The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Chronicles of the Deryni rests on a history of conflict. Festil, a member of the Deryni people, who have magical powers, overthrew the Haldane King Ifor in 822 and tried to wipe out the Haldane family. All the heirs except Aidan were killed. Festil became king, and his family ruled for seventy-eight years. Each king became more arrogant in his use of power. Camber MacRorie and his family overthrew Imre, the last king of the Festilic line, and raised Aidan Haldane’s grandson Cinhil to the throne.

Camber gave Deryni-like powers to Cinhil to protect the Haldane line. Cinhil, a monk, resented being forced to forsake his vows. After Cinhil died, the human regents reacted to cruelty the Festilic kings had shown toward humans. They outlawed Deryni magic and stripped the Deryni of lands, rank, and privileges, including priestly service.

The main story of the chronicles begins when Kelson Cinhil Rhys Anthony Haldane comes to power in 1120 after Charissa, the great-granddaughter of Imre, kills Kelson’s father, Brion. The laws prohibiting Deryni influence were ignored by Brion, both because he possessed Deryni-like powers and because he had a friend and adviser who was public about being half Deryni. Kelson continues to rely on Alaric Morgan, the Deryni duke who was his father’s adviser and who presides over a secret rite to awaken Kelson’s Deryni-like powers. The rite does not seem to work.

The church and many average humans object to the Deryni as evil, causing the Deryni to be ostracized and persecuted. Kelson’s own mother, Jehana, objects to the Deryni presence and tries to prevent Morgan’s affiliation with Kelson by throwing Morgan off the council. Kelson refuses to permit Morgan’s banishment.

Kelson’s coronation is interrupted when Charissa arrives and challenges him to a potentially fatal magical duel. Jehana protects her son, and her use of magical powers reveals that she is Deryni. Kelson taps his powers shortly before the duel, wins the...

(The entire section is 822 words.)