by Katherine Kurtz



387pp/$22.95/June 2000

King Kelson's Bride
Cover by Jon Sullivan

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

Katherine Kurtz has returned to the world of Gwynedd after a six year absence with the long-awaited novel King Kelsonís Bride.  Although the title promises a romance-style novel which focuses on Kelsonís selection of a wife and the building of a relationship, the book itself more closely follows Kelsonís political dealings with the kingdom of  Torenth as he travels to Beldour for the coronation of King Liam after Liam has served as a squire in Kelsonís court for four years.

On the way to Torenth, Kelson visits Orsal, where, at the instigation of Rothana, the woman he loves but cannot marry, he arranges to meet with his cousin Araxie and consider her as a possible queen.  Although Kelson and Araxie havenít seen each other in several years, they consider the match out of a sense of duty rather than any sort of emotional attachment.

King Kelsonís Bride is much more optimistic than Kurtzís last trilogy, ďThe Heirs of Saint Camber.Ē  Deryni are becoming more accepted as part of Gwynedd society and even manage to acquire a surprising ally.  Peace with Torenth seems to be attainable for the first time in two centuries.  Several marriages are arranged, many based on affection rather than simply politics, and other possible relationships are shown beginning.

Unfortunately, King Kelsonís Bride is not a good introduction to the Kurtzís world.  Kurtz expects her readers to have knowledge of the characters and their relationships from early novels.  While this allows Kurtz to create a richer novel, it also means that new readers may find themselves trying to figure out what the characters are talking about.  However, readers are advised to read ďThe Deryni ChroniclesĒ* and ďThe Chronicles of King KelsonĒ** before embarking on King Kelsonís Bride.  Fortunately, all of the books are well worth the time to read and the possible effort to track down.

Kurtz frequently builds on events which occurred in previous novels, usually alluding to the background the reader needs, but as often as not assuming the reader already understands what has happened.  Duke Nigelís dispossession of his grandson Albin, for instance, plays a major role in Kelsonís actions.  Kurtz does a good job reminding the reader why Albin was dispossessed, but unless the reader has read The Quest for Saint Camber, the specifics are left undefined.  A similar case is when Kurtz refers to the captivity Sean Derry suffered at the former Torenthi monarch, Wencit.

Gwynedd continues to show all the intricacies of a real nation, and Kurtz has brought her understanding of politics and the Medieval mind to creating a three-dimensional Torenth, rather than the specter which has appeared in previous books when Torenth mostly served as a foil to Gwynedd. 

When all is said and done, King Kelsonís Bride has the feel of a novel written as part of a continuing series.  Kurtz sets in motion several plots which have not come to fruition by the end of the novel as well as hints of things which will take place long after the novel has finished.  While this can be somewhat frustrating, it is also one of the strengths of Kurtzís writing.  The reader knows that the characters have lives outside the confines of the novel, allowing for Kurtzís fans to speculate on future events while waiting for the next novel to be published.  With luck, the wait for the next book wonít take seven more years.

*The Deryni Chronicles are comprised of Deryni Rising, Deryni Checkmate and High Deryni .

**The Chronicles of King Kelson are comprised of The Bishopís Heir, The Kingís Justice and The Quest for Saint Camber.

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