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Camber of Culdi (The Legends of Camber of Culdi #1)

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  4,209 Ratings  ·  74 Reviews
Camber was the greatest of the Deryni who wanted to retire. But it was not to be. The kingdom of Gwynedd groaned under the tyranny of Imre and his sister and mistress, Ariella. And when Camber learned that Cinhil Haldane, a descendant of the previous kings, still lived, he was determined to set him on the throne in place of the evil ones....
Mass Market Paperback, 314 pages
Published August 12th 1979 by Del Rey (first published January 1st 1976)
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Nov 19, 2012 Bookwraiths rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths .

Camber of Culdi was originally published in 1976, following on the heels of the thrilling exploits of the young King Kelson Haldane in The Chronicles of the Deryni trilogy. In Deryni chronologically terms, however, this novel is the oldest, going back in time to shed light on the mysterious Saint Camber, who is reviled and revered in equal measure by the populous of the Kingdom of Gwynedd in Kelson’s time. And here readers come face-to-face with this Deryni le
Apr 07, 2014 Steelwhisper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who loves magic. kings, princes and politics
Re-read. As good as it was the first time, this is what fantasy should be like. And sorry, against this--very much so--most of the current similar efforts still suck donkey balls.
May 16, 2016 Joseph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So sometime back in the early 1980s I became aware of Katherine Kurtz' Deryni books -- mostly likely through an article in Dragon Magazine (which I read religiously), although I had probably also seen the books on the shelf in the local bookstore. When I found out that the Camber books, although written after the original Deryni trilogy (Deryni Rising, Deryni Checkmate, High Deryni) were prequels set a hundred years before the original trilogy, I decided I had to start there. (I had to! They hap ...more
3 stars - Metaphorosis Reviews

King Imre is a Deryni, a magic-using descendant of the race that overthrew human kings some generations back. As he begins to abuse his powers, Earl Camber of Culdi and his family, also Deryni, plot a return to the human lineage.

I loved Katherine Kurtz' Deryni books when I first read them back in the seventies. Alaric Morgan and Duncan McLain rediscover ancient magics! There's a secret council! A young man finds he has secret powers! The books were great fun. In thi
James Swenson
May 11, 2013 James Swenson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Legends of Camber of Culdi are intriguing for their setting: a fantasy Earth where humans live uneasily alongside the magic-using race of Deryni. The names of the places and the existence of magic demonstrate that this is not our world, but humans and Deryni alike worship the familiar Christian God with rites and sacraments indistinguishable from those of the Catholic Church. Religion serves to animate and motivate the characters -- memorably, the human heir-in-exile, Cinhil, who is unwillin ...more
Apr 04, 2016 Hilary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, netgalley
4.5 stars

Although I've read this series before, it's been a number of years, so this was a relatively fresh read for me.

For those completely unfamiliar with the Deryni series, it's alternative history/fantasy set in the early medieval period in Gwynedd (what we know as northern Wales) and presented as a historical record. Instead of Norman conquerors, the locals have the Deryni - sorcerors. Although sometimes their interests align, these two races are more often in conflict. One has the power, w
Mar 30, 2012 Edie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is really the first book, chronologically. I love this series and it may well be my all-time favorite. It introduced me to magic and sword and sorcery and alternate worlds, and Katherine Kurtz's works for this series (The Deryni and Gwynedd) are really really good. The characters she draws I want to know (well, the ones that aren't villans), the land she creates is a place I want to live, the magic she describes is magic I would love to know.

For me, the best way to read this series is in t
This is a well written book by a lady who really knows her medieval culture. By that I mean that even though this is a secondary world, her scholarship enabled her to bring all sorts of small details to make it real.
Now it's not an action-packed story, so if you're looking for epic battles and sword fights, this isn't it. But the characters are well done, the world building is deep, and the read is satisfying.
I felt the end came about a bit too quick, but that's me.
The characters in this first book of the "second" trilogy were as friendly to get to know as those of the first trilogy. Except the new-king was annoying, and unmonklike while supposed to be super-monkish. He's really just selfish, which makes me wonder whether the author even knows any monks. I mean, he's really whiny.
Jun 07, 2015 April rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, fantasy
This was good, if a bit short. I also think that I would have enjoyed it much more if it had been in audio as I listened to the Kelson arc via audio and really liked it. Regardless, I'll be reading the next book as soon as I can get a copy.
Sep 04, 2008 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I liked it, but was disappointed by the sequels. Even then, the first trilogy is better than later additions.
Penelope Green
Hmm. On a re-read, didn't really hold up. The arrogance and holier-than-thou attitude of the key protagonists who decide on relatively little evidence to overthrow one king with the abducted, unwilling heir of another really casts a pall on what should be a fun story.
May 04, 2016 Stacie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I. ADORE. Terry Brooks.

Back a few years…and by “a few,” I mean sixteen years ago…I was living in a new town. I didn’t know anyone, I was far away from family and friends and lonely as all heck. One day, I was driving around, trying to familiarize myself with the town, when I passed a library. I pulled over immediately, went inside, discovered the Shannara books there by Terry Brooks, and have been a fanatic fan of his ever since.

But what do you do, when you’ve read every book that the author has
== A fantasy with dynastic consequences ==

Camber of Culdi was the fourth book published in the long series of fifteen Deryni fantasy novels (plus two books of short stories and two reference books, including the massive Codex Derynianus). But chronologically it is the first, covering September 903 to December 904. If you have not read any of these novels I would suggest going chronological with a caution: the back of the books can include charts of lineages of kings and the MacRories which may s
Aug 16, 2010 Twilight2000 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The series is 16 books is deep and growing - and it's wonderful. Not light reading - very deep historical fantasy text - and brilliantly done by a woman who was a church historian for some 20 years.

There are 14 books in the main cannon (so far - and a 15th on the way) - 6 in the "historical" time period and 8 in the "now" - that is, the series is about the world of the Deryni - consider: What if earth had 2 species develop side by side - one that had all those magical/esper abilities and one tha
Debbie's Spurts (D.A.)
My ratings should be the only review of books from me showing on goodreads. They are my unincentivized, unconnected consumer product opinions.

The star rating reflects solely my subjective reading experience and resulting opinion of the book according to the rating scale used by goodreads. It's not intended to destroy anyone's livelihood nor to churn out book promotions for them — just my opinion/reaction shared with other readers and a means to track my reading, provide book comparison data and
Fr. Peter Mottola
This book, published in 1976, is not among the best fantasy I've read but does address one element of the genre that frequently annoys me. In constructing their faux-medieval worlds, most authors approximate the Europe of the Middle Ages but change the religious landscape without explaining how so many uniquely Catholic social institutions came to be. I often find myself asking of, for example, groups like George R. R. Martin's Night's Watch, "Wait, why are all these people celibate?" Katherine ...more
James Oden
Apr 03, 2013 James Oden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Katherine Kurtz does a great job of weaving a tale that is both entertaining and insightful. She juxtaposes the political intrigues and jealousies found in any seat of power against the responsibility of those who govern towards those they govern. She also explores the psychology of rebellion, and the conflict between faithfulness towards one's rulers and righteous rebellion against tyranny. In the story she shows both sides views and rationalizations, and how those who would rebel against tyran ...more
Carol Gibson
Jul 14, 2016 Carol Gibson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-and-fantasy
I have read this book many times it is one of my favorites books in my favorite series. The author knows her medieval history and what part the church played in people's lives so with that reality to base the fantasy elements on you have a solid believable read.

I first read this back in the late 70s when I was still more or less a practicing Catholic so I felt a little guilty when I developed my first crush on a fictional character from a book. Father Joram MacRorie Michaeline warrior priest an
John Purvis
Jun 21, 2016 John Purvis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Camber of Culdi” eBook was published in 2016 (the paper edition was published in 1976) and was written by Katherine Kurtz ( Ms. Kurtz has published over 30 novels. This is the first of her “Legends of Camber of Culdi” series.

I received a galley of this novel for review through This novel is set in a Fantasy world where magic is used. The Deryni are nobles with a bloodline that enables them to wield magic. It has been years since the Festils wre
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Awnna Marie Evans
3.5 Stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Camber of Culdi was not the best fantasy I have ever read, but it was far from the worst. Its strengths lie in Katherine Kurtz' worldbuilding--which is my favorite thing! Kurtz addresses so many things fantasy authors often overlook when building a world based on (or set in) medieval Europe, especially when it comes to the sociopolitical atmosphere of the churches.

That being said, when it comes to the writing and the stor
Jan 21, 2012 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I were rating this book back when I read it mumble-mumble years ago, it would have been a 4-star review. But that was when I was a pre-teen/teen, and hadn't read much fantasy yet.

Don't get me wrong, these are great "beginner books" - fantastic for getting people hooked into a great genre of reading. But after reading much more fantasy - both epic and non-epic, I have to say that these are good books, but not "great." Perhaps I'm picky, but I wanted to be honest. There are so many tropes withi
Mar 31, 2016 Mars rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The modest rating isn't because the book is necessarily bad; it just hasn't aged well. I would have loved it if I was still 12, or if I got my hands on this before pretty much anything by Martin or Abercrombie.

The Deryni are never adequately explained. The ESP powers seem to vary quite a bit, and to be at least partly magical, but I think I prefer early Stasheff for this sort of thing. Cinhil is childish and weird.

There are problems with consent, too.

Probably the most personally grating point o
Mar 08, 2011 Amie rated it liked it
Shelves: dad, fantasy
A medieval story of good and evil, where magic and religion work together rather than being opposites, taking in racial and class issues, all while pitting a monk-king against a corrupt usurper? What's not to like?! Honestly, I had never heard of this author or these books, and never would have run across them if they weren't on my dad's shelf. He remembered them as being great, so I gave the first a try... and was immediately sucked in. Well written, convincing and engaging-- from historical, m ...more
Apr 25, 2011 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011, fantasy
This is the first book in the trilogy that chronicles the history of Camber of Culdi. It is set a couple of hundred years before the Kelson books. There is a Deryni king who even the Deryni want to get rid of. An heir of the Haldane line is found living as a monk. Camber and his group kidnap the heir and essentially force him to take up the kingship. They are really pretty brutal about this as they force their way into his mind to control him and force Deryni-like powers onto him. The poor guy j ...more
Reread with Judith Tarr and

I'm definitely enjoying my reread of the Deryni books, but an in-depth, 21st century look at these books is also showing up problematic elements that I never noticed as a teenager and early-20s reader.

I'm kind of sad about that, as I still have hugely fond memories of them and the world building and the details are still fantastic. I want to reread them and find all that love again, and while there's a lot of good feelings, I can't all out fall in love with the
Jun 05, 2009 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read this series several times.

I like historical/fantasy, and this one has the appealing mix of non-human/church trouble, along with insider nonhumans who really believe in the church (some lovely Latin included). Written in the late '70s, I think, when most of this type of writing was in its less appealing/accessible stage. These characters, are completely identifiable, the plots and problems are plausible, the magic is believable (a particularly memorable magic healing included a refre
Gere Lewis
Jan 02, 2012 Gere Lewis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book far more than the first trilogy, which I did enjoy. Quite simply put, this volume tells the tale of the finding of the last living heir of the old line of Haldane kings and the movement to reclaim the throne from the tyrant Imre, last of the Festil kings. The author still has a tendency to beat the reader over the head with the way she wants you to think and feel about certain characters and situations, but it is improving. It is my hope that by the end of this series her gro ...more
Christopher Koehler
My dad handed me this book one rainy Saturday afternoon, and I've never looked back. It's one of the books that's inspired me to become a writer myself. At the time (I was in something like the 5th grade) I didn't know this was the start of a second trilogy that filled in background for her Chronicles of the Deryni. I only knew it was a tale of high magic and low cunning set against the backdrop of a dark-ages kingdom where certain people carried sorcery in their souls, some of whom strove after ...more
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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 Legends of Camber of Culdi (3 books)
  • Saint Camber (The Legends of Camber of Culdi, #2)
  • Camber the Heretic (The Legends of the Camber of Culdi, #3)

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