The Bishop's Heir (Histories of King Kelson Series #1)

The Bishop's Heir (Histories of King Kelson Series #1)

by Katherine Kurtz

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781504031226
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication date: 03/08/2016
Series: Deryni Series , #1
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 345
Sales rank: 102,266
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Katherine Kurtz was born in Coral Gables, Florida, during a hurricane. She received a four-year science scholarship to the University of Miami and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry. Medical school followed, but after a year she decided she would rather write about medicine than practice it. A vivid dream inspired Kurtz’s Deryni novels, and she sold the first three books in the series on her first submission attempt. She soon defined and established her own sub-genre of “historical fantasy” set in close parallels to our own medieval period featuring “magic” that much resembles extrasensory perception.
 
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.)
Katherine Kurtz was born in Coral Gables, Florida, during a hurricane. She received a four-year science scholarship to the University of Miami and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry. Medical school followed, but after a year she decided she would rather write about medicine than practice it. A vivid dream inspired Kurtz’s Deryni novels, and she sold the first three books in the series on her first submission attempt. She soon defined and established her own sub-genre of “historical fantasy” set in close parallels to our own medieval period featuring “magic” that much resembles extrasensory perception.

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

The Bishop's Heir

The Histories of King Kelson, Volume One


By Katherine Kurtz

OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA

Copyright © 1984 Katherine Kurtz
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5040-3122-6



CHAPTER 1

He made him a lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance: to bind his princes at his pleasure.

— Psalms 105:21–22


The Bishop of Meara was dead. In more stable times, that fact might have elicited little more than academic interest on the part of Duke Alaric Morgan, for his duchy of Corwyn lay far on the other side of Gwynedd, well beyond the reach of any Mearan prelate's influence. Bishops there were whose passing would have meant a personal loss to Morgan, but Carsten of Meara was not one of them.

This is not to say that Morgan had regarded Carsten as an enemy. On the contrary, even though the old bishop had been of a very different generation, bred in an age when fear of magic had made far greater men rabid in their intolerance of such as Corwyn's Deryni duke, Carsten had never succumbed to the open hostility displayed by some. When, on the premature accession of Kelson Haldane to the throne of Gwynedd, it had become increasingly clear that the young king was somehow heir to magical abilities which the Church had come to condemn as heretical over the years — powers that Kelson intended to use for the protection of his kingdom — Carsten had retired quietly to his episcopal holdings in Meara, rather than choose between his fanatically anti-Deryni archbishop and his more moderate brethren who supported the king despite the questionable status of his Deryni soul. The king's party had eventually prevailed, and the deposed Archbishop Loris languished even now in the secure Abbey of Saint Iveagh, high in the sea cliffs north of Carbury. Morgan himself thought the sentence far too lenient to balance the harm Loris had done human-Deryni relations by his venom, but it had been the recommendation of Loris' successor, the scholarly Bradene of Grecotha, and was actively supported by the majority of Gwynedd's other bishops.

No such majority prevailed in the consistory Morgan now watched in the chamber below, assembled in Culdi to elect old Carsten's successor. The unexpected vacancy in the See of Meara had touched off old, old controversies regarding its tenure. Mearan separatists had been agitating for a Mearan-born prelate for as long as Morgan could remember, and had been agitating in vain through the reigns of at least three Haldane kings. This was the first time that young Kelson had had to face the ongoing argument, but with the king less than a fortnight past his seventeenth birthday, it was not likely to be the last. Even now, he was addressing the assembled bishops in the chamber below, outlining the factors he wished them to consider in weighing the many candidates.

Suppressing a cough, Morgan shifted forward on the hard stone seat in the listening gallery and eased aside the heavy curtain to peer down. He could see only Kelson's back from this angle, stiff and formal in a long scarlet court robe, but Conall, Prince Nigel's eldest son and second in line to the throne after his father, was visible in profile to Kelson's right, looking very bored. The bishops themselves seemed attentive enough, but many of those watching from the tiered benches along the walls wore stormy faces. Morgan could identify several of the principal aspirants to the vacant Mearan See.

"We wish, therefore, to reassure you that the Crown will not interfere unduly in your election, my lords," the king was saying, "but we enjoin you to consider well the candidates who shall come under your examination in the coming days. The name of the individual eventually chosen matters little to us, personally, but the peace of Meara matters a great deal. That is why we have spent this past season progressing through our Mearan lands. We recognize that a bishop's principal function is to provide spiritual guidance — yet we would be naive in the extreme if we did not also acknowledge the temporal power wielded by the incumbent of any such office. All of you are well aware of the weight your opinions carry in our own secular deliberations."

He went on, but Morgan released the curtain with a bored sigh and folded his arms along the railing, allowing his attention to drift as he laid his head on his crossed forearms and closed his eyes.

They had gone over all of this before. Morgan had not been along on the royal progress, having business of his own in Corwyn, but he joined the king as soon as word arrived of old Carsten's death. His first night back in the royal entourage, Archbishop Cardiel had briefed him on the political ramifications and acceptable successors, while Kelson listened and Duncan occasionally added his own observations. Duncan was down there now at Cardiel's side, poised and attentive in his clerical black — at thirty-one, young even to be serving as a bishop's secretary, much less an incipient bishop himself, though he had shown sufficient promise even a full five years ago to be appointed the then-Prince Kelson's chaplain and given the rank of Monsignor.

Not that Duncan would be Carsten's successor — though many might have feared that, had they known of his impending change of status. Fortunately, most did not. The bishops knew, of course. Cardiel had determined to make Duncan his assistant even before Carsten's death, and had spearheaded his election as one of the first items of business when the convocation convened a few days earlier.

But partially because Duncan's secular status already presented complications in the deliberations ahead, and partially because he wished to delay his formal consecration until the following Easter, no public announcement had yet been made. Duncan's very presence at the convocation, ostensibly as secretary for the proceedings, had been enough to raise eyebrows among the Mearan clergy and lay observers in attendance.

Nor did Mearan uneasiness spring from the fact that Duncan, like Morgan, was Deryni — though the Deryni question had certainly presented problems of its own in the beginning, and doubtless would continue to be a factor of varying importance. For nearly two centuries, no known Deryni had been permitted ordination to the priesthood. Discovery that Duncan was Deryni and had been so ordained had sparked a panicked flurry of ecclesiastical speculation as to how many other Deryni might have served in the clergy secretly, to the possible detriment of uncountable human souls to whom they might have ministered — and how many might be serving now? No one knew how virulent the infection might be, if Deryni consorted unbeknownst with decent Christian folk. The very thought had sent men like Edmund Loris into near-apoplectic fits on more than one occasion.

Fortunately, cooler logic than Loris' had eventually prevailed. Under the physical protection of a part-Deryni king, both Duncan and Morgan had managed to convince a majority of the ecclesiastical hierarchy that they, at least, did not fit the image of evil for so long attributed to Deryni — for surely evil men would not have put themselves so thoroughly at risk to save their king and kingdom from another of their race.

But while Morgan could quickly return to a status not unlike that which he had enjoyed before the death of Brion — known and sometimes feared for what he was, but nonetheless grudgingly respected, if only for the threat of what he might do if provoked — Duncan's situation required more delicate handling. Once he and Morgan had even made peace with the bishops, the Deryni priest had spent many agonizing weeks reconciling his own conscience on the matter of having accepted ordination to the priesthood when he knew it was forbidden to Deryni. He had resumed his priestly function only after Kelson's victory at Llyndruth Meadows.

In Duncan's favor, at least, was the fact that few outside the confines of consistory and court definitely knew he was Deryni; and whatever rumor and innuendo might be whispered beyond that circle of intimates, scrupulous avoidance of any public display of magic had enabled Duncan not to confirm anything. He was not known to be Deryni by most; he was only known to consort with them — Morgan and the king, in particular. Arilan, now the Bishop of Dhassa, was Deryni too; but among the bishops only Cardiel knew that — as did a meager handful outside the episcopal ranks — for neither Arilan nor Duncan had had to reveal their powers against Wencit at the Llyndruth Meadows confrontation two years before. Morgan did not fully trust Arilan, but he was sure he and Cardiel were largely responsible for Duncan's cautious acceptance among the clergy. Certainly, Duncan could not have been elected bishop without their support.

What gave the Mearans cause to distrust Duncan, then, had almost entirely to do with Duncan's secular status; for following his father's death without other heir, Duncan had assumed the ducal and county titles of Cassan and Kierney — titles which had once belonged to Old Meara. To Mearan separatists, working to establish a powerbase for a Mearan restoration, a Cassani duke loyal to the crown of Gwynedd was merely a political annoyance across the northern border, to be worked around and watched, as Duncan's father had been watched for years; but if that duke was also a high-ranking priest, and Meara's only bishopric fell suddenly vacant, matters instantly became more complicated. A Cassani royalist duke who also became Bishop of Meara would wield both spiritual and temporal authority over two vast areas.

Indeed, Duncan's election to any bishopric would be viewed with suspicion in Meara; for even if he himself had no aspirations in that direction, his politically motivated wishes could carry great weight in the selection of the man who was chosen to occupy the Mearan See. Monsignor The Duke of Cassan represented a threat, then, for all that he seemed to be an innocuous-looking priest-secretary seated quietly beside the Archbishop of Rhemuth.

Smothering another cough, Morgan glanced down at the consistory chamber again — Kelson was winding up his speech — then allowed his gaze to drift lazily over his own form, reflecting on the effort which had gone into making his image less threatening in the past two years. Gone was the somber black attire which a younger, more arrogant Morgan had affected in those days as Brion's shadow and confidant. Cardiel had told him quite frankly that such affectations only tended to reinforce the sinister notions most people still entertained about Deryni.

"Why dress as the Adversary?" Cardiel demanded. "You've shown amply by your actions that you're a servant of Light, not Darkness. Why, with your pale hair and fair features, you could have come off my chapel ceiling: one of the Lord's messengers — maybe even blessed Michael himself!"

And Lord Rathold, his wardrober at Coroth, had badgered him no less mercilessly about his ducal image.

"You must think of your people, Your Grace!" Rathold had said stubbornly. "You dress like a common soldier, when you have your way. No one wishes to think he serves an impoverished master — or to have others think it! 'Tis a matter of pride!"

And so, unless there was a need for stealth, the sable leathers had been put aside and replaced with color: a deep burgundy cloak at first, as a self-conscious concession to his rank as King's Champion — he could not bring himself to adopt the crimson Kelson favored — but worn over muted, conservative grey, with little embellishment. Deep blues followed, and eventually greens and golds and even particolors — the rich jewel-tones rather than bright shades. Eventually, he even learned to like them.

His body squire had chosen verdant hues for him today: a blue -green cloak collared and lined in silver fox drawn over a nubby wool robe in a slightly lighter shade, ankle-length and slit front and rear for riding. The borders and cuffs were stiff with dozens of his Corwyn gryphons worked in gold bullion, the throat clasped with a silver penannular brooch which had been his mother's.

He still wore a mail shirt beneath his finery, as he always had: fine, supple chain which would turn aside all but the most direct dagger thrust. But where once the metal would have gleamed openly at wrists and throat, boldly belligerent and just a little too ready for trouble, now it was hidden beneath an undertunic of rich, slubbed silk, with soft wool between the chain and his skin. The scabbard of the sword at his left hip was mounted with silver-set Cassani cairngorms the size of a man's thumbnail — Duncan's birthday gift to him two months before: civilized splendor, even if the blade the scabbard sheathed was as serviceable as ever.

A shorter blade was thrust into his right boot-top, the hilt never far from his gloved hand, and he still carried a narrow stiletto in a wrist-sheath strapped along his left forearm, underneath the mail. Around his neck he wore the gilded captain-general's chain Kelson had given him at last year's Christmas Court, each link engraved with Haldane lions and Corwyn gryphons chasing one another's tails. The old Morgan would not have understood the joke.

He sighed and shifted, and the sound of the chain chiming against the stone railing brought him back to awareness of his surroundings. Kelson's voice in the chamber below had been replaced by another while Morgan daydreamed, and a quick glance between the curtains confirmed that the speaker was Archbishop Bradene. Seconds before the door latch lifted, Morgan sensed the king approaching even as he quested outward with his mind. He was already rising to incline his head in a slight bow as Kelson stepped inside.

"Well, no sense trying to take you by surprise," the boy remarked with a rueful smile. "You always seem to know it is I. How did I do?"

Morgan shrugged and returned the smile.

"The part that I heard was fine, my prince. I must confess that my attention wandered, toward the end. We went over this so many times in Droghera."

"I know. I nearly bored myself as well." Kelson flashed a more wistful grin as he drifted over to peer through the curtains as Morgan had done. "Still, it had to be said."

"Aye."

As the king stood there poised and listening, Morgan was reminded once again how much had changed in the past three years. Kelson had grown more than a handspan since that day Morgan had come to help a grief-stricken boy of fourteen keep his throne. The boy was a man now — still not as tall as Morgan, but already taller than his father had been, if more slightly built. In other ways than size, he would also be a bigger man than Brion. Already he knew more of his magical heritage than Brion ever had, and more of the ways of people.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Bishop's Heir by Katherine Kurtz. Copyright © 1984 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

Contents

Prologue And he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal for a cloak. — Isaiah 59:17,
I He made him a lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance: to bind his princes at his pleasure. — Psalms 105:21–22,
II They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh. — Song of Solomon 3:8,
III And thou shalt put the mitre upon his head ... — Exodus 29:6,
IV Thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment. — Psalms 60:3,
V They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not. — Hosea 8:4,
VI They only consult to cast him down from his excellency: they delight in lies: they bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly. — Psalms 62:4,
VII The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet were drawn swords. — Psalms 55:21,
VIII Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. — Isaiah 47:13,
IX But thou, mastering thy power, judgest with equity, and orderest us with great favor: for thou mayest use power when thou wilt. — Wisdom of Solomon 12:18,
X Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time. — Amos 5:13,
XI They fall into many actions and businesses, and are void of sense, and when they think of things pertaining unto God, they understand nothing at all. — II Hermas 10:12,
XII All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee. — Obadiah 1:7,
XIII Yet was she carried away, she went into captivity. — Nahum 3:10,
XIV Let our strength be the law of justice: for that which is feeble is found to be nothing worth. — Wisdom of Solomon 2:11,
XV But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth thee, and thou art troubled. — Job 4:5,
XVI In the valley of vision ... — Isaiah 22:5,
XVII He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abominations to the Lord. — Proverbs 17:15,
XVIII And I shall even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness. — Hosea 2:20,
XIX A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. — Proverbs 17:22,
XX Yet will I bring an heir unto thee. — Micah 1:15,
XXI I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son. — Hebrews 1:5,
XXII For the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married. — Isaiah 62:4,
PREVIEW: The King's Justice,
BONUS STORY: The Priesting of Arilan,
APPENDIX I: Index of Characters,
APPENDIX II: Index to Place Names,
APPENDIX III: Partial Lineage of Haldane Kings,
APPENDIX IV: The Festillic Kings of Gwynedd and Their Descendants,
APPENDIX V: Partial Lineage of the MacRories,
About the Author,

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The Bishop's Heir (Histories of King Kelson Series #1) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
TadAD on LibraryThing 6 months ago
Honestly, I'm quite disappointed in this second trilogy. The first two books are extremely lackluster compared to the first trilogy. The third book is not only lackluster, but has a total bummer of an ending that didn't even feel in keeping with the characters Kurtz established. It's almost as if she decided to tell the story of Job instead of Kelson.
Karlstar on LibraryThing 6 months ago
Bishop's Heir, while technically the second series of Kelson books, is as much about his friends Morgan and Duncan as it is about Kelson. These aren't quite as good as the first series, but still enjoyable reading.
Selanit on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Though the world of Kurtz's Deryni books quite definitely counts as a fantasy, she also has a deep knowledge of medieval history and culture - and it shows. The material conditions of life, and the social relations among individuals, spring to vivid life in her prose, and not just in dramatic moments. In Kurtz's world, the sodden cloak of a messenger steaming by a fire merits as much description as a ducal seal, and the King has a relationship with his page every bit as real and psychologically convincing as that with his most trusted adviser. For all that it's a fantasy, the novel breathes realism.This stands the book in good stead, since the plot centers around political maneuvering connected with a sectarian conflict between an intensely conservative bishop and the more liberal king. The conflict revolves around questions as to how both Church and State should regard the Deryni, a long-suppressed and villified minority group possessed of powers that other non-gifted humans find terrifying. In an earlier trilogy, the conservatives led by Archbishop Lorris were defeated; but now he has escaped his prison, and has allied himself with a group of separatists from the subjugated region of Meara. The politics become quite involved. In lesser hands, this might have become tedious. In Kurtz's, it does not. She takes the typical moves and countermoves of medieval politics - negotiation by messenger, excommunication, counter-excommunication, hostage-taking, marriages - and turns them into a vivid narrative.It is that final move - marriage - that lies at the center of that narrative. For all that it concerns politics and armed conflict, the book is at heart a love story tracing the slow romance between the young King Kelson and Sidana - Princess of the Mearan separatists, and Kelson's hostage. It is their fraught but inevitable progress from first glances to the altar that drives the book to its conclusion.And what a conclusion! So dramatic, and so amazingly untypical, that the final pages of the book can barely contain it. I have read hundreds of fantasy novels, and many of the medieval verse romances they hark back to, but I am hard pressed to think of a parallel in either tradition. To take an example from further afield, the final paragraph of Oscar Wilde's fairy tale "The Star Child" violates the conventions of that genre just as flagrantly as Kurtz violates the conventions of fantasy.If you prefer all your fantasies to reach a neat, tidy ending, then I cannot recommend this book to you. But if you would like something edgy, in which the waves of fantasy break suddenly on shoals of submerged reality, then "The Bishop's Heir" will not disappoint.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago