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on May 17, 1997
The Harrowing of Gwynedd sees the Deryni people on the verge of extinction, as a small group of them attempt to make stand. The story centers on Evaine, daughter of Camber, as she leads the struggle. She is a mother, a soceress, and a warrior, whose skills are tested to the limit. Her success or failure will determine the fate of her people. Read this book and see what happens. Her character is both strong and believeable, as her presence dominates this book
Much like “Camber the Heretic,” which chronologically comes before this one, this is not an attention-keeping tome but even worse. I suppose readers who are not fascinated by the ritualistic episodes, which can go on for ten or twelve pages, will have to endure those elements in the narrative or just scan through them as I do. Kurtz revels in their magical mysticism but only sometimes does she conjure up the unexpected.
These are some of the events played out or brought into play in this volume: The “blocking of Deryni powers” to conceal members of the Deryni race becomes a strategy to fool the Regents who now rule Gwynedd after the death of King Cinhil. The Regents, headed by Archbishop Hubert MacInnis, are bent on cruelly decimating the Deryni race. A new religious order, Custodum Fidei, is established to entrench the demonization of all things Deryni. Evaine and Joram, the children of Camber, and Dom Queron, a healer-priest, go underground where they establish a new Camberian Council to undermine the Regents’ power.
Prince Javan has gained Deryni powers from the ritual performed in the presence of his father Cinhil before his death. His older brother, King Alroy, is just a puppet in the Regents’ power base, following their dictates. Javan comes on side with the Camberian Council to help them counteract his brother’s complicity with the Regents. The prophet Revan, with the support of the Camberian Council, continues his subterfuge as a Willimite cult leader, baptizing Deryni and those who have had close contact with Deryni, to divest them of magical powers and influence. This is a scheme to deceive the Regents to allow the cult to gain followers because it supposedly fulfills their objective to disempower Deryni. Since his death Camber’s body has through a spell stayed in a state of equilibrium, not decomposing. Evaine obtains the forbidden scrolls Protocols of Orin to explore the possibility of bringing Camber back to life.
This is the first book of the “The Heirs of Saint Camber” trilogy and also the fourth book if all the seventeen or so books in the full Deryni epic are read chronologically. It was the tenth of the Deryni books to be published. I do find it peculiar that books by a female author can be so devoid of human kindness and romance. And she offers up only one female hero! The next volume is called “King Javan’s Year.” By its title we can tell that the Regents will de deposed or their influence compromised. Hopefully it will have more excitement, suspense and female influence.
on December 22, 1999
I applaud Katherine Kurtz's ability to introduce her characters to all readers so that they feel like family. I was moved to tears by the ending of this novel, yet was left with a smile on my face. I can only say that this is a MUST read for deryni fans, and everyone else on the planet as well. The heirs of Saint Camber is a stunning example of a fantasy series that, in another time, could be true.