Katherine Kurtz, King Kelson’s Bride
I don’t know what this book is like for someone who hasn’t been avidly following all the earlier exploits of King Kelson, but I was bowled over. I thought I’d read it years ago but in fact I hadn’t, so I had a whole new Deryni book!
Best line: “I think I shall enjoy being your queen.”
Best cultural stuff: OH WOW SHE GETS ORTHODOXY RIGHT. It’s subtly skewed, of course, the way Catholicism is subtly skewed, but there’s no more than one thing that really marks it different from the brand of Orthodoxy I know: in making the sign of the cross they touch their forehead, then the ground, then right shoulder and left shoulder. The rationale is that they so encompass their whole body in the sign. When I demonstrated that to Choirmistress in the course of squeeing about the book she said “you can’t do that! it breaks the cross!” –we touch forehead, breast, right shoulder and left shoulder, and then the ground for a deeper obeisance– but I can actually get around their way of thinking. (Though I’d never do it for real, I’m not in their world!)
The liturgical language is Greek, the liturgical happenings accurate. The priests are down to earth, much more so than most of the Catholic priests in the books. (And I’m now reading the Elemental Masters series by Mercedes Lackey, making me want to match Deryni elements/quarters with Elemental Masters ones. Let’s not go there, at least not now.)
The book is partly exactly what it says on the tin –Kelson gets married, and to the right woman too– and partly exciting magical adventure involving royalty, treason, magic, and the Orthodox Church in a Byzantine kingdom. I kept thinking that the king of that kingdom was only ten years old because he was in earlier Kelson books, but he’s actually fourteen, legally adult, and mostly adult in fact though at times still a boy. Good thing he has the right people around him. Also some of the wrong people, or we wouldn’t have an adventure! But Kelson et al. were right to trust who they trusted. Now I want more, of course, but if KK has another Deryni novel planned at all it’s probably the third volume of the Childe Morgan trilogy. As I said to my other half, “all the nice people get married! all six of them!” (read last chapter) “no! all eight!” In fact all ten, because I know that a budding romance on the very last pages is also going to result in marriage.
The wanting more has been partly remedied. I’ve found several reliable sources of Deryni fanfic: the Kelson era and modern era sections of airsid.net (the site itself is still blacked out against SOPA, which seems to indicate that it hasn’t been updated for a long time, and I can’t find the other indexes either because they don’t have such self-evident names). My absolute favourite there is The Princess of Meara, so much that I’m tempted to write fanfic of it. Because, of course, the young queen has to marry Duke Rhys of Coroth so he can teach her –secretly until being Deryni is respectable again– without the risk of gossip. They’re already best friends after all!
Archive of Our Own has some cute little stories, and fanfiction.net a mixed bag (as is its wont). Favourite there is the novel-length, well, novel, about Richenda of Marley. I copied that as text and converted it to epub to be able to read it on my e-reader, because fanfiction.net doesn’t have a handy epub export option like Archive of Our Own has.
Nice little fanfic anecdote: KK actually told someone who wanted a specific story “if you want to read that, write it yourself!”