©1987 Katherine Kurtz; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
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Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.
The Bishop’s Heir is the first book in Katherine Kurtz’s trilogy called THE HISTORIES OF KING KELSON but it’s a direct sequel to High Deryni, the third book in her CHRONICLES OF DERYNI trilogy. (Did you get that?) To get the most out of The Bishop’s Heir, you really need to read THE CHRONICLES OF DERYNI first. This review of The Bishop’s Heir will contain a couple of spoilers for the original trilogy.
King Kelson’s battle with the church is over… or so he thinks. Archbishop Loris, the man responsible for the Church’s persecution of the Deryni and for the excommunication of Morgan and Duncan, Kelson’s trusted advisors, has been sent to live out the rest of his life in confinement. Kelson, Morgan, and Duncan should now be free to run the country with the help of a Church led by more tolerant clergy. However, trouble is brewing in Meara, a district of Gwynedd that used to be a sovereign nation. A descendant of Meara’s royal ruling family is eager to make herself queen and is fomenting rebellion against King Kelson. She finds eager allies with those of the clergy who are unhappy with Kelson’s Deryni heritage and the way he treated Archbishop Loris.
By the time Kelson discovers what’s going on, the Mearan conspiracy is well under way. In their efforts to thwart the rebels, Kelson et al. take some major hits. There are battles, assassination attempts, kidnappings, daring escapes and rescues, and brutal murders.
This time they are aided by Dhugal MacArdry, a young border lord who was fostered with Kelson when they were boys. At first Dhugal is just what he seems — a young man who loves his clan and who Kelson can trust — but it gradually becomes clear that Dhugal is more than he seems, something that surprises him just as much as it surprises everyone else. Other new characters include a love interest for Kelson. At the end, tragedy strikes, both personal and political. I’m interested to find out what happens next.
Readers who have enjoyed the DERYNI novels so far will probably be pleased with The Bishop’s Heir. There is plenty of action and political intrigue, though I admit that I zoned out during the numerous liturgical ceremonies in this novel. These, with accompanying chanting and reciting and feasting, go on far too long and I just can’t imagine anybody enjoying them. Similarly, the scenes in which Kelson or Morgan is delving into someone’s mind (usually Dhugal’s) are likewise long and dull.
Another complaint is that there are a couple of major events — Kelson’s romance and a discovery and confession made by Duncan — which could have been used for an enormous emotional impact but which fell a little flat. Still, there is plenty of emotional resonance in The Bishop’s Heir and it will no doubt carry over to the next novel, The King’s Justice.
Nick Sullivan narrates Audible Studio’s version of The King’s Bishop. This is a change for the series; Jeff Woodman narrated the first trilogy. I was a little disappointed because I really loved Woodman’s performance and I had gotten used to his voices for the characters, but Nick Sullivan did a fine job. I don’t think he’s quite as good as Woodman, but I quickly adapted and ended up enjoying his performance. The audio version is 14 hours long.
I've read this book and all of Kurtz's Deryni books many times. This narrator could easily ruin it for me. He o-ver e-nun-ci-ates, which would be good for some readers, I guess, but not for me.
The narration is blocky and sounds as if it is if there is a period after most words. While the diversity in voices by the narrator are good, the voices themselves are anoying. The plot is ok but the actual writing is fairly cliche.
Fine- despite the criticism I have for the book, the ending made me want to know what the next book would hold.
(see what I would change about the book)
It would make a much better movie (if done well) than book.
No, it is not better.
Well developed characters
Morgan's voice is wrong.
It always makes me cry.
The reader made mistakes in some places.
Yes, with reservations about the narration in particular. Also, by today's standards, the story might be considered a bit stilted, but these have been favorites of mine since they were first published, and they are good tales, with fine characters and a lot of excellent research behind them.
Hard to choose. Kelson, of course; Dhugal has a great role here. Saying more could be a spoiler.
Simon Vance, John Lee, Dick Hill, many others. Anyone who can do different voices well and who knows how to sound like a Highlander. Nick Sullivan over-enunciates often; seems to have made some particularly odd choices for voices for some of the characters - Alaric Morgan's deep voice is awkward and flattened, Bishop Arilan sounds quavery when he's young and active; didn't do his homework about the Latin words; and is especially awful with the Highland accent.
I like to think I'll buy the rest of this trilogy, but I really get annoyed at Nick Sullivan's reading.
Thanks for getting these books into audio.
this is a very good book. i have enjoyed listening to it.
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