Top positive review
High tension with dramatic uncertainty
on May 8, 2015
“The Bishop’s Heir” is the first volume of “The Histories of King Kelson” trilogy. Out of the sixteen Deryni novels, this comes 13th chronologically, following “High Deryni”, but it was the 7th to be published in 1984, following “Camber the Heretic” in 1981. I read this book twenty-five years ago and read it again with equal pleasure.
This book exemplifies what makes Katherine Kurtz a grand author of medieval regal fantasy. She weaves a tapestry of likable Deryni characters and their loyal supporters who are confronted by self-righteous adversaries whose cruelties know no bounds in order to denigrate the Deryni to achieve power and influence. Here we once more meet the previously deposed Deryni-hating Bishop Edmund Loris who has been confined for two years to an imposed exile in a remote monastery. But he has managed to form a liaison with the elderly Princess Caitrin, pretender to the throne of Meara. Meara was an independent realm two hundred years ago but has since been a principality held by Gwynedd. Bishop Loris has devised a scheme whereby he will regain his former position, looking to become Archbishop, through the restoration of a sovereign Meara under the rule of Caitrin and her heirs. By the aid of his accomplices Loris escapes his confinement, joining forces with Caitrin and a group of Mearan rebels, who defeat defending forces loyal to the Haldane (and Deryni) King Kelson. Lord Dhugal MacArdry, Master of Transha, an estate in Meara, who is the foster brother of King Kelson, is captured and taken in hostage. The King recruits an army to rescue Lord Dhugal and to confront the forces of Caitrin and Loris. This tale revolves mainly around King Kelson and Lord Dhugal. They are supported by Duke Alaric Morgan, the King’s constant defender since his childhood, and Duncan McLain, Deryni priest, Morgan’s cousin, and also a close friend of the King since they were boys. The significance of the book’s title does not become apparent until near the end.
Kurtz has created a very enjoyable story characterized by high tension with dramatic uncertainty. As the book concludes there are prominent ongoing conflicts and hostilities yet to be resolved. Volume two of the trilogy, entitled “The King’s Justice” will pick up where “The Bishop’s Heir” comes to a climactic and heartrending conclusion.