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Deryni Tales
edited by Katherine Kurtz
Ace Books, 272 pages


Art: Victor Stabin
Deryni Tales
Katherine Kurtz
Born in Florida, Katherine Kurtz attended the University of Miami and, later, UCLA. She went on to work as a designer for the Los Angeles Police Academy. Her best-known work, the Deryni series, ranks near the top of modern fantasy fiction. Ms. Kurtz lives in a gothic revival house in County Wicklow, Ireland, with her husband, author Scott MacMillan.
Katherine Kurtz Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: King Kelson's Bride
SF Site Review: Death of An Adept
SF Site Review: On Crusade: More Tales of the Templar Knights
Katherine Kurtz Bio
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

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These nine stories by several different authors originally came from the Deryni Archives, a magazine dedicated to Katherine Kurtz's landmark fantasy series. The series is set in Medieval times, concerning itself with magic and politics as the Deryni peoples fight to fit into a non-magical society. Before each story, the editor gives an explanation of where that story fits into the timeline of the Deryni world, which helps the reader, especially long-time readers, to understand the background of the story better.

Religion figures highly in the series, and the short stories are no exception. In "A Midsummer's Questing," Joram faces the question of whether he is prepared to take final vows to the Priesthood, wondering if his calling is a true one. It was my least favorite of the storiesin Deryni Tales, for though the concept was interesting, I felt it was a bit murky. "Arilan the Talmud Student" introduces us to a young man who loves learning, and is so intrigued by the knowledge inside the Talmud that he bravely risks exposing his Deryni self to find a teacher. A young monk with an amazing artistic talent worries about committing the sin of pride in "A Matter of Pride", showing us that the gifts given to us by the Lord cannot be denied.

More earthly concerns are also in the tales. One of my favorite stories was "Deo Volente," where a pair of lovers from opposing families are determined to marry, ála Romeo and Juliet. Dhugal MacArdry goes to serve at the royal court and meets Prince Kelson as a young boy in "Dhugal At Court," a charming story of his first adventures. Three young girls go to the faire and have their palms read by a fortune teller to find out who they will marry in "The Fortune Teller", an early story about Lady Richenda. "Lover to Shadows" is the story of Christian Richard De Falkenberg, one of the major antagonists the Deryni face, which is interesting because we usually see it from the side of the protagonist. It's more of a military tale with a smidgen of romance.

"The Green Tower" is Kurtz's offering to the book, and serves as a back story for a new novel. It tells the tale of two young girls who go to spy on a ritual. They miss it, only to discover that Jessemy's father has disappeared.

The last story of Deryni Tales is "The Camber Embroidery," an archaeological study of a piece of tapestry. The story is done in correct archaeological terms, and makes for interesting reading. A very different way of telling a story.

These nine tales are all fascinating, filling tiny little gaps in the Deryni universe that I hadn't realized existed. The anthology can be read alone, without having read Kurtz's books, and would make an decent introduction to things Deryni, but I think it would probably be better to have the series in the reader's background. It also made me look forward to Kurtz's new Childe Morgan Trilogy.

Copyright © 2002 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at www.apenandfire.com.


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