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Summary

The number of Deryni was small, for they had been hounded for generations and kept their identities secret. Those who managed to retain their arcane powers concealed their background - for bitter persecution once again swept the land of Gwynedd, inspired by a raving fanatic sworn to destroy all Deryni in a final bloodbath.
©1972, 2005 by Katherine Kurtz; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 16-06-09

THRILLING!

More politics and intrigue and Deryni magic! One might think the prejudices in this work mirror our world's conflict with race and religion, and at times it -is- a little heavy handed, but well worth the listen! The narrator is -excellent-. I highly recommend this work

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • C. Buck
  • 18-04-18

Very enjoyable

I enjoyed listening to this book very much. I can't wait to get the next one.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Tork
  • Tork
  • 15-01-18

Lover this book

I must have read it ten times by now. Listening is just as good. Love it.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • steven fulford
  • 01-05-17

keeps the high standards of the previous book

What did you love best about Deryni Checkmate?

The interaction of church and the crown.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Deryni Checkmate?

When the bishop reveled himself as a Deryni also

Which character – as performed by Jeff Woodman – was your favorite?

Duncan

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

civil war and inquisition run wild!

Any additional comments?

This continues the great beginning of the first book with additional complications of a civil war. Well thought out, well read, great characters.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kat Hooper
  • 16-12-14

Church vs. State

Originally published at Fantasy Literature.

Deryni Checkmate, first published in 1972, is the second novel in Katherine Kurtz’s epic fantasy series that’s set in a world called Gwynedd (loosely based our own medieval UK) where some people have inherited magic from a race called the Deryni which has interbred with normal humans. The church of Gwynedd considers magic anathema and is using its wealth, power, and influence to rid the world of Deryni magic. Thus, Kurtz’s story is clearly inspired by our own middle ages when the Roman Catholic Church dominated Western religious and political systems and, having strayed from its Biblical roots, lorded it over the political leaders and the rest of the citizenry.

In the previous novel, Deryni Rising (1970), we met young King Kelson who ascended the throne after his father was killed by an evil Deryni sorceress. With help from his father’s friends and advisors, Kelson discovered his own Deryni powers and defeated her. Now, only a few months later, Kelson is 14 and he realizes how inexperienced he is. He relies on the help of his uncle Duke Alaric Morgan and Morgan’s cousin Monsignor Duncan McLain, a priest of the church. Both men are half-Deryni. But the church is after Morgan (at the beginning of the novel they don’t yet know about Duncan). They’ve ex-communicated Morgan which means that Kelson is not allowed to have any sort of relationship with his Uncle at a time when a neighboring kingdom is threatening to invade and Kelson needs Morgan’s connections and military expertise. The church is threatening to put the entire region under interdict if Morgan will not turn himself in and recant his powers. This causes a rift between the church and state and threatens to lead toward civil war and even a split in the church itself.

Meanwhile, an anti-Deryni zealot named Warin de Grey is gathering minions and terrorizing citizens. Because they both have the same enemies (the Deryni), the Archbishop is courting Warin, but he doesn’t know all the zealot’s secrets. Another subplot involves Morgan’s sister Bronwyn and her fiancé Brian, who is Duncan’s brother. They get caught up in an incident involving another evil sorceress. Thus we see that Deryni magic has the potential to be a weapon of terror and destruction, which helps us sympathize with the church’s traditional stance on the issue, if not with the Archbishop who is actually leading the witch hunt.

I don’t typically enjoy older medieval-style epic fantasy as much as I used to; I’m a little tired of all the pomp and circumstance, all the courtly mannerisms, and just the heaviness of it all, but I like Katherine Kurtz’s heroes — especially Morgan and Duncan. I suspect that I’ll also become increasingly fond of Kelson as he matures into his role as king. I’m certainly interested in what happens to these people in the next book, High Deryni. Will Morgan and Duncan be reinstated? Will all of Gwynedd be punished for the sins of its Duke? Will there be a Reformation in the church? What will Kelson be like when he becomes a man? I plan to find out.

I listened to Audible Studio’s production of Deryni Checkmate which is 9.5 hour long and excellently read by Jeff Woodman. He has a pleasant English accent, nice pacing, and does a great job with both male and female voices. I will choose High Deryni in this format, also.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Leo Fry
  • Leo Fry
  • 01-07-09

NOGO

Ist book was fine,but this one was not upto par.Installed Characters that did nothing for the story but take up space.About 3 hours of the book had anything to enhance the story.I will try next of series and hope it is better.

1 of 5 people found this review helpful