The Chronicles of the Deryni Critical Essays

Katherine Kurtz


(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

These novels are the first three of a series of more than a dozen Deryni novels. In creating this world, Katherine Kurtz builds on her knowledge of the medieval world acquired in part through her involvement in the Society for Creative Anachronism as well as through her own historical research.

The Chronicles of the Deryni offers appealing characters that readers care about and slowly reveals a richly developed, complex world. As Kurtz continues to develop the Deryni world, she gradually provides additional information about the characters, the world, and the culture of Gwynedd. The story of Kelson is continued in The Histories of King Kelson, another part of the Deryni series. The background of the return of the Haldane kings to the throne is provided in The Legends of Camber of Culdi. This background was later expanded in The Heirs of Saint Camber.

The various novels reveal a rich heritage of Deryni and human literature and magic. The church resembles, but is not to be taken as, the Catholic church of medieval times. It is built on the elemental magic and rituals of Gwynedd’s ancient history, which have been mingled with Christian beliefs and rituals. In this regard, the church incorporates magic in its mystical observances. These observances have their own magic—the presence and blessings of God that all feel. The Deryni, however, experience that magic with an additional layer of sensation.

Deryni magic is both sympathetic (actions that cause or at least mimic the magic) and psionic (unusual mental abilities such as...

(The entire section is 644 words.)