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Deryni Rising

(The Chronicles of the Deryni #1)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  7,082 ratings  ·  252 reviews

In the land of Gwynedd, the Haldanes have long ruled and have long kept a dangerous secret: there are those of their blood who possess the magical powers of the Deryni. To be Deryni in a land ruled by the all-powerful Church is to be branded an outcast.

But now, young Prince Kelson is about to assume the throne after the mysterious death of his father. He must be told of h

Mass Market Paperback, 271 pages
Published March 12th 1976 by Ballantine Books (first published 1970)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  7,082 ratings  ·  252 reviews

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Mike (the Paladin)
It was years ago when I ran across Katherine Kurtz's Deryni novels. Oddly, I never read the first trilogy...

I think as I get older I don't enjoy as much as I once might have stories of deception and the machinations of those who use lies, deception, and hatred to further their ends. Don't get me wrong, I know it goes on. It's probably the most common of "human activities". I didn't say I don't see it, I just said, it's not my chosen "mode of literary enjoyment".

Here we are treated throughout the
3.0 stars. This is a good, solid, well written epic fantasy and if it was the first medieval fantasy story I had ever read would certainly rate higher. The problem for me is that as I read more and more fantasy stories the various medieval settings and magic systems start to blend together and it takes something really special to set a book apart from the rest of the "herd." This story, while very well done and an interesting read, is smack dab in the absolute center of standard fantasy fare so ...more
[Name Redacted]
Not bad. I'd definitely like to read more.

It's her first book, apparently, so the writing and characterization can get a little rough, and I honestly don't think she knows how to write men. The TWO female characters seem to embody only bad female archetypes, while the various male the remaining female archetypes; the males ALL seemed to be about one heartbeat away from either kissing each other, scratching each others' eyes out, or putting their hair up in curlers and h
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Deryni trilogy had been sitting unread at my parents' house since I picked it up used when I was a teenager in the '80s. A reread series on, run by Judith Tarr*, inspired me to try the series after neglecting it for so long.

*whose first novel I loved to pieces a few weeks ago :)

Well... I probably should have read Deryni Rising then, rather than now. I almost quit after struggling through a first chapter that I thought was awful. A villain who is objectively evil, full stop; confusing
Oct 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Quite good for a first novel; heck, quite good even were it not a first novel. Not a secondary-world fantasy, precisely, but not set in our world either -- more of a one-and-a-half-ary world fantasy, I'd call it, where it seems to take place on our globe but in a very heavily modified version of the British isles.

(I assume that it's our world because the religion is most definitely Christianity, complete with scripture quotes, and because there are a few Moors in the background.)

The basic premis
Aug 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 20, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Deryni Rising

I tell myself quite often that I'm going to go back and read classic, older fantasies that I feel I should have read as a kid. Then I do it and remember why I stick with the newer contemporary works. My foray into the fantasy genre was a little irregular. Naturally, I started with Tolkien in Middle School and decided then that fantasy was my new favorite genre. And it still is I suppose. Then a friend of mine got me into Terry Brooks, so I read a ton of those books, all the while fi
May 20, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
2.5 stars.
More Game of Thrones than Lord of the Rings, complete with shadowy subterfuge and political maneuvering. It was far too slow for me to really enjoy it, however.
May 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Still enjoyed this just as much as when I first read it - but I must admit that perhaps some more modern stuff is slightly better :)

Written in the early 1970's this trilogy (of which this book is the first one) is/was a prime example of High Fantasy (a la mode of JRRTolkien's LotR). I have the 1981 copy (7th reprint!!) and it's still in one piece!

The action takes place over a period of a couple of weeks (from the death of the King, to the Coronation of the Prince), although it does concentrate o
May 18, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Derek by: Judith Tarr
I read this decades ago, and enjoyed it enough to read 6 volumes (maybe more—but I own the first six), but not enough to read since.

But Judith Tarr is doing a read for, and since I own it I figured I'd join in.

Well, it's an easy read, and I don't regret doing it, but honestly it's not terribly well written. As numerous reviewers point out, the few women are stereotypes, and most of the men are cardboard cutouts. Very few of them have sensible motives, and the two major Evil (mandatory ca
Oct 26, 2010 rated it liked it
I really thought this wasn't going to work for me, but I kept plodding onwards to give it a fair chance, and suddenly about halfway through (after the council meeting in which Kelson demonstrates some Gumption) it took off and I really enjoyed it. I have no idea why, except that I was reading it over about 10 days and so maybe my mood just changed to where this is what I wanted.

This is an utterly cliched sort of fantasy novel set in a prettified Medieval pseudo-Wales, except that it was written
Fantasy Literature
Jun 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Katherine Kurtz is truly a mistress of fantasy — she's been writing high epic fantasy for 40 years and should be considered one of the post-Tolkien "parents" of our genre.

The setting of the Deryni saga is an alternate medieval Europe (clearly analogous to our medieval England and Wales) and the Deryni are a magical race who look just like, and can interbreed with, humans. They have been persecuted for years by the Church (clearly meant to be our medieval Catholic church) and most people with Der
Dec 24, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
This is the first of Katherine Kurtz's amazing books about the Deryni, a race of magic wielding people set in a medieval times. While it isn't our world, it almost feels like it. The political institutions are like ours were. The Church is pretty similar. The one major difference is that magic works.

The books are set in a series of trilogies. This first book is about how Kelson becomes King and tries to hold on to his throne facing a threat he isn't really prepared for.

This first book is also pr
Aug 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: a friend.
Of course, the July 2008 reading is the most recent time I've reread this favourite. I was introduced to this trilogy in August 1978, when my mother brought the books back to me from a trip to the States. I fell in love with main character Alaric Morgan back then. Rereading the book now, I see its flaws, but still enjoy it. A rollicking fantasy with great characters, a bit of magic, some swordplay, and maybe a bit too much description. The third in the series is by far the tightest of the three, ...more
Jan 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Having been told that I must read the Deryni series, I chose this revised, recently reprinted edition of the very first book. By itself, the book is adequate, if a bit more ’young adult’ than I expected. There are some obvious plot difficulties that are more a reflection of the novel's age, having been written in 1970, than the writer's ability. The thing that gets you past this is that Kurtz creates great characters that draw you into the story and make you keep reading. I can’t wait for the ne ...more
Mar 17, 2013 rated it liked it
I read this book years ago and decided to do a re-read.

It is the story of the death of the current King of Gwynedd (a bit like Wales) and his sons coronation. It is full of Deryni magic and involves an evil sorceress.

It is very pseudo medieval and full of chivalric stuff with a few gaffs(i.e cotton wool)and to be fair there is not much to it. The writing is a bit juvenile now for my more mature tastes. It was alright but cliched and lacking depth.

If an author turned out such a book today they wo
Stephen Richter
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
The first in the series Chronicles of the Deryni. I can see why so many like it, as it is a fast read with a strong plot and likeable characters. On to book two.
May 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I heard this is a very long fantasy series (which is still ongoing), although it is divided into sets of trilogies so the collecting and reading order is easier. There is a chronological order, and order by publishing date and it’s up to the reader which way to pursue.

I love how this book gives you a nice blend of magic, fantasy, and it’s setting is in a fictional version of the British Isles. This is nice because not only do you have a solid established setting without too much world building,
Kat  Hooper
Mar 31, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Katherine Kurtz is truly a mistress of fantasy -- she's been writing high epic fantasy for 40 years and should be considered one of the post-Tolkien "parents" of our genre.

The setting of the Deryni saga is an alternate medieval Europe (clearly analogous to our medieval England and Wales) and the Deryni are a magical race who look just like, and can interbreed with, humans. They have been persecuted for years by the Church (clearly meant to be our medieval
Ian McKinley
My, my, how one's impressions can change over a mere thirty years! I ate Katherine Kurtz' Deryni books up back in the 80s. There's still some decent world-building here: the mysticism of the Catholic ceremony and iconography, all set in a land where there are Moors, and Scottish clans, and a quasi Welsh-English kingdom called Gwynedd. As daft as it is to yank readers out of your fantasy world by sticking in references to our own world, she somehow pulls it off without this reader being too-much ...more
Alex Andrasik
This book has all the marks of an early novel. The world and magic aren't adequately explained; the characters feel like explorations more than fully-rounded people; there are a total of two major female characters, one of whom is evil while the other is hysterical; chapter-ending cliffhangers are resolved a page later with absolutely no justification for the initial tension; and the prose is riddled with unnecessary speech tags and adverbs (some of them extra-questionable).

Not much really happe
REREAD: 14 March 2016 - 19 March 2016 (7/10)

As I said back in 2005 (good grief, over 10 years ago), I remember finding these books amazing but hard work as, especially later in the series, they do get very grim. Good, but grim. So I kept putting off rereading them.

Last week, I discovered (rather late) that Judith Tarr is doing a reread of at least the original trilogy over on It was her fault I reread Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince trilogy last year and I definitely wanted to join in with
Jean Triceratops
Jan 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: forfemfan, owned
Kelson, the young prince of a vaguely Welsh-sounding kingdom, wants to survive his coronation. Morgan, a half-blooded Deryni magician and mentor to young Kelson, can help—so long as he escapes the executioner’s block himself.

Charissa, a full-blooded Deryni magician, has different plans for both of them. See, Kelson’s father—aided by Morgan—killed her father, and it’s time she took her revenge.

If this premise sounds simple—you’re right. It is. There are no twists or turns, no reveals that broaden
Octavia Cade
Nov 19, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
It is safe to say I did not like this one bit. Maybe back in the day it was cutting edge fantasy (though I highly doubt it) but today it's absolutely painful.

I'm not sure what's worst. The fact that all the women (the few that there are) are stupid or evil. Or that all the black people, as far as I can tell, are the evil minions of the evil woman sorceress. Or that far too many men move with "catlike" grace. Or is it the most dreadful poetic prophecy I've ever come across in decades of fantasy r
Is there anything worse than a book that doesn't match its back cover blurb? I think the person who wrote the back hadn't even read the book, although I suppose that isn't the author's fault.

Except for some highlights, I struggled to enjoy this book. Most of the story felt like an introduction, and then it ended. As an added irritant were stupid things like "his skittish warhorse pranced" (if it's skittish it's not a warhorse), and telling the reader every.single.colour and description of every
Sep 10, 2016 rated it liked it
I have come been vaguely aware of this series for years but somehow never read any of it when I was younger. With the first book on sale for Kindle I decided to finally give it a try. "Deryni Rising" was quick and fun to read (it only took my a day and a half to get through, and that's with a one year old around). The story is straightforward and there's no real depth here, but the characters were likeable and the world has the potential for more interesting stories.

The biggest problem that I h
Mar 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Having had this book on my shelf for many a year, I finally picked it up and read it and have been kicking myself for not discovering this fabulous series earlier in my sci-fi/fantasy reading life. It reminded me of when I first discovered Anne McCaffrey's books. There is just something so sweet and simple about a well told story that doesn't require all the horror, language and gore a lot of other fantasy genre books believe they need to capture one's imagination. One reason why I won't touch G ...more
Feb 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
My son bought me a hardbound version of this triliogy for Christmas. It was a heartfelt gift as the books were the ones I read while I was on bed rest waiting his arrival. I liked both the name and the characteristics of a key character so much, I named my son after him, Alaric. Now he is an adult, he actually looks much like I envision this character and exhibits many of the same characteristics such as loyalty, compassion, adventurist.

Re-reading the "Chronicles of the Deryni" and "The Histori
Dec 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Saphirablue by: jimandblair
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The first of the trilogies about King Kelson and his advisor, Duke Alaric Morgan, begins with a bang. Kelson is king at the age of 14, and there is another claimant to his throne who will stop at nothing to get it. I loved how this book didn't feel like it was introducing anything. The longtime friendship between Morgan and Kelson's father is a given, and revealed in natural mentions and anecdotes, rather than laid out in the first chapter. This was a fully realized world full of real characters ...more
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Katherine Kurtz is an American fantasy novel writer. She is best known for her Deryni series. She currently lives in Virginia.

Other books in the series

The Chronicles of the Deryni (3 books)
  • Deryni Checkmate (The Chronicles of the Deryni, #2)
  • High Deryni (The Chronicles of the Deryni #3)

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  Jordan Morris is a comedy writer and podcaster whose credits include @Midnight, Unikitty! and Earth to Ned.  The sci-fi comedy Bubble is his...
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