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The Bishop's Heir (1984)

by Katherine Kurtz

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Histories of King Kelson (1), Deryni Novels: publication order (8), Deryni Novels: timeline (November 1123 - January 1124), Deryni Novels: chronological order ((Histories of King Kelson 1) 16)

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1,307814,515 (3.7)15
A powerful cleric plots the ultimate treason against a medieval realm's young king in Katherine Kurtz's breathtaking return to the fantasy world of the Deryni For centuries, a powerful faction of the Holy Church in Gwynedd has been at war with the Deryni, the mysterious race whose magic is despised and feared by those who lack their remarkable arcane abilities. The bloodshed ended with the coronation of the popular young King Kelson Haldane, himself a possessor of Deryni magic--but the peace is short-lived. Dark rumblings of secession are coming from northern Meara as support strengthens for Caitrin Quinnell, the cunning and ruthless pretender queen. But an even greater threat is emerging from the shadows of orthodoxy. The treacherous Edmund Loris, onetime Archbishop of Valoret and the Deryni's most virulent foe, has escaped from confinement--and, with a cabal of like-minded conspirators, is preparing to undertake an act of blackest treason: the craven murder of Gwynedd's rightful liege.   With the first book in the Histories of King Kelson trilogy, acclaimed fantasist Katherine Kurtz continues her sweeping and magnificent history of a feudal society on an alternate medieval Earth--a complex world of war, political intrigue, faith, romance, and magic, where the courageous and enlightened are called upon to take up arms against the entrenched forces of ignorance and intolerance.  … (more)
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» See also 15 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
200 years after Camber series, about a 17 year old king. Much more action oriented. I really enjoyed it. ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
Bishop's Heir, while technically the second series of Kelson books, is as much about his friends Morgan and Duncan as it is about Kelson. These aren't quite as good as the first series, but still enjoyable reading. ( )
  Karlstar | Mar 9, 2009 |
A truly great series, but the original trilogy is still the best. ( )
  willowcove | Feb 19, 2009 |
Honestly, I'm quite disappointed in this second trilogy. The first two books are extremely lackluster compared to the first trilogy. The third book is not only lackluster, but has a total bummer of an ending that didn't even feel in keeping with the characters Kurtz established. It's almost as if she decided to tell the story of Job instead of Kelson. ( )
  TadAD | Jun 29, 2008 |
Though the world of Kurtz's Deryni books quite definitely counts as a fantasy, she also has a deep knowledge of medieval history and culture - and it shows. The material conditions of life, and the social relations among individuals, spring to vivid life in her prose, and not just in dramatic moments. In Kurtz's world, the sodden cloak of a messenger steaming by a fire merits as much description as a ducal seal, and the King has a relationship with his page every bit as real and psychologically convincing as that with his most trusted adviser. For all that it's a fantasy, the novel breathes realism.

This stands the book in good stead, since the plot centers around political maneuvering connected with a sectarian conflict between an intensely conservative bishop and the more liberal king. The conflict revolves around questions as to how both Church and State should regard the Deryni, a long-suppressed and villified minority group possessed of powers that other non-gifted humans find terrifying. In an earlier trilogy, the conservatives led by Archbishop Lorris were defeated; but now he has escaped his prison, and has allied himself with a group of separatists from the subjugated region of Meara. The politics become quite involved. In lesser hands, this might have become tedious. In Kurtz's, it does not. She takes the typical moves and countermoves of medieval politics - negotiation by messenger, excommunication, counter-excommunication, hostage-taking, marriages - and turns them into a vivid narrative.

It is that final move - marriage - that lies at the center of that narrative. For all that it concerns politics and armed conflict, the book is at heart a love story tracing the slow romance between the young King Kelson and Sidana - Princess of the Mearan separatists, and Kelson's hostage. It is their fraught but inevitable progress from first glances to the altar that drives the book to its conclusion.

And what a conclusion! So dramatic, and so amazingly untypical, that the final pages of the book can barely contain it. I have read hundreds of fantasy novels, and many of the medieval verse romances they hark back to, but I am hard pressed to think of a parallel in either tradition. To take an example from further afield, the final paragraph of Oscar Wilde's fairy tale "The Star Child" violates the conventions of that genre just as flagrantly as Kurtz violates the conventions of fantasy.

If you prefer all your fantasies to reach a neat, tidy ending, then I cannot recommend this book to you. But if you would like something edgy, in which the waves of fantasy break suddenly on shoals of submerged reality, then "The Bishop's Heir" will not disappoint. ( )
2 vote Selanit | Dec 12, 2006 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kurtz, Katherineprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shapiro, ShellyCartographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sullivan, NickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sweet, Darrell K.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vrana, MichelCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
This one is for my Sibling,
JEANNE MARIE BROWN,
and the rest of the Brown Clan:
David, Graham, and Adriane
First words
And he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal for a cloak.
- Isaiah 59:17

Edmund Loris, once the Archbishop of Valoret and Primate of All Gwynedd, stared out to sea through the salt-smeared windowpanes of his tower prison and allowed himself a thin smile. (prologue)
He made him a lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance: to bind his princes at his pleasure.
- Psalms 105:21-22

The Bishop of Meara was dead.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A powerful cleric plots the ultimate treason against a medieval realm's young king in Katherine Kurtz's breathtaking return to the fantasy world of the Deryni For centuries, a powerful faction of the Holy Church in Gwynedd has been at war with the Deryni, the mysterious race whose magic is despised and feared by those who lack their remarkable arcane abilities. The bloodshed ended with the coronation of the popular young King Kelson Haldane, himself a possessor of Deryni magic--but the peace is short-lived. Dark rumblings of secession are coming from northern Meara as support strengthens for Caitrin Quinnell, the cunning and ruthless pretender queen. But an even greater threat is emerging from the shadows of orthodoxy. The treacherous Edmund Loris, onetime Archbishop of Valoret and the Deryni's most virulent foe, has escaped from confinement--and, with a cabal of like-minded conspirators, is preparing to undertake an act of blackest treason: the craven murder of Gwynedd's rightful liege.   With the first book in the Histories of King Kelson trilogy, acclaimed fantasist Katherine Kurtz continues her sweeping and magnificent history of a feudal society on an alternate medieval Earth--a complex world of war, political intrigue, faith, romance, and magic, where the courageous and enlightened are called upon to take up arms against the entrenched forces of ignorance and intolerance.  

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The novel is set in the land of Gwynedd, one of the Eleven Kingdoms. Gwynedd itself is a medieval kingdom similar to the British Isles of the 12th century, with a powerful Holy Church (based on the Roman Catholic Church), and a feudal government ruled by a hereditary monarchy. The population of Gwynedd includes both humans and Deryni, a race with inherent physic and magical abilities who have been brutally persecuted and suppressed. The novel begins over two years after the conclusion of High Deryni, shortly after the seventeenth birthday of King Kelson Haldane. As a recurring political rivalry threatens to erupt into open rebellion, Kelson must face a dangerous combination of new and old foes who rise up against him.
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