King Javan's Year Themes
by Katherine Kurtz

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King Javan's Year Themes

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The great lords who plot against Javan have accumulated more power than the young king has and are less accountable for it. Accordingly, the theme of King Javan's Year seems to be "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Or even more dismally, it might be "Age and treachery will always triumph over youth and idealism."

The overall plan of the Gwynedd novels requires this type of ending. As one of Kurtz's admirers reminds us, two hundred years is not actually a long time as "dark ages" of repression go. Compared with the centuries of Christian suspicion of the Jews, or the millennia of male bias against women, a turnaround after a mere two centuries seems magical itself. Nonetheless few humans have that long a perspective. In having hopes that go beyond their own vulnerability, some characters project a more positive theme.

Javan himself finds solace from his political problems through his spiritual resources. Despite his years with the Custodes being arranged mostly for his own protection — and notwithstanding this order's leading role in ferreting out Derynis — he can separate the church's truths from its guardians' errors. Father Faelan, the Custodes priest whom he calls to court as his chaplain, shows this quality also. Even under torture he does not lose his faith. Javan's aide Charlan volunteers for mind-blanking sleep while the king meets with his Deryni mentors. Char- Ian does not understand its magic, but he knows that he cannot betray his king by what he does not know, and that is enough for him. Such acts of trust and faith continue through the direst events. At the book's end, when Revan's group, organized to be an underground, is wiped out, this point of hope is doubly important.

Finally, even an intelligent young king can have his blind spots. Javan repeatedly warns Rhys against romantic ties, fearing that for either of them to marry and father an heir would be signing their own death sentences. Headstrong Rhys pays little heed, and is soon manipulated into a marriage with Michaela Drummond. Javan did not read the political factors wrong; he merely underestimated his enemies' ruthlessness. As it turns out, Rhys's marriage to Michaela is the only means by which the Haldane legacy lives on. When survival is at stake, passion and fate sometimes trump logic.