Katherine Kurtz

Katherine Kurtz is one of the critically acclaimed American author, who is famous for writing modern and high fantasy, historical fantasy, and alternate history novels. She is particularly famous for writing the Deryni universe book series as well as for co-authoring the Adepy series books. Author Kurtz has been an active member of the Sorcerers Guild and the Swordsmen writers’ associations, as well as the Creative Anachronism Society. For several years, she used to reside in an Irish castle, but now she lives in Virginia, The United States. Author Kurtz began her writing career in the year 1970 with the publication of her debut book titled Deryni Rising. This book marked the beginning of her highly successful Deryni series. Her first book was very influential for being among the first fantasy books which was written in more of a historical fantasy mode than the legend or mythology mode. This was opposite to the common style of writing high fantasy books such as the ones written by J.R. Tolkien. Kari Sperring from the Strange Horizons has called author Kurtz as the first writer to have tried to write historical fantasy novels based in a secondary world. She has noted Kurtz’s close attention on the importance that faith had in the pre-modern societies of the Western regions. Author Kurtz is also praised for portraying magic as a ritual and formal practice as opposite to the informal and picaresque way magic was shown in the other fantasy book of her time.

Author Kurtz was born on October 18, 1944, in Coral Gables, Florida, United States. She also spent most of her time growing up at the same place. Kurtz completed her graduation from the Miami University with a BS in the field of Chemistry. Author Kurtz is married to Scott MacMillan, with whom she got hooked in the year 1983. The couple has a son. Until the year 2007, Kurtz used to reside in Ireland along with her family. Then, she moved to the U.S., and made Virginia her home. The popular Deryni series written by her is a historical fantasy book series. The plots of this series are set in Gwynedd’s medieval kingdom. This kingdom is depicted as being populated by the humans as well as the Deryni, which is race comprising of psychics having magical powers. Kurtz has also shown that the relationship between the two races keeps on becoming tenuous every now and then, and this tends to affect the primary characters depicted in the series. After being launched in 1970, the series still going great. It is divided into 5 smaller series, each comprising of 3 to 4 books. The medieval kingdom in Gwynedd resembles British Isles from the 12th century. It consists of a Holy Church, just like that of the Roman Catholics. There is also a feudal government in the kingdom, which is ruled by the hereditary monarchy. The Deryni race is shown to possess inherent abilities filled with magic. They have been persecuted and shunned for many centuries. Kurtz has filled the plots with military, ecclesiastical, and political conflicts, which often take place on grand scales. And none of the races are shown to be inherently good or evil. Both the races have antagonists and protagonists, which tend to come out in their colors at different points in the series. In addition to the novels, the series is also comprised of short stories. The first 4 trilogies are set between the 10th and 12th centuries, while the last one shows the events prior to the start of the 1st trilogy. A standalone novel, called King Kelson’s Bride, is also a part of the series and is set after the end of the 3rd trilogy.

One of the earliest books published in the series is entitled ‘Deryni Checkmate’. The Del Rey publishers released it in 1987. Author Kurtz has described the main characters in this book as Kelson Haldane, Archbishop Loris, and Alaric Morgan. The story opens by showing that Kelson Haldane is forced to reveal his secret powers being a Deryni for claiming the Gwynedd’s throne. This puts him at odds against the other powerful clerics because they see the Deryni as evil agents. A man named Archbishop Loris is dedicated to eradicate the whole of the Deryni race from Gwynedd. He launches a ruthless campaign to persecute them and targets the proudest among all of them, who the most trusted advisor and friend of Kelson Haldane, named Alaric Morgan. Being a Duke, Morgan fights to keep his reputation and his life. When one of the rogue Deryni decides to use his power as a deadly weapon to destroy the human race, the Deryni race is put at a great risk. Due to this, an outright war seems a certainty. As the factions of the kingdom begin to battle against each other, young Haldane feels that he must find his inner strength to prevent the falling apart of his kingdom.

Another popular novel that Kurtz wrote in this series is titled ‘High Deryni’. The Ballantine Books released it in 1976. At the beginning of the story of this book, author Kurtz has shown that Kelson Haldane becomes successful in claiming his birthright of sitting on the Gwynedd throne at a very young age. Because of this, a Deryni begins ruling the realm for the first time after many centuries. His extraordinary abilities and magical powers make him even more effective to rule. But, the ‘Eleven Kingdom’ priesthood is known to hold sway for many generations on the throne. They consider the Deryni as heretics and witches. The Deryni race was driven underground by them and lost the kingdom’s control. And when Kelson sits on the throne, the priesthood does not intend to support him either. They do not fear even if it incites a civil war. On the other hand, a non-Deryni leader rises to gain prominence with the support of the Holy Church. He divides the people into different sections based on race. Now, Kelson Haldane realizes that in order to bring the conflict to an end, he must battle against his enemies in a final grand scale war. But, he also fears that the enemies might make use of their magic, which could result in a great destruction in the kingdom. Therefore, he looks to find a comprising solution so that he need fight the war and also become successful in bringing the situation under control.

Books in order of publication by series:

Chronicles Of Deryni Books

Deryni Rising(1970) 
Deryni Checkmate(1972) 
High Deryni(1973) 

Camber Of Culdi Books

Camber of Culdi(1976) 
Saint Camber(1978) 
Camber the Heretic(1981) 

King Kelson Books

The Bishop’s Heir(1984) 
The King’s Justice(1985) 
The Quest for Saint Camber(1986) 
King Kelson’s Bride(1997) 

Heirs Of Saint Camber Books

The Harrowing of Gwynedd(1989) 
King Javan’s Year(1992) 
The Bastard Prince(1994) 

Adept Books

The Adept(1991) 
The Lodge of the Lynx(1992) 
The Templar Treasure(1993) 
Dagger Magic(1995) 
Death of an Adept(1996) 

Knights Of The Blood Books

Knights of the Blood(1993) 
At Sword’s Point(1994) 

Knights Templar Books

The Temple and the Stone(1998) 
The Temple and the Crown(2001) 

Knights Templar Collections

Tales of the Knights Templar(1995) 
On Crusade: More Tales of the Knights Templar(1998) 

Childe Morgan Trilogy Books

In the King’s Service(2003) 
The Childe Morgan(2006) 
The King’s Deryni(2014) 

Standalone Novels

Lammas Night(1983) 
The Legacy of Lehr(1986) 
Two Crowns for America(1996) 
St. Patrick’s Gargoyle(2001) 

Short Story Collections

The Deryni Archives(1986) 
Deryni Tales(2002) 


Crusade of Fire: Mystical Tales of the Knights Templar(2002)

Non-Fiction Books

Deryni Magic: A Grimoire(1990) 
Codex Derynianus(1997) 


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