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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