King Kelson's bride...before King Kelson's birth... when the magical Deryni blood was sought by the most powerful men and women in the kingdom of Gwynedd. Back when a man named Donal ruled over all.


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In this exquisitely detailed Deryni fantasy, her first since King Kelson's Bride (2000), veteran Kurtz lays out the history of the Deryni before the time of King Kelson, focusing on the characters whose heirs will become important players in the Kingdom of Gwynedd, modeled on medieval Wales. Donal Haldane, the king who appears fair and just, has hidden agendas and sometimes uses his power to insure his own dynastic needs regardless of other's feelings. Lady Alyce de Corwyn, the daughter of one of the last Deryni gentry, must master the art of court intrigue. Lady Jessamy, a co-conspirator with the king, helps fulfill his wish for a protector for his son. The Camberian Council-the group of secretive Deryni who rule over their magical brethren-instigate their own secret plans regarding both Deryni and humans. Everyone follows paths strewn with danger, difficulties, misjudgments-and the agonizing possibility of death. Despite a somewhat static plot, the scenes of daily life at court, plus the usual church versus magic conflict, will keep fans turning the pages.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In her first Deryni novel since King Kelson's Bride (2000), Kurtz reverts to the time of Kelson's grandfather, King Donal Haldane, who was of necessity a ruthless lord. Donal's mother was the Mearan princess whose marriage led to periodic uprisings that weren't settled until Kelson's day. Donal wasn't at open war with Torenth, but Gwynned suffered periodic raids. Donal's first marriage was childless. His second was anything but, yet he knew he might not survive to see his successor's maturity. Despite the hostility of the church toward Deryni, King Donal needed trusted men and women of that magical race to protect his kingdom and his heirs. In relating all this ancient history, the book also shows the workings of the Camberian Counsel of an earlier era, revealing to faithful Deryni readers as well as newcomers the reasons the counsel is so hostile toward Alaric Morgan. A vital continuation of the saga. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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FAR from where the Camberian Council sat in secret session, crafting their careful, deliberate plans for the future of their race, the wife of one of its members lay propped amid the pillows of their curtained and canopied bed and waited for the nurse to bring her infant son for feeding. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing entry into the canon - spoilers May 23 2004
By Kallah
Format:Hardcover
The book is that it is emotionally dead; characters barely react to events at all, and none of the characters are fleshed out enough that it matters what happens to them. Most notable for the first is Alyce's total non-response to Donal's attempted physical and psychic rape (and the non-response of all the other characters who are aware of it), and for the second the way the murder of a small boy falls completely flat.
The book starts a variety of potentially interesting plots and drops them, never to be seen again. Plot events are largely predictable, and one major plot event is a poorly-done rehash of Kevin and Bronwyn from the first book; it comes out of nowhere, goes nowhere, and is never mentioned again, occuring solely to kill off a character in a rather bizarre and improbable fashion. And the romance between Alyce and Kenneth Morgan is rather peculiar and unbelievable itself.
What's missing, here, is a sense that Kurtz really cares about the Deryni universe any longer or that she really wanted to write this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What a disappointment (spoilers included) April 19 2004
By Sophia
Format:Hardcover
I grew up devouring the Deryni and Camber books, so I eagerly awaited the beginning of this new trilogy. I am sorry to say that I was incredibly disappointed. Although this story DID feature a look at the women characters, and Ms. Kurtz DID include a formidable woman abbess, in the tradition of Hilda of Whitby or St. Hildegarde, the book consisted largely of description of Alyce de Corwyn's life and times as she came of age, with virtually no plot.
We meet a plethora of new and interesting characters, many of whom get killed off. We have the appearance of a stock villainness, who appears, commits a heinous sin, and conveniently dies. Over and over, we hear of Alyce's willingness to be married off as part of her dynastic duty, yet that thread is dropped in the most improbable of ways. We get an update on how Deryni are doing at this court, a look at a Haldane King who is ruthless, and basically meet a bunch of stock characters. Unfortunately, Ms. Kurtz still seems unable to write an ambivalent hero (or a likeable villain) unless Donal and Jessamy are supposed to be so, but neither elicited strong emotional reactions one way or another.
Again, beautiful and vivid world-building, an interesting look at the convent, in particular, and I enjoyed learning more about Alyce (who seems rather too perfect for my liking), but I was very disappointed in the lack of plot holding this book together.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not her best Feb. 28 2004
Format:Hardcover
This story drags and is not one of Katerhine Kurtz's better stories.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Has not engaged me thus far... Feb. 19 2004
Format:Hardcover
First, let me say that I am still working on this book. I have gotten maybe 100 pages or more into the story line. It has not really drawn me in as of yet. This is a bad sign. A good story usually hooks you in the the first 20 pages. curiosity will lead me to finish the book but so far little else. No characters stand out to me as of yet, the storyline isn't all that engaging, and the writing is ok but nothing electric. I assume this book will end up as mediocre as it has been so far. So not a bad book but certainly nothing as interesting as the original deryni series or the saint camber books( original series).
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3.0 out of 5 stars I Found it so-so Feb. 18 2004
Format:Hardcover
(THERE ARE SPOILERS IN HERE!) As a long-time fan of Katherine Kurtz's, I have been awaiting this trilogy for some time now. That said, I feel it wasn't up to her usual standards, and at times I found it just plain disturbing. It is the first in the Childe-Morgan trilogy, and as such, most of the book was spent in setting the stage for events and people to come later. But I have to agree with several other reviewers in that the plot was choppy at best, certain events are really not very plausible, and I never really developed attachments to any of the characters. Kurtz's grasp on the workings of the medieval church and the interactions between church and state continue to be excellent, however. And the world of the Deryni continues to be fully and beautifully realized. That said, I was really disturbed by the rape and murder of the boy Krispin MacAthan towards the end of the book. I don't consider myself a prude, by any stretch of the imagination, but it just seemed to me to be rather over the top and unnecessary. Kurtz has never shied away from violence where she felt it was needed, but (and maybe it's just me) I think there are some things that are better left alone. I do want to see where the books go from here, but I probably won't be adding this one to my collection of Deryni novels.
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4.0 out of 5 stars not among her best but still pretty strong Jan. 7 2004
Format:Hardcover
In the King's Service is the beginning of a new trilogy which details the recent history of the kingdoms that led to the events of her original series focusing on King Kelson, Alaric, et. al. (beginning with Deryni Rising). Though I suppose it could be read independently, I certainly wouldn't recommend it and advise people new to this world to start with her first trilogy (or possibly go chronologically starting with Camber series depending on taste). For most of us long-time readers of Ms. Kurtz's series, this begins to fill in one of the more interesting gaps in its timeline. While we see a few minor familiar characters, the ones we are probably most desirious of seeing (Alaric, Duncan, Kelson) don't yet appear in this work, which is a generation earlier. Well, one does but as a baby and not until the very end and since his dialogue would pretty much be "uurp" and "bbbllhttt", it doesn't really count. Kelson's father appears as a young child and one looks forward to seeing how his relationship with Morgan evolves over the trilogy's action.
King's Service doesn't reach the higher levels of the Deryni works, an admittedly quite high standard, but it doesn't fall far below. Probably the biggest reason for its falling short is its time setting and structure. Unlike many of her other novels, which focused in sharp, vivid detail on a lot of characters over a relatively brief period of time; King's Service keeps the plethora of characters but stretches out the events over years and years. Unfortunately this lessens the overall emotional impact of many of the scenes as we quickly move on to more action, sometimes months or years later.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book and good history
I loved this book. It has been a while since I read the Deryni series and this was a great refresher. Read more
Published on July 1 2004 by Leslie
3.0 out of 5 stars Give it a miss!
I don't know why Ms. Kurtz wrote this book---it doesn't give any new information or interesting sidelights to the Deryni series. Read more
Published on Jan. 31 2004 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Read
I love the Deryni series. However, while I enjoyed this one very much - I will tell you that all you need to read is the last chapter. Read more
Published on Dec 29 2003 by Chelle
4.0 out of 5 stars Before Alaric
Warning: This review contains spoilers. Opening nearly forty years before the events of _Deryni Rising_, _In The King's Service_ introduces many new characters, some of whom have... Read more
Published on Dec 24 2003 by Melissa Houle
1.0 out of 5 stars No Plot Line to Speak Of
Is this just about the worst book in the Deryni universe?
The lack of a plot, the shallowly-developed characters, and the lack of any cohesive theme spring to mind rather... Read more
Published on Dec 23 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding character development
I have thoroughly enjoyed each of Kurtz' works. While I have not recognized recently the same compelling sense of drama that was developed in her earlier books, I believe her... Read more
Published on Dec 1 2003 by David E.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Novel of Intrigue and Minor Magic
In the King's Service is the first novel in the Childe Morgan trilogy. It takes place during the reign of Donal Blaine Haldane and fits chronologically after The Bastard Prince... Read more
Published on Nov. 24 2003 by Arthur W. Jordin
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