“Now, these are the Names of the Eleven Kingdoms, sung rightly well of old: Howicce, and Llannedd, and fierce Connait; mountainous Meara, the Land Beyond the River; and Kheldour, the windswept; and pastoral Eastmarch; Tolan, and Torenth, and myth ridden Mooryn; and lost Caeriesse, which sank beneath the sea; and far-reaching Gwynedd, seat of the Haldane Kings.”
I was expecting a series of books set in tougher times of fiefdoms and cruel over masters. Particularly as there is suggestion of an arcane race in the fly leaf description.
Book one has the reader following the goings on of the MacRorie’s, a tribe of Deryni, and also of their King, Imre.
Camber of Culdi is the head of the MacRorie estate and is well thought of by Deryni and humans alike. Following a great loss, he is persuaded that things must change and he and his family embark on a project that is fraught with danger to all around them.
Book 1 is complete with ‘5’ appendices!
Book two continues Cinhil’s life as King of Gwynedd, supported by his troop of key protagonists to the point of a battle against Princess Ariella, who wishes to regain her brothers lost kingdom for herself and her son.
The outcome of the battle of Iomaire changes many things for everyone in the book, but especially for Camber of Culdi who dies during the battle. Alister Cullen features prominently in this second book in the series, as he takes more of a role in helping King Cinhill build his realm of Gwynedd.
Book 3 tells of life after Cinhill’s sudden death, under the grip of human regents. But not before Cinhill has held a midnight service with his Deryni advisors and his sons. Rhys, the Kings healer, finds himself capable of a new skill which he is keen to teach to other Deryni, though it seems many are unable to adopt the new skill. The lives of all subjects in the country changes under the new ‘rulers’, some to be expected, but with some surprising alliances.
Strong monastic and religious material is a large part of these books, and some may find it not to their taste. However it it a core part of the structure of the story. Murder plays a large role in the lives of those in the three tales, which is reminiscent of the ‘times’ the tales are set in. The books also include Magic of a kind, though if you were Deryni you would not think of it as magic!
I enjoyed reading this set of books, I had one extremely late night when I couldn’t put my kindle down, until the point when I had to let my head rest on my pillow. It reminded me somewhat of the world of “Game of Thrones”, with the barbaric treatment of the lower classes.
I received an e-ARC of this novel through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. NetGalley does not allow for paid reviews.
4/5 Stars (What this means…five-stars-applied-carefully)
Three fantasy novels of intrigue, betrayal, and magic in medieval Gwynedd by the New York Times–bestselling author of the Deryni series—bonus story also included.
Camber of Culdi: Long before Camber was revered as a saint, he was a Deryni noble, one of the most respected of the magical race whose arcane skills set them apart from ordinary humans in the kingdom of Gwynedd. Now, the land suffers under the tyranny of King Imre, whose savage oppression of the human population weighs heavily on Camber’s heart—a heart that is about to be shattered by a tragic loss that will lead him to confront the usurpers whose dark magic haunts the realm.
Saint Camber: The yoke of tyranny has finally been lifted in Gwynedd, but Camber’s job remains unfinished. The dangerous remnants of a conquered enemy still mass at the borders, and the new ruler is desperately unhappy wearing the crown. With the stability of a fragile kingdom at stake, its greatest champion must make the ultimate sacrifice: Camber of Culdi must cease to exist.
Camber the Heretic: The king’s heir is a mere boy of twelve, and the malevolent regents who will rule until young Alroy comes of age are determined to eliminate all Deryni. Suddenly, the future of Gwynedd hangs in the balance, and Camber—once adored as a saint, but now reviled as a heretic—must find a way to protect his people before everything and everyone he loves is destroyed in the all-consuming flames of intolerance and hate.
Filled with mysticism and magic, these sagas reminds us that “Kurtz’s love of history lets her do things with her characters and their world that no non-historian could hope to do” (Chicago Sun-Times).