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Deryni Checkmate by Katherine Kurtz
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This picks up not long after Deryni Rising. There is a new evil Deryni who wants Kelson's kingdom. There is an archbishop who is finally acting on his anti-Deryni agenda. There is a charismatic human who is leading a rebellion to cleanse the land of Deryni -- and those who support them. Excommunication is a very real threat in this time period and has severe consequences. And the problems of being a persecuted minority come to the fore. As the title implies, this is a dark book. Do try to have the sequel on hand.

If you liked Deryni Rising, you will no doubt really like this book. The writing is a bit deeper as characters develop and moral issues are explored. ( )
  Jean_Sexton | Mar 18, 2018 |
1 ( )
  PhotoS | Feb 17, 2014 |
The Deryni books are great sword and sorcery fantasy. What makes them unique is that they're a blend of historical fantasy and high fantasy. What marks a book out as high fantasy is a completely imaginary world with no links to real history--legend maybe, but the ties are tenuous, even when like Tolkien's Middle Earth, Lackey's Valdemir or Pierce's Tortall, they have a pseudo-medieval feel.

This on, the other hand, is Christian Europe--yet not quite. Gwynedd is recognizably Britain--more so than what you see usually see in high fantasy, even if there aren't any real historical parallels to the Haldane dynasty--or the Deryni for that matter, magically talented people who are persecuted by the Church. But more unusually, their "Holy Church" is quite recognizable as the Roman Catholic Church, and the church's beliefs are important to the characters, particularly Duncan McLain, an ordained priest, one of my favorite characters in the series. Which is why, unlike some reviewers, I can't see these books as anti-Christian, anti-Catholic or at all comparable to Pullman. I loved Pullman's His Dark Materials for it's style and imagination, but there's no question his quasi-Catholic Church, the Magisterium, is just plain evil, and at times Pullman's anti-church clanging anvils got to me. The thrust of the Deryni books is different. It isn't the Church or religion that's meant to be seen as evil, as characters such as Duncan prove--it's specific people within and using the church who are. In this case, Archbishop Loris is the prime baddie, and in the wake of Duke Morgan using magic to support King Kelson, he and his cousin Duncan are threatened with excommunication, Morgan's duchy with interdict, and the Deryni with new persecution. I found this just as good a read as the first book. ( )
  LisaMaria_C | Oct 24, 2012 |
Deryni Checkmate is the second in a a trilogy of fantasy books, and seems to defy the curse of the second in a trilogy by being more interesting than its precursor. Deryni Rising, the first book of the series, was little more than a stage setter for the more pressing and complex problems that are presented in Deryni Checkmate. There's quite a bit to keep track of. Church politics, regional uprisings, sorceress warlords, identity issues, madness borne of love, mysterious long-dead saints, all these things combine to make for an engrossing read.

The reason that I would not give Deryni Checkmate five stars is because of the writing itself. While Kurtz is a clear writer, who has fashioned a complex plot that is still easy to keep track of, her writing leaves something to be desired. If you are someone who just wants the story, this won't be an issue. If reading someone nod apologetically at someone who is watching distractedly at a man who is pacing agitatedly makes you want to start rearranging words on the page, be prepared to pause at times throughout this book to regain your composure. ( )
1 vote bokai | Jan 5, 2009 |
Second of the Deryni novels and just as short as the first one. However with the backstory now firmly established we can spend more time on the politics, pressures and personalities involved in running a kingdom.

Set in the spring after his autumn corronation, little of the plot is actually centered on Kelson. Instead his half-deryni advisor Morgan takes the hot seat. Whilst the king himself is relatively immune from priestly attention, Morgan is a prime target. The church declares him and his revealed cousin the priest Duncan excommunicated. Witht eh threat of Interdict lying on his whole province Morgan and Duncan have to consider what is best for their people. Meanwhile the king finds out at first hand what the power of an untrained Deryni can do as a lovespell goes amiss. Also rebel provinces decide this is the ideal moment to try and take more gorund.

the book ends very very suddenly with most storylines not resolved all set for a dramatic conclusion in High Deryni. A little depth starts to emerge for some of the characters as they face moral quandries, but so far this is all fairly basic stuff. Fun and fast, but liek the first boo it would be much better if it were fully developed. However it is entertaining enough and worth reading particularly if you have the concluding volume at hand. ( )
  reading_fox | Jul 14, 2008 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Katherine Kurtzprimary authorall editionscalculated
Pepper, BobCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stawicki, MattCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sweet, Darrell K.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For
JOHN G. NELSON

who, like the Deryni,
strives to hold back the darkness--
of whatever kind.
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March has long been a month of storms in the Eleven Kingdoms.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345347641, Mass Market Paperback)

The number of Deryni was small, for they had been hounded for generations and kept their identities secret. Those who managed to retain their arcane powers concealed their background--for bitter persecution once again swept the land of Gwynedd, inspired by a raving fanatic sworn to destroy all Deryni in a final bloodbath.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:10 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"In order to claim the throne of Gwynedd, young Kelson Haldane had to reveal his magical Deryni powers, putting him at odds with the most powerful clerics in the land, who view the Deryni as agents of evil." "One such man - Archbishop Loris - has dedicated himself to the eradication of the Deryni. In a ruthless campaign of persecution against them, Loris targets one of the proudest Deryni in all the land: Kelson's most trusted friend and advisor, Duke Alaric Morgan." "While Morgan fights for his reputation - and his very life - a rogue Deryni has been honing his powers to use as a weapon against all of humanity, putting all of the Deryni at risk. Outright war is in the offing. And as the different factions of Gwynedd battle each other, the young Kelson must find within himself the strength to keep his kingdom from falling apart."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 4 descriptions

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