Extract from Katherine Kurtz's THE KING'S DERYNI

Here's an extract from Katherine Kurtz's The King's Deryni, courtesy of the folks at Ace. For more information on this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

Here's the blurb:

New York Times bestselling author Katherine Kurtz’s novels of the Deryni have been hailed by Anne McCaffrey as “an incredible historical tapestry of a world that never was and of immensely vital people who ought to be.” Now Kurtz weaves a thrilling conclusion to the epic Childe Morgan trilogy, in which bonds of both magic and loyalty will be put to the ultimate test…

Alaric Morgan always knew his purpose in life—to stand alongside the king of Gwynedd. The old king knew that whichever of his sons succeeded to the throne would benefit from having a Deryni at his side. Alaric and the young Prince Brion Haldane were bound together by magic—a magic to be called upon when Brion was most in need.

Now eighteen, Brion has ascended to the throne and seven-year-old Alaric has come to court. Through the coming years, both will grow to manhood and come to realize their destinies. Brion will strive to solidify his power and position, seek out a bride to secure his legacy, and ultimately, when faced with an unbeatable foe, call upon Alaric to fulfill his oath.

Meanwhile, Alaric slowly learns the extent of his powers and how to use them, and will face the prejudice that many have against Deryni in its ugliest form. He will experience bittersweet first love, great personal loss, and the hard lessons one gains from both. And he will be there to unleash the full power of his Deryni magic at Brion’s command.

For Alaric is—and always will be—the King’s Deryni.


Standing in his own great hall at Rhemuth, surrounded by men sworn to uphold him, Brion King of Gwynedd knew that the faintly queasy sensation in his gut came of no rational fear for his safety. Nonetheless, the sight of a foreign king standing between him and his throne, armed and crowned, could not but give one pause, especially when that king was accompanied by another prince regarded as one of the most puissant warriors in all the Eleven Kingdoms.

That the two men were his royal uncles only partially reassured, for blood greed had been the downfall of many a young king come prematurely to his crown, with still much to learn of his craft as monarch and warrior—and Brion had been but fourteen at his coronation, hardly four years before.

Nonetheless, all experience before and since that day declared that Brion King of Gwynedd need harbor no such misgivings about these two men. For as long as he could remember, Prince Richard Haldane, younger half-brother of his late father, had been his teacher, his mentor, his most merciless critic when Brion failed to do his very best.

As for the goodwill of his other uncle—the one who wore a crown of his own—that, likewise, was beyond question. Illann King of Howicce and Llannedd was the beloved elder brother of Brion’s mother, the Dowager Queen Richeldis, come especially to honor this milestone in his nephew’s young reign. He stood now at Richard’s left, peacock-bright in the colors of Howicce and Llannedd amid all that Haldane crimson. Both he and Richard were the sons of kings, of blood equally royal to Brion’s own, yet they had come to their feet at their nephew’s approach, inclining their heads in respect.

The man who had presented the royal candidate, and had fixed the golden spurs to his heels, was also of blood both ancient and royal. Ewan Duke of Claibourne was a direct descendant of the last prince of Kheldour, to the north, and one of only four dukes in Gwynedd. Assisting him had been the scion of another great ducal family: Jared Earl of Kierney, deputizing for his ailing father, the Duke of Cassan. Like the royal uncles, both of these men also wore noble coronets upon their brows, and all of them bore steel at their hips.

By contrast, Brion King of Gwynedd wore no crown or other emblem of his royal estate, no rich raiment or even any weapon. With his sable hair caught back severely in a warrior’s knot, he had donned the robes traditional to any candidate for knighthood: the unadorned inner robe of white, signifying the purity of his honor, partially covered by the stark black over-tunic symbolic of the grave to which all eventually must come.

Over both lay the bloodred mantle: fittingly, in Brion’s case, of Haldane crimson. To such blood had he been born—blood which, even more than any mere knight, he must be willing to shed in defense of his realm, even unto death. At his coronation, the new king had pledged his life to his kingdom: reckoned a man, in law, for the governing of his realm, and well enough prepared in mind, but all too aware that he wore still the body of a half-grown youth, with much yet to learn of the warrior he must become, if he hoped to keep his crown.

That he had kept it thus far was due, in part, to his royal uncles, to the princely dukes flanking him, and to the loyalty and courage of the sandy-haired man standing close beside the throne: Sir Kenneth Morgan Earl of Lendour, who bore the great state crown of leaves and crosses intertwined as if it were no more burden than its mere weight of gold and precious stones, though he had saved it and Brion’s life on more than one occasion.

And the towheaded boy at Kenneth’s side, who had proudly carried the golden spurs now affixed to the king’s heels, and assisted in their fastening, was cut from the same cloth as his sire: quick and earnest, utterly devoted to Brion, and so much more than he appeared to be, for all that he was only seven years of age. Because his mother had been heiress to a great duchy, Alaric Morgan would be Duke of Corwyn when he came of age, one of the most powerful men in the land. But Alyce de Corwyn had also been Deryni, possessor of powers both feared and resented by ordinary folk—which meant that many feared who and what young Alaric was, and what he might become.

The Church, in particular, had made its position abundantly clear regarding Deryni, for those trained in that heritage were believed to wield extraordinary powers that could compromise another’s free will and even enslave the soul of the unwitting. Several of Gwynedd’s bishops, some of whom were present today, had been particularly vocal in their condemnation, and one of them had nearly been the death of Alaric’s mother before he was even born.

Yet King Brion’s father, only days before his death, had commended the boy Alaric to Brion’s especial attention and care, promising a legacy of benign magical powers to be employed in Brion’s service, and further powers to be imparted for Brion’s own use.

Was it true? Brion was not sure he remembered all that had been told him, but he believed and hoped that further knowledge would be revealed to him in due course—hopefully, well before he really needed it! And it was all somehow linked to the blond boy holding a crimson pillow beside the throne of Gwynedd.

But that was for the future—with any luck, some years in the future, when Alaric Morgan was grown. For now, Brion returned his full focus to his uncles, from whom he was about to receive the knightly accolade, which only another knight might bestow.

“Your Royal Highness,” a herald intoned, addressing Richard, “having been invested with the spurs, the noble squire Brion Haldane now presents himself before the throne of Gwynedd to request the accolade from your hand, that he may henceforth be recognized as a knight.” Richard inclined his head, a faint smile curving within the sable mustache and close-clipped beard as his eyes met Brion’s, Haldane grey to Haldane grey. In that moment, wearing Haldane crimson and a royal diadem, with one hand resting on the hilt of the sword at his hip, he very much resembled his late brother.

“Kneel now, Brion Haldane,” he commanded.

With a nod of his head that was more jerky than intended, Brion moved forward to kneel on the scarlet cushion that young Alaric Morgan now set atop the first step of the dais; before, it had borne the golden spurs. As he settled himself and looked up, Richard turned to the crimson-clad duty-squire standing behind him: Brion’s younger brother and heir presumptive, the twelve-year-old Prince Nigel, who extended the hilt of the sheathed Haldane sword, borne by many generations of Haldane kings. He retained the jeweled scabbard as his uncle drew forth the blade in a hiss of fine steel, clasping it to his breast in wide-eyed awe as Richard raised the blade and briefly brought the sword’s cross-hilt to his lips in salute.

Richard paused then as King Illann reached across to rest his bejeweled hand atop Richard’s, in pointed reminder that this knighthood came by way of two lines of royal kings and noble knights. The significance was not lost on Brion or, indeed, on any of those present.

Very briefly, as the flat of the blade descended toward his right shoulder, Brion closed his eyes and prayed that he might be worthy of this new charge, then lifted his gaze to Richard’s once more, as the flat of the blade touched his right shoulder and Richard spoke.

“In the name of the Father, and of the Son”—the blade lifted to touch the left shoulder—“and of the Holy Spirit”—the blade arched upward to briefly rest atop Brion’s head—“be thou a good and faithful knight. Amen.”

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