Camber of Culdi was originally published in , 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 Kelsons time. And here readers come face-to-face with this Deryni Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths. And here readers come face-to-face with this Deryni legend. These very human-like people living along side the population, normal in every way except in their extraordinary mental powers which are rumored to be magic.
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Inside, the only daughter of the Earl of Culdi sat huddled over the manorial accounts beside a crackling hearth, wrapped in a fur-lined mantle against the chill of the deserted great hall, a brindle wolfhound asleep at her feet.
Torches guttered on the wall behind her, though it was not yet mid-afternoon, besmirching the stone walls with soot. Smoke mingled with the scent of mutton roasting in the nearby kitchens, and a rushlight cast a yellow glow across the table where she worked.
It was with some relief that she finally marked the last entry with her cipher and laid down her quill. Is all in order? The wolfhound raised his great head to look at the bailiff, then went back to sleep. She wondered what Cathan would say when he got the letter. For that matter, she wondered how her other brother, Joram, would react when the news reached him. She wondered whether Imre would be in one of his difficult moods.
Joram, on the other hand, was not so bound by the cautious duty which ruled his elder brother. An avowed priest of the militant Order of Saint Michael, Joram was apt to explode in one of the grandiloquent tirades for which the Michaelines were so justly famous, when he heard the news. The Michaelines were a fighting as well as a teaching order.
More than once, their intervention in secular affairs had touched off incidents best forgotten by their more contemplative brethren. She consoled herself with the probability that Joram would not receive the news until he got home for Michaelmas two days hence, then stood and stretched and fished for a missing slipper in the rushes with one stockinged toe, bidding the hound remain in the hall.
Perhaps, by Michaelmas, the situation would have resolved itself — though Evaine doubted it. Joram would be home, of course, bringing her beloved Rhys with him; but Cathan and his wife and sons must remain in Valoret with the Court. The young king was demanding, and no more than on the time and attention of his favorites, like Cathan. A squire came and bent his knee to her, and she bantered with him briefly before handing over the missive he was to deliver to her brother.
She and Camber had been translating the classic sagas of Pargan Howiccan, the Deryni lyric poet, and this afternoon Camber had promised to go over a particularly difficult passage with her.
She marvelled again at the many facets of the man who was her father, fond memories accompanying her up the spiral stair. In his youth, he had been preparing for the clergy and had earned impressive academic credentials at the new university in Grecotha, under some of the greatest minds of the century. There would have been no limit to his rise in the Church. But when plague took two elder brothers and left him heir to the MacRorie lands and name — and he not yet under his final vows — he had found himself quite rudely plucked from the religious life by his father and thrust into the secular world — and found he liked it.
The next quarter-century was spent mostly in the royal service. But that was past. Now in his late fifties, Camber had retired three years ago, on the death of King Blaine, to his beloved Caerrorie, birthplace of himself and his five children. It was not the principal seat of the Culdi earls; that was reserved to the great fortress tower of Cor Culdi, on the Kierney border, which Camber still visited several times a year to preside over the feudal court.
If confronted, he would have vigorously denied that he favored any one of his children above the others, for he loved all of them fiercely; but Evaine unquestionably occupied a special place in his life and his heart — Evaine, youngest of his living children and the last to remain at home.
Evaine accepted this facet of her father as she accepted all the others, without consciously stopping to analyze it — and without needing to. Camber was seated behind a curved hunt table, the leather surface littered with rolls of parchment and ink-stained quills and other accoutrements of the academic mind. Her cousin, James Drummond, was with him, and both of them stopped speaking as she entered the room.
Cousin James looked decidedly angry, though he tried to conceal it. I can come back later. In fact, stay and share Michaelmas with us, if you can. With raised eyebrows, Evaine turned to face her father, leaning thoughtfully against the closed door. James looks to me for guidance, now that his father is dead. Evaine watched curiously as her father took the tray and bade the servant go. Then, cupping a goblet of mulled wine between her palms, she gazed across at him.
Despite the fire and the tapestried walls, it was chill in the old room. What is it? Did Jamie tell you about the murder in the village last night? He did not look up. Maybe it was a necessary barbarism in the early days," Evaine mused. But you know how much Rannulf was disliked, even among our own people. Why, I remember that Cathan practically had to evict him bodily from Caerrorie one day, when you were still at Court.
If gentle Cathan would do that, I can imagine how boorish the man must have been. He stood and leaned his arm against the mantelpiece, his thumb tracing the wood graining on the goblet in his hand. Some of the villagers think — mind you, they think — that it may have been the work of the Willimites.
But no one really knows, or can supply any names. Yes, I suppose Rannulf would have been a likely target. Did you know that? He was nearly excommunicated last year, until he bought off his local bishop. The Willimites may have decided that the time had come to take matters into their own hands. Saint Willim was a martyr from Deryni ill-use, you know. Only, be a little prudent with Joram.
She located the scroll she was looking for, but before she could turn away her eye was caught by a small, pale golden stone lying beside one of the inkwells. She picked it up. Is it a gem? The mountain folk in Kierney call it shiral. It comes out of the river that way, already polished. It glittered, slightly translucent, strangely compelling.
She passed it to her father without a word as he set aside his wine goblet. I happened to have it in my hand one night while I said my evening devotions, and it — Well, watch. His breathing slowed, the handsome face relaxed — and then the stone began to glow faintly.
Camber brought his eyes back to focus and extended his hands toward Evaine, still in trance, the stone still glowing. He cupped it between his hands for a mere heartbeat, then held it out to her with a shake of his head.
The stone did nothing for several seconds as she explored its several avenues of approach; then it began to glow. With a sigh, Evaine returned to the world, held the stone closer as the light was extinguished. Excerpted from Camber of Culdi by Katherine Kurtz. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Camber of Culdi (Legends of Camber Series #1)
Inside, the only daughter of the Earl of Culdi sat huddled over the manorial accounts beside a crackling hearth, wrapped in a fur-lined mantle against the chill of the deserted great hall, a brindle wolfhound asleep at her feet. Torches guttered on the wall behind her, though it was not yet mid-afternoon, besmirching the stone walls with soot. Smoke mingled with the scent of mutton roasting in the nearby kitchens, and a rushlight cast a yellow glow across the table where she worked. It was with some relief that she finally marked the last entry with her cipher and laid down her quill. Is all in order? The wolfhound raised his great head to look at the bailiff, then went back to sleep.
The Legends of Camber of Culdi Series
Plot introduction[ edit ] The novel is set in the land of Gwynedd, one of the fictional Eleven Kingdoms. Gwynedd itself is a medieval kingdom similar to the British Isles of the 9th century, with a powerful Holy Church based on the Roman Catholic Church , and a feudal government ruled by a hereditary monarchy. The population of Gwynedd includes both humans and Deryni , a race of people with inherent psychic and magical abilities. The novel takes place in the early ninth century, beginning ten years after the conclusion of Saint Camber. The plot of the novel centers on the desperate efforts of the Deryni to protect their futures from a rising tide of human anger and discrimination.
Camber of Culdi