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Deryni Checkmate (The Chronicles of the Deryni #2)

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  3,542 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
More than thirty years ago, Katherine Kurtz changed the face of fantasy with the Deryni Chronicles. Revolving around the politics and passions of a world suspicious of magic, the novels were the first steps in Kurtz's remarkable career. Now, in hardcover for the first time, here is a newly revised and expanded edition of the second book in the classic series, Deryni Checkm ...more
Hardcover, Revised and Expanded Edition, 324 pages
Published December 6th 2005 by Ace Books (first published May 1972)
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(showing 1-30)
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Mike (the Paladin)
If you read my review of Deryni Rising you know I didn't spend a lot of time on the fictional (fantasy) depiction of the church. That will not be possible here.

The book itself follows the events having to do with the church demanding that Deryni (all Deryni) renounce their powers and abilities, or be excommunicated. The actions of a rabid and hate filled persecutor will also play a role in the story, which does not complete with this volume.



*** SPOILER WARNING SPOILER DISCUSSION BELOW LINE ***




(v
...more
Kat  Hooper
Sep 30, 2014 Kat Hooper rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
3.5

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 Cathol
...more
Fantasy Literature
3.5

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 Cathol
...more
Brian
Sep 29, 2014 Brian rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, europe
Opening note before I begin: I read the revised and expanded edition of this one because it's all the library had. I would have preferred to read the original edition, but, well, you can't always get what you want.

This is the The Empire Strikes Back of the Chronicles of the Deryni. Deryni Rising was a young boy becoming a man and winning a battle of good versus evil in the classic structure laid out by the monomyth. One of the things that bothered me about that book, though, was the focus on go
...more
Alex Andrasik
Ok, this volume was an even bigger mess than the last one. I'm sorry, but I'm starting to wonder why this original series is as successful and beloved as it is. There are two completely disconnected plotlines, one a moderately interesting political/religious conflict a-brewing and the other a loopy, pointless doomed romance that never really goes anywhere important. Kurtz seemed unable to decide what was important about either story, and thus what events she should spend time depicting; there ar ...more
Douglas Milewski
Released in 1973, Deryni Checkmate continues the original Deryni trilogy of Katherine Kurtz. The Deryni are a race of humans with magical powers who once ruled the Eleven Kingdoms, but are now feared and reviled, their magic called evil by the church.

In this book, Bishop Loris decides that the Deryni Duke Morgan must be held accountable for his Deryni magic, so he threatens all of King Kelson's kingdom with interdiction (the refusal of sacramental services) until the King turns out his Duke.

In t
...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
The Deryni books are great sword and sorcery fantasy. What makes them unique is that they're a blend of historical fantasy and high fantasy. What marks a book out as high fantasy is a completely imaginary world with no links to real history--legend maybe, but the ties are tenuous, even when like Tolkien's Middle Earth, Lackey's Valdemir or Pierce's Tortall, they have a pseudo-medieval feel.

This on, the other hand, is Christian Europe--yet not quite. Gwynedd is recognizably Britain--more so than
...more
Laura
Mar 17, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Usually the middle book or movie in a series is the book nobody likes. It serves to provide backstory or to fill in additional information to bridge the gap between the first book in a trilogy and the second. That is not the case here.

Deryni Rising starts the story of King Kelson. Katherine Kurtz could have ended the trilogy right there and the story would have been fine (no cliffhangers). Instead, she chose to continue the story of King Kelson with a focus on Morgan, Kelson's chief Deryni/advis
...more
Conan Tigard
Nov 16, 2015 Conan Tigard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved the first book in this trilogy. The first half of this book seemed very slow and a little bit of a grind to read. New characters are introduced, like Morgan’s sister Bronwyn, who you really fall for. The action is really lacking and the story doesn’t seem to move along very quickly. About halfway through the book, the plot starts to thicken and the story picks up a little speed.

By the end of the book I was gobbling up the words anxious to find out what was going to happen, and sh
...more
Federica Leva
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Saphirablue
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Fred D
Mar 01, 2008 Fred D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
These comments apply to all 3 books of the original Deryni Trilogy, Deryni Rising, Deryni Checkmate, and High Deryni. I really enjoyed this series. I liked Kurtz's writing style, and she did a great job creating and describing the fantasy world of Gwynnedd. I could see a lot of Welsh influence in the world she created. I think the series teaches a good lesson about tolerance of minorities and overcoming ignorance. However, the story line seemed to have some anti-religious undertones which I wasn ...more
David Zerangue
Apr 22, 2012 David Zerangue rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This was the second installment of The Chronicles of the Deryni. There were plenty of people who did not care for this book as much as the first one and I can only imagine it was due to a lack of real action, magic casting, etc. However, as I suspected, Ms. Kurtz uses her books to build her world so this installment was great in explaining more of the world we find ourselves in. I thought it was a good read. There was one segment within the novel that I felt was just fluff; almost a tangential s ...more
Carole-Ann
May 25, 2013 Carole-Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Carrying on with my High Fantasy binge - this continues 4 months after the previous book, where Alaric Morgan and Duncan McLain fall foul of the Archbishops of Gwynedd. Because Alaric has never denied his Deryni ancestry, the religious heirarchy denounce him as evil and manipulative, and ultimately excommunicate him (and his Duchy) from the Church.

I must admit I never realised how steeped in religion this book is/was: it takes Christianity as a given, and uses its precepts as a base for the acti
...more
Tatiana
Jun 14, 2012 Tatiana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading Deryni Checkmate, Book 2 in the Deryni series, more than I had enjoyed Book 1 (which I had already found engaging).
There is more suspense and action, more dramatic tension, the plotlines get more intricate and complex, and of course we get to know better the main characters, who become more familiar. I found the final climaxes (note the plural form) also much more captivating and emotional than the climax in Deryni Rising.

Religious extremism remains a central theme in this sec
...more
Legsoffury
Mar 16, 2011 Legsoffury rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
Not as good as the first book. It doesn't deserve a 2 star, but maybe 2.5
My review of the first book applies to the second also.

Even less female influence in this one, though I can easily imagine much of the dialogue occuring between two women rather than two men. I suppose I can excuse it by accepting that the magic bond between certain male figures creates an intimacy that would not exist otherwise. But seriously, the male characters don't hide anything. They really lay there feelings right ou
...more
Brad
Feb 02, 2010 Brad rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was between three and four stars on this one. I loved the first one (Dernyi Rising) and love each of the characters. They are fun and interesting. The plot of the book is nice, but follows typical "trilogy format" (book 1 - introduce characters include provincial victory Book 2 - broaden the scope and make a big mess Book 3 - clean up the mess, kill one main character and good triumphs over evil.) Fun, playful, great religious/faith overtones that give the book a fun distinguishing factor. Hea ...more
Kerry
Mar 18, 2016 Kerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Miscellaneous comments:

While I still like Morgan, I'm all about Duncan this reread.

It's the church stuff - threats of excommunication etc - that really felt more like danger than the physical danger did. And the ritual description of said excommunication was very spooky and threatening.

Considering the things I remember that still haven't happened, there must be a lot about to go on in High Deryni.

I'll be off to dig the rest of the series out of their storage box now, and/or save up for the new e
...more
Carol Gibson
Feb 26, 2015 Carol Gibson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-and-fantasy
This is the second book in the first series of the Deryni books. With this one we start to see Katherine Kurtz growing as an author we also see the story and the plot evolving from a simple fantasy to a richer novel with political intrigue. Katherine Kurtz no longer feels it necessary to hide the fact that the powerful church is the Catholic church and this adds a richness to the story. Her knowledge of medieval history and the working of the priesthood lends a realism to the novel.

Unlike a lot
...more
Fraser Sherman
Sep 17, 2016 Fraser Sherman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The first Chronicle, Deryni rising, didn't quite live up to my memories. I was delighted this one did. The first one had a small focus, Kelson's struggles to step into his role as king. Here we have, let's see, the church placing Kelson's Deryni ally Morgan under excommunication, power struggles in the church, a religious fanatic starting a holy war, a would-be conqueror starting a regular war, the mysterious appearances of a dead Deryni saint ... It's the Everything Is Going Wrong point of the ...more
Jeanne Johnston
I almost didn't bother with this when I realized it would be predominantly about arseholish church-y hypocrites, but in desperation to finish my year's challenge, dug in anyway. I think my attempted upbringing in a catholic family just gives me a really low tolerance for the church, and books like this bolster my prejudice.

Now I'm stuck in the middle of a lousy story and at least have to finish the next book in the hopes the worst of the jackasses are crushed in their power grab.

Religion. Bah.
...more
Donna
Apr 08, 2011 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011, fantasy
Second in the trilogy. I'm re-reading these after many years. This one was a solid story as things start to really heat up. A group of priests breaks away from the main Church over the Deryni question and a religious zealot with his own mysterious powers wants to start a new Deryni persecution. The only thing that seemed a little off to me was the subplot of the marriage of Morgan's sister Bronwyn. It didn't seem to advance the story at all unless it pops up somewhere later in the third book.
Donna
Apr 22, 2015 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good second novel in the Deryni series. Lots of double crosses, usurping, new bad guys, ambitious arch bishops and tragic love triangles. Kind a like Shakespeare in a way. I preferred the chapters that concentrated on Morgan and Duncan's welfare rather than some of the side stories but it all went hand in glove so you needed to keep reading. So ended up, with things going very very badly for our heroes. And now onto the next book...
Anna
May 15, 2014 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've enjoyed reading the first three books in this series (although out of order). As my first real trip into the Fantasy genre, it's a well-written story. My only complaint about this series is that the writer does not fully develop the few female characters she includes in her books. As a female writer, I would have expected her to have more and stronger female characters.
Lauren
Jun 05, 2010 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, own
Once again, I loved it! It was just as action-packed as the first in the set. It made me laugh, cry, and hide behind my hands when things got suspenseful (as weird as it sounds). The heroes are easy to love and, unfortunately, so are the expendable characters. I can't believe no one told me about this author sooner. She's great!
Ira
Jul 27, 2014 Ira rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, wizards
Если первую я читала "ради образования" (и ради лола), то во второй книжке те же огрехи - дырки в сюжете, над которыми бы чуть-чуть подумать - и будет хорошо, Марти-Стью главный герой, Королева-мать (аааа!) - терпеть уже не выносимо.
Проскипала вторую половину, не вижу в себе сил закончить хотя бы первую трилогию.
Diane
May 11, 2009 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Not quite 4 stars but almost. I enjoyed it, but had a bit of difficulty keeping track of the cast of characters. It's an interesting thought experiment concerning what a conservative fearful church would do with a powerful race possessing magic in a land on the verge of war from outside and threatening civil war.
Mailis Viiand
Jun 05, 2010 Mailis Viiand rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Solid somewhat historic fantasy, characters dont pull you in immediately but half-way through i started to get in to it more. Lacks a bit of emotional connection and the feeling of epic drama might not be obvious, still the philosophical undertones and religious questions are irrelevant and timeless if you find in yourself the motivation the immerse yourself in the ideas.
Neill Smith
Jul 29, 2011 Neill Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
In the second book of the introduction to the Deryni, Kelson must overcome the enmity of his mother and the ecclesiastical powers of his court to his Deryni powers in time to protect his kingdom from an anti-Deryni crusader and a neighbouring Deryni ruler intent of taking the crown and territory of Gwynned.
Kayla
Jul 26, 2012 Kayla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not having been raised Catholic, I'm fascinated by all the Catholic church/life detail.

I could be reading politics into everything these days, but I pick up a hint of gay rights support in the description of the Deryni, condemned solely because of their unlucky birth as Deryni.
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Katherine Kurtz is American fantasy novel writer. She is best known for her Deryni series. She currently lives in Virginia.
More about Katherine Kurtz...

Other Books in the Series

The Chronicles of the Deryni (3 books)
  • Deryni Rising (The Chronicles of the Deryni #1)
  • High Deryni (The Chronicles of the Deryni #3)

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