New York Times bestselling author Katherine Kurtz’s novels of the Deryni have been hailed by Anne McCaffrey as “an incredible historical tapestry of a world that never was and of immensely vital people who ought to be.” Now Kurtz weaves a thrilling conclusion to the epic Childe Morgan trilogy, in which bonds of both magic and loyalty will be put to the ultimate test…
Alaric Morgan always knew his purpose in life—to stand alongside the king of Gwynedd. The old king knew that whichever of his sons succeeded to the throne would benefit from having a Deryni at his side. Alaric and the young Prince Brion Haldane were bound together by magic—a magic to be called upon when Brion was most in need.
Now eighteen, Brion has ascended to the throne and seven-year-old Alaric has come to court. Through the coming years, both will grow to manhood and come to realize their destinies. Brion will strive to solidify his power and position, seek out a bride to secure his legacy, and ultimately, when faced with an unbeatable foe, call upon Alaric to fulfill his oath.
Meanwhile, Alaric slowly learns the extent of his powers and how to use them, and will face the prejudice that many have against Deryni in its ugliest form. He will experience bittersweet first love, great personal loss, and the hard lessons one gains from both. And he will be there to unleash the full power of his Deryni magic at Brion’s command.
For Alaric is—and always will be—the King’s Deryni.
Kurtz returns to her magical medieval world after an eight-year hiatus to complete the Childe Morgan trilogy (following Childe Morgan) within her long-running Deryni series. Eight-year-old Alaric Morgan is despised by many because of his magical Deryni heritage, but King Brion of Gwynedd sees him as a future protector for himself and his realm, and oversees the boy s training for knighthood. Alaric also begins to discover his mystical powers with the help of the mysterious Sir S Trelawney. As he tries to survive in human society, Alaric witnesses the cruelty that humans can mete out to his kind, and later helps King Brion find his own mystical powers. Although the scope of the story is defined by the events in previous novels, the attention to detail brings the setting and characters alive in a way few authors can manage. The book will thrill existing Deryni fans, although new readers would be better off starting with an earlier novel in the series.
The third in the “Childe Morgan” trilogy was slower and more repetitive than the first two. This covers the child, Alaric Morgan, growing up after the death of his mother, becoming a royal page and then squire, and his close relationship with King Brion Haldane.
Not a whole lot happens for most of the book, Alaric trains, practices, falls out of a tree and injures his arm, but recovers completely, rains some more, rides horses… There’s page after page of royal ceremonies, inducting young boys as court pages, promoting pages to squires and squires to knights. And page after page of the King or some noble receiving and sharing oaths of allegiance or fealty with others… It’s very, very repetitive.
Various nobles and knights get married, important women die in childbirth, important men die of old age, illnesses and accidents. The seasons change (fortunately the narrative skips over some of that). Darned near everyone gets along and is nice to each other.
I think Ms. Kurtz has forgotten one of the rules of novels that one of my high school teachers taught us, “conflict equals plot” and this novel ends up more like “a few mostly happy years in the life of a young nobleman” than a novel.
Through it there’s some tension between Alaric and some clergy members who hate him because he’s Deryni, and because his mother used her Deryni powers to help the previous king try and execute a clergy member. But we never get a sense that Alaric is truly threatened by them, only that they’re trying to scare him and make him angry.
Towards the end of the book we get treated to a complex magic ceremony, a large battle of knights and men-at-arms, concluding with a hazy one-on-one magic dual.
Of course there’s a lot less tension in places because this trilogy is a prequel to her first one, from the 1970s, so we already know where it leads and the results of a lot of what happens and where it leads.
The only way I could make it through this book was by being curious at just what point it would end before the earlier trilogy. At least Ms. Kurtz is a skilled writer otherwise it would’ve been far more tedious in its repetition of rituals and oaths.