©1987 Katherine Kurtz; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
"[T]he persecution of the witch-like Deryni race is only gradually relenting as the group's members attain high positions in court and in the rigid, established Church. As part of this rehabilitation, young King Kelson, himself Deryni, hopes to restore the place of the Deryni Saint Camber. Reflecting and commenting on these central themes of ignorance and superstition moving toward knowledge and faith are suspenseful subplots of secret magical tutelage, a king's courtship, ecclesiastical elections, a murder case, etc....Kurtz's version of a triple-decker Victorian novel [is] teeming with distinctive characters, fascinated by theology and genealogy...a rare craftsmanship with narrative exposition that is also dramatic and moving." (Publishers Weekly)
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Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.
Even though The Quest for Saint Camber is the third novel in Katherine Kurtz’s THE HISTORIES OF KING KELSON trilogy, it’s actually the sixth novel about King Kelson and it’s part of her larger DERYNI CHRONICLES. You should read the books about Kelson in this order: Deryni Rising, Deryni Checkmate, High Deryni, The Bishop’s Heir, The King’s Justice, and then The Quest for Saint Camber. You might also like to know that this is NOT the last novel about Kelson. There is one more novel called King Kelson’s Bride that wraps up some loose ends from this story.
At this point in the story, young King Kelson has finally put down the Mearan rebellion. As the story opens, he and the other boys who are coming of age are being knighted and Dhugal, now openly known to be Bishop Duncan’s son, is being legitimized. During the ceremony, Duncan uses his secret Deryni powers, which “outs” him to those who didn’t know he was Deryni. This will, of course, have major consequences, but he doesn’t know if they’ll be good or bad consequences.
After all the ceremonies and feasting are done, Kelson finally has some free time. So he leaves uncle Nigel in charge of state affairs and sets out with Dhugal, his cousin Prince Conall, and an entourage to look for evidence of what may have happened to Saint Camber a couple hundred years ago. Kelson keeps seeing visions of his patron saint and hopes to figure out why.
Kelson has no idea that Conall, who has always been jealous that Kelson was the one to inherit the throne, has been making treacherous plans that he hopes to initiate while they’re on the quest. Not only does Conall want Kelson’s throne, but he also wants to steal the woman Kelson plans to marry. When Kelson and Dhugal fall off a cliff, go over a waterfall and wash up in an underground cavern, everyone thinks they’re dead. It looks like Conall has found a way to get everything he wants after all… or will he?
The Quest for Saint Camber was one of the most exciting stories in this series so far. There’s lots of plot, several significant events occur, heroic and dastardly deeds are done, some important information is gathered, and by the end there are major life changes for all the characters. I didn’t always believe what the characters did — this is especially true about the woman Kelson hopes to marry — but I enjoyed the story nonetheless.
The main weakness of The Quest for Saint Camber is the same one that I’ve mentioned in my reviews of the previous books; there is far too much time spent in church services, ceremonies, and with Deryni rituals. I can’t imagine that anybody, especially at this point in the series, finds this entertaining. I have now started skimming these in the audio editions I’m listening to by jumping ahead in 10 second increments during the ceremonies.
But though I’m bored by all of the church services, I am interested in the major issue that the Church is dealing with in this series and it has some parallels to issues in our own world. Deryni magic is seen as witchcraft and it has been illegal for church members to use magic. This may seem close-minded, but when you see some of the things that the Deryni can do with their magic, such as read minds and control people, it’s not at all surprising that the Church wants to wipe out those powers. I think their “crusade” against the Deryni is completely understandable.
However, as Morgan likes to point out, it’s not the magic that makes someone evil; it’s what they do with the magic. The magic is a tool and a good person will use the Deryni magic for good while an evil person will use it for evil. While this is true, the problem for the Church is that it’s nearly impossible to stop a bad person who has that kind of power, so it’s easier just to make it illegal. But then if you make it illegal, the good guys will stop using it (and feel guilty) and the bad guys won’t. What a dilemma!
The audio versions, produced by Audible Studios, continue to be excellent. Nick Sullivan does a great job with the narration. I recommend the audio versions.
The quest itself.
He was able to lend to the story with different voice characters.
It made me smile,even laugh, in many places. It also brought disgust with the description of the more seedier side of humans.
************************ Spoiler Alert! *************************
*************** Do not read this review of you haven't listened to or read this book yet, but intend to. ******************
**************** You have been warned. ********************
I'm very put off by the seeming cult of virginity Kurtz has created around King Kelson. Kurtz decided to make Kelson finally getting laid (first married, of course, righteous Christian that he is) a continuing plot theme in this series. He comes oh-so-close in the first book, then in this one the theme is continued, as he all but proposes to Princess Rothanna. In fact, he lusts after he so much that he almost screws her without even waiting for marriage - and she was so horny she would have let him.
I'll cut to the chase. Kelson never marries Rothanna in this book. She ends up marrying Collonn instead. Kurtz keeps jumping back and forth between Collonn trying to arrange this marriage, and then it getting closer and closer, meanwhile Kelson is well on his way to safety and it becoming known that he's still alive, which would put the kibosh on Collonn's plan to marry and f**k Rothanna, after whom he has lusted since he saw Kelson liking her.
Well it's all in vain. Despite the reader thinking somehow Kurtz is going to pull it off and Kelson will show up in the nick of time and stop the wedding, in the end she chooses not to. Collon marries Rothanna, f**ks her (twice) on her wedding night, and knocks her up.
She's now unmarryable by Kelson, even after Collon is executed. Kurtz has already let it be known in the book that nothing short of a virginal bride will be acceptable for King Kelson (a demand enforced by others even if not by the King himself). So even though Rothanna loves Kelson, and Kelson loves Rothanna, Collon put an end to all that by f**king Rothanna himself.
And then there's the inexplicable, creepy, and gratuitous scene where on Rothanna's wedding night, while she is literally in the act of f**king Collon for the second time, Kelson has a vivid dream where he's f**king Rothanna, a dream so real he cums all over his sleeping furs, and has to go clean himself up after he wakes up. WTF Kurtz? Did that scene really need to make it into this book? Given how the book eventually ends, with Rothanna recommitting to a life as a nun, and Kelson lamenting that he can not marry her, what did Kelson j*zzing himself in a wet dream about Rothanna actually contribute to the storyline? I kept imagining that somehow St. Camber arranged it, and magically somehow Rothanna was impregnated by Kelson's semen instead of Collon's, and he marries her and she bears him the son Collon would have thought was his. Or something. Nope. Turns out Katherine Kurtz just wanted to let us know that King Kelson fell asleep, had a wet dream about Rothanna while she was f**king her newly wed husband, and j*zzed himself.
Sorry, but I thought this book sucked. I nearly gave up on this series due to the narrator in book 1. In the end I was glad I stuck with it, because the narrator improved marginally, and I felt the story was worth it enough. I liked book 2. This book, book 3 of the series, IMHO sucks.
I'm going to listen to something else, from another author, before I make a final decision whether to spend my precious credits listening to "King Kelson's Bride", where presumably she finally lets our virginal yet horny-as-hell king finally get married and score. I'm not convinced it's going to be worth it.
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