The “Deryni” stories by Katherine Kurtz

They have mental and physical powers beyond the human norm: they can entrance with a glance, create light, heal wounds, and even teleport long distances.

They are mutants. They live among normal humans, distinguished only by their powers, otherwise undistinguishable from any one else, distrusted and even hated by both the general populace and people in authority because of their gifts. Some try to use their gifts for good, others for evil: some just try to exist.

But they're not the X-Men and they're not superheroes: they're the Deryni, a fantasy race and the subject of several books and short stories by author Katherine Kurtz.

Katherine Kurtz is a fantasy writer best known for her Deryni stories, a series of fantasy novels and short stories set in a divergent Europe, where a mutant off-shoot of humanity known as the Deryni have evolved. These Deryni possess the capacity for a number of psychic and supernatural gifts, which some have used for their own gain to the detriment of the race as a whole. Among those psychic gifts is a talent for trance induction and psychic control, usually accomplished through an act that very easily can be seen as a hypnotic induction: this should come as little surprise, as Katherine is an Ericksonian-trained hypnotist.

The Deryni live in a fantasy realm similar to medieval Europe, complete with warring kingdoms, political strife, religious fervor and power struggles within their own kind. They are hunted by the political authorities, anathematized and hunted by the Church and hated by the people they live among. It should be noted that because of the actions of a small number of Deryni, much of the animosity is justified, but the larger majority of the Deryni now bear the full brunt of that animosity and most live in secret as a result. But behind the scenes the Deryni work to protect their people and advance their status, or their own status, as the case might be. These differing groups also work at cross-purposes; some are so obscured that their real purpose is difficult to determine.

Commentary: As mentioned before, the Deryni have a multitude of psychic powers, the most prevalent (and the most used by good and bad) is their telepathic abilities to induce a trance, manipulate memories and compel the truth. There are scenes of each in almost every book. When the very identity of a Deryni is cause for death in certain circumstances, it is justifiable when the heroes of the book make use of.

The world of the Deryni cover 15 novels (14 in five trilogies (the last book of the last trilogy is unfinished) and one stand-alone novel) and several short stories.

The novel series, chronological order:

To start the series, begin with the first series published, the Chronicles of the Deryni. These was the first books plotted and published, plus they have been recently revised and re-published. They are written more to introduce readers to the Deryni and their world, so they are the most approachable by the general public.

Recommendation: Highly recommended. Katherine knows here stuff in more ways here in these books, and it shows.

Resources:

Trivia:

  • For the 1979 movie "Star Trek", the producers used a rule in the Screen Extras Guild contract that allowed for large crowd scenes to be filled with non-guild members. For the scene where the crew of the Enterprise watches the destruction of the Klingon ships, the producers made it known that fans of the series could be used: numerous fans applied and were selected, one of which was Katherine Kurtz.
  • Katherine was a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism: as Countess Bevan Frasier of Sterling, she was Queen Consort of the Western Kingdom and was the first Seneschal of the SCA, essentially the head of the organization.

One Response to “The “Deryni” stories by Katherine Kurtz”

  • HypnoFan says:

    Thanks for reminding me of these!  It's been enough years since I read them that it's probably time to come back for a re-read.  These are among the rare stories that I like for the story and the hypnosis/MC is just a bonus.  They're really well done.

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