The Barnes & Noble Review
In the King's Service is the first book in an exciting Deryni trilogy by Katherine Kurtz that takes place decades before the events in Kurtz's bestselling King Kelson novels (The Bishop's Heir, The King's Justice, etc.).
A major character her is King Donal Blaine Haldane, Kelson's enigmatic grandfather. Both hero and villain, protector and tyrant, Donal ruled over Gwynedd at a time when those with Deryni blood weren't killed on sight. Several Deryni sat in the king's court, and a few acted as faithful advisers. In fact, Donal wanted so much to protect his young heir from harm that he covertly impregnated Lady Jessamy, a powerful Deryni with an infamous father, so that she could give birth to a boy who could be raised as a friend and protector to Donal's firstborn son, Brion.
But in a brutal world where rebellion, insurrection, and treachery are commonplace and the Church is increasingly frightened of the Deryni and what they represent, the king's well-intentioned plan goes terribly awry.
Kurtz, a medieval English history scholar, is an absolute master when it comes to creating a complex and convincing magical world into which readers can totally immerse themselves. Fans of historical based fantasy -- like Stephen R. Lawhead's Celtic Crusade novels (The Iron Lance, The Black Rood, etc.) and Marie Jakober's The Black Chalice -- should give this intriguing saga a try. Paul Goat Allen
In this exquisitely detailed Deryni fantasy, her first since King Kelson's Bride (2000), veteran Kurtz lays out the history of the Deryni before the time of King Kelson, focusing on the characters whose heirs will become important players in the Kingdom of Gwynedd, modeled on medieval Wales. Donal Haldane, the king who appears fair and just, has hidden agendas and sometimes uses his power to insure his own dynastic needs regardless of other's feelings. Lady Alyce de Corwyn, the daughter of one of the last Deryni gentry, must master the art of court intrigue. Lady Jessamy, a co-conspirator with the king, helps fulfill his wish for a protector for his son. The Camberian Council-the group of secretive Deryni who rule over their magical brethren-instigate their own secret plans regarding both Deryni and humans. Everyone follows paths strewn with danger, difficulties, misjudgments-and the agonizing possibility of death. Despite a somewhat static plot, the scenes of daily life at court, plus the usual church versus magic conflict, will keep fans turning the pages. (Nov. 4) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
In his search for a protector/companion for his son and heir, King Donal Haldane fathers an illegitimate child with the Deryni Lady Jessamy, believing that a child with a combination of Haldane and Deryni powers would be formidable. It appears that this trait will be the case, until that child is murdered by a group of fanatics who believe that Deryni are evil. As a result, Donal attempts to find another Deryni woman to bear him a child, with or without her knowledge. This latest Deryni novel apparently takes place in an earlier time than the rest, but a reader unfamiliar with the series would not know that. Although there is an index of characters at the end of the book, a family tree and a time line would have been more helpful. Of course, there are many other plot threads here, concerning court intrigues, church politics, and church involvement in court intrigues. That does not mean that a Deryni "novice" reader would not enjoy it. Introduce it to teens who like long novels with complicated plots, such as books in the Dune series or even J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy, and who need a new series in which to become involved. VOYA Codes: 3Q 3P S A/YA (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed book recommended for Young Adults). 2003, Ace, 359p., Ages 15 to Adult.
In the time before religious and secular persecution drove the Deryni into hiding, these powerful mentalists served as counselors and advisers to the human rulers of Gwynedd. The rise of Donal Haldane to the throne, however, signals a new era, in which the king expects the strong-willed Deryni sorcerers to obey his demands. The author of the popular, multivolume Deryni series (King Nelson's Bride) explores the early history of the realm of Gwynedd and uncovers the roots of conflict as human and Deryni try with varying degrees of success to coexist. Kurtz's fidelity to the customs and mores of medieval Europe gives a richness of detail to her alternate medieval world. For most fantasy collections. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.