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.