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King Kelson's Bride
Katherine Kurtz
Ace Books, 384 pages

Art: Jon Sullivan
King Kelson's Bride
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: Death of An Adept
SF Site Review: On Crusade: More Tales of the Templar Knights
Katherine Kurtz Bio
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

King Kelson's Bride is Katherine Kurtz's triumphant return to the magical Medieval realm of Gwynedd. The first Deryni novel since The Bastard Prince (1994), King Kelson's Bride is a much more optimistic novel than Kurtz's last novel set in this world. Occurring during the seventh year of Kelson's realm, the novel begins with the coming of age of King Liam of Torenth. Although Torenth and Gwynedd are mortal enemies, Liam has been living as a squire at Kelson's court for nearly four years. When the boy attains his majority, it is time for Kelson to undertake an embassy to return Liam to his own land. On the eve of their journey, Kelson's one-time fiancée, Rothana, meets with Kelson to suggest an appropriate wife for the young king.

Despite the title of the novel and the fact that the early chapters show several different groups and individuals discussing who the proper wife for Kelson will be, Kurtz has elected to focus on the political situation which surrounds Kelson and Liam. By choosing to play to her proven strengths, Kurtz has written an exciting and intriguing novel which does not quite seem to match the title. Given the circumstances between Kelson and the title character, a romance would have seemed out of place, but providing her with a larger role may have justified the novel's title.

The world and characters in King Kelson's Bride have been slowly and lovingly built over several books. This is both an asset and a disadvantage for this novel. Kurtz brings a richness of culture to the novel which she is not required to build from scratch; she can assume certain knowledge of prior events and relationships. Unfortunately, readers who have not read the prior novels -- particularly those comprising The Deryni Chronicles and The History of King Kelson -- may find themselves a little lost. A reader who wants to fully enjoy King Kelson's Bride is advised to find copies of those earlier works before reading King Kelson's Bride. The reward will be well worth the effort.

Kurtz's characters have evolved over the course of the novels, and many of them act in ways which, while surprising to long-time readers, remain within character. King Kelson's Bride makes full use of this vast cast of characters, following some as they travel with Kelson to Torenth and remaining behind with others in the various castles dotted around Gwynedd. Kurtz moves between her characters well, providing a broader picture of events without leaving the reader wishing she had remained with the same viewpoint for longer. Furthermore, Kurtz builds suspense well by calculating when she is going to shift viewpoints.

King Kelson's Bride is filled with realistic characters acting in realistic manner for the time in which they live. Kurtz has clearly done research into the beliefs and attitudes of the period and manages to create a world which is both foreign and familiar. She also manages to include several hints about future events which will tantalize her readers and leave them clamouring for further details of Kelson's adventures. With luck, the next Deryni novel, whether about Kelson or, more likely, about an earlier period, will appear long before another seven years have elapsed.

Copyright © 2000 by Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver in one of SF Site's Contributing Editors as well as one of the founders and judges for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He is Vice-Chairman of Windycon 28 and Programming Chairman for Chicon 2000. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is trying to get his short stories published and has recently finished his first novel. Steven is a Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer. He lives in Illinois with his wife, daughter and 4000 books.

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