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King Kelson's Bride, by Katherine Kurtz Book Review | SFReader.com
King Kelson's Bride, by Katherine Kurtz Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Ace Books Published: 2000 Review Posted: 8/10/2015 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated
King Kelson's Bride, by Katherine Kurtz
Book Review by Joshua Palmatier
Have you read this book?
I discovered Katherine Kurtz when my dad bought me her original Deryni series for Christmas ages ago and I realized I could OWN the books I was reading from the library . . . a grave mistake on my dad's part. *grin* In any case, I loved the series and devoured all of the books then currently out by Katherine Kurtz and anything that was coming out shortly after that. Then Kurtz turned to other non-Deryni novels and I wasn't as interested in those, so I ended up not reading anything of hers for a while. Happily, she's returned to the Deryni world. I bought the books (I think there's four of them now) as they came out in hardcover, but only just got to reading this first one.
Premise: King Kelson needs to choose a bride. His first choice--made for political reasons--died in his arms at the altar after a betrayal by the bride's brother. His second choice--made for love--refuses to accept, after her own "betrayal" of marrying Kelson's traitorous cousin when she thought Kelson himself had died. Now he needs to choose again. But how can he reconcile marriage with the love he still feels for Rothana, even though he knows a king cannot ever be expected to marry for the heart? Kelson struggles with this as he and his court accompany their ward of four years Liam-Lajos of Torenth back to his homeland to claim his crown and throne. But Liam's uncles and mother are loath to give up their regency, and have their own plans for betrayal . . . that may take the life of both Liam and Kelson!
I have to admit that I was worried when I sat down to read this book. I have such fond memories of reading the Deryni novels a good *coughcough* twenty years ago. I thought that perhaps I'd have "outgrown" the world or the characters or the writing style and that picking up another Kurtz book after so long would somehow ruin those memories. But I was wrong. I immediately sank back into the world of King Kelson, even recalling the majority of the events and dangling plot threads that this book picks up and ties off. I immediately rediscovered why I'd enjoyed Kurtz' books so much and thankfully dove into the world anew.
And that's one of the best parts of Kurtz' books: this is a true medieval fantasy. It isn't the trappings of the medieval world, you really feel as if you are living in medieval times, although of course you're getting the aristocracy's view of it, since the books deal with the king and his court. But it isn't just the world that's so realistic that keeps you reading, it's the characters as well. Kelson is like a dear friend and with this book you pick back up with his life and get to revisit him and all of his cohorts as they travel from the familiar Gwynnedd to Torenth. So here we get to see a new part of the world, a new land, and get to (attempt) to crown its kind, even though Torenth is considered a vassal state of Gwynnedd.
The only drawback to the novel, and the reason that it wasn't given 5 stars, is that the plot itself was slightly weak. Overall, it moved along well, and the confrontation between Liam, Kelson, and the traitorous uncles was everything that you'd expect. If hat had been the culmination of the book, with the wedding of Kelson afterwards, than it would have been a deeply fulfilling novel. However, that wasn't the culmination. One of the traitors escapes and threatens to ruin the upcoming wedding. This by itself wasn't a bad plot move, in particular, but Kurtz drives the tension up so high, and gives the villain enough character, that when the attack finally comes . . . it's kind of anticlimactic. This doesn't ruin the whole book--there is plenty here that I thoroughly enjoyed--but as an ending it was kind of a letdown.
Not that that will stop me from reading the next few books or any of the others that might come out in the meantime. I'm happy to report, for those of you like me who read the Deryni novels years ago, that fears of ruining those hopefully fond memories are all for naught. This is a grand revisit to the realm that you loved . . . and if you haven't read any of Kurtz's novels, you should start now, with Deryni Rising. You won't regret it.