Camber of Culdi Themes
by Katherine Kurtz

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Camber of Culdi Themes

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Within a framework of politics and religion, Kurtz takes as her theme the idea of social responsibility and the price it sometimes exacts. The king, Imre, is dethroned because he is capricious, unjust, and dangerous to cross: He orders the destruction of entire villages and religious orders, murders his best friend, and commits incest with his sister.

Yet Camber, undeniably on the side of justice and order, is himself the instigator of a series of questionable acts: a kidnapping, the coercion of a harmless and religious monk, a forced marriage, the dethroning of an annointed king, and ultimately, the vast deception entailed by the assumption of another man's identity. All this he does for the good of the kingdom of Gwynned: the end, Kurtz seems to say, justifies the means.

Nevertheless, in the long run it is perhaps Imre who gets off the most easily. He loses his kingdom and his life, and that in short order. Camber, in his fight to restore a just rule to the kingdom, loses his lands and tide and his eldest son. He also suffers the ultimate loss, that of his own identity, first by assuming the identity of another and later by having the very mention of his name declared heretical during the anti-Deryni sentiment that sweeps the kingdom.

But this is a price Camber is willing to pay if justice can be established. Those who conspire with him are just as willing to pay a high price, believing that the good of the majority outweighs individual benefit. Camber speaks often of social responsibility to Cinhil during the long weeks of teaching the priest to be a prince, as do Joram, Alister, and Evaine. For Camber, and for his family and friends, the biggest sin is to do nothing in the face of oppression and injustice.