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Deryni Tales Mass Market Paperback – June 1, 2002
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From Library Journal
Ranging from Laura Jefferson's tale of a young man's quest for truth and God ("A Midsummer's Questing") to Kurtz's exploration of a mysterious period in the history of the Deryni ("The Green Tower"), the nine stories in this collection (previously published only in periodicals) illuminate new aspects of the world and culture of the psionically gifted Deryni. Showcasing new authors including Laura Jefferson, Sharon Henderson, and Jay Barry Azneer, these stories by fans of Kurtz's alternate medieval history blend religion and magic in a vivid tapestry of adventure and intrigue. A good choice for libraries where the "Deryni" series has a following.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Deryni's creator has combed the fanzine Deryni Archives for publishable fiction by the saga's devotees. By exercising sound judgment and drawing, it seems, on good raw material to begin with, she assembles a rewarding collection. Laura Jefferson's "A Midsummer's Questing" goes back to the days when Rhys and Evaine were courting and Joram was wrestling with his vocation. Daniel Kohanski and Jay Barry Azneer's "Arilan the Talmud Student" addresses the position of the Jews in the Eleven Kingdoms. Sharon Henderson's "Deo Volente" also addresses the question of vocation, this time Duncan McLain's, and the stories that succeed these proceed to a fine coda by Kurtz herself. Although they can't boast prose as elegant as Kurtz's, most of the other contributors are obviously more medievalists, historians, and in possession of richer spiritual lives than the average fantasy writer or fan. None of that will surprise the Deryni saga's long-term devotees, who may appreciate the volume more than may relative newcomers to this fantasy realm now 30 years in the making. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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After 30 years, the issues of Jews in Gwynedd are addressed, albeit sparingly. Daniel Kohanski and Jay Barry Azner's tale "Arilan the Talmud Student" offers a delightful but brief glimpse into the people whose faith founded the Christianity that is so central in the Deryni universe and Ms. Kurtz' writings. We are left wanting more. If the Deryni, as Ms. Kurtz explains, "were the Jews of Gwynedd...taking the heat that would have been reserved for the Jews of our world"(p.26), the question begging to be answered is "What of the Jews who were also Deryni?"
Arguably the best story in the book is Lohr E. Miller's "Lady of Shadows": well-crafted, rich, and filled with love, loyalty, and fealty--but among the Haldane/Gwynedd antagonists! Charissa de Tolan, the villian sorceress of "Deryni Rising" and her border baron lover, the mercenary poet Christian-Richard de Falkenberg. This story alone is worth the price of the book.
We can only hope that these writers will continue in the craft, and that they and similar talent can continue to enrich the tapestry of The Eleven Kingdoms.
This collection also cleared up something for me, in that Ms. Kurtz explains that she tries to write her female characters closer to the way medieval woman actually lived. Her choice, of course, but, I have to say, if I wanted to read about the way women lived, I would read history, not fantasy. I also notice, interestingly, that she does not follow our medieval history by producing great female abbesses or theologians. Surely, the Church of Gwynedd could produce a Hildegard of Bingen, a Hilda of Whitby or a Catherine of Siena? Again, her choice, but I have to say one of the reasons I only get the Deryni books from the library instead of buying them is that the only women who actually hold real power are either misguided or evil, and that her most sympathetic and interesting characters are invariably male.
Among this collection are some wonderful tales from author's I sincerely hope to see in print again soon. Lohr Miller's _Lover to Shadows_, a piece about Charissa's private life, is worth the price alone. Frankly I cannot praise this piece too highly.
Arilan the Talmud Student, addresses the subject of Jews in Gwynedd. A thought provoking and well written tale.
I could go on and on, but simply put there is not a tale in this volume not worth reading. If only to see how the universe is envisioned, or perhaps more aptly put, expanded upon by a group of very fine writers.
I can but hope that one day a Volume II will be published.
"The Green Tower" provides tantalizing hints to events in Kurtz's forthcoming Childe Morgan trilogy, the next installment in the history of the Deryni in the Eleven Kingdoms. The story concerns an apocryphal tale of a magical working gone awry and introduces the reader to ancestors of such major characters as Alaric Morgan, Duncan McLain, and Jehana of Bremagne, as well as various members of the contemporary Camberian Council. We also get a glimpse of how and for what reasons marriages are arranged in Gwynedd.
Of the fan-written tales I particularly enjoyed Daniel Kohanski and Jay Baryy Azneer's "Arilan the Talmud Student", Sharon Henderson's "Deo Volente", and Melissa Houle's "Dhugal at Court." All in all, this was a very enjoyable effort which should satisfy Ms. Kurtz's army of fans until the first book of the Childe Morgan trilogy is published. Hopefully, "Deryni Tales" will echo the success of the Darkover anthologies and see the publication of additional volumes.