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A fantasy series, by Katherine Kurtz, about medieval power politics in a world where there is a race of psychic humans: the Deryni. The first installment in the series was published in 1970, making it a relatively early example of modern fantasy, and one which is not modelled on Tolkien.

Most of the stories take place in Gwynedd (pronounced "GWI-neth"), intended to mirror Britain, including clear fantasy counterparts to Scotland and Wales. In some ways, however, Gwynedd feels closer to Germany or Poland, since it is in central Europe, sharing a border with Torenth, a realm which is the counterpart of Russia with aspects of Hungary (such as the vineyards of Arjenol and Komnénë). Gwynedd and Torenth have a history of conflict that spans centuries.

The Deryni (pronounced "dâr-IN-ee" The word is both singular and plural, both noun and adjective.) are all empathic, and mildly telepathic. Sufficiently powerful Deryni can perform full mind control, telekinesis, and some Ritual Magic. They can't teleport freely, but they can construct portals, and teleport from a portal to any other they know well - a fairly unusual restriction in fantasy. Extensive and/or repeated use of the powers in a short timeframe is also physically exhausting. While the simpler psychic powers can be developed without special training, the ritual magic has to be formally taught. Since the Deryni have been persecuted for centuries, they've forgotten much about their powers, particularly the ritual magic and Healing. Though the Deryni are treated by the characters as a separate race, patterns of inheritance suggest they're more like redheads, and there is intermarriage between Deryni and ordinary humans. Deryni have never been as numerous as the ordinary humans with which they live, and the persecution has further reduced their numbers.

The church in Gwynedd, and the surrounding kingdoms, is very closely based on medieval Catholicism (minus a Pope equivalent), with liturgical services in Latin and using the real world's Bible. Torenth is depicted with an Eastern Orthodox style Christianity, complete with services in Greek, churches with icons, and metropolitans (as opposed to bishops) headed by a patriarch.

The majority of the protagonists are Deryni, and many of the villains are senior churchmen, but some of the Deryni are bishops, some of them are villains, and some of the bishops are good. The power struggles are largely political, with no side having a monopoly on virtue. The overarching challenge of the books is that of building a just and stable social order for humans and Deryni despite their differences, their historical baggage and their capacity for evil.

The books were mostly published as a sequence of trilogies. In publication order, they are:

  • The Deryni Chronicles
    • Deryni Rising
    • Deryni Checkmate
    • High Deryni

As this trilogy starts, the Deryni in Gwynedd have been persecuted by the church for two centuries, unfortunately for the new king, whose mother is Deryni (and suffers from internalized guilt and self-loathing because of this fact). Matters are further complicated by threats from a rival royal house of highly-trained Deryni from Torenth who use their arcane powers in an attempt to reconquer their neighbours.

The first trilogy includes some forms of magic (specifically summoning nasty creatures) which have never been seen since. This in a sense justified since persecution of Deryni is still ongoing in some areas and openly advocated by some highly-placed people, laymen and clergy. Also, it's Deryni villains past the Moral Event Horizon who do most of this sort of thing (Charissa in the coronation duel and Rhydon at the behest of Wencit of Torenth while torturing a captive).

  • Camber of Culdi
    • Camber of Culdi
    • Saint Camber
    • Camber the Heretic

This was a Prequel series set over two centuries before the first trilogy, providing the Backstory. As the first book begins, Gwynedd has been ruled by Deryni tyrants from Torenth for 80 years, producing widespread anti-Deryni feeling.

  • The Histories of King Kelson
    • The Bishop's Heir
    • The King's Justice
    • The Quest for Saint Camber.

In the first two books, the archbishop deposed at the end of the first trilogy escapes from his prison and joins a rebellion in the formerly independent kingdom of Meara.

  • The Heirs of Saint Camber
    • The Harrowing of Gwynedd
    • King Javan's Year
    • The Bastard Prince

This prequel trilogy follows on directly from Camber the Heretic, without any break.

  • King Kelson's Bride - in which he finally gets married for more than a few seconds. Kelson also helps the heir to Torenth (another 14 year old boy) defeat an attempted coup d'etat and releases him from his oath of fealty, forging a new alliance of equals after centuries of rivalry. The victory is not complete however, for Evil Uncle Teymuraz escapes. Kelson and his courtiers also continue the work of reestablishing Deryni heritage; Duncan consecrates a chapel dedicated to Saint Camber using magic with an archbishop at each elbow.
  • The Childe Morgan trilogy
    • In the King's Service
    • Childe Morgan
    • The King's Deryni

This trilogy begins about three decades before Deryni Rising. The focus is largely on the backstory of Duke Alaric Morgan (who is born at the end of ITKS) and his cousin Duncan McLain, as well as their immediate ancestors, but readers also get to see more of Kelson's father King Brion who is murdered in the opening of Deryni Rising, as well as a younger Prince Nigel.

In addition, there are several volumes of supplementary material:

  • Deryni Archives includes short stories by Kurtz that provide glimpses of the major characters' lives outside the novels, including Rhys Thuryn's discovery of his Healing ability, the ordination of Deryni Denis Arilan, and Derry's entering the service of Duke Alaric Morgan.
  • Deryni Magic contains explanations of how the magic works and how the Deryni trait is inherited, as well as a short story describing life in a Healers' school.
  • Deryni Tales is a volume of fan fiction, with one story from Kurtz herself involving the disappearance of renegade mage Lewys ap Norfal.
  • Codex Derynianus has genealogies, maps, and minibiographies of the many major and minor characters; it is purportedly written by a "Brother Theophilus" much as the real-world Croyland Chronicle was partly if not entirely written at Croyland Abbey over the course of several centuries.

This series contains examples of:

Deryni Tropes A Through B

  • And Now You Must Marry Me - Disturbingly, on the part of the heroes - in The Bishop's Heir, the rebel princess Sidana is kidnapped (along with one of her brothers), held prisoner for weeks, then finally approached and told she must marry King Kelson in order to negate the rebellion. While he tells her that he wants her to agree "willingly", it's made clear to the reader that he will apply Mind Rape if necessary to get the job done. As she is killed by her brother seconds after saying her vows, the further moral implications don't come up.
  • Anyone Can Die - Particularly true of the books in the early in-universe timeline (the Legends of Camber and Heirs of Camber trilogies), but also justified by the tyrannical ruler, the coup d'etat and the subsequent persecution under the regents. Let's face it, death is an occupational hazard for people involved in such things. Also justified by things like the period setting (for the deaths from childbirth, riding accidents, diseases, wars, etc.).
  • Aristocrats Are Evil - Due to the nature of the various characters, this is both played straight and subverted numerous times throughout the works.
  • Arranged Marriage - To be expected among the nobility and royalty. However...
    • Perfectly Arranged Marriage - ...many pairings that are politically advantageous are also partially based in affection. Very noticeable in King Kelson's Bride, where of three matches made, all of them are or end up being a love match.
  • Avenging the Villain - The Gwynedd-Torenth conflict for two centuries is all about this. A younger son of the Torenthi royal family led the forces that overthrew the Haldanes in 822. Circa eighty years on, Imre (the last Festillic king) is himself overthrown, but his sister escapes and tries to get the throne back the following year. Descendants of Imre and Ariella periodically challenge the restored Haldanes, and the Festillic cadet branch of the family maintains its ties with the rulers of Torenth. In 1105, King Brion defeats and kills that generation's Festillic Pretender; fifteen years later, his daughter assassinates Brion and challenges Kelson at his coronation. Her claim and the vendetta passes to King Wencit of Torenth, who leaves it to Morag, Mahael and Teymuraz...
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning - One for Kelson in Deryni Rising and one for Liam-Lajos in King Kelson's Bride.
  • Ban on Magic - Type B: The Laws of Ramos, canon laws promulgated at a Church Council held in the city of Ramos, which decree (among other things) that using Deryni powers is heresy and punishable by death.
  • The Bard - A couple of these:
    • Gwydion ap Plenneth, troubadour attached to Duke Alaric Morgan's court, featured in Deryni Checkmate. Aside from providing entertainment, he's quite useful in providing Morgan with public opinion feedback.
    • Kinkellyan, chief bard to the court of Transha, plays a part in the diplomatic welcome Kelson receives in The Bishop's Heir. Kelson's response (joining in a traditional dance) to what Kinkellyan and Dhugal begin seals the deal.
  • Bastard Bastard - The House of Festil had several of these, notably King Imre's son Marek (by his sister Ariella). King Donal Haldane has several, and Prince Conall Haldane has one born posthumously.
  • Beam-O-War - during psychic duels
  • Beardness Protection Program - Early in High Deryni, Morgan and Duncan are depicted sporting beards and wearing the colours of the rebel leader Warin deGrey while gathering intelligence, partly among Morgan's own subjects. When they report to Kelson, the king comments on the fact he's never seen them with beards before, and Duncan notes how effective their disguise has been.
  • Best Served Cold - Charissa was eleven when her father lost his arcane duel with Brion Haldane. She blames Alaric Morgan for his death, considering the Haldane arcane power merely assumed and therefore inferior. Fifteen years later, her plans (blackening Morgan's reputation, attacking those close to him, framing him for murder) are intended to make Morgan suffer as much as reclaim the throne of Gwynedd.
  • Big Bad - A series of these, many of them from Torenth:
    • Charissa, Duchess of Tolan in Deryni Rising. She's got a dark reputation (often referred to as "The Shadowed One"), and she has a Reliable Traitor to help her in everything from starting gossip to manipulating some of Kelson's courtiers to act against him to implicating Morgan in several murders and attempted murders, all the way up to assassinating King Brion by magic.
    • Wencit of Torenth takes over from Charissa, manipulating the Camberian Council, torturing a captive Derry and magically inducing mind control, convincing another of Kelson's nobles to turn traitor, capturing and executing an entire army...
    • Mahael leads the regency in Torenth after Wencit's defeat. Rumoured to be behind the death of one nephew, as well as an assassination attempt against Nigel (and possibly a second nephew of his!) while Kelson is absent on the Mearan campaign. Attempts a coup d'etat against that second nephew during his enthronement ceremony. Has a spy network which is taken over by his brother...
    • Teymuraz, who after killing his sister-in-law Morag (with his bare hands) uses the mind control she had re-established on Derry and tries to kill his own younger brother.
    • Archbishop Edmund Loris - assisted by his minion Monsignor Gorony and some of his fellow bishops in his intolerance and persecution. He courts and aids secular rebels as well. Abduction, torture, attempted murder, actual judicial murder: this guy will stop at nothing.
  • Big Entrance - Kelson and Dhugal in The Quest for Saint Camber were thought to be dead after a mountain trail washed out beneath them. When they return to Gwynedd's capital Rhemuth, they arrive with their entourage via Transfer Portal (which permits instantaneous travel) in the sacristy of the cathedral on Easter Sunday morning no less.
  • Blase Boast - Alaric Morgan, his thumbs hooked in his swordbelt, addressing Mearan prisoners in The King's Justice:

 "All right, you know who I am," he said, his voice stern but without deliberate menace. "I'm going to have a private little chat with each of you. While you're waiting for your turn, I suggest you give careful thought to which four of you deserve to die for what you've done--because I'm going to ask you that, and I'll know if you're lying. That's the fairest way I know to see that justice is done--though I'm sure His Majesty is right that more than four of you probably deserve to hang."


He's boasting about his Deryni powers (Mind Reading), which most of them only know by fearsome reputation. He's more overt when he proposes this to Kelson, "I assure you, my culling would be far more than just lots," and he reminds Kelson that he (Morgan) already has an infamous reputation.

  • Bling Bling Bang - Played with extensively.
    • In some cases, the blinged out weapons are Requisite Royal Regalia. The Haldane Sword has gold, jewels (rubies, because the family colour is red) and a relic encased in the hilt. At his investiture, Liam-Lajos is girded with a diamond-encrusted belt and takes up a gorgeous scimitar described as "more than half the height of a man". "Its scabbard was inlaid with turquoise and lapis lazuli, and studded here and there with pearls and more precious stones: ruby and emerald and sapphire."
    • In keeping with his ready-for-anything wardrobe, Morgan favours plain-but-serviceable weapons in his early years, and he retains some of them, including his stiletto in its wrist-sheath. Later he is shown to have a scabbard set with cairngorms, and he disguises the gold of his sword grip with black leather when going to Dhassa incognito. There's a tension between the demands of his ducal status and more practical considerations.
  • Blood Brothers - Kelson and Dhugal. They retain slight scars on their palms from the blood exchange when they swore threir oaths.
  • Blood Magic - Small amounts of blood are frequently used in Naming and in triggering the Haldane potential in heirs, as a form of solemn sealing of documents or to activate pieces of Requisite Royal Regalia.
  • Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress - Sidana of Meara at the end of The Bishop's Heir.
  • Boomerang Bigot - Queen Jehana after The Reveal at Kelson's coronation. She fervently believes the Deryni powers are evil, and after her son's coronation she goes into self-imposed exile in a remote convent, fasting to the point of noticeable weight loss. She tries to warn Nigel's wife Meraude of the taint of the Haldane powers, exhorting her sister-in-law to keep Nigel "safe". She entertains hopes of finding a human wife for Kelson to "redeem" him, and she's rude and hostile to Rothana when she thinks the young novice is too close to her son.
  • Braids of Barbarism - This trope is played with in the Deryni works:
    • Braids and braided sidelocks are worn by eleventh-century Torenthi men. In addition to signalling an exotic otherness, they are menacing by association (since Torenth has menaced Gwynedd for centuries). In earlier periods (tenth century particularly), such sidelock braids are also worn by noblewomen in Gwynedd (Camber's daughter Evaine is shown wearing them); these are often women descended from the Torenthi conquerors of the ninth century.
    • In eleventh-century Gwynedd, borderers are depicted wearing braids, and this style is considered a fashion cue for barbarism (along with the tartans/tweeds) by "lowlanders". When Kelson adopts the braid and Dhugal joins him at court, he seems to take on some of the "barbaric" power, much as he openly uses his "forbidden" Deryni powers. Notably, the male Servants of Saint Camber, a quasi-religious order devoted to a famous mage and a throwback to the tenth century, wear the braid and call it the g'dula. It also marks the contrast between Kelson and Conall (who retains the short-cropped style of his father's generation). Conall's younger brothers and other young men of Kelson's court actually adopt the braid themselves as a tribute to their young sovereign and his popular foster brother.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy - Derry, first in High Deryni, after being captured by Bran Coris' men and handed over to Wencit of Torenth, who uses powerful sorcery and a pair of rings to control Derry's mind. Derry helps kidnap a child (injuring someone in the process), and when Morgan first tries to deal with him afterward, Derry goes from blank and fearful innocence to literally choking Morgan. Years later (in King Kelson's Bride), Wencit's sister reestablishes the control and uses it to observe what Derry sees; later she is murdered by her brother-in-law Teymuraz, and Derry is forced to do evil things again, notably stabbing Mátyás on command.
  • Brainwash Residue - Derry suffers from this, referring to nightmares he had after his captivity and torture at the hands of Wencit of Torenth. He reluctantly admits the nightmares returned years later in anticipation of Kelson's trip to Torenth for Liam-Lajos's investiture in King Kelson's Bride. This foreshadows Morag's reasserting control over his mind, control which is taken and used by Teymuraz.
  • Brother-Sister Incest - Imre and his sister Ariella, in Camber of Culdi. She later gives birth to Imre's son Marek.

Deryni Tropes C

  • Capital Letters Are Magic - Used frequently to distinguish magically-enhanced processes from analogous ordinary ones (healing vs. Healing, veil vs. Veil). Also used in particular phrases coined to describe magical objects and processes, such as Mind Seeing, Truth Reading, Truth Saying, Transfer Portal.
  • Cartwright Curse - Kelson: his romantic asperations are doomed to disaster for three books. To his credit, he is quite shaken by these events.
  • The Cavalry - Kelson and Morgan leading their forces to confront the main Mearan host and rescue Duncan whilst he's being burned at the stake.
  • Celestial Paragons and Archangels - Gabriel, Raphael, Michael, and Uriel are summoned by name in major rituals. They are identified with compass points or the Four Winds as well as the Four Elements (Earth, Air, Fire and Water). When King Cinhil dies during a ritual, Uriel is seen escorting his soul from the circle. Michael is the patron and namesake of the Michaelines, a militant religious order that functioned like a cross between the Jesuits and the Templars.
  • The Champion - Morgan is actually named "King's Champion" by Kelson on his coronation day. Morgan has effectively been the Deryni Champion of the Haldanes most of his life; his parents dedicated him to the job before he was born at the end of In The King's Service.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them - Kelson Haldane, Javan Haldane from the prequels, Liam-Lajos in King Kelson's Bride. Naturally involves a Coming of Age Story for all of them. Since they are leaders, and other people want their jobs and their lives, Growing Up Sucks.
  • Choke Holds - Dhugal reacts badly to the psychic energies unleashed at Duncan's consecration as bishop. Morgan uses a choke hold on Dhugal to get him away from the cathedral via Transfer Portal and avoid unwanted attention from potentially hostile clerics when Dhugal's shields prove impossible for Morgan to breach.
  • The Clan - The Haldanes (complete with black hair and grey eyes) and the House of Furstán (including the cadet branch House of Festil).
  • Cold-Blooded Torture - Derry is tortured by Wencit and Rhydon in High Deryni. After Duncan is captured at Dorna, Loris and Gorony keep him drugged (the side effects are themselves very unpleasant) and torture him for hours, including multiple whippings and pulling out all his nails.
  • Comes Great Responsibility - Explicitly invoked in the Healer's Adsum Domine, a Gabrielite hymn in the Deryni works. Rhys Thuryn sings it in the short story "Healer's Song" and Duncan McLain sings it during the dedication of Camber's chapel in King Kelson's Bride. The English translation of the first verse makes the point:

 Here am I, Lord:

Thou hast granted me the grace to Heal men's bodies.

Here am I, Lord:

Thou hast blessed me with the Sight to See men's souls.

Here am I, Lord:

Thou hast given me the might to bend the will of others.

O Lord, grant strength and wisdom to wield all these gifts only as Thy will wouldst have me serve...


  • Coming of Age Story - A number of major characters are depicted from childhood into adulthood. Specifically, Liam-Lajos postpones taking on his royal status as King of Torenth until after he makes one last court visit to Coroth as a squire.
  • Cool Crown - A number of these, including:
    • The Haldanes have the State Crown of Gwynedd, bejeweled and with intertwined gold leaves and crosses, worn at coronations and state occasions. Even Kelson wears this when duty calls for it, though he prefers a "simpler circlet of gold" like the hammered gold circlet he wears when addressing the bishops at Valoret in The Quest for Saint Camber.
    • Also in The Quest for Saint Camber, Kelson wears "the oldest and plainest of Kelson's official crowns: a band of hammered gold two fingers wide, chased with a design of Celtic interlace and set with small, round cabochon rubies in some of the interstices."
    • Caitrin Quinnell, soi-disant Queen of Meara, has a regal crown of gold set with sapphires and rubies. This one is notably heavy; it creases Caitrin's brow (the marks are visible when she takes it off), Ithel flinches under its weight when Caitrin briefly sets it on his head, and Kelson complains of its weight after wearing it at the surrender ceremony in Laas.
    • Mátyás brings a crown from Torenth's treasury when he comes to Rhemuth to escort Liam-Lajos back for his investiture: "a handsome circlet of beaten gold, nearly the width of a man's three fingers, set round with smoky balas rubies, baroque pearls, and chunky rough-polished emeralds the size of a man's thumbnail." Liam receives a newer traditional Torenthi crown at the ceremony: "a golden diadem studded with rubies and emeralds and pearls, with great jeweled pendants hanging just short of his shoulders at either side.".
  • Corrupt Church - Played both ways. The Custodes Fidei commit murder, and are generally outside the law, while Archbishop Hubert gains that title by drugging his king, tampering with the royal Will, and conniving at other murders. Two centuries on, Archbishop Loris commits or commands abduction, torture, judical murder and treason. However, even during the eras in the series when Gwynedd's church is at its worst, there are priests who are wonderful human or Deryni beings and credits to their callings, and when the church is at its best, in Camber of Culdi and King Kelson's Bride, it is a powerful force for Good.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen - In Deryni Rising, a guard is murdered and his body is found with a gryphon (alluding to Morgan's coat of arms) drawn in his blood. Lord Ian Howell killed the man and drew the gryphon to frame Morgan for the crime as one more distraction for Morgan.
  • Crystal Ball - Large shiral crystals are used this way in the Deryni works. Alaric Morgan has a fist-sized one in a golden gryphon holder in Deryni Checkmate, and the Camberian Council have a larger one suspended from the ceiling of their meeting chamber.
  • Cue the Sun - Kelson invokes this in his coronation duel with Charissa, calling the sun to appear to help him kill one of her monsters, then calling on the skies to darken until he finished her. Afterward, the sun reappears to cast the same pool of multicoloured light on the floor (through a stained glass window), and people in the congregation murmur, thinking it's still dangerous. Kelson moves to stand in it before summoning Morgan and Duncan to join him there.

Deryni Tropes D

  • The Dark Arts - For the reactionary persecutors, all Deryni powers are Dark Arts. Partly from the fears of the power imbalance between ordinary humans and Deryni, and partly from the threat Deryni can pose to the political, economic and spiritual power of ordinary humans. Of course, some of the things Deryni can do are evil, and some Deryni did evil things with their powers and/or felt themselves superior for having them. The human reaction to such tyranny is justified in specific cases. Unfortunately, this was easily elided into a hatred of all Deryni people.
  • Dashed Plotline - While some gaps are only a few months or less, years-long gaps happen between some works in the Deryni cycle:
    • In the Legends of Camber trilogy, the third volume (Camber the Heretic) takes place a decade after the second (Saint Camber).
    • In the Heirs of Saint Camber trilogy, there's nearly three years between the first and second volumes and nearly six between the second and the third.
    • There's two years between In The King's Service and Childe Morgan.
    • About three years elapse between the end of The Quest for Saint Camber and the start of King Kelson's Bride.
  • Deadly Decadent Court - Gwynedd under Imre and the regency after Cinhil, Torenth especially under Wencit and the regency after him. Let's just say you wouldn't want to be a prince named Alroy.
  • Deadly Hug - In Camber Of Culdi, King Imre promises Cathan MacRorie reconciliation after their disagreements (including over the fifty human hostages), and the embrace to seal the deal is the moment Imre chooses to act by stabbing Cathan in the back.
  • Deadpan Snarker - In The Bishop's Heir, Morgan and Kelson are watching a figure that appears to be two people riding a single horse. It proves to be Dhugal carrying Sidana away from the Mearans in Ratharkin. Morgan says, "Aye, and to be riding double at that speed and on a horse that spent, the Devil himself must be chasing them. Care to give the Devil some sport, Sire?"
  • Death by Falling Over - Rhys Thuryn. He was drugged and off balance at the time, but it was still pretty anti-climactic.
  • Devil's Advocate: In The Quest for Saint Camber, Bishop Wolfram de Blanet acts as devil's advocate at the hearing establishing the legitimacy of Duncan McLain's brief marriage to Maryse MacArdry.TheChurch hierarchy would be happy for Duncan to have a legitimate heir so that he could resign his secular titles and lands, leaving him free to concentrate on his spiritual duties, but they also wish to avoid seeming to bend the rules for one of their own. Using an adversarial proceeding helps them avoid the appearance of favouritism.
  • Disguise Tropes - For Camber, Replicant Snatching elides into Becoming the Mask. Morgan and Duncan pull off Dressing as the Enemy. Brion travels to see Alyce in squire's livery. Derry also travels in disguise on his reconnaissance missions for Morgan.
  • Distinctive Appearances - Whether it's ethnic/cultural clothing, or secular/religous kit, character wardrobes do a great deal of work. Bodily attributes like hair colour, eye colour, and the colours of Deryni auras also factor into the mix.
    • Color Coded for Your Convenience - And how!
      • Blond Guys Are Evil - Subverted by Alaric Morgan, who is very blond and cultivates a dangerous reputation (complete with black wardrobe) despite being among the most heroic of the lot.
      • Color-Coded Patrician - Haldane rulers (Brion, Kelson, wear red. Prince Nigel Haldane, Duke of Carthmoor (Brion's brother and Kelson's uncle) often wears Haldane crimson or royal blue. (In a much earlier unpublished draft of Deryni Rising, the Haldanes all wore blue.)
      • Color-Coded Wizardry - Deryni with green or silver auras are able to Heal. The Haldanes have red auras. Since the society is feudal, Deryni nobility tend to have their aura colours included in their coats of arms (Haldane red, Morgan's Corwyn green).
      • Gray Eyes - The Haldanes and Alaric Morgan have grey eyes, and all are dangerous and effective warriors. Morgan and Nigel Haldane in particular serve as Mentors, and Kelson begins to advise Dhugal later on. Morgan's eyes not only associate him with the royal house he serves, they also point to his innocence (wardrobe notwithstanding).
      • Icy Blue Eyes - The glares fanatic Archbishop Edmund Loris gives his enemies are at times described as "frigid".
      • Innocent Blue Eyes - Sean Lord Derry, Morgan's aide-de-camp, is human, but Morgan introduces him to the use of magic as part of his reconnaissance missions. When Morgan teaches him Mind Speech, Derry's "blue eyes were wide, but trusting." When confronted by by a guardsman in Deryni Rising Duncan McLain staged dropping his tabernacle key and "turned innocent blue eyes on the man". Duncan is also a Deryni (and as such forbidden to be a priest), so cultivating this innocent look is important to his protective arsenal.
      • Purple Eyes - Denis Arilan has violet-blue eyes, and is mysteriously Badass. Emphasis on the word "mysteriously".
    • Dress-Coded for Your Convenience
      • The general adherence to real-world counterparts in dress marks out the various factions and nations. From the Gwyneddian point of view, the Eastern styles of dress of the Torenthis clearly evoke exoticism and mystery. Women and Moorish officers veil their faces; the male Torenthi courtiers wear rich brocades trimmed with fur, flat-topped caps with jeweled pendants, and braided sidelocks. In the west, the lowlanders feel much the same about the borderers' tweeds, tartans, and border braids; Kelson played up this association by retaining border garb on his return to Rhemuth in The Quest for Saint Camber, "letting the rough, slightly barbaric splendor of his mountain leathers and tweeds speak for the very uncivilized anger that still smoldered in his heart."
      • The relative security of Deryni in Gwynedd (as well as his status as a Badass) is reflected in Alaric Morgan's clothing. During his twenties and early thirties as reactionary forces hold sway in the Church and government, he generally wears "sable" (black) riding leathers, with a chain mail shirt that "gleamed openly at wrists and throat, boldly belligerent and just a little too ready for trouble". By the time Kelson had ruled for several years (in The Bishop's Heir), he's described as having transitioned through muted grey with a deep burgundy cloak, followed by deep blues, then greens and golds and particolours--"the rich jewel tones rather than bright shades". For Kelson's accolade in The Quest for Saint Camber, Morgan was "[c]lad in forest green velvet...ducally crowned with gold and with Kelson's sword in his hands, he looked like some elemental godling--sunlight on forest leaves and pine boughs, puissant and vital". Secure at last?
      • Dark Is Not Evil - Morgan again, though he plays up his fearsome reputation to some extent (in part by dressing in black) as a means of protecting himself.
      • Duncan's tenuous position within the Church is reflected in his swapping between secular and sacred garb. Aside from the need for discretion, Duncan reverts to mostly secular dress when his vocation is in doubt or when it's prudent to emphasize his secular role. Even then, there are usually subtle clues to his priesthood: he left to lead the northern army on the Mearan campaign with the sword and crozier crossed en saltire behind the embroidered crest on his clothing and the cross-shaped nose piece on his helm, and he entered Laas with Kelson in ducal coronet and armor with a scarlet bishop's cope.
      • Expository Hairstyle Change - Kelson's adoption of a border braid started as a one-time diplomatic gesture. He retained both the hairstyle and the propensity for diplomacy in his exercise of smart power as a mature king.
      • Symbol Motif Clothing - Kelson has in his wardrobe a tunic of red covered with tiny golden Haldane lions. His coat of arms features a single golden lion on a red field.
  • Do You Trust Me? - In High Deryni, after Denis Arilan reveals his Deryni aura to his brother bishop Thomas Cardiel, Cardiel recalls looking for him in a chapel (and failing to find him) a few nights earlier and asks Arilan where he went. Arilan tells his friend he may not answer, and Cardiel probes, asking if there is some organized hierarchy of mages with authority over him. Arilan asks for patience and when Cardiel asks again, he replies, "Trust me, Thomas? I swear I'll not betray that trust."
  • Don't Call Me "Sir"! - Partially invoked by Kelson: In private moments with close kin and certain courtiers, Kelson will allow them to address him by his first name name, though Morgan and Duncan will often call him "my prince" even after he is crowned king. Since he's king, he sets the rules, and the others follow his lead.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper - When Cinhil dies during a ritual setting his sons' Haldane potential, Archangel Uriel escorts his soul from the circle, reuniting him with his long dead wife and first son.
  • Downer Ending - Camber the Heretic and the Heirs trilogy, except for The Bastard Prince.
  • Dying for Symbolism - In Camber of Culdi, Cathan MacRorie, Master of Culdi and Camber's heir, begs his king to release the human hostages taken after a tyrannical Deryni lord is murdered. Cathan is Deryni, but he argues for the common humanity and innocence of the hostages. Later, Cathan is literally stabbed in the back.

Deryni Tropes E

  • Earn Your Happy Ending - For those characters who live so long, there's a number of close shaves, lost friends and loved ones, personal injuries (mental and physical), civil and not-so-civil wars, all of which occur over a period of years. To name just a few:
    • Morgan and Duncan at times show signs of PTSD, particularly involving people being burned at the stake or seeing such a stake prepared for an execution.
    • Morgan finds true love, but when he meets her, she's married to someone else a traitor, no less. After he eventually marries her, some of his household officers don't trust her for several years.
    • Duncan is reunited with the son he didn't know he had after losing his father and elder half-brother. His vocation is called into question, even by himself. He is even tortured nearly to death by Loris and Gorony, and afterward bears the scars.
    • Kelson also finds his crown a heavy burden st at times, and he makes two unsuccessful matrimonial forays before finally getting a bride.
    • Barrett De Laney loses his sight (and nearly his life) as a young man, and doesn't find love until he's in his seventies.
  • The Empath - Deryni are naturally empathic, which forces them to learn to cope with emotions (others' as well as their own). While they can use their "shields" to screen out others' emotions and/or conceal their own temporarily, Deryni are generally depicted as well-rounded emotionally, men and women alike.
  • Ensemble Cast - The stories involve royal courts, religous hierarchies, families and councils. The epic sweep demands a big cast.
  • Entitled to Have You - Conall feels this way about Rothana Nur Hallaj, in part because he knows Kelson loves her.
  • Epigraph - quotes from the Bible, the Apocrypha, and other early Christian and Jewish writings.
    • Also, the chapter in which Jehana is introduced in Deryni Rising has an epigraph adapted from William Congreve's The Mourning Bride (1697): "Heaven has no rage, like love to hatred turned,/ .....Nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorned." The idea is far older (not to say proverbial), as seen in Euripides' play Medea (263): "In all other things a woman is full of fear, incapable of looking on battle or cold steel; but when she is injured in love, no mind is more murderous than hers."
  • Establishing Character Moment - To name only one, there's Duke Alaric Morgan's first appearance in Deryni Rising, when he and Sean Lord Derry ride into Rhemuth for Kelson's coronation:
    • Morgan glances down at his sombre black clothing in contrast to the colourful trappings of the coronation guests. Morgan prefers to dress this way for much of his early adult life.
    • Morgan grieves for Kelson's father Brion, and recalls the harrowing events of the past several days. This is appropriate for Deryni, whose powers are partly psychic and partly empathic, and his reverie functions as an Exposition Beam between the author and the reader, akin to those used by Deryni in-universe. We also learn of an ambush which Morgan survived largely uninjured, establishing his martial credentials.
    • Morgan comes to using breathing and concentration efforts (part of Deryni training to use their powers) and checks on his injured human aide Derry. Morgan is loyal to his own men and doesn't discriminate against ordinary humans, rather treating them according to their merit.
    • Morgan's ministrations to Derry are rudely interrupted by a whip-wielding giant-sized Connaiti mercenary announcing "His Loftiness" the Supreme of Howicce. Morgan stops Derry from retaliating (noting the giant was accompanied by six more just like him), but cannot resist indulging his sense of humour. When Derry asks, "By all the devils in hell, what is a Supreme of Howicce?" Morgan replies in a penetrating stage whisper, "I'm not certain. I don't think it's as high as a Quintessence or a Penultimate. Probably some minor ambassador with delusions of his own importance." At a glare from the last of giant mercenaries, Morgan puts on an innocent expression, but once the party has proceeded down the street, he discreetly uses his powers to entangle the whip-wielder's whip round his horse's legs, bringing down both man and beast and forcing the Connaiti to cut the whip to rescue his horse. If life for Gwynedd's Deryni is a dangerous game of Grandmother's Footsteps, Morgan is an expert player.
    • At the castle courtyard, Morgan dismounts and looks over the courtiers for faces he knows, thereby introducing them to the reader and establishing his thorough understanding of Gwyneddian politics. After exchanging greetings with a friendly minor lord, he notices people near him reacting to his presence, realizing they know who he is and have heard dreadful rumours about him. He strikes a pose while dusting off his clothes before slowly gazing on the little assembly to play up the menace. Morgan cultivates his dangerous reputation and uses it to protect himself.
  • Everyones in The Loop - In The Bishop's Heir and The King's Justice many of the characters make regular efforts to invoke Mind Speech over distances to explain where they are on a military campaign, or to keep the ones on campaign up-to-date on what's happening back home. These efforts are often integral to the plot.
  • The Evil Prince
    • Prince Festil Furstán of Torenth was a younger son who didn't like being landless, so he gathered other landless younger sons, borrowed some troops from his father and conquered neighbouring Gwynedd in 822. Nearly all the Haldanes, down to the six-month-old Princess Ysabeau, are slaughtered.
    • Prince Conall Blaine Cluim Uthyr Haldane is the eldest son of Prince Nigel Haldane and terminally jealous of his cousin King Kelson and Kelson's foster brother Dhugal, Earl of Transha. He takes secret instruction in using the Haldane powers, which are only supposed to wielded by the reigning monarch. He puts merasha in Dhugal's flask while traveling on a quest for Camber's relics. He seduces the woman Kelson wants to marry. He attacks his father and leaves him in an arcane coma. He ultimately challenges his cousin to a duel arcane at his treason trial. By the way, his second name was also that of a Festillic king; coincidence? Maybe not.
    • Mahael and Teymuraz are this (as well as being evil uncles) to Liam-Lajos in King Kelson's Bride. One or both of them are widely suspected of suspected of disposing of Liam's elder brother Alroy previously, and are thought to be behind an attempt on Nigel's life while Kelson was on campaign in Meara.
  • Evil Uncle - Played straight and averted in the various works:
    • As noted above, Liam-Lajos' uncles Mahael and Teymuraz are defintiely this, while his youngest uncle Mátyás is emphatically not.
    • In contrast, the Haldanes have a couple of loyal uncles who serve their brothers and nephews to the best of their considerable abilities: Brion's uncle (Donal's younger half-brother and Araxie's father) Prince Richard Haldane, and Kelson's uncle (Brion's younger brother) Prince Nigel Haldane. Both men hold the royal Duchy of Carthmoor in turn and serve as close aides to their kings.

Deryni Tropes F Through G

  • Fantastic Catholicism - Sans the Vatican and the Papacy, but otherwise...
  • Fantastic Drug - Merasha is a drug that severely disables Deryni, with nausea, dizziness, blackouts, and severely disorienting psychedelic effects on the brain that prevent the drugged person from concentrating (a requirement for the use of Deryni powers). In ordinary humans, it only produces a mild drowsiness. In earlier times, Deryni were exposed to it as part of their training; after the persecutions began, knowledge of it, like so much else, became fragmented and contradictory. It does appear quite frequently in The Deryni Chronicles and The Histories of King Kelson, and arrangements are made to expose Kelson and Dhugal to it in a controlled setting so they can learn to recognize it and mitigate its effects.
  • Fantastic Racism - Prejudice against the Deryni because of fear of their magical powers. Kurtz has said that this was based on medieval anti-Judiasm, but many critics think that anti-Deryni prejudice is closer to homophobia because they are an invisible minority, indistinguishable from the rest of the population and present in all religions (including a few depicted as Muslims). Also, people can be Deryni without knowing it, or using their powers.
  • Fantastic Religious Weirdness - The very existence of Deryni complicates religious questions.
    • Deryni celebrants of the Sacraments can sense the psychic energies and emotions of participants (especially during key points of the Eucharist and the bestowing of Holy Orders). Does that make them higher than other humans on the Chain of Being? (Queen Richeldis suggests this to Deryni Lady Jessamy MacAthan in In The King's Service.) Were the Deryni persecutions a matter of jealousy as well as fear?
    • Some few Deryni can heal just as Christ is depicted doing in the New Testament. How does that undercut the rationale (such as it is) for persecuting Deryni? Was Christ Deryni?
    • Was Camber really a saint? Perhaps a guardian angel? Did he choose to become a saint or an angel in the afterlife? Did his powers and his arcane knowledge permit him to choose that destiny for himself?
  • Fantasy World Map - The map of the Eleven Kingdoms looks like a rough approximation of Northern Europe. Imagine Ireland and the UK are attached to the continent, so that The English Channel is a broad estuary; Scandinavia is a simple vertical coastline sans Denmark; there's no Italy or Greece or Mediterranean visible. The analogues to modern nations would be something like Cassan/Kierney/Transha/Claibourne = Highland Scotland, Meara = Lowland Scotland, The Connait/Howicce = Ireland, LLannedd = Wales, Gwynedd/Carthmoor/Corwyn = England/The Netherlands/Germany, Bregmagne/Fallon/Fianna = France, Torenth = Hungary/Russia/Belarus, Tralia/The Forcinn = The Levant (Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Jordan), R'Kassi = North Africa (Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, possibly Arabia).
    • Culturally, the regions and their inhabitants as depicted in the text match their real world analogues; R'Kassi horses are famous, as is Fianna wine, while people from the Cassan/Kierney/Transha/Claibourne region wear tartans, speak with broad Scots-like accents, and have a clan system and tanistry (elected leadership within the clan). Thus the map, like the books themselves, reflects an alternative history dynamic (including an alternative geologic history).
  • Feuding Families - Haldanes vs. Furstán-Festil
  • First Girl Wins - Reconstructed for Kelson in the Deryni novels.
    • He first marries Sidana, daughter of the Mearan Pretender and a human, in an effort to resolve the conflict with the Mearan sepratists. The effort fails, when her brother kills her at the altar.
    • Later, Kelson meets Rothana nur Hallaj, a Deryni princess who is also a novice at a convent sacked by Mearans. Rothana is the first Deryni woman of his own age he's ever met, and she shares a rape victim's memory with him, which, as Morgan points out afterward, is an intensely intimate experience. Morgan and others suggest to both of them that they would make a suitable couple, and they make plans to wed, but Kelson and Dhugal are washed away in a mudslide and presumed dead. Kelson's cousin Conall plays upon Rothana's sense of duty and her sympathies, persuading her to marry him instead shortly before Kelson and Dhugal return.
    • Although Rothana is free to marry after Conall's execution, she plays Cupid for Kelson and his cousin Araxie Haldane, and we learn that Kelson had met Araxie and played with her when they were children. Thus, Araxie is the First Girl After All.
  • First-Name Basis - In private, Kelson uses either names ("Alaric"/"Morgan" or "Dhugal") or familiar titles (Monsignor Duncan McLain is "Father", Nigel is "Uncle") when addressing these people.
  • Forgotten First Meeting - In King Kelson's Bride, Kelson is reminded (by Rothana) that he had not only met his cousin Araxie when they were children, he also played with her and they got along very well with each other. Though their marriage is arranged, Kelson and Araxie decide to use those happy memories to build upon when forging their relationship.
  • Functional Magic - ritual magic and theurgy
  • Gender Bender - While helping her father assimilate Alister Cullen's memories, Evaine must conceal her presence in Cullen's room, so she swiftly takes the shape of a robed man with black hair and a beard. When questioned, "he" calls himself "Brother John" in a clearly masculine voice. It is remarked that taking the shape of the opposite sex and of someone she completely invented (rather than mimicking a real person) are indications of Evaine's high degree of power and skill.
  • God Before Dogma - Some human members of the Christian hierarchy claim that Deryni are evil by nature and thereby justify persecuting them, but a schism eventually occurs within the Church when some bishops, led by Cardiel and Arilan, dispute this assertion. Things get complicated when some few Deryni discover they have Healing abilities and (as Scripture records) Christ healed.
    • A rebel leader who had been attacking mages' estates and tenants (particularly those of a certain Deryni duke) is forced to confront this when he gets a demonstration of Deryni Healing; Cardiel (a human bishop) is there to emphasize the contrast between the religion and the views of some of its self-styled followers.
    • Later, a guilt-stricken and self-hating Deryni (King Kelson's mother, Queen Jehana) has her anti-Deryni religious indoctrination overcome by Deryni clerics Arilan and Father Nivard.
    • It's important to note that the Deryni are true believers, at least in part because of the evidence of experience. They sometimes perform rituals for powerful workings that summon beings taken to be archangels (and specifically named: Raphael, Gabriel, Michael and Uriel). They mostly see coloured light and fleeting impressions of wings, and of course they could be mistaken or rationalizing their experiences, but they do believe. It also helps that their powers are triggered by an altered state of consciousness akin to meditation or prayer. They are to some extent justified in taking this God-over-dogma view.
  • Godly Sidestep - In The Quest For Saint Camber, Kelson converses via Mind Speech with a being who appeared and helped him vanquish his treasonous cousin Conall:

 Are you who I think you are? [Kelson] dared to ask.

And who do you think that I am? the being replied.


I believe you are Saint Camber of Culdi, whom I sought on my quest. You--came to my aid.

Did I? the being answered. Or am I but a convenient image for the stronger and better part that is within you and, indeed, within all folk who seek the Light, and which can be called up when darkness threatens?

Kelson blinked. It had to be Saint Camber. Only the irascible Deryni saint would be so evasive and yet speak so primal a truth.


If he won't even cop to his identity, forget about asking him about God/Heaven/Hell/the Meaning of Life/Whatever.

  • The Good Chancellor - Camber of Culidi is described as having loyally and ably served Imre's predecessors in council, and is depicted as only gradually moving against Imre for the good of the country. Alaric Morgan (King's Champion and Lord General of the Army) and Nigel Haldane (Prince Regent when Kelson is away, be it for war or diplomacy) divide this role in the later books. Mátyás serves the same function for Liam-Lajos in Torenth.
  • The Good King - Haldane kings are often portrayed as this, particularly Kelson and his father Brion. Berand Haldane was canonized a saint (according to the Codex), and the unfortunate Ifor (murdered with most of his family in the Festillic Invasion) is described as a good king unjustly destroyed.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars - Plenty of room to play with this, especially given the medieval setting. Rhydon of Eastmarch has a sinister facial scar Face Heel Turn acquired in a good cause. Duncan proves to have typical nobleman's training scars when he removes his shirt for a Healing demonstration in High Deryni, and he acquires another one later from a cautery iron used to save his life. Kelson and Dhugal have faint scars on the palms of their hands from swearing a blood oath as foster brothers when they were boys.
  • Grin of Audacity - Morgan and Derry exchange wicked grins in Deryni Rising just before Morgan secretly uses his powers to give a Connaiti mercenary his comeuppance.

Deryni Tropes H

  • Halfbreed - Most notably, Morgan and Duncan come in for a great deal of criticism from the Camberian Council for their mixed parentage. They are frequently denigrated as "rogue half-breeds", and despite showing great promise as mages (including manifesting a Healing talent lost for centuries), they are extended official Counciliar protection only after much acrimonious debate in High Deryni. Even their continued heroism and loyalty does not mitigate the stigma for some elder Deryni High Lords and Ladies. From the human side of things, since there is an absolute taint (socially speaking) from magic, their parentage does not make them any less reviled.
  • Handicapped Badass - Javan Haldane, later Ahern de Corwyn.
  • Healing Hands - among the knowledge lost and later rediscovered.
  • Healing Magic Is the Hardest - Deryni Healing is a rare talent, so rare even before the Ban on Magic that Deryni found to be Healers were actively discouraged from taking vows of celibacy. By the 1120s, only four people in the whole nation of Gwynedd are known to be able to do this, and three of them are blood relatives.
  • Heel Face Door Slam - Princess Morag of Torenth starts to realize that Gwynedd doesn't have to be Torenth's enemy, but she's murdered by Teymuraz before she has a chance to demonstrate her change of heart.
  • The Heretic - Heresy charges get thrown around a great deal throughout the novels. As part of the backlash against Deryni after the Festillic Interregnum, The Church taught that the powers were evil and condemned the Deryni to civil liabilities (forbidding them to own land, for example) and ecclesiatical ones (the death penalty for becoming a priest). In this turbulent period, Camber of Culdi went from being acclaimed a saint to condemned as a heretic. While some of the civil disabilities were eventually reduced (those who inherited land/titles could do so at age 25 instead of at age 14, and they were required to pay heavy fines), using Deryni magic was still grounds for a heresy conviction.
  • Hermetic Magic - Arises in the larger-scale rituals more than in the off-the-cuff uses of magic. It includes:
    • References to the Four Alchemical Elements (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water), both in formulae (assigning them as attributes of the Archangels) and in practice (candles/incense, holy water, sometimes contact with earth).
    • Use of diagrams. Circles and other symbols drawn with light or in the earth appear in many contexts, from Naming Rituals to staring patterns to creating a temporary Transfer Portal.
    • References to larger esoteric forces. Rituals commonly call upon divine/angelic powers and invoke a kinship between the practitioners and Supreme Goodness (often called "the Light").
  • Hero on Hiatus - Happens frequently in the Deryni works, effectively swapping the members of the heroic ensemble. Notably:
    • Rhys Thuryn is drugged by Tavis O'Neill and Prince Javan Haldane in Camber the Heretic. They question Rhys about Javan's fuzzy memories of his first empowerment ritual, then set Rhys free to join Camber/Alister against the Regents. Rhys' merasha hangover contributes to his accidental death in the cathedral.
    • Kelson passed out after a portion of his empowerment ritual in Deryni Rising. He briefly came to long enough to deal with a disturbance and protect Morgan from scrutiny, then passed out again.
    • Derry is severely injured while guarding Kelson's quarters in Deryni Rising; he was already at a disadvantage from an injury to his hand sustained defending Morgan from assassins days earlier. Morgan, distressed at the possibility of losing him, goes to his side and attempts to Heal Derry—with success!
    • Morgan after being drugged and abducted in Deryni Checkmate. He was partially functional for a bit, but Duncan came to his rescue, led the way to hide out at the ruins of Saint Neot's, and put Morgan to bed so he could sleep off the drug's effects while Duncan searched for a Transfer Portal.
    • Dhugal is beaten and concussed when he's taken captive by the Mearans in The Bishop's Heir. He's held, together with Bishop Henry Istelyn, for several days.
    • Morgan again when he collapses from overextending himself to Call on campaign in The King's Justice. Kelson insists on sharing the energy drain and puts Morgan to sleep for the night, and they alternate sending Calls each night after that.
    • Nigel passes out from his partial empowerment ritual in The King's Justice. He comes to for a time, but Richenda has him drink some wine and he's sent to bed to sleep off the aftereffects.
    • Duncan after being tortured in The King's Justice. He stays with the combined Haldane-Corwyn-Cassan-Transha armies, riding in a litter for a few days.
    • Kelson from injuries sustained in a fall from a cliff trail in The Quest for Saint Camber. Dhugal, who fell with him and also sustained some damage, gives him medical care before they try to find their way back to civilzation, but Kelson isn't fully functional until Dhugal successfully Heals his injuries.
  • Heroic Fatigue - Morgan is particularly prone to this in regards his Deryni powers. He is apt to use use his powers literally to the point of falling over at times, unless he he is prevented from doing so. Kelson scolds him for it in The King's Justice (see above), and Azim forbids him from helping with Derry directly after he and Dhugal have just spent themselves Healing Mátyás in King Kelson's Bride.
  • Hero's Muse - In Deryni Checkmate, (then) Countess Richenda of Marley is this to Alaric Morgan from the first time he sees her. He dreams of her for months afterward, and is finally introduced to her by Kelson during preparations for the Torenthi campaign in High Deryni. She lampshades this trope just after they share a Mind Link: "Then I have given you that much more to fight for." After their marriage, she also inspires him to fill the gaps in his arcane education, passing on much of her own Eastern-influenced training to him.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity - Deryni in general, Camber and Alaric Morgan in particular. Partly because they're infamous.
  • Horse Archer - The Haldane Household Archers function this way in battle, as seen in The King's Justice. In that same book, Kelson himself is one when he executes Sicard by shooting an arrow through his eye.
  • Horseback Heroism - Occurs a couple of times in The King's Justice:
    • Duncan fights for his life when his army is surrounded by Loris' troops and the main Mearan army, then casts a spell for a diversion while ordering Dhugal to leave and warn Kelson.
    • Kelson and Morgan, riding with their forces, cast spells to save Duncan from arrows as he's being burned at the stake.

Deryni Tropes I Through L

  • I Just Want to Be Free - One goal of the Deryni characters in Katherine Kurtz's books is this, at least it's certainly high on the list (once the rebellions and invasions and assassins are defeated). Kelson is exhorted to be a king to humans and Deryni by a figure of Camber visible only to Deryni, and he founds a new scola to preserve and openly teach Deryni magic and its ethical use. Essentially, Kelson, his courtiers and others aspire to The Unmasqued World, which would imply this trope.
  • Immediate Sequel - Camber's body is found at the end of Camber the Heretic; The Harrowing of Gwynedd opens with his son and daughter discussing the fact that his body shows no signs of decay.
  • Implicit Prison - Religious houses are occasionally used this way in the Deryni works:
    • Prince Javan Haldane spends time in a monastery run by the Custodes Fidei. While Javan bides his time there, studying and trying to avoid the regents' notice, he is still flogged for disobedience at one point and is pressured towards taking religious vows and resigning his position as his twin brother's heir.
    • The prologue of The Bishop's Heir shows Archbishop Loris confined to a monastery (in the custody of the Fratri Silentii) after being stripped of his ecclesiastical offices.
    • As part of The King's Justice, Kelson decrees that Caitrin Quinnell, the Mearan Pretender, will live out her life in a convent.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison - In The Quest for Saint Camber, a member of the Camberian Council is found dead in a secret passageway of the king's palace. In a conversation with Nigel, his eldest son Conall says the victim's entire name, which the younger man is not supposed to know. Nigel realizes Conall had been secretly working with the dead man (to obtain arcane powers reserved for the monarch) and killed him in that stairwell; Conall attacks his father with those powers and leaves him in a coma.
  • Impostor Exposing Test - The drug merasha (which causes an immediate and violent reaction in Deryni but has no significant effect on "normal" people) was used during the persecutions as a way of uncovering secret Deryni. One application that's specifically mentioned (in the short story "The Priesting of Arilan") is that whenever a new priest was ordained, the communion wine at the Ordination Mass was spiked with the drug to make sure no Deryni got into the Church hierarchy.
  • In the Blood - Generally the Deryni abilities, specifically the Haldane abilities. The Haldane males also have black hair and grey eyes, and Araxie Haldane, though having a different hair colour, has the Haldane grey eyes.
  • Inciting Incident - At certain points in the Myth Arc, the action is kickstarted by one of these, typically at the beginning of a trilogy:
    • Camber of Culdi opens with the discovery of the dismembered remains of a tyrannical Deryni noble, Lord Rannulf. King Imre takes disproportionate revenge for this murder, adding to his already dire reputation. In the aftermath of this, Camber and his family seek an alternative ruler for their country, then act to make the coup d'etat a reality.
    • Deryni Rising starts with the assassination of King Brion while on a hunting trip. Prince Kelson orders his courtiers to send for Morgan, who has been watching the Torenthis at Cardosa. On his return to Rhemuth, Morgan has to help Kelson, face Kelson's mother (who hates and fears him), cope with hostile churchmen and the rival claimant Charissa.
  • Incurable Cough of Death - Both King Cinhil Haldane and his eldest son King Alroy suffer from a lung disease that produces symptoms akin to those of tuberculosis/consumption. The process of their deaths does take some years, with Alroy's much earlier death justified by a sickly constitution noted from his birth (and likely hastened by the evil regents' use of drugs to keep the young king tractable).
  • Internal Reformist - Interesting dynamics (due to ethical questions provoked by their roles) among several of these in the Corrupt Church:
    • (Type 1) Bishop Denis Arilan is the first Deryni to be successfully ordained a priest in Gwynedd in nearly two centuries, and he is very scrupulous about concealing his identity. He rises to Auxilary Bishop of Rhemuth (the secular capital) and later to the See of Dhassa (third-ranked in precedence in the kingdom) as well as serving as an advisor to King Brion and King Kelson. He works secretly to find and ordain more Deryni priests, and he takes a secondary role to Cardiel's in the schism over the Corwyn Interdict in 1121. He's a also a member of the Camberian Council, which entails keeping yet more secrets. Though he has a more confident framing of his penchant for secrecy when confronted by Cardiel, he finds it harder to face another Deryni: "I did what I dared, Duncan. I would that it had been more....I dared not jeopardize what greater good I might achieve by acting prematurely. You can understand that, can't you?"
    • (mixed Type 1& 3) Bishop (later Archbishop) Thomas Cardiel is a charismatic leader with an honest curiosity and a scrupulous conscience that will not let him condemn Deryni out of hand. He rises within the ranks to be the (traditionally neutral) Bishop of Dhassa, then takes a stand on conscience by leading a schism over the Corwyn Interdict. As a result, he becomes Archbishop of Rhemuth (second only to the Primate, the Archbishop of Valoret), and he goes back to working within the system. After Duncan outs himself, Cardiel orders him to disappear for a while; when Duncan asks "For how long?" Cardiel replies, "Until I can get the bloody law changed, goddammit, man!"
    • (Type 3) Monsignor (later Bishop) Duncan McLain is first introduced as King's Confessor, and he later rises to Auxiliary Bishop of Rhemuth under Cardiel. The Laws of Ramos force him to begin his career in secrecy, but events help blow his cover. His relationship to his infamous cousin Morgan and his own ducal inheritance push him into the limelight, and he eventually embraces the Icon role to live as an open example of an upright Deryni priest. As he tells Arilan: "And just how long was I supposed to have waited? Twenty-odd years, like you? Is that how long you've been a priest? And you still haven't owned up to what you are! Someone's got to be first, if there's ever going to be a change."

      Both sides of the debate have a point. Time and experience are both needed to overcome the fear and stigma that have been promulgated as holy truth and enshrined in law for generations. Yet the ultimate goal is to live openly as Deryni, and for that to happen, the secrecy must be abandoned. This seems to be underlined in King Kelson's Bride: during the consecration of the Saint Camber chapel when Duncan extends his aura over the altar to consecrate it, Cardiel is at his elbow and Arilan is in the back, wearing the plain black working cassock of a simple priest.
  • Intrinsic Vow - Subverted in High Deryni, when Wencit of Torenth has physically and mentally tortured Derry, he tells Derry that he'll make him do anything he wants, then proceeds to demonstrate this by making Derry stab himself nearly to death. Wencit also assures Derry that he can make him betray his liege lord and friend Alaric Morgan. Wencit even leaves the dagger with Derry, asserting that his control is so complete that Derry cannot kill himself unless he Wencit wills it. After Wencit leaves his cell, Derry does try to kill himself to avoid betraying Morgan, but finds he cannot do so and weeps in despair.
  • Irrational Hatred - Quite a bit.
    • Some members of the Camberian Council feel free to deride Morgan and Duncan for being half-breeds (having one human and one Deryni parent) as if they could choose their parents.
    • In The Bishop's Heir, Caitrin twits Archbishop Loris over the failure of his assassin to kill Duncan McLain; in response, Loris mutters, "The archfiend Morgan came to his aid. He used his Deryni sorcery to heal him." Never mind that healing was a miraculous sign of Christ's divinity.
    • Morgan, Duncan and other characters dissect anti-Deryni prejudice on the part of humans much the same way; people don't choose their innate talents any more more than they choose their physical traits or other skills, so it's better to consider what people do rather than what they are.
  • It Gets Worse - Happens a lot. Morgan lampshades this in Deryni Checkmate after escaping from Warin and Gorony's attempt to burn him at the stake, only to find his sister and Duncan's half-brother have been killed by magic two days before their wedding:

  "It's been like a very bad dream, my prince. The past three days have been unlike any I've ever endured, almost as bad as when your father died--perhaps worse in many ways. I keep thinking I'll wake up, that it can't possibly get any worse--but then it does."

  • Just a Kid - Also happens a lot, given the tendency for Haldanes to come to the throne at young ages (title succession is at age 14). Javan and Rhys Michael are both dismissed this way, with Javan doubly so due to his club foot. Kelson has a similar problem, in his mother's eyes and in the view of some members of the Camberian Council; putting down two rebellions and coping with a Church schism and facing an invasion show just how ruthless a grown-up he can be.
  • Kid Has a Point - This is a recurring theme in the Deryni works generally; younger people are seen to question and doubt old ideas: the fears promulgated by the Church hierarchy and the received wisdom (untested) of the High Deryni Lords of the Camberian Council. Some of the younger people even act on their different notions of the proper and the just. In particular:
    • Deryni Checkmate: During the meeting of the Curia on the Corwyn Interdict, Archbishop Corrigan (then Archbishop of Rhemuth and Loris's ally) reacted to the defiance of the younger Cardiel and his allies by "[throwing] up his hands in dismay. 'O Lord, deliver us from men with causes! Are we now to be schooled by our juniors?'"
    • High Deryni: In a meeting of the Camberian Council, Tiercel deClaron (the youngest member) mounts an eloquent defence of Morgan and Duncan when two other members deride them for being half-breeds. Tiercel starts with the proposition that they should be sought out "on bended knee, begging them to share their great knowledge with us" (referring to the pair's rumoured rediscovery of Healing, a talent lost for some two centuries). He goes on to suggest, based on what they know of the powers, that being Deryni may be an all-or-nothing proposition like other traits. After a long silence, Barrett deLaney quietly says, "We are well instructed by our juniors."
  • King Bob the Nth - The rulers and younger sons of the Festillic Interregnum have a certain monotonous rhythm to their names: Festil I; his sons Festil II and Prince Imre; Festil III and his sons Festil, Imre, and Blaine, Blaine's sons Prince Festil and King Imre. Contrast the Haldanes, who generally each have a different first name.
  • Knighting - Several of these (and likely more forthcoming due to prequel in progress); perhaps the best to date is the ceremony in which Kelson, his foster brother Dhugal and his cousin Conall receive their accolades. Dhugal's father Bishop-Duke Duncan Mc Lain is himself knighted to remedy an oversight (he had taken holy orders before reaching the usual age, and in the scramble of invasion and civil war the matter was forgotten) before knighting his son and showing his Deryni aura. Dhugal shows his own Deryni aura in happy response.
  • King on His Deathbed - Cinhil and his eldest son Alroy, both dying of comsumption/tuberculosis (based on the canon descriptions).
  • Language of Magic - Frequently Latin, with occasional additions of Greek and Hebrew.
    • Wards Major are named and triggered with Latin: "Primus, Secondus, Tertius, Quartus, fiat lux!" [1]
    • After Richenda marries Alaric Morgan, she provides him with further magical training. She invokes the quarters at Nigel's partial empowering in The King's Justice by Eastern (possibly Greek) names and adds the Hebrew word Selah to ritual use.
    • Some magic formulae are in the common tongue (effectively English in the books), but intoned or chanted, not uttered conversationally:

      "Now we are met. Now we are One with the Light. Regard the ancient ways. We shall not walk this path again."
  • The Last DJ - Morgan and Duncan vis-à-vis the Camberian Council.
  • Light Is Good - Use of the Deryni powers can involve the appearance of light, but "Light" is also frequently used to refer to the forces of goodness. Even the human Bishop Cardiel refers to Morgan as a "servant of Light". On the other hand...
  • Light Is Not Good - Some Deryni use their powers for evil ends, yet they produce auras that are not distinguishable from those of heroic characters. Imre and Ariella display their auras to underline their power; Kelson and his closest courtiers only gradually come to do so, and only in certain formal settings. Some of the worst villains are Deryni, in part because the powers, especially those involving mind control, offer so many opportunities for cruelty that are unavailable to ordinary humans. Even the heroes make use of their powers in ways that could be morally questionable (blurring the memories of inconvenient witnesses, in some cases repeatedly) when forced to do so by circumstances.
  • A Lighter Shade of Grey - While there are heroes and villains among humans and Deryni, the Deryni are by and large shown in a more sympathetic light, largely because they have lived with persecution, and because the stories focus on mages striving to be treated according to their personal merit. As noted above, morally questionable actions done by the heroes tend to be responses to the demands of The Masquerade. That said, some of the heroes actions and proposed actions (the discussion of Sidana as Kelson's bride, regardless of her wishes) are more matters of expediency.
  • Living Legend - Duke Alaric Morgan. He helped King Brion Haldane defeat a Festillic Pretender at age 14, and rose to become Lord General of Gwynedd's armies. Although prequels showing his childhood and youth are either published or in process, he was introduced as a Living Legend when he first appeared in Deryni Rising in 1970. Indeed, he is depicted as cultivating a reputation for dangerous power as a means of intimidating potential foes and thereby protecting himself.
  • Long Running Book Series - What began in the 1960s as The Chronicles of The Deryni (the trilogy of Deryni Rising, Deryni Checkmate, and High Deryni) has become a career of 15 novels (with a 16th being written in 2011), short stories, background essays and fan fic that has lasted forty years and counting. And there are still more tales to be told.
  • Lost Technology - Lost Magic version.
    • Deryni went from having thriving Healer schools and a regular cadre of Healers as part of society to no Healers in the whole of Gwynedd, with a very slight comeback (a handful of untrained Healers flying by the seat of their pants) two centuries later. Arcane knowledge generally is hidden away and /or lost, with traces gradually coming to light.
    • Camber and his family circle also investigate more ancient ancestors Orin and Jodotha, as well as a strange altar with black and white cubes (akin to Wards Major) showing patterns they've never seen, much less used. Testing shows one of the patterns makes the altar drop into the floor to reveal a secret room beneath it.
  • Lured Into a Trap: In Deryni Checkmate, Morgan and Duncan have to pay their respects at Saint Torin's shrine to obtain pilgrim badges and enter the city of Dhassa. Some of Morgan's foes put a drug on a needle on the gate latch, just where anybody would put his hand to open the gate. Morgan is drugged and abducted this way.

Deryni Tropes M Through O

  • Magic Enhancement - In High Deryni, the Gwyneddian forces receive reports of strange noises coming from the Torenthi camp at night. Morgan and Duncan join Kelson, Nigel, and a couple of scouts to observe, and Morgan uses his powers to extend his hearing. All agree they hear sounds of construction: sawing, chopping, hammering.
  • Magic Knight - Lots of these throughout the Deryni works, including:
    • The Orders of the Michaelines and the Anvillers are full of these types, specifically trained to be both warriors and mages.
    • Alaric Morgan, Duke of Corwyn is Lord General of the Armies, King's Champion, and a Deryni sorcerer. His magic has the usual limits of all Deryni powers (requiring concentration to use it, for starters), and his arcane education is limited thanks to the persecutions.
    • To a lesser extent, Duncan McLain, Bishop-Duke of Cassan has both military and magical training. In addition to the limitations of Deryni magic, Duncan is a cleric who spent many years at university and in The Church. That said, he is shown both practising sword fighting and engaging in actual combat.
    • Younger men coming into their own as warrior mages include King Kelson Haldane, Dhugal MacArdry McLain, and King Liam-Lajos II Furstán.
  • The Magocracy - The Festillic Interregnum was characterized by Deryni nobility dividing the spoils of conquest; lands and titles were redistributed among Festil's followers, giving mages effective control of the government. The excesses of some High Deryni Lords set the stage for the backlash and the centuries of persecution against all Deryni.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage - Predictably enough, the marriage of Lady Alyce deCorwyn and Sir Kenneth Morgan is condemned by both humans and mages. Hostile clerics and other humans don't like to see a wealthy and beautiful "sorceress" wed and reproduce; High Deryni Lords and Ladies who worry about protecting their heritage against hostile forces would prefer she wed another mage instead of a mere human, who will only father "inferior half-breeds".
  • Masquerade - Played with extensively throughout. Once the anti-Deryni backlash begins, many Deryni go underground. Camber's son-in-law accidentally discovers he can block Deryni powers, and after some testing, a baptism cult is set up to turn off the powers of many Deryni so that they can go into hiding. After a couple of centuries, the dispute over when and how to open the closet door turns on the question, "Is the world ready yet?" (Given the long and recent history of persecution, the answer may be "No.") The demands of exigent circumstances (particularly the need for Deryni clerics to conceal their magical activities) lead to human witnesses having their memories altered, often without their knowledge or consent.
    • Mutual Masquerade: Scenes where a secret Deryni learns that somebody they know is also a secret Deryni are fairly common occurrence in the works set after the beginning of the persecutions. In The King's Justice, Bishop Arilan finds Jehana guilt-stricken after she warned Nigel of an assassination plot, knowledge she acquired thanks to her powers. First he tries to teach her through a couple of parables that she had an affirmative duty to reveal what she had learned, and when she retorts that he doesn't understand, he displays his Deryni aura to show her that he actually does.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane - Some of Camber's twelfth-century appearances are accounted for by a living person. Some aren't.
  • The Medic - Lots of playing with this one. The Camber triology and the short stories "Catalyst" and "Healer's Song" cover a period when Healers were relatively numerous and had well-established training schools, complete with characteristic garb ("Healer's green" clothing) and schools with differing approaches to the Healing trance. Fast forward two hundred years, and the talent is so rare only four people are known to have it (as of King Kelson's Bride), so all bets are off. Alaric Morgan rediscovers the talent first, and he's definitely a combatant. His cousin Duncan is a cleric, but he's also known to fight when circumstances demand it (first when atttacked, later to save Morgan's life after an ambush, later still as a combat leader commnaded by his king in time of civil war). His son Dhugal is also a combat leader, but he has more typical training as a battle medic, in part because his clan isn't very wealthy. Warin de Grey is also a combat leader, heading a rebellion against Morgan in particular, Deryni in general, and King Kelson by extension. It could also be argued that the novels are set in a feudal society which lacks modern population numbers and niceties like well-developed laws of war; certainly some things are beyond the pale, but fighters with medical skills is a comparatively minor detail.
  • May-December Romance - Dowager Queen Jehana amd Barrett De Laney are some three decades apart in age.
  • Mentors - Long a Deryni tradition, they become vital for transmitting what Deryni heritage remains after the persecutions begin.
    • Camber and his family teach Cinhil and his sons as well as the next generation of their own kin.
    • Alyce and Vera de Corwyn get instruction from Father Paschal. They begin training Morgan and Duncan by Naming them when they're four years old (some three or four years earlier than usual, we're told). Vera takes over after Alyce dies from a combination of childbirth complications and psychic fatigue.
    • Richenda and Rothana were pupils of Rothana's Uncle Azim.
    • Sofiana of Andeleon taught Mátyás until she assumed the throne of her principality and sent him to another Deryni to continue his training.
    • Morgan, Duncan and Nigel guide and advise Kelson, Dhugal and Liam-Lajos (Nigel's portfolio includes training pages and squires.). Liam-Lajos also gets guidance from his uncle Mátyás.
    • Denis Arilan secretly seeks out Deryni seminary students and helps them become ordained priests, as well as supervising their arcane training. Among his prize pupils is Father Nivard.
    • Tiercel deClaron speaks of training Deryni children and compares his older pupil Conall Haldane favourably.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read - In The King's Justice, Kelson questions Gorony and Loris telepathically after they're captured. Gorony was an enthusiastic inquisitor, and Kelson likens reading Gorony's mind to "taking a swim in the castle middens in the summertime."
  • Mind Rape - Wencit of Torenth uses a combination of mundane and psychic/magical techniques against Sean Lord Derry in High Deryni; in the process also casting a powerful spell to control Derry's mind. Years later, when Kelson and Morgan decide to see if Derry is up to traveling with them to Torenth for Liam-Lajos' investiture, Morgan lampshades this trope after he makes a frightened and reluctant Derry relax enough for his metal probe.
  • Mounted Combat - Happens a fair amount, usually with the leading figures/nobles/officers on horseback, as well as contingents of lancers and mounted archers.
  • My Nayme Is - King Brion (Brian) Haldane, Lord Seisyll (Cecil) Arilan.
  • Mysterious Protector - Morgan and Duncan meet a stranger in the ruins of Saint Neot's who appears in the guise of Saint Camber; he refuses to give his name (preferring to call himself "one of Camber's humble servants"), but he does warn them of other Deryni mages who may challenge them to test their powers, for as "half-breeds" they were supposed to have far less arcane ability than those whose parents were both Deryni. They don't know it at the time, but the Camberian Council had just voted to make them liable to arcane challenge. Duncan had met this fellow a few months before on the road to Coroth (see Secret Secret Keeper below).
  • Myth Arc - Two interconnected myth arcs drive the novels and short stories:
    • Relations between Gwynedd and Torenth. Conquest, tyranny, restoration, repeated attempts at reversing the restoration, and finally efforts to build an alliance of equals.
    • Deryni-human relations in Gwynedd. In the aftermath of the restoration, painful memories of the tyranny of some Deryni is used to justify persecution of all Deryni. Gradually, some few Deryni and their human sympathizers rise to positions of power in the Church and government. The old consensus of acceptance is carefully rebuilt, with much success among younger generations. Late in the arc, it becomes possible to begin searching out some of the knowledge lost during the persecutions.
  • Named After Somebody Famous - Of course, among famous people, it's also as much to do with family and/or friendship as fame.
    • Haldane royalty tends to reuse the names of certain illustrious predecessors. Since princes get four names in addition to the surname, there's plenty of opportunities for this. Among the popular candidates for reuse are Cinhil (first Haldane king of the Restoration), Blaine (also used by the Festils), Donal (Brion's father's first name, King Brion and King Cinhil's second), Nygel/Nigel, Aidan (second Haldane in the seventh century, also Cinhil's grandfather, the only survivor of his family's massacre during the Festillic Invasion) and Alroy (Cinhil's father and Cinhil's eldest surviving son).
    • Morgan's first two children. His daughter is named Briony after the late King Brion Haldane, and his son is named Kelric (a combination of King Kelson and Morgan's own first name Alaric).
  • Not Afraid to Die - Given that Anyone Can Die, this happens from time to time.
    • Evaine MacRorie Thuryn freeing Camber's soul in The Harrowing of Gwynedd.
    • Henry Istelyn in The Bishop's Heir, about to be hanged, drawn and quartered, his eyes "meeting the archbishop's frigid glare with a serenity and even compassion which made Loris drop the contact first, to gesture brusquely to the guards." The guards are also put off-balance when Istelyn stubs his toe on the scaffold steps and murmurs an apology.
    • Judhael of Meara in The King's Justice. He refuses Kelson's offer of clemency to forestall another Mearan rebellion.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering - The Camberian Council later in the timeline, particularly from In the King's Service forward.
  • Nothing but Skin and Bones - In The Quest for Saint Camber, Nigel is described as wasted and frail some two weeks after Conall attacked him with magic and left him in a coma. Since Nigel got no solid food for that period, it's entirely plot justified and not pretty. Morgan and Duncan leave Rhemuth to search for Kelson and Dhugal partly to avoid watching Nigel starve to death.
  • Official Kiss - In King Kelson's Bride, Araxie arranges to secretly meet Kelson (they haven't announced their betrothal to avoid offending the Mearan Ramsays) to make a suggesta solution to his thorny problems with his prospective relatives; he's so overjoyed with her brilliant idea he takes her face in his hands and kisses her. They're both a trifle astonished at how much they enjoy it, particularly so early in their arranged relationship.
  • The Order - As medieval fantasies set in a realm of Fantastic Catholicism, the Deryni works feature a number of these, including:
    • The Gabrielites, named for Saint Gabriel the Archangel, are an order that provides instruction to Deryni Healers until the regents' coup in 917 and the Ban on Magic that follows. They had a school for this purpose at their monastery called Saint Neot's, which the regents' forces destroy; the ruins of Saint Neot's are a setting for several incidents in the lives of Brion, Morgan and Duncan depicted in the Chronicles of the Deryni trilogy.
    • The Michaelines, named for their patron Saint Michael the Archangel, are a military order prominent in the Camber trilogy. They are presented as a cross between common notions of the Templars and the Jesuits: wealthy, powerful, and adept at all forms of combat (including intellectual). Their membership was mixed human and Deryni, with the Deryni leading the others in quasi-arcane meditations. Camber's son Joram was a member, as was his late-life alter ego Alister Cullen (Vicar General of the Order). The Michaelines were suppressed by the the regents circa 918, and many members fled into exile with the Knights of the Anvil.
    • The Knights of the Anvil, or Anvillers, take their name from their home region, a harsh environment southeast of Bremagne called the Anvil of the Lord. A military order with a reputation for stealth, the Anvillers were influenced by many cultures, Muslim as well as Christian. Members have small crosses tattooed on their bodies in remembrance of Christ's wounds when they take final vows; Sir Sé Trelawney displays those at his wrists (and jestingly refers to the others) on a visit to Alyce de Corwyn Morgan in Childe Morgan.
  • Overly Long Name - Even without their titles, Haldane princes have plenty: Brion Donal Cinhil Urien, Nigel Cluim Gwydion Rhys, Kelson Cinhil Rhys Anthony, Conall Blaine Cluim Uthyr. Compare the nobles, who usually make do with more the usual first, middle, and last name: Alaric Anthony Morgan, Duncan Howard McLain, Dhugal Ardry MacArdry ... well, the books definitely engage in some heraldry porn.

Deryni Tropes P Through R

  • Pardon My Klingon - The exclamation "Khadasa!" appears in Deryni Rising, although the characters otherwise use English, including other swearing in English on occasion (Archbishop Cardiel actually shouts "Goddamnit" once, as noted above).
  • Phosphor Essence - Deryni don't have to show their auras, but sometimes they do, often as a means of revealing themselves (since They Look Just Like Everyone Else). Glowing is no guarantee of goodness among Deryni. Kelson gradually plays with this trope: after his coronation duel at the end of Deryni Rising, he stands in a pool of coloured sunlight (from a cathedral stained glass window), then summons Morgan and Duncan to join him there. In the great hall of Laas at the end of The King's Justice, he shows his Deryni aura faintly and signals Morgan and Duncan to follow suit; his and Duncan's aura's could be dismissed as sunlight reflecting off their jewelled coronets, "but Morgan's, misting faintly greenish gold on his golden hair, could not be so rationalized." By the end of King Kelson's Bride, when Kelson and his courtiers appear before the Servants of Saint Camber to invite them to staff a new Deryni schola, not only do more of them manifest (Kelson, Araxie, Morgan, Richenda, Dhugal and Duncan), but they manifest fully, and some of the Servants do likewise.
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege - In The King's Justice, Judhael of Meara enters Kelson's presence barefoot and wearing a homespun robe to offer renewed fealty to Kelson as King and Prince of Meara. After Judhael's death sentence is pronounced, his aunt Caitrin asks that he be sent into custody with her, but her request is denied. Later, Kelson privately offers Judhael his life but Judhael declines the offer, citing the possibility of future Mearan separatists rallying around him to provke yet another civil war.
  • Plot Threads - Multiple characters with various relationships and obligations lead to multiple plot lines, sometimes splitting into three or more depending on the demands of the story. Some of these plot threads continue from one book to the next, lending a verisimilitude that tidy resolutions lack.
  • Plot-Triggering Death - The death of King Brion Haldane at the start of Deryni Rising, which begins the multi-volume saga of King Kelson Haldane's rule as well as the specific challenges of getting him safely crowned king.
  • Politically-Active Princess: Araxie Haldane is clearly this, particularly in the period just prior to her marriage to Kelson in King Kelson's Bride. When presented with a plan to evacuate the family to the safety of Rhemuth, her mother and sister raise many objections over the incomplete wedding preparations, and Araxie steps in to get them to cooperate. She later makes a diplomatic suggestion to resolve Kelson's difficulties with his prospective Ramsay in-laws (for which she gets a relationship-changing kiss from Kelson), and leads the negotiating team to convince Rothana to take the scola position Kelson offered.
    • Morag Furstana is sister to King Wencit, but cannot rule under Torenthi laws and traditions. Even so, she serves as a regent for two of her sons in succession, and she is depicted as an equal participant in the family deliberations. Later still, Liam asks her opinion on what to do with Teymuraz directly after the failed coup d'etat.
  • Power Strain Blackout - Alaric Morgan is apt to do this, since he's a bit of an overachiever and Deryni powers are physically taxing to use. In High Deryni, Morgan tries to contact Derry mentally (sending a Call) during the reconciliation service for himself and Duncan and faints from the effort; Duncan makes the excuse that his cousin isn't used to fasting. He also collapses from overextending himself to Call on campaign in The King's Justice, and Kelson scolds him for pushing himself too hard.
  • Prayer Pose - When Richenda invokes the quarters (calls the archangels by name) for Nigel's empowering ritual in The King's Justice, she finishes by "bowing her head over hands joined palm-to-palm in an attitude of prayer". Light then washes out to finish Warding the ritual circle before Kelson begins his part.
  • Pregnant Hostage - In Camber of Culdi, one of the fifty human hostages taken after a Deryni lord is murdered is a pregnant woman. Cathan MacRorie pleads for their release and is offered the chance to take one of them; he first chooses the pregnant woman, only to be asked if he wants her or her baby. Cathan tries to argue, then chooses to take a teenaged boy instead. The woman gives birth in captivity and is later hanged like the rest of the hostages.
  • Prequel - Thanks to the author's willingness and imagination and spurred by fan demand, a number of novels and short stories have been set at various points in the Deryni timeline. The short story "Catalyst", set about fifteen years prior to the beginning of Camber of Culdi, shows Camber's sons and daughter and their friend Rhys Thuryn as children.
    • Interquel - Several short stories, the Heirs of Camber trilogy (published 1989-1994) and the Childe Morgan trilogy (first published in 2003 and still incomplete as of 2011) are set between the Camber trilogy (published 1976-1981) and The Chronicles of the Deryni trilogy (published 1970-1973).
    • Prequel in the Lost Age - Katherine Kurtz wrote the Camber trilogy and the Heirs of Camber trilogy to explain the state of affairs in Gwynedd during The Chronicles of the Deryni trilogy. Specifically, the Legends of Camber and Heirs of Camber books explain how a land that had humans and Deryni co-existing openly (including Healers as a regular feature of the practice of medicine) became a land where Deryni often had to conceal their abilities or face death.
  • Privileged Rival - Deryni Rising has Kelson (young, inexperienced, labouring under a religious and social system that persecutes Deryni) facing Charissa, who's about a decade older, highly trained in arcana, wealthy and related to the royal family of the neighbouring kingdom that has no such history of persecution.
  • Properly Paranoid - Morgan wears a stiletto up his sleeve and chain mail under his clothes, even at his own ducal state dinners (in his own castle!). He sometimes travels in disguise. He had "the cloak of his Deryni power surrounding him like an invisible mantle wherever he went." Yet he is drugged, taken captive, and faced burning at the stake, only to be rescued by his cousin.
  • Psychic Powers - a full range of telepathy from an empathic sensing of emotions through Truth Reading through compelling targets to speak the truth (Truth Saying) and all the way up to total Mind Control. They can also send and receive words (Mind Speech) and images at a much faster rate than ordinary speech. These skills prove highly useful when questioning people or gathering information from scouts, not to mention facilitating private conversations in the presence of other people. The good guys tend to reserve Mind Control for maintaining the Masquerade; the bad guys (and girls) have no such compunctions.
    • Physical contact is not actually required to use these powers, but it does make it easier. Kelson and Morgan foster the impression that subjects must be touched in part to ease the fears of the human population.
    • Psychic Block Defense - Deryni have what they term "shields" which can be adjusted from a complete blockage down to transparency. The more skilled a Deryni is, the more control s/he has over the adjustment. Since Deryni are also empathic, the shields are quite necessary to protect them from the strong emotions of others as well as keeping their own thoughts and feelings private. Shields can be affected by head injuries or drugs like merasha, and they rapidly degrade when a Deryni dies. A few people thought to be human (Sean Lord Derry and Sir Kenneth Morgan, Earl of Lendour de jure uxorius[2] among them) are found to have rudimentary shields. Psychic walls can also be constructed in the minds of people (human or Deryni) who have sensitive information that must be protected.
  • Rage Breaking Point - In The Bishop's Heir, after Morgan and Duncan fail to save Sidana's life when Llewell slashes her throat just after she exchanged wedding vows with Kelson, Morgan looks up and sees Llewell's triumphant expression, leaps to his feet, grabs Llewell by his tunic, yanks him downward and shouts, "On your knees before your king, Mearan excrement!" He wants to kill Llewell and says so. Cardiel has to step in, grasp Morgan by the wrist and forbid him from acting.
  • Rags to Royalty - Snow White Style, gender flipped for Cinhil Haldane (formerly Nicolas Draper/Father Benedict).
  • Rape Discretion Shot - In The King's Justice, Princess Janniver's memory is read by Rothana, who shows it to Kelson. The text reflects Rothana's editing of the vision in its description of Janniver's emotional reaction, emotions an outraged Rothana passes unfiltered to Kelson. Thus, the readers get no explicit details of the act itself, yet there's no doubt what happened, or who did it Caitrin's elder son Ithel.
  • Regent for Life - the regency council, in the Legends of Camber and the Heirs of Camber trilogies.
  • Relegated Mentor - This happens to Alaric Morgan relative to Kelson Haldane in the Deryni works. Morgan has a bigger role in the events of the Chronicles of the Deryni trilogy, but Kelson comes more to the fore in the next trilogy (called The Histories of King Kelson). It's justified in that Kelson is introduced as a boy of fourteen at the start of the Chronicles, and that entire trilogy takes place within the following year, so he lacks age and experience. The Histories take place a few years later, after Kelson has grown a bit and been on the throne for a while, and the third volume centers around Kelson's knightly accolade and the coming of age that represents. Morgan is still alive and well as a friend and advisor (the Codex lists him as such several years after the events of King Kelson's Bride), but his presence isn't as large as in the earlier works.
  • Reluctant Ruler - King Cinhil Haldane was happy as a cloistered priest, and he came to resent Camber for his misery after he was persuaded to accept a dispensation from his vows, together with a wife and a crown.
  • Requisite Royal Regalia - Some of these items are also magical, such as the Haldanes' Eye of Rom, Ring of Fire and Lion Brooch. Kelson is also shown selecting a certain style of crown to fit the needs of diplomacy (a Celtic design while visiting the Borders, for which read "Scotland").
  • Rightful King Returns - Cinhil Haldane, the last descendant of the former rulers of Gwynedd, is sought out and restored to Gwynedd's throne due to the evil nature of the last Festillic king.
  • Rite of Passage - Brion's fourteenth birthday in Childe Morgan. Donal pierces his son's ear the night before and uses the blood to prime the Eye of Rom; at court on the day itself, Brion is presented to major vassals as the recognized heir to the throne and oaths of fealty are taken.
  • Ritual Magic - This has a dual purpose: to foster the deep concentration needed to use the more demanding Deryni powers, and to draw the esoteric connections of Hermetic Magic. Most of the typical traits are present in Deryni arcana:
    • Magical Gestures can be as simple as snapping one's fingers to light a candle or torch. Other gestures facilitate the drawing of geometric or esoteric figures as focal points for summoning divine/angelic beings.
    • A polyglot Language of Magic sees much use. (See the examples above.) The short story "Healer's Song" features a sung prayer normally performed at the consecration of a Healer on completion of his training; Lord Rhys Thuryn sings it to welcome his newborn Healer son to the family.
    • Rituals intended to emphasize bonds between people, such as Naming and triggering the Haldane potential, involve token sacrifices, generally burning incense and shedding a few drops of blood.
    • Some rooms become places of power from repeated ritual use, notably chapels in larger churches or in private suites/homes. A specific Place of Power is a plot point in Deryni Rising.
    • Geometric Magic most often crops up in the protective circles invoked in Warding, both to protect mages from interference during a ritual and to protect outsiders from the energies unleashed in duels. When creating a Transfer Portal, the shape delineates the area to be enchanted.
  • Royal Brat - Conall, especially in The Histories of King Kelson; ultimately degerates into an Antagonistic Offspring.
  • Royal Decree - Kelson dictated terms to the Mearan Pretender in The King's Justice in one of these. Dhugal (who was related to her by marriage) entered Laas and read the decree to her and her advisors. He was frequently interrupted by questions from Caitrin and Judhael about the fates of their kin in the Mearan army.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something - Javan codifies the laws of Gwynedd in his tragically brief reign. Kelson investigates places associated with Saint Camber, collects Deryni manuscripts/makes them available to scholars, and founds a school for Deryni training. Oh, and he's a Warrior Prince by necessity.
  • Royal We - Played with in Deryni Rising: when Kelson is addressing his last Regency Council after they have voted to convict Morgan of treason and heresy, he says, "We have lost" and gestures vaguely to include Morgan and his supporters in the plural promoun. Moments later, he hears the clock strike four and knows he's come of age, so he asserts his royal authority, appoints Morgan's aide to the vacant council seat, and breaks the newly-resulting tie vote, setting Morgan free. After this, Kelson plays it straight, especially in documents and formal court functions.
  • Ruling Couple - This seems to be Kelson's plan for Araxie in King Kelson's Bride, as it had been for Rothana in The Quest for Saint Camber. Since things with Rothana didn't pan out, and since Araxie is also a Haldane by birth, Kelson suggests triggering the Haldane potential in her as it has already been done in himself. Araxie is not averse to the idea and enters into thoughtful speculation on the matter; no Haldane has ever been Queen of Gwynedd before, and it isn't known if a female Haldane could have her potential triggered (or even that she carries it).

Deryni Tropes S

  • Separated at Birth - Alyce and Vera deCorwyn were fraternal twins whose parents secretly passed off Vera as the daughter of human friends whose own child was stillborn at around the same time.
    • For Vera, this becomes a Changeling Fantasy when she begins to receive Deryni training in secret. The girls learn of this after their biological father's death and keep the secret within the family.
    • Later in the timeline, Alyce gives birth to Alaric Morgan and Vera has her son Duncan McLain, making them first cousins.
  • Secret Keeper - Morgan and Duncan keep their true relationship secret from most people; they're also distantly related through their fathers, so they have an excuse to call each other "cousin".
  • Secret Secret Keeper - In 1121, Duncan believes only he, Morgan, and Kelson know about his heritage when he is greeted on the road to Coroth by a man who looks like Saint Camber:

 "Hail, Duncan of Corwyn," the stranger murmured.

"What do you mean?" he managed to whisper, his voice a quarter octave higher than normal. He cleared his throat. "I'm a McLain, of the lords of Kierney and Cassan."

"And you are also a Corwyn, of your sainted mother's right," the stranger contradicted gently. "There is no shame in being half Deryni, Duncan."


We later learn this fellow Stefan Coram has secrets of his own.

  • Secular Hero - Despite the medieval setting and the presence of many clerical characters, some characters in the Deryni works are less than devout.
    • Alaric Morgan, partly in contrast to his more devout cousin Duncan McLain. Morgan once used his magic to contact his aide-de-camp during a religious service, and used fasting as a cover/excuse when he fainted from the effort. The morning after the knightly accolades of Kelson, Conall and Dhugal, Morgan arrives late to an Ash Wednesday Mass, having stayed up to celebrate with Nigel and an excellent port the night before. He is elsewhere described as being uncomfortable with the idea of receiving the attention of Heaven. He does ask his cousin to give him a blessing (after said cousin became a bishop), and Duncan expresses some surprise at this request; it happens on the day Duncan (who is like a brother to Morgan) was leaving on a military campaign, with the unspoken possibility they night not see each other again.
    • Nigel Haldane, in The King's Justice:

  "He did not often feel the need for a physical expression of his religious feeling. Like Brion, he preferred to witness for his faith through the example of an upright life, rather than spend overmuch time on his knees, in a building that took the place of belief for many folk."


Given that he's facing an unfamiliar arcane ritual that also makes him confront the unwelcome possibility that he may become king himself, he feels the need to pray: "A little awkwardly, then, he bowed his head and framed his thoughts in a far more formal petition than was usually his wont..."

  • Sexy Priest - Bishop Denis Arilan's face is described as "handsome", and then-Monsignor (later Bishop) Duncan McLain prompts this exchange between two ladies at his cousin's ducal court:

 "...I do hope he gets back in time for dinner. You've seen him, haven't you?"

"Ummm," the blond woman sighed approvingly. "I certainly have. What a pity he's a priest."

  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism - The Deryni series falls into the middle of the scale on this trope, with good winning in the end, but 'in the end' being centuries rather then years. This makes it fairly cynical for a fantasy series.
  • Sliding Scale of Plot Versus Characters - The Deryni works are equally plot and character driven, largely because many of the protagonists have to deal with the powers and the persecution that come with being Deryni, as well as the strife between the rival kingdoms of Gwynedd and Torenth. In particular, Denis Arilan and Duncan McLain have to resolve a basic personal conflict (between their arcane abilities and their vocations) which is tied to church politics and a later schism; they both choose to be priests, but Denis keeps his secret as far as possible, while Duncan eventually lives openly as a Deryni priest. Alaric Morgan has spent years cultivating an ominous reputation, yet he has to adjust when a new king (Kelson, himself half Deryni) takes the throne and works to end the persecutions and regain lost knowledge. Kelson has to grow into his own as a man and a king, cope with his heritage on a personal level and cope with rebellions, church schism, and the rival kingdom to the east. Even for characters with smaller parts to play, like Nigel and Jehana, plot events have personal consequences, and personal choices influence the plot.
  • Sdrawkcab Name - In Deryni Checkmate, Duke Alaric Morgan's bard Gwydion ap Plenneth informs him about public opinion in his ducal capital Coroth, including songs against Morgan. One of these is about an evil oppressor and entitled "The Ballad of Duke Cirala". In his report, Gwydion lampshades the trope: "...I might also mention that the name Cirala is quite familiar if one only spells it backward: C-I-R-A-L-A-A-L-A-R-I-C."
  • Sore Loser - Conall Haldane loses an informal archery match to Dhugal McArdry early in The King's Justice and "all but slammed down his bow, though he did manage a stiff little bow of acknowledgment before stalking off sullenly toward the stables". This is noticed and commented upon; Kelson says his cousin "hasn't yet learned the graceful art of losing."
  • Stab the Scorpion - Early in Deryni Rising, Morgan kills a Stenrect crawler that was inches from Kelson's hand. A lady-in-waiting sees him draw and use his sword, but not the creature; she screams, guards come, and Morgan's reputation is invoked.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers - A couple of instances:
    • Duncan McLain and Maryse MacArdry. Expecting to be parted over a feud between their clans, they marry in secret and Maryse conceives a son, Dhugal. Duncan later learns Maryse died of a fever the following winter, but he doesn't know the rest of the story until much later.
    • Rothana Nur Hallaj and Kelson Haldane. After much thought, she decides to put aside her temporary novice's vows and marry him, then he disappears down a waterfall and is thought to be dead. She is persauded to marry someone else traitorous Conall Haldane, and feels she cannot marry Kelson once they are both free to do so. She even arranges for him to marry someone else!
  • Stern Teacher - Prince Nigel Haldane, Duke of Carthmoor. The "Iron Duke" trains the pages in the royal household, and he's generally called "tough but fair".
    • With pages in a royal hunting party in Deryni Rising: "No, no, no," Nigel was saying. "If you ever address an earl simply as 'Sir' in public, he'll have your head, and I won't blame him. And you must always remember that a bishop is 'Your Excellency.' Now, Jatham, how would you address a prince of the royal blood?"
    • In The King's Justice, he's shown training two young pages in the rudiments of riding, catching one boy by his tunic and belt when he falls and putting him back on the warhorse: "They [Kelson, Morgan and Dhugal] could not hear what Nigel said to the lad, though his words brought an immediate flush of scarlet to the downy cheeks."
  • Succession Crisis - With the occasional Unexpected Successor. All the time. In Gwynedd and Torenth. Funny how everyone seems to want a job with such a short life expectancy.
  • Sudden Principled Stand - In Deryni Checkmate, the day after the Curia excommunicated Morgan and Duncan, its leaders, Archbishops Loris and Corrigan, tried to push through an Interdict on Morgan's duchy as well. The previously neutral Bishop Cardiel spoke against the measure, precipitating a schism within the Church. Cardiel argued that it was unjust to punish the people of Corwyn for the actions of its duke and left open the possibility that Morgan and Duncan were morally innocent. The conflict escalated as other bishops, including Arilan and Tolliver (Corwyn's bishop) joined in, accusing Loris of supporting a rebellion against the king and promoting genocide against the Deryni.
  • Summon to Hand - Denis Arilan does this with his Deryni powers in The Quest for Saint Camber: "A distracted snap of his fingers brought two empty goblets, floating over from the dishes cleared away after supper, one of which he filled from the flask."
  • Supernatural Elite - This appears frequently in the Deryni works, and for King Imre Festil and his supporters this has very Unfortunate Implications. King Kelson Haldane in particular holds that his arcane powers (which he distinguishes from those of Deryni in general) are a manifestation of divine favour, signifying his right to rule. He says as much during an archiepiscopal tribunal investigating Duncan McLain's marriage:

  "Deryni are not the only ones to have this power, Bishop Arilan....We Haldanes can tell when a man is lying. It is a power of our sacred kingship."

  • Supernatural Sensitivity - Deryni can generally tell who is Deryni and who isn't, because Deryni have mental/psionic barriers called "shields" that are detectable over short distances. Some highly skilled Deryni can disguise their shields, making them seem transparent. Ordinary humans lack these shields, so their surface thoughts are easily apparent to Deryni. Transfer Portals have a residual signature that Deryni can feel and recognize (described as a tingling sensation coming from the area of the floor/ground where the Portal is located). Other objects and places associated with arcane rituals take on psychic energies over time, and Deryni can feel these power traces as well.
  • Superpowerful Genetics - Both the ability to manifest Deryni powers and the Haldane potential (apparently a variant) are transmitted genetically; the trait is dominant, so only one parent needs to have the trait for an offspring to inherit it. Thus, so-called "half-breeds" are just as powerful as full-blooded Deryni. Deryni generally need to be taught to use their powers; carriers of the Haldane potential need no training, but must have the potential triggered by a outside action. This is usually done in a ritual, the specifics of which vary slightly from one generation to the next; certain heirloom objects are used, and new ones may be added.
  • Symbol Motif Clothing: Kelson Haldane has in his wardrobe a tunic of red covered with tiny golden Haldane lions. His coat of arms features a single golden lion on a red field.

Deryni Tropes T Through Z

  • A Taste of the Lash - Part of the torture inflicted on Duncan by Loris and Gorony in The King's Justice. That they abuse their victim in the same way Jesus Christ was tortured before the Crucifixion seems to escape them, but their victim consciously models the stoicism of Christian martyrs.
  • Tension-Cutting Laughter - In Deryni Rising, though the protagonists are anticipating trouble from Charissa at Kelson's coronation, there's some larking about whilst dressing for the ceremony. Morgan strikes a pose in his finery and Duncan calls him conceited, wagging a finger in the role of scolding priest, whereupon both men burst out laughing, Morgan holding his sides and Duncan collapsing into a chair. The chapter's epigraph is "For surely laughter masks a nervous soul."
  • Teleporters and Transporters - Deryni have Transfer Portals, which are small areas on a floor or earth (usually roughly a square meter at most) that have unique psychic signatures (described as a faint tingling sensation for the Deryni who touch them or stand on them). Deryni can travel instantaneously between two Portals by standing on the departure Portal, mentally concentrating on the destination Portal and "warping the energies just so". There are a number of limitations which keep them from being excessively advantageous:
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs - Early in Deryni Rising, Morgan lectures a lady-in-waiting who addresses Kelson as "Your Highness" and talks to him as if he were a child, despite that fact that it's the day before Kelson's coronation and King Brion has been dead for about a fortnight. In contrast, Duke Ewan of Claibourne addressed Kelson as "Sire" just seconds after Brion's death.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else - For those who fear Deryni, this is part of their fear: they look just like ordinary humans, so you can't tell if people are Deryni just by looking at them. Of course, this fact is also helpful to good and heroic Deryni as well.
  • Think in Text - Kurtz makes liberal use of this to distinguish Mind Speech and similar unspoken thoughts from actual spoken dialogue.
    • Thought dialogue between Deryni characters is rendered in italics. This is helpful to visually distinguish it from things other, ordinary humans could hear (and such conversations sometimes take place in front of humans who are unaware), and from words the same people verbally utter in the same scene. It also lends some sense of urgency which is often justified by circumstances.
    • Early in Deryni Rising, when Morgan grieves for Kelson's father Brion and recalls recent harrowing events (see the Establishing Character Moment above), the Exposition Beam between the author and the reader is done using a series of descriptive phrases separated by points of elipsis.
  • Throwing Down the Gauntlet - in Deryni Rising, Charissa literally throws down a mailed gauntlet to interrupt Kelson's coronation and challenge him to a Duel Arcane for the right to rule Gwynedd. Kelson first appoints his Champion to act on his behalf, and later picks up the gauntlet himself when Charissa reissues her challenge.
  • Trouble From the Past - The people of twelfth century Gwynedd have to deal with the evils done in the ninth and tenth centuries (invasion and conquest, a nasty Magocracy, a rebellion that leads to a backlash, and then two more centuries of Fantastic Racism).
  • Turbulent Priest - Hubert, Loris, Gorony, Creoda,
  • Unexpected Successor - Often due to the succession crises mentioned above. Discussed in Childe Morgan by the Haldane courtiers after the death of Prince Nimur of Torenth and the mysterious removal of his brother Prince Torval from the succession promote the relatively unprepared third brother Prince Karoly. Remedied in Liam-Lajos' case by Kelson and Nigel, who supervise Liam's education in Rhemuth after Kelson becomes suzereign of Torenth and Liam's older brother dies in a "riding accident".
  • Unfit for Greatness - King Cinhil Haldane in the Legends of Camber trilogy. Having spent most of his life as a cloistered priest, he is unprepared for the machinations of politics, and is unable to prevent several human lords on his council from staging their own coup d'etat after his death. He also blames Camber (the man who engineered his succession to the throne) for the loss of his vocation and his misery over it, and he distances himself from an experienced courtier's advice when he needs it most.
  • The Unmasqued World - Ultimate goal of Kelson, his courtiers, and at least some of the Camberian Council. Not that everyone agrees upon methods and timing.
  • Unhappy Medium - Dowager Queen Jehana overhears the thoughts of assassins about to attack Nigel; she agonizes over whether to warn him (and thereby save his life) when she believes the means she used to learn the information corrupts her soul.
  • The Un-Reveal - In the epilogue to The Quest for Saint Camber, Kelson and Dhugal meet a cowled man on the beach near Castle Coroth. The man won't give his name or admit appearing to Duncan years before, but he does draw a sigil in the sand that shows them a vision of Camber on his bier. Though there's no clue as to where or when the vision actually happened, Kelson finds a tiny shiral crystal bead (like those sewn into Camber's netted shroud) in the sand once the sigil is washed away by a wave.
  • Villainous Incest - Imre and his sister, in Camber of Culdi
  • Will - Cinhil's will is tampered with, to allow one faction amongst the regents to seize power. His son Rhys Michael alters his will to give legal cover to a move against the evil regents.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years - Apt to happen to Haldanes and Deryni children, especially with the pressures making them grow up fast.
    • Kelson's deft questioning of his father Brion in the first chapter of Deryni Rising. The prince is a couple weeks shy of fourteen, and Brion admires his son's shrewd intellect.
    • Perhaps the best example is the four-year-old Alaric Morgan in Childe Morgan. Alyce is conducting a Naming ritual (which is usually done when the child is seven or eight), and she questions him as part of the ritual:

 "Alaric," she began, "I know that Father Anselm has talked to you about the difference between right and wrong."

Alaric nodded solemnly.

"Do you think you could tell me about something that's wrong? Can you give me an example?"

The boy cocked his head thoughtfully, then looked at her with all the wisdom of his four years.

"Do you mean just naughty, like when I kick Cousin Kevin, or really bad?"

Alyce had to concentrate to keep from smiling at the sagacity of that answer. She need not have worried about her son's understanding.

  • The Wise Prince - Kelson again, and Liam-Lajos shows signs of this in King Kelson's Bride.
  • Witch Species - Deryni are frequently referred to as a separate race of humans, especially by their enemies. They are both male and female, and can and do interbreed with ordinary humans.
  • Wizard Duel - Generally to the death.
    • Cinhil vs. a priest who poisoned his infant son in a spur-of-the-moment affair.
    • Cinhil vs. Imre subverted when Imre kills himself.
    • Alister Cullen vs. Ariella fatal for both combatants.
    • Donal vs. Sief MacAthan, also spur-of-the-moment when Sief realizes he's been cuckolded by his king.
    • Brion vs. the Marluk
    • Kelson vs. Charissa, played straight (including throwing down the gauntlet) after a slight delay.
    • Kelson/Morgan/Duncan/Arilan vs. Wencit/Lionel/Rhydon/Bran Coris subverted by "Rhydon" revealing himself to be Stefan Coram after poisoning himself and his side.
    • Kelson vs. Conall, to clear defeat only. Kelson had no wish to give Conall an honourable death in combat.
    • Liam-Lajos/Kelson/Mátyás/Morag vs. Mahael/Teymuraz/Branyg, prompted by Mahael's attempt to Mind Rip Liam during his investiture.
  • Won the War, Lost the Peace - Sure the Haldanes were restored, but a cadre of ruthless human lords temporal and spiritual played upon the remembered sufferings of the human populace to fuel the persecution backlash and Imre's descendants kept coming back for more.
  • The Wrongful Heir to the Throne - Cinhil Haldane vis-à-vis Imre Festil-Furstan
  • You Are What You Hate - In Deryni Rising, Morgan blackmails Jehana into keeping her peace during Kelson's coronation ceremony by implying that she herself is Deryni and offering to read her and ascertain the truth.
  • You Killed My Father - Kelson vis-à-vis Charissa. Also Charissa vis-à-vis Brion and Morgan.
  1. "First, Second, Third, Fourth, let there be light!".
  2. in right of his wife