5.0 out of 5 stars excellent writing
I have had very limited experience reading fantasy novels. I chose this one on the recommendation of a friend who reads mostly such books. I began it expecting it to be one of those things where the names and cities are so hard to pronounce I would want to toss it immediately. It is not that way. It is written so well and so real that you can imagine it happening...
Published on Jan. 19 2002 by andi_hawke
3.0 out of 5 stars Inoffensive light reading
I found this book to be a pleasant read. The characters were interesting and the plot was well paced. I thought the overall story was too simple, but for a book of less than 300 pages it was as much as you might expect. I thought the Latin references were out of place and the incantations were a bit trite. There wasn't enough here to keep me reading the series, but...
Published on May 2 2000 by C.E. Crowder
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great read, and well done,
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent writing,
I have had very limited experience reading fantasy novels. I chose this one on the recommendation of a friend who reads mostly such books. I began it expecting it to be one of those things where the names and cities are so hard to pronounce I would want to toss it immediately. It is not that way. It is written so well and so real that you can imagine it happening here. The writing is beautiful and absorbing and the story is like nothing I have ever read. Very unique in my opinion. The characters have depth and you care about them and the villains are horrid. Excellent book, especially for someone new to fantasy and fit for younger readers, too. I cannot wait to read the others in the series.
5.0 out of 5 stars Light yet Deep,
This book is the introduction to Kurtz' world of Deryni, and an enjoyable one at that. It can be read as stand alone, or as the introduction to the series, but should be read as the start of the series. "Camber of Culdi" could also be read as the start of the series, but makes a slightly less effective start.
It is the familiarity of the setting that makes it comfortable. Gwynned is clearly quite similar to the slightly more Celtic areas of medevial Britian, with it's borders of Keldor and Merea as Scotland and Wales. The Deryni, a race of Wizards (it's inherited) add the edge of fantasy that makes the whole of the series facinating and unknown.
Clearly she also studied some parts of the Western Ceremonial traditions of Magick, for while she puts a new spin on them for the sake of fiction, she also makes them quite familiar to anyone who has studied them.
The characters, while three dimensional, aren't too complicated as of yet for this novel, as they are later developed more fully in later novels, but they are not characatures. In all, it was an excellent work.
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful beginning,
Welcome to a world which is simular but different to our mediaeval past. In this world, the catholic is in power, and the Deryni lead a tenuis existance at best. While her ideas grow and devolope as she write, this book is a good beginning. A reviewer has said that this work is not as good as epic fantasy. Let's not forget that Epic Fantasy is a newer consept as such compared to Deryni Rising and other like books. Personally I get bored of rehashed plots like Eddings uses and bad writing as in TWOT after awhile. I digress however, the point is this books. It is not the best book ever wirtten, but the characters, sceens, and readability make it a worthwhile effort.
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book, you will enjoy it.,
This is one book you can unrepentantly recommend to any person, whether they are a fantasy reader or not. I have recommended this book to many many people, from all reading bacgrounds and never once have they come back dissapointed, usually they buy the next two.
Ignore it's simplicity, it is a unique stroy, with characters that are engaging. Who doesen't want to read a book, every once in a while, where you can love to hate the bad guy and love to love the good guy! Ala star wars etc...
As far as the non-glossed over view of the "Church", you might find that it simply reflects most of the very true documented history of the Catholic Church. It wholly enhances the read!
Read and enjoy! BTW, don't let the old artwork throw you!
2.0 out of 5 stars Quick, forgettable read,
The book was quick paced enough for me to get through it, and though it has the basic style and premise of a fantasy epic, it lacks so much that makes those epics good. For example, the plot is too small-scale; we only learn about what happens on a couple days in one city to a dozen or so people. Truly epic fantasy novels paint a portrait of an entire kingdom. Also, this novel lacked any sort of romance, which isn't necessary, I suppose, but it really helps in the slow parts in many novels (think of David Eddings, Robert Jordan, or Terry Goodkind here).
I will read some more in the series, because I figure Mrs. Kurtz will expand on the universe she created in this book- at least I hope so...
1.0 out of 5 stars Why Waste the Time?,
The characters in this book are all either absolutely good or absolutely evil and very much stereotyped: the young prince, the evil sorceress, etc. My other main criticism is that the author tells you everything each character is thinking, leaving almost no room for suspense. Oh and if you aren't a devout Christian this book will probably be a bit much, too.
Hopefully the other books in the series are better than this one!
3.0 out of 5 stars Inoffensive light reading,
I found this book to be a pleasant read. The characters were interesting and the plot was well paced. I thought the overall story was too simple, but for a book of less than 300 pages it was as much as you might expect. I thought the Latin references were out of place and the incantations were a bit trite. There wasn't enough here to keep me reading the series, but it's a likeable book anyway. Reads well as a stand-alone novel, and good to share with younger readers.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of My Personal Favorites,
Maybe it's a generational thing, like one of those events with which only people of a certain age can identify. For instance, I can't understand the fascination that some have for Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, and Elvis Presley. It's the same thing with some fantasy works: some will make people fervent followers, others will leave people cold. I rather suspect that some of the books I read in my youth would seem substandard were I to read them for the first time now. This is by way of saying that maybe I was a far more impressionable lad back in the day. Be that as it may, I first read the original Deryni trilogy back when I was in high school, and it definitely had a major impact on how I came to view subsequent fantasy works. I rate these books, along with Stephen Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series, as my favorite fantasy books by far.
What's not to like in this first trilogy? Kurtz creates a vivid, living land, essentially an alternate medieval Europe with substantially altered geography and dynasties. You quickly get a sense that this is a intricate world with a rich depth of history. The setting, since it draws on our popular conceptions of the Middle Ages, seems familiar enough that you can easily picture the castles and cathedrals and towns, yet different enough that your imagination can be given free reign to fill in the details.
The people, too, are excellently depicted, from high to low. Few are unalloyed heroes or villains; they all have their flaws and virtues, their hidden secrets and desires and fears. None of them are able to move efforlessly from triumph to triumph; sometimes they stumble, make mistakes, fall into traps. Other than the Deryni themselves, few can call upon huge stores of magic, or charge headlong into battle with mightily enchanted items. An arrow to the chest is as likely to kill the greatest warrior as the meanest footsoldier. And make no mistake, people will die in these books--divine force will not intervene to save them, and they're not going to come back from the grave. (Well, except maybe for one exception.)
Kurtz excels at bringing her cast of characters to life. Many of them are so well drawn that it's a real disappointment to think that their lives are merely fictional. You'll hate to see their adventures come to an end. Even characters that start out as minor figures can climb to prominence and become more developed over the course of the series.
This first trilogy helped popularize the "alternate Europe" setting with the Catholic Church as a major element. The Church does not come off too well here, as most of its hierarchy is composed of fanatics, slick political operators, and bigots. This theme has been picked up in other works inspired by the Deryni books (such as some of the novels by the overly-prolific Mercedes Lackey). While it works here as an integral part of the milieu and history, in books written by others, the Church as villain is generally done quite poorly. But I digress.
This first Deryni trilogy is epic in scope, filled with intrigue, battles, mysterious rites, strange encounters, passion, love, and death. Multiple plot lines are followed and many points of view are presented. It is truly a sweeping and engripping epic.
The following trilogy, centered on Camber, a figure from a few centuries prior to the original books, is almost as good. After that, Kurtz begins to churn out Deryni books that suffer from improbable plots, silly and uninspired characters, and a certain numbing sameness. They read almost as if a lesser talent had created them under her vague supervision.
But you won't be disappointed with this first set. Unless, as I said, only oldsters like me can identify with this. You kids and your Robert Jordan these days, sheesh...
4.0 out of 5 stars A great Beginning,
This was Mrs. Kurtz chance to introduce her readers to characters that time and again she manages to bring to life, vividly. I think she did an incredible job. This is the novel that helps you fall in love with Gwynedd, Kelson, Morgan, Duncan, and the deryni race in general. Not to mention her story is riveting and keeps the readers attention throughout. I highly recommend this novel(and entire seiries) to everyone I know.
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DERYNI RISING by Katherine Kurtz (Mass Market Paperback - Sept. 12 1984)
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