The King’s Justice: King Kelson must squash a rebellion, part two

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe King’s Justice by Katherine Kurtz epic fantasy audiobook reviewsThe King’s Justice by Katherine Kurtz

The King’s Justice is the second book in Katherine Kurtz’s THE HISTORIES OF KING KELSON trilogy, which is part of her DERYNI CHRONICLES. It’s the fifth book about young King Kelson. You really ought to read the books in this order: Deryni Rising, Deryni Checkmate, High Deryni, The Bishop’s Heir and THEN this book, The King’s Justice.

Kelson is now 17 years old. In the previous book, The Bishop’s Heir, Kelson and his advisors (Morgan and Duncan) dealt with the rebellion of the province of Meara, which used to be independent. The rebellion was led by a woman who wants Meara to regain its independence and who has a claim to its throne. She was aided by Archbishop Loris, the sadistic escaped rebel priest who persecuted the Deryni. At the end of The Bishop’s Heir, the Mearan prince dealt a brutal personal blow to Kelson.

The King’s Justice is essentially part two of the story of the Mearan rebellion. (There’s enough reminder about what happened in The Bishop’s Heir that you don’t need to re-read that book if it’s been a while.) Kelson has vowed revenge for what the Mearan prince did and he plans to get Meara back under his control and rid the world of Archbishop Loris (for good this time). The story begins with Kelson declaring his Uncle Nigel heir until Kelson has his own son. He and Morgan and Duncan then invest Nigel with some of the Haldane powers so Nigel will be able to rule while Kelson is on his campaign against Meara. Much time is spent on the related planning, debates, and ceremonies.

During all this, Kelson’s mother shows up. For years she has been sequestered in a convent because she is trying to repent for her use of Deryni powers to save Kelson when he was younger. She has been taught that these powers are evil and she thinks, therefore, that she is evil. A subplot of the story involves her disgust of her own son’s behavior. She hopes to find Kelson a nice wife who will discourage him from using his powers. Another subplot involves Dhugal’s recent discovery about his paternity.

As usual, there is a lot of mind-reading, ceremonies, fighting, chasing, captures, rescues, rebellion, assassination attempts, and torture. Even though The King’s Justice is simply a continuation of the story of the previous book, and even though it drags in places (especially the meetings, ceremonies, mind-reading, and torture), I am compelled to read on because I really like Kelson, Morgan, and Duncan and I care what happens to them.

Poor Kelson. He’s only 17, his father is dead, his mother is disgusted by him, and the crown weighs so heavy on his head. A lot of the time I think he is too mature and decisive to be believed, but sometimes, as in this book, he does something immature and impetuous and we remember that he’s still a teenager. In a particularly touching scene, Kelson is shaken up when he’s forced to experience rape from a woman’s perspective. It’s easy to resonate with Kelson. I hope we’ll see him happy and secure on his throne someday.

Katherine Kurtz’s world and characters feel real. When I read the DERNI CHRONICLES, I feel like I’m actually eating a meal in a medieval castle, watching an archery match, riding through the gates of a fortress, or in the midst of a cavalry charge. If you love that sort of epic fantasy, I recommend this series. I’m listening to the audio versions read by Nick Sullivan and produced by Audible Studios. These are very nice productions. The King’s Justice is 14 hours long.

The Deryni Chronicles — (1970-2014) Publisher: For more than 30 years, The Deryni Chronicles have transported readers to a world of secret sorcery and courtly intrigue. Deryni Rising, the first book in the series, launched Katherine Kurtz’s phenomenal, bestselling career. Now, with this special edition, including a new introduction by the author, fans of the series can revel anew in the dawning of an epic…

The Chronicles of the Deryni (1970-1973) (about King Kelson, Morgan, Duncan)

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

The Histories of King Kelson (1984-2000)  (about King Kelson, Morgan, Duncan)

Katherine Kurtz Deryni The Histories of King Kelson: The Bishop's Heir, The King's Justice, Quest for Saint CamberKatherine Kurtz Deryni The Histories of King Kelson: The Bishop's Heir, The King's Justice, Quest for Saint CamberKatherine Kurtz Deryni The Histories of King Kelson: The Bishop's Heir, The King's Justice, Quest for Saint Camber fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

The Legends of Camber of Culdi (1976-1981)

Katherine Kurtz Deryni: The Legends of Camber of Culdi, Saint Camber, Camber the HereticKatherine Kurtz Deryni: The Legends of Camber of Culdi, Saint Camber, Camber the HereticKatherine Kurtz Deryni: The Legends of Camber of Culdi, Saint Camber, Camber the Heretic

The Heirs of Saint Camber (1989-1994)

The Heirs of Saint Camber: The Harrowing of Gwynedd, King Javan's Year, The Bastard PrinceThe Heirs of Saint Camber: The Harrowing of Gwynedd, King Javan's Year, The Bastard PrinceThe Heirs of Saint Camber: The Harrowing of Gwynedd, King Javan's Year, The Bastard Prince

Childe Morgan (2004-2014)

Childe Morgan: In the King's Service, Childe MorganChilde Morgan: In the King's Service, Childe Morgan Katherine Kurtz Derynifantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Related:

Katherine Kurtz Deryni Codex Derynianus


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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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6 comments

  1. I liked the complexity of the issues in these; the Deryni were persecuted by the church, but we also know that at an earlier time they were in control and were corrupt and cruel (if I remember rightly). The issues of fear and ignorance were well handled, and Kelson’s mother is one of the characters who does that.

    • I agree, Marion, and this is one of my favorite things about the series. However, by this time (the fifth book), it is starting to get stale and I’m ready to move on to some new issues.

  2. April /

    I think I read one of the trilogies later on in the series, but it was a long time ago and I don’t recall which one. I think I hesitated from reading the entire series because I wasn’t quite sure where to begin (even though I had jumped in somewhere in the middle) and this was in the olden days when I didn’t have lovely places like FanLit to visit and discuss books with other like-minded individuals. Thank you for pointing out which order they should be read in (at least this portion of them). And I quite like the idea of trying them out on audio. I’ll have to check and see if they are available at my library in audio.

    • Hi April, I know, I was confused about these, too, years ago. It’s one of the reasons I started this site — back then we just didn’t have places to find out. If you read these, let me know what you think.

  3. April /

    I’m in luck, my library has an audio copy of Deryni Rising! I’ve put it on my list.

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