The brief reign of Alroy Haldane is nearly at an end, as the life of the young king of Gwynedd slowly slips away. Called back from the abbey where he has sought sanctuary for the last three years, Alroy’s twin, Prince Javan, prepares to ascend the throne—against the wishes of the former regents, who plan to enslave or destroy all Deryni in the kingdom. Though human, Javan secretly possesses the psychic powers of the magical race that the powerful faction of great lords and religious zealots strives to eliminate—and it is this ability that alerts him to the terrifying scope of their dark treachery. While his enemies do not yet realize how determined a foe the young liege is, Javan must summon remarkable courage and cunning if he hopes to prevail against them—or even survive.
In the middle chapter of her enthralling medieval fantasy trilogy, the Heirs of Saint Camber, award-winning author Katherine Kurtz adds richness and depth to the alternate world she has so magnificently brought to life in three previous series. Blending exquisitely detailed history with breathtaking invention, Kurtz proves once again that she is without equal in the popular realm of fantasy fiction.
About the Author
While working on the Deryni series, Kurtz further utilized her historical training to develop another sub-genre she calls “crypto-history,” in which the “history behind the history” intertwines with the “official” histories of such diverse periods as the Battle of Britain (Lammas Night), the American War for Independence (Two Crowns for America), contemporary Scotland (The Adept Series, with coauthor Deborah Turner Harris), and the Knights Templar (also with Harris).
In 1983, Kurtz married the dashing Scott MacMillan; they have a son, Cameron. Until 2007, they made their home in Ireland, in Holybrooke Hall, a mildly haunted gothic revival house, They have recently returned to the United States and taken up residence in a historic house in Virginia, with their five Irish cats and one silly dog. (The ghosts of Holybrooke appear to have remained behind.)
Read an Excerpt
King Javan's Year
The Heirs of Saint Camber, Volume Two
By Katherine Kurtz
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1992 Katherine Kurtz
All rights reserved.
And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.
— Isaiah 3:4
King Alroy was dying. The Healer Oriel had tried to persuade himself otherwise for days, but the sweat-drenched sixteen-year-old fretting feverishly under even a single layer of limp sheeting was no longer even conscious much of the time — though there were occasional lucid moments.
It was during one of those lucid moments, earlier in the day, that Alroy had rallied enough to ask that his bed be moved into one of the ground-level rooms opening onto the castle gardens, where the windows might admit a little breeze. A breeze had come, with the setting of the sun, spilling the heady perfume of roses into the room, but there still was little enough respite from the heat, even this late at night. Summer had arrived early this year, and with uncharacteristic harshness. These first weeks of June had seemed more like August at its worst, the air still and stifling, heavy with humidity. Even the usually proper Oriel was stripped down to breeches and a thin linen shirt, open at the throat, the full sleeves pushed well up above his elbows.
A young squire offered a basin of cool water, and Oriel wrung out another cloth in it, touching the back of one hand against his royal patient's cheek before laying the cloth across the brow. Alroy Haldane had never been robust, and fever had burned away what little spare flesh there once had been on the boy's slight frame, so that what remained resembled all too closely the stark planes of the effigy even now being prepared to lie beneath Rhemuth Cathedral. The sable hair, cut short around his face, was plastered to his skull like a glistening ebon cap.
The king moaned and stirred a little, teeth clenched as if against a chill, even though the fever burned still, and the heat of the summer night as well. The court physicians had given him syrup of poppies earlier in the evening, when even Oriel's feared Deryni powers had not been able to stop a particularly bad bout of hacking that seemed actually apt to end in the king coughing up part of his lungs. He slept now, but his breathing was labored and liquid-sounding; Oriel, like the king's human physicians, knew that the king's illness and his life were drawing inexorably toward their close.
"He — isn't getting any better, is he, sir?" the squire whispered, turning worried eyes on the Healer as Oriel wrung out another cold compress. The boy's name was Fulk Fitz-Arthur, and he was two years younger than the king. His father was one of the lords of state waiting for word in the anteroom outside.
Oriel sighed and shook his head as he changed the compress, pausing then to set his fingertips to the king's sweat-drenched temples. Though he had no doubt what he would find, he sent his Healer's senses deep into the ailing king, reading again what he already knew, to his heart's despair — that the boy's lungs were nearly eaten away with disease and filling with fluid. Court gossip had it that the boy's father had perished of a similar ailment, with Healers far more skilled than Oriel helpless to save him.
Somehow that knowledge did little to ease Oriel's sense of helplessness, of failure, the cosmic injustice that, even given the almost godlike powers that condemned him to the servitude of the lords of state, else he suffer death the first time he used them unauthorized, those powers were not sufficient to save the boy beneath his hands.
Alroy stirred and moaned as Oriel withdrew, the grey eyes flickering and then opening in another of those increasingly rare lucid moments. His pupils were wide from the drugs they had given him, but he made a gallant effort to focus on Oriel, one fragile hand shifting from under the sheet to reach toward the Healer's wrist.
"Oriel, what time is it?" he whispered.
"Near midnight, Sire," the Healer replied, taking the king's hand and leaning closer to hear. "You should go back to sleep. If you talk too much, you'll set yourself coughing again."
"I want to see my brother," Alroy murmured. "Have they called him?"
Setting his lips, Oriel gently chafed the royal hand between his own, knowing that the brother the king's ministers had called was not the brother Alroy wanted to see. The Haldane Ring of Fire shifted under his fingers, for Alroy had refused to set it aside, even in his illness, even though loss of weight had made it loose on his hand and likely to fall off — though somehow, it never did.
"Prince Rhys Michael is without, Sire," Oriel murmured, choosing his words with care, lest young Fulk relay it back to his father as some criticism of the royal ministers' handling of the situation. "Shall I ask him to come to you?"
At the same time, he set the psychic suggestion that Alroy should make his request of Rhys Michael, for Oriel dared not — and Rhys Michael was the one person who might be able to insist that the king's wishes were carried out.
Alroy gave no outward sign that the suggestion had registered, but he gave a weak nod. "Yes. Please. I should like to see Rhys Michael."
Bowing over the royal hand, Oriel pressed his lips to it briefly, then laid it gently at the king's side.
"Stay with the King's Grace, Fulk," he said to the squire, "and continue changing the compresses. I'll summon his Highness."
He braced himself for almost certain unpleasantness as he withdrew, at least pulling his sleeves into place and doing up the wrists before he went into the anteroom outside the king's bedchamber.
Lord Tammaron, young squire Fulk's father, was there, along with Archbishop Hubert and one of Hubert's nephews, Lord Iver MacInnis. Rhys Michael, the king's younger brother, was standing before the dark opening of an empty fireplace, one arm laid along the cool stone of its mantel and chimney breast, and looked up anxiously as Oriel came in.
"How is he?" Tammaron demanded, before the prince could speak.
"He's resting as peacefully as may be expected, my lord," Oriel replied. "However, he's asked to see his brother." He turned his gaze pointedly toward Rhys Michael, three months short of his fifteenth birthday, but already nearly grown to the adult stature his elder brother would never live to achieve. "If you'd care to come with me, your Highness?"
Before any of his elders could forbid it, Rhys Michael was bolting toward Oriel and the door, slicking his sweat-damp hair back over his ears and tugging at a fold of his long, belted tunic of royal blue. The wide sleeves were rolled to his elbows against the heat, and Oriel could see the clean-limbed flash of long, bare legs and sandals through the high-slit sides — sensible attire in the heat, even for a prince. Archbishop Hubert looked to be stifling in a cassock of purple silk buttoned right up to his multiple chins, sweat darkening a streak down the center of his chest and extending crescent-wise underneath both heavy arms.
"Your Highness, please allow me to accompany you," Hubert began, the edge to his voice quite belying the formal words of courtesy — though he did not manage to set his own bulk into motion until Rhys Michael was already halfway across the room.
A cringing look of apprehension flashed across the prince's face at the words, though only Oriel could see it, but Rhys Michael did not turn until he had reached the Healer's side.
"Actually, I'd prefer to see my brother alone, if you don't mind," he said, lifting his chin in an uncustomary show of spirit. "I — may not have many more chances."
He turned away at that, eyes averted, anxiety for his brother clouding the handsome Haldane face. Oriel made a point of not meeting the eyes of any of the others in the anteroom as he stood aside to let the prince pass — though he expected he would answer for the defiance later — only following close behind and closing the door.
The prince was already at the royal bedside as Oriel turned, picking up Alroy's slack left hand to kiss it. The king's eyes opened at the touch, his grey gaze locking on his brother's as Oriel slipped in on his other side — unobtrusive as possible, but knowing he must remain nearby, for Alroy almost certainly would begin coughing if he said very much. The Healer had no need to resort to Deryni perceptions to perceive the brothers' genuine love for one another. The squire Fulk had withdrawn to a side table with the basin of water and cool compresses, trying not to look as if he were watching and listening.
"Alroy?" Rhys Michael whispered.
The king managed a thin, taut smile.
"You're here," he said weakly. "I'm glad. But where is Javan? I have to see him."
Rhys Michael swallowed once, the sound almost startling in the still, heavy night, and ducked his head over the hand he held cradled to his chest.
"He's at Arx Fidei, in the seminary," he murmured. "You know that."
"But he's my heir," Alroy insisted, wide, drug-dilated eyes searching his brother's face. "I'm dying —"
"No, you're not!"
"Rhysem, I am," Alroy went on, reverting to the pet name that had developed between them these last few years. "I'm going to die, and there's nothing that the stupid court physicians or even our good Master Oriel can do to prevent it." His eyes flicked briefly to Oriel, who hung his head in helplessness. "Don't you remember how our father went?"
As the king paused to stifle a cough with his free hand, his exertion already stirring up his illness, Oriel let his left hand ease unobtrusively to the royal shoulder, where young Fulk hopefully would not notice, daring to extend his powers just a little to give the king ease. At the same time, Rhys Michael tightened his grip on the hand he held, trying to will strength across the link of their fraternal love. Whether from that or from Oriel's ministrations, Alroy did manage to stop coughing.
"I must see our brother before I die, Rhysem," the king continued, when he had caught his breath. "You must make them send for him."
"But I can't. They'll never listen —"
"They'll listen if you insist," Alroy said. "You're not a child anymore. You're nearly a year past your legal majority. And if they should manage to bypass Javan and make you king — as is certainly their intention, if you let them — then they'll have to answer to you in your full authority, without recourse to regents. Remind them of that — and that Haldane memories are long!"
As Alroy had spoken, increasingly fighting to get each word out, a kind of hope had begun to light Rhys Michael's eyes — for he truly did not want the crown that, by rights, should pass next to the king's twin.
"You're right," he murmured. "I am of age. They aren't our regents anymore. And if I did become king, I could really make them sorry they'd disobeyed me!"
"Whereas, if they send for Javan," Alroy rasped, "as is my deathbed wish, the new king may be inclined to be clement, whoever he may be." Alroy coughed again, and Oriel knew he could not control it much longer.
"Go now," Alroy gasped, around another cough. "If a rider leaves now, he can be back by dawn. I don't know that I can last much past then."
As coughing took him again, so that Oriel had to roll him on his side and then into a sitting position, motioning for Fulk to bring more of the extract of poppies, a moist-eyed Rhys Michael gave his brother's hand a final squeeze, then turned on his heels and fled. He drew himself up just before he got to the door, pausing with both hands on the latch and head bowed for just a moment to draw deep breath and gird himself for the confrontation ahead. Then he raised his head like the Haldane prince he was and pushed down the latch, moving through and closing the door behind him before the three men waiting could even get to their feet.
"The king commands that our brother Javan be summoned," he said, his face taut but composed. "This is my command, as well. And before you consider defying the command of a dying king," he added, holding up a hand to still the objection already forming on the lips of young Iver MacInnis, "consider whether you also wish to defy the man you desire to have as your next king. For if I should ever become king, gentlemen — though that is not my desire — I assure you that I shall not forget this night."
As he looked pointedly past Iver at Earl Tammaron and Iver's uncle the archbishop, the rotund Hubert bit at his rosebud lips and made a short little bow.
Excerpted from King Javan's Year by Katherine Kurtz. Copyright © 1992 Katherine Kurtz. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsPrologue For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. — I Corinthians 13:25,
I And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. — Isaiah 3:4,
II Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. — Revelations 3:11,
III These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself. — Psalms 50:21,
IV Behold, I have set before thee an open door. — Revelations 3:8,
V For thou hast maintained my right and cause. — Psalms 9:4,
VI Separate thyself from thine enemies, and take heed of thy friends. — Ecclesiasticus 6:13,
VII They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause. — Psalms 109:3,
VIII Righteous lips are the delight of kings; and they love him that speaketh right. — Proverbs 16:13,
IX A prudent man concealeth knowledge. — Proverbs 12:23,
X I will teach you by the hand of god: that which is with the Almighty will I not conceal. — Job 27:11,
XI Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment. — Psalms 104:2,
XII In a trance I saw a vision. — Acts 11:5,
XIII Surely thou hast spoken in mine hearing, and I have heard the voice of thy words. — Job 33:8,
XIV And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? — I Corinthians 15:30,
XV Surely I will keep close nothing from you. — Tobit 12:11,
XVI Let us examine him with despitefulness and torture, that we may know his meekness ... — Wisdom of Solomon 2:19,
XVII For the hand of the artificer the work shall be commended. — Ecclesiasticus 9:17,
XVIII Forget not thy friend in thy mind ... — Ecclesiasticus 37:6,
XIX Observe, and take good heed, for thou walkest in peril of thy overthrowing. — Ecclesiasticus 13:13,
XX For there are certain men crept in unawares. ... — Jude 1:4,
XXI He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at the length. — Proverbs 29:21,
XXII For thou, o god, hast heard my vows; thou hast given me the heritage of those that fear thy name. — Psalms 61:5,
XXIII Deliver him that suffereth wrong from the hand of the oppressor; and be not faint-hearted when thou sittest in judgment. — Ecclesiasticus 4:9,
XXIV I said in mine heart, god shall judge the righteous and the wicked. — Ecclesiasticus 3:17,
XXV And another dieth in the bitterness of his soul ... — Job 21:25,
XXVI Go not after thy lusts, but refrain thyself from thine appetites. — Ecclesiasticus 18:30,
XXVII A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city. — Proverbs 18:19,
XXVIII Mine enemies reproach me all the day; and they that are mad against me are sworn against me. — Psalms 102:8,
XXIX How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves? — Psalms 94:4,
XXX But a sore trial shall come upon the mighty. — Wisdom of Solomon 6:8,
XXXI For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief. — Proverbs 24:2,
XXXII Let us condemn him with a shameful death. — Wisdom of Solomon 2:20,
XXXIII Thou hast put away mine acquaintance far from me. — Psalms 88:8,
XXXIV He shall direct his counsel and knowledge, and in his secrets shall he meditate. — Ecclesiasticus 39:7,
XXXV He shall serve among great men, and appear before princes; he will travel through strange countries. — Ecclesiasticus 39:4,
XXXVI Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled. — Hebrews 13:4,
XXXVII Live joyfully with thy wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity ... for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. — Ecclesiastes 9:9,
XXXVIII Now therefore perform the doing of it. — II Corinthians 8:11,
XXXIX Therefore let us lie in wait for the righteous, because he is not for our turn, and he is clean contrary to our doings. — Wisdom of Solomon 2:12,
XL A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood. — Proverbs 6:17,
XLI And their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes together, saith the lord. — Amos 1:15,
XLII And the revolters are profound to make slaughter, though I have been a rebuker of them all. — Hosea 5:2,
Epilogue our inheritance is turned unto strangers, our houses unto aliens. — Lamentations 5:2,
Preview: The Bastard Prince,
Appendix I: Index of Characters,
Appendix II: Index of Places,
Appendix III: Partial Lineage of the Haldane Kings,
Appendix IV: The Festillic Kings of Gwynedd and Their Descendants,
Appendix V: Partial Lineage of the MacRories,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A truly great series, but the original trilogy is still the best.
This book is sometimes a bit difficult, because if you've read the rest of the Deryni books, you know what happens, in a sense. This is the second book that deals with the years leading up to the Interregnum, and it is like reading about old English kings. You already know when he was born, when he ascended to the throne - and when he died. Even so, this is still well worth reading.
Javan held my imagination since I first saw his name on the Table of Gwynedd's Kings in the back of Katherine Kurtz' first Deryni novel. His year and his book do not disappoint. Kurtz does a tremendous job of letting the young King and his Court live. And breathe. And hope. I enjoyed this work more than any other of the Deryni line. Javan's hope surely found its way to Kelson's soul.