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Literature / Deryni

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A fantasy series, by Katherine Kurtz, about medieval power politics in a world where there is a race of psychic humans: the Deryni. The first installment in the series was published in 1970, making it a relatively early example of modern fantasy, and one which is not modelled on Tolkien.

Most of the stories take place in Gwynedd (pronounced "GWI-neth"), intended to mirror Britain, including clear fantasy counterparts to Scotland and Wales. In some ways, however, Gwynedd feels closer to Germany or Poland, since it is in central Europe, sharing a border with Torenth, a realm which is the counterpart of Russia with aspects of Hungary (such as the vineyards of Arjenol and Komnénë). Gwynedd and Torenth have a history of conflict that spans centuries.

The Deryni (pronounced "dâr-IN-ee" The word is both singular and plural, both noun and adjective.) are all empathic, and mildly telepathic. Sufficiently powerful Deryni can perform full mind control, telekinesis, and some Ritual Magic. They can't teleport freely, but they can construct portals, and teleport from a portal to any other they know well - a fairly unusual restriction in fantasy. Extensive and/or repeated use of the powers in a short timeframe is also physically exhausting. While the simpler psychic powers can be developed without special training, the ritual magic has to be formally taught. Since the Deryni have been persecuted for centuries, they've forgotten much about their powers, particularly the ritual magic and Healing. Though the Deryni are treated by the characters as a separate race, patterns of inheritance suggest they're more like redheads, and there is intermarriage between Deryni and ordinary humans. Deryni have never been as numerous as the ordinary humans with which they live, and the persecution has further reduced their numbers.

The church in Gwynedd, and many of the surrounding kingdoms, is very closely based on medieval Catholicism (minus a Pope equivalent), with liturgical services in Latin and using the real world's Bible. Torenth is depicted with an Eastern Orthodox style Christianity, complete with services in Greek, churches with icons, and metropolitans (as opposed to bishops) headed by a patriarch. Very rarely are other religions mentioned, although Judaism exists (a bishop refers to Jewish religious practices on one occasion), and a few minor characters are Muslims and pagans.

The majority of the protagonists are Deryni, and many of the villains are senior churchmen, but some of the Deryni are bishops, some of them are villains, and some of the bishops are good. The power struggles are largely political, with no side having a monopoly on virtue. The overarching challenge of the books is that of building a just and stable social order for humans and Deryni despite their differences, their historical baggage and their capacity for evil.

The books were mostly published as a sequence of trilogies. In publication order (dates in parentheses), they are:

  • The Deryni Chronicles
    • Deryni Rising (1970)
    • Deryni Checkmate (1972)
    • High Deryni (1973)

As this trilogy starts, the Deryni in Gwynedd have been persecuted by the church for two centuries, unfortunately for the new king, whose mother is Deryni (and suffers from internalized guilt and self-loathing because of this fact). Matters are further complicated by threats from a rival royal house of highly-trained Deryni from Torenth who use their arcane powers in an attempt to reconquer their neighbours.

The first trilogy includes some forms of magic (specifically summoning nasty creatures) which have never been seen since. This in a sense justified since persecution of Deryni is still ongoing in some areas and openly advocated by some highly-placed people, laymen and clergy. Also, it's Deryni villains past the Moral Event Horizon who do most of this sort of thing (Charissa in the coronation duel and Rhydon at the behest of Wencit of Torenth while torturing a captive).

  • The Legends of Camber
    • Camber of Culdi (1976)
    • Saint Camber (1978)
    • Camber the Heretic (1981)

This was a prequel series set over two centuries before the first trilogy, providing the Backstory. As the first book begins, Gwynedd has been ruled by Deryni tyrants from Torenth for 80 years, producing widespread anti-Deryni feeling.

  • The Histories of King Kelson
    • The Bishop's Heir (1984)
    • The King's Justice (1985)
    • The Quest for Saint Camber (1986)

In the first two books, the archbishop deposed at the end of the first trilogy escapes from his prison and joins a rebellion in the formerly independent kingdom of Meara. In the third, Kelson gets his knightly accolade and leads a quest for relics and information about Camber of Culdi.

  • The Heirs of Saint Camber
    • The Harrowing of Gwynedd (1989)
    • King Javan's Year (1992)
    • The Bastard Prince (1994)

This prequel trilogy follows on directly from Camber the Heretic, without any break.

  • King Kelson's Bride (2000) - in which he finally gets married for more than a few seconds. Kelson also helps the heir to Torenth (another 14 year old boy) defeat an attempted coup d'etat and releases him from his oath of fealty, forging a new alliance of equals after centuries of rivalry. The victory is not complete however, for Evil Uncle Teymuraz escapes. Kelson and his courtiers also continue the work of reestablishing Deryni heritage; Duncan consecrates a chapel dedicated to Saint Camber using magic with an archbishop at each elbow, and Kelson enlists assistance in founding a school for training Deryni to use their powers.

  • The Childe Morgan trilogy
    • In the King's Service (2003)
    • Childe Morgan (2006)
    • The King's Deryni (2014)

This trilogy begins about three decades before Deryni Rising. The focus is largely on the Backstory of Duke Alaric Morgan (who is born at the end of In the King's Service) and his cousin Duncan McLain, as well as their immediate ancestors, but readers also get to see more of Kelson's father King Brion who is murdered in the opening of Deryni Rising, as well as a younger Prince Nigel.

In addition, there are several volumes of supplementary material:

  • Deryni Archives (1986) includes short stories by Kurtz that provide glimpses of the major characters' lives outside the novels, including Rhys Thuryn's discovery of his Healing ability, the ordination of Deryni Denis Arilan, and Derry's entering the service of Duke Alaric Morgan.
  • Deryni Magic (1990) contains explanations of how the magic works and how the Deryni trait is inherited, as well as a short story describing life in a Healers' school.
  • Deryni Tales (2002) is a volume of fan fiction, with one story from Kurtz herself involving the disappearance of renegade mage Lewys ap Norfal.
  • Codex Derynianus (1998) has genealogies, maps, and minibiographies of the many major and minor characters; it is purportedly written by a "Brother Theophilus" much as the real-world Croyland Chronicle was partly if not entirely written at Croyland Abbey over the course of several centuries.

  • The Witches supplement from the Mayfair Games' Role Aids series of books had a chapter detailing Deryni witches for use with Dungeons & Dragons.
  • Grey Ghost Games published a Tabletop Roleplaying Game called The Deryni Adventure Game using the Fudge rules.

There is an official website, discussion forums on The Worlds of Katherine Kurtz, and extensive genealogies of the characters are also available. The author participates in an Internet Relay Chat or IRC (the server is on, and the channel is #Deryni_Destination); Ms. Kurtz often makes an appearance on Sunday evenings, somewhere between 5:00 and 6:00 pm Eastern Time (USA).

This series contains examples of:

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  • After-Action Healing Drama: Late in Deryni Rising, Morgan is injured while fighting a traditional sword duel as King's Champion, defending Kelson's right to be crowned King of Gwynedd. While Kelson personally fights an arcane duel against Charissa to resolve the issue, Alaric asks Duncan to help him Heal himself. It's only the second time Morgan has ever done it, and he's lost some blood, while Duncan has never even tried to Heal before and doesn't know if he can do it at all.
  • Alliterative Family: In King Kelson's Bride, Savile Saint-Pol, Baron Kishknock, is married to Princess Sivorn (sister of Létald, Hort of Orsal, and widow of Prince Richard Haldane, Duke of Carthmoor) and their children: Savilla, Sivney, Siany, and Sorley. This must be something between the couple, for Sivorn's daughters by Prince Richard are named Richelle and Araxie.
  • Altar Diplomacy: As a series of books set in countries run by monarchies in a feudalistic society, this recurs frequently. Among the many examples:
    • The last independent Prince of Meara negotiated a marriage between his eldest daughter and the Haldane king of Gwynedd, in hopes that his principality would be protected from rivals. Others among his nobility (including his wife) valued Meara's independence more than any hoped-for security, and decades of intermittent rebellion followed. Kelson attempted to solve this problem by his "marrying Meara" with disastrous results; he later arranged two other marriages with descendants of the old Mearan royal line with better success.
    • Kelson is also said to have arranged a pair of marriages between members of his family and those of the Torenthi royal family. The Codex notes that Liam-Lajos and his sister marry a couple of Kelson's near relatives. This seems to be part of his long-term plan to resolve the long-standing conflict between Gwynedd and Torenth.
    • King Donal Haldane himself twice married princesses from neighbouring kingdoms, and he arranged the marriage of Alyce de Corwyn with Kenneth Morgan. Kenneth was loyal to Donal and "a safe pair of hands" to protect the wealthy and strategically-placed Duchy of Corwyn. Alyce herself knew and understood the king would decide her choice of husband, especially after deaths in the ducal family line left her the only heir. That said, the marriage did become a love match.
  • Altar the Speed: Duncan McLain and Maryse MacArdry fell in love in April 1107 and planned to ask their parents' permission to marry at the end of the summer. A McLain man killed Maryse's eldest brother, and the clan chiefs decided to separate their clans to avoid a full-on blood feud. The night before Caulay MacArdry was to leave Culdi, Duncan and Maryse secretly wed in the castle's chapel, then consummated their union in the stable loft.
  • Ambadassador: Alaric Morgan is one of these offscreen as Deryni Rising begins: The reason he's absent from that ill-fated hunting trip is that Wencit of Torenth has been trying to annex Cardosa, a key Gwyneddian city that guards a major pass through the Rheljan Mountains between Torenth and Gwynedd. King Brion tells his son Kelson that Wencit has already broken two treaties in his efforts to get the city, and "Morgan is keeping an eye on it." After Kelson summons Morgan back to the capital because of Brion's last order, Wencit takes advantage of his absence and the valley's uneven run-off patterns to take Cardosa before Kelson can send relief forces, and he's in residence there early in High Deryni.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Sometimes an Arranged Marriage has unhappy consequences:
    • Disturbingly, on the part of the heroes - in The Bishop's Heir, the rebel princess Sidana is kidnapped (along with one of her brothers), held prisoner for weeks, then finally approached and told she must marry King Kelson in order to negate the rebellion. While he tells her that he wants her to agree "willingly", it's made clear to the reader that he will apply Mind Rape if necessary to get the job done. As she is killed by her brother seconds after saying her vows, the further moral implications don't come up.
    • In In the King's Service, this is alluded to in the recollections of Lady Jessamy MacAthan. After her father, a notorious Deryni named Lewys ap Norfal, disappeared while performing forbidden magic, the Camberian Council insisted the then-eleven year old girl marry one of their number to keep her potential power under control. It was only the insistence of then-Crown Princess Dulchesse (backed by her threat to invoke her father-in-law's royal authority) that kept Lord Sief MacAthan from consummating the marriage after "but a year's grace" (when she would have been all of twelve). Jessamy's feelings for her husband never rose above "resigned acceptance", and this may be one reason why she agreed to commit adultery with King Donal to produce a Deryni child intended to safeguard the Haldane magic for his son Brion.
  • Answer to Prayers: some advanced Deryni magic workings are couched in explicitly religious terms, with direct calls upon the four Archangels for power and protection, and other religious imagery. In the short story "The Priesting of Arilan", it's strongly implied that Denis Arilan's successful ordination to the priesthood - the first Deryni priest in two hundred years - is due to a direct intervention by God in response to Arilan's prayers.
  • Anyone Can Die: Particularly true of the books in the early in-universe timeline (the Legends of Camber and Heirs of Camber trilogies), but also justified by the tyrannical ruler, the coup d'etat and the subsequent persecution under the regents. Let's face it, death is an occupational hazard for people involved in such things. Also justified by things like the period setting (for the deaths from childbirth, riding accidents, diseases, wars, etc.).
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Due to the nature of the various characters, this is both played straight and subverted numerous times throughout the works.
  • Arranged Marriage: To be expected among the nobility and royalty. However...
    • Perfectly Arranged Marriage - ...many pairings that are politically advantageous are also partially based in affection. Very noticeable in King Kelson's Bride, where of three matches made, all of them are or end up being a love match.
  • Assassin Outclassin': A number of characters evade assassins, with or without help. A partial list:
    • Prince Richard Haldane is saved from Mearan assassins by the Earl of Lendour and his son Lord Ahern de Corwyn (the Earl dies, and his son is injured).
    • King Donal Haldane is saved from assassins by Sir Kenneth Morgan in In the King's Service. Sir Kenneth takes an arrow in the leg.
    • King Brion Haldane is saved from assassin Zachris Pomeroy and his minions by Master Jamyl Arilan, Kenneth Morgan (now Earl of Lendour in right of his wife), Rhydon of Eastmarch, and Sir Sé Trelawney in Childe Morgan.
    • Kelson escapes a deadly Stenrect thanks to Alaric Morgan in Deryni Rising.
    • Morgan is saved from an assassin by a Haldane squire while sailing aboard his ship Rhafallia in Deryni Checkmate. Later in the same book, he's rescued from Warin de Grey and his men by his cousin Duncan.
    • Duncan learns the increased security in Dhassa in High Deryni was put in place after a failed assassination attempt against itinerant bishop Wolfram de Blanet. Cardiel and Arilan fear Loris was behind it, so he could appoint a replacement and get the needed twelfth vote in his reduced Curia.
    • Duncan fights off an assassin (a youth disguised in his Mclain livery) in The Bishop's Heir. He is slashed across the palm of one hand, and the dagger is laced with merasha.
    • Nigel fights off Torenthi assassins with help from his son Conall, his brother-in-law Saer de Traherne, and Haldane household archers and troops in The King's Justice. Nigel also ensures young Liam of Torenth is safe; there is some evidence Liam's death was intended in the attack as well as Nigel's.
    • Kelson and Liam fight off assassins (with help from Brendan Coris and Morgan) while visiting the Hort of Orsal in King Kelson's Bride.
  • Attending Your Own Funeral: In Saint Camber, Camber ends up not only attends, but is one of the assisting celebrants at, his own funeral Mass. He later has to vote on his own sainthood.
  • Avenging the Villain: The Gwynedd-Torenth conflict of two centuries is all about this. A younger son of the Torenthi royal family led the forces that overthrew the Haldanes in 822. Circa eighty years on, Imre (the last Festillic king) is himself overthrown, but his sister escapes and tries to get the throne back the following year. Descendants of Imre and Ariella periodically challenge the restored Haldanes, and the Festillic cadet branch of the family maintains its ties with the rulers of Torenth. In 1105, King Brion defeats and kills that generation's Festillic Pretender; fifteen years later, his daughter assassinates Brion and challenges Kelson at his coronation. Her claim and the vendetta passes to King Wencit of Torenth, who leaves it to Morag, Mahael and Teymuraz...
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: One for Kelson in Deryni Rising and one for Liam-Lajos in King Kelson's Bride.
  • Badass Normal: Most of the human nobility are this, including Kenneth Morgan (Alaric Morgan's father) and Sean Lord Derry.
  • Balancing Death's Books: In order to release Camber's soul from stasis in The Harrowing of Gwynedd, his daughter Evaine voluntarily gives her life in a ritual.
  • Ban on Magic: Type B: The Laws of Ramos, canon laws promulgated at a Church Council held in the city of Ramos, which decree (among other things) that using Deryni powers is heresy and punishable by death.
  • The Bard: A couple of these:
    • Gwydion ap Plenneth, troubadour attached to Duke Alaric Morgan's court, featured in Deryni Checkmate. Aside from providing entertainment, he's quite useful in providing Morgan with public opinion feedback.
    • Kinkellyan, chief bard to the court of Transha, plays a part in the diplomatic welcome Kelson receives in The Bishop's Heir. Kelson's response (joining in a traditional dance) to what Kinkellyan and Dhugal begin seals the deal.
  • Bastard Bastard: The House of Festil had several of these, notably King Imre's son Marek (by his sister Ariella). King Donal Haldane has several illegitimate children (one features in In the King's Service in a planned subversion of this trope: Donal intends to raise the boy as a Deryni protector for his legitimate sons). Prince Conall Haldane has a child born out-of-wedlock and posthumously who is sought out and reconciled with her father's family, perhaps in part as a prevention measure.
  • Beam-O-War: One of the main types of attacks in psychic Duels Arcane.
  • Beardness Protection Program: Early in High Deryni, Morgan and Duncan are depicted sporting beards and wearing the colours of the rebel leader Warin de Grey while gathering intelligence, partly among Morgan's own subjects. When they report to Kelson, the king comments on the fact he's never seen them with beards before, and Duncan notes how effective their disguises have been.
  • Berserk Button: When Imre Festil's spy infiltrates the baptism ceremony of Cinhil Haldane's firstborn son and kills him with poisoned salt, Cinhil becomes enraged and accesses his powers for the first time, killing the man in a spur-of-the-moment arcane duel. Cinhil had been a cloistered priest before his marriage, so using a sacramental ritual to commit the murder of an infant sends him over the edge.
  • Best Served Cold: Charissa was eleven when her father lost his arcane duel with Brion Haldane. She blames Alaric Morgan for his death, considering the Haldane arcane power merely assumed and therefore inferior. Fifteen years later, her plans (blackening Morgan's reputation, attacking those close to him, framing him for murder) are intended to make Morgan suffer as much as reclaim the throne of Gwynedd.
  • Big Bad: A series of these, many of them from Torenth:
    • Charissa, Duchess of Tolán in Deryni Rising. She's got a dark reputation (often referred to as "The Shadowed One"), and she has a traitor to help her in everything from starting gossip to manipulating some of Kelson's courtiers to act against him to implicating Morgan in several murders and attempted murders, all the way up to assassinating King Brion by magic.
    • Wencit of Torenth takes over from Charissa, manipulating the Camberian Council, torturing a captive Derry and magically inducing mind control, convincing another of Kelson's nobles to turn traitor, capturing and executing an entire army...
    • Mahael leads the regency in Torenth after Wencit's defeat. Rumoured to be behind the death of one nephew, as well as an assassination attempt against Nigel (and possibly a second nephew of his!) while Kelson is absent on the Mearan campaign. Attempts a coup d'etat against that second nephew during his enthronement ceremony. Has a spy network which is taken over by his brother...
    • Teymuraz, who after killing his sister-in-law Morag (with his bare hands) uses the mind control she had re-established on Derry and tries to kill his own younger brother.
    • Archbishop Edmund Loris - assisted by his minion Monsignor Gorony and some of his fellow bishops in his intolerance and persecution. He courts and aids secular rebels as well. Abduction, torture, attempted murder, actual judicial murder: this guy will stop at nothing.
  • Big Entrance:
    • Torenthi ambassador al-Rasoul ibn Tarik makes one of these in The Quest for Saint Camber. Aside from the drums and the human attendants, he rides into the hall seemingly wearing a robe made from a cheetah hide, with its head on his shoulder. The robe proves to be a live trained cheetah that rises and dismounts from the horse with her master.
    • Later in The Quest, Kelson and Dhugal were thought to be dead after a mountain trail washed out beneath them. When they return to Gwynedd's capital Rhemuth, they arrive with their entourage via Transfer Portal (which permits instantaneous travel) in the sacristy of the cathedral on Easter Sunday morning no less.
  • Blasé Boast: Alaric Morgan, his thumbs hooked in his swordbelt, addressing Mearan prisoners in The King's Justice:
He's boasting about his Deryni powers (Mind Reading), which most of them only know by fearsome reputation. He's more overt when he proposes this to Kelson, "I assure you, my culling would be far more than just lots," and he reminds Kelson that he (Morgan) already has an infamous reputation.
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: Played with extensively.
    • In some cases, the blinged out weapons are Requisite Royal Regalia. The Haldane Sword has gold, jewels (rubies, because the family colour is red) and a relic encased in the hilt. At his investiture, Liam-Lajos is girded with a diamond-encrusted belt and takes up a gorgeous scimitar described as "more than half the height of a man". "Its scabbard was inlaid with turquoise and lapis lazuli, and studded here and there with pearls and more precious stones: ruby and emerald and sapphire."
    • In keeping with his ready-for-anything wardrobe, Morgan favours plain-but-serviceable weapons in his early years, and he retains some of them, including his stiletto in its wrist-sheath. Later he is shown to have a scabbard set with cairngorms, and he disguises the gold of his sword grip with black leather when going to Dhassa incognito. There's a tension between the demands of his ducal status and more practical considerations.
  • Blood Brothers: Kelson and Dhugal. They retain slight scars on their palms from the blood exchange when they swore their oaths.
  • Blood Magic: Small amounts of blood are frequently used in Naming and in triggering the Haldane potential in heirs, as a form of solemn sealing of documents or to activate pieces of Requisite Royal Regalia.
  • Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: Sidana of Meara at the end of The Bishop's Heir.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Queen Jehana after The Reveal at Kelson's coronation. She fervently believes the Deryni powers are evil, and after her son's coronation she goes into self-imposed exile in a remote convent, fasting to the point of noticeable weight loss. She tries to warn Nigel's wife Meraude of the taint of the Haldane powers, exhorting her sister-in-law to keep Nigel "safe". She entertains hopes of finding a human wife for Kelson to "redeem" him, and she's rude and hostile to Rothana when she thinks the young novice is too close to her son.
  • Braids of Barbarism: This trope is played with:
    • Braids and braided sidelocks are worn by twelfth-century Torenthi men. In addition to signalling an exotic otherness, they are menacing by association (since Torenth has menaced Gwynedd for centuries). In earlier periods (tenth century particularly), such sidelock braids are also worn by noblewomen in Gwynedd (Camber's daughter Evaine is shown wearing them); these are often women descended from the Torenthi conquerors of the ninth century.
    • In eleventh-century Gwynedd, borderers are depicted wearing braids, and this style is considered a fashion cue for barbarism (along with the tartans/tweeds) by "lowlanders". When Kelson adopts the braid and Dhugal joins him at court, he seems to take on some of the "barbaric" power, much as he openly uses his "forbidden" Deryni powers. Notably, the male Servants of Saint Camber, a quasi-religious order devoted to a famous mage and a throwback to the tenth century, wear the braid and call it the g'dula. It also marks the contrast between Kelson and Conall (who retains the short-cropped style of his father's generation). Conall's younger brothers and other young men of Kelson's court actually adopt the braid themselves as a tribute to their young sovereign and his popular foster brother.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Derry, first in High Deryni, after being captured by Bran Coris' men and handed over to Wencit of Torenth, who uses powerful sorcery and a pair of rings to control Derry's mind. Derry helps kidnap a child (injuring someone in the process), and when Morgan first tries to deal with him afterwards, Derry goes from blank and fearful innocence to literally choking Morgan. Years later (in King Kelson's Bride), Wencit's sister reestablishes the control and uses it to observe what Derry sees; later she is murdered by her brother-in-law Teymuraz, and Derry is forced to do evil things again, notably stabbing Mátyás on command.
  • Brainwash Residue: Derry suffers from this, referring to nightmares he had after his captivity and torture at the hands of Wencit of Torenth. He reluctantly admits the nightmares returned years later in anticipation of Kelson's trip to Torenth for Liam-Lajos's investiture in King Kelson's Bride. This foreshadows Morag's reasserting control over his mind, control which is taken and used by Teymuraz.
  • Break Them by Talking:
    • Kelson's speech to Sicard MacArdry at their final confrontation in The King's Justice, when Kelson tries to get Sicard to surrender. He reminds Sicard of the crimes he and his forces have committed, and he informs the rebel leader that his other son and heir is dead. When the effort fails, Kelson uses a bow and arrow to kill Sicard.
    • Edmund Loris is apt to indulge in this, using lengthy and vitriolic diatribes on his target's failings. Two notable instances are his efforts to make Henry Istelyn cooperate with Judhael's illegal enthronement as a bishop in The Bishop's Heir and while physically torturing Duncan McLain in The King's Justice.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Imre and his sister Ariella, in Camber of Culdi. She later gives birth to Imre's son Marek.

  • Candlelit Ritual: The series has a positive example, as most formal Deryni rituals use candles at the four cardinal directions to invoke the four guardian angels.
  • Can't Refuse the Call Anymore: In The Quest for Saint Camber, Kelson and Dhugal are swept away in a mudslide and washed into an underground cave system behind a waterfall. They follow the cavernous tunnels looking for an escape route and are forced to break into the tombs of the Servants of Saint Camber (who have been in hiding for two centuries due to the anti-Deryni persecutions) to escape. To avoid death sentences for despoiling the Servants' graves, Kelson must undergo a ritual trial called cruaidh-dheuchainn; he's sent naked into an underground chapel that has chemical fumes used to induce visions, and he must stay there overnight and report whether or not Camber visits him. After this, he's ready to return to his capital and face the task of taking his throne back from his cousin Conall.
  • Capital Letters Are Magic: Used frequently to distinguish magically-enhanced processes from analogous ordinary ones (healing vs. Healing, veil vs. Veil). Also used in particular phrases coined to describe magical objects and processes, such as Mind Seeing, Truth Reading, Truth Saying, Transfer Portal.
  • Cartwright Curse: Kelson: his romantic aspirations are doomed to disaster for three books. To his credit, he is quite shaken by these events.
  • The Cavalry: Kelson and Morgan leading their forces to confront the main Mearan host and rescue Duncan whilst he's being burned at the stake.
  • Celestial Paragons and Archangels: Gabriel, Raphael, Michael, and Uriel are summoned by name in major rituals. They are identified with compass points or the Four Winds as well as the Four Elements (Earth, Air, Fire and Water).
    • Raphael is associated with Air, the east, and the colour gold. When Deryni conjure a ritual circle, they start and end with his position. He's also associated with healing, so he gets particular mention when Rhys and Evaine dedicate their newborn Healer son Tieg in the short story "Healer's Song".
    • Gabriel is associated with Water, the west and the colour blue. His patron is the Virgin Mary, because he delivered the news that she would bear the Son of God. Kelson takes Gabriel's position in Liam's killijálay in King Kelson's Bride.
    • Michael is associated with Fire, the south and the colour red. He is the patron and namesake of the Michaelines, a militant religious order that functioned like a cross between the Jesuits and the Templars. Kelson summons Michael by name to destroy Sidana's ring in King Kelson's Bride.
    • Uriel is associated with Earth, the north, and the colour green. When King Cinhil dies during a ritual, Uriel is seen escorting his soul from the circle to join the souls of his deceased wife and son.
  • The Champion: Morgan is actually named "King's Champion" by Kelson on his coronation day. Morgan has effectively been the Deryni Champion of the Haldanes most of his life; his parents dedicated him to the job before he was born at the end of In The King's Service.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • In Deryni Rising, when Morgan, Duncan and Kelson go to Brion's tomb to retrieve the Eye of Rom, Kelson wants to leave something behind, and Duncan produces a gilded silver crucifix, which Kelson places in his father's hand. The next morning, the guards on duty outside the tomb are found to have had their throats slit, Brion's corpse has been taken from his tomb and stripped of its robes and jewels, and the nobleman commanding the guard is found dead as if by enforced suicide with the crucifix in his hand, implicating Duncan in the night's events.
    • Also in Deryni Rising, the flask Brion sees Colin of Fianna drinking from during the hunt at the start of the book. Brion jocularly asks for a share (thinking it's from Colin's famous wine-producing region), and Colin obliges. It turns out Charissa drugged the wine and gave the flask to Colin in hopes Brion would drink it. The flask turns up years later when Bishop Arilan produces it and reveals he took it from Colin on the day of the hunt, giving Kelson, Nigel, Morgan Duncan and Dhugal a major shock.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • In what amounts to a cameo role, Bishop Henry Istelyn first appears as a previously-unnamed itinerant bishop who delivers a notice of excommunication to Kelson early in High Deryni. In the sequel The Bishop's Heir (set two years later), the loyal Istelyn is elected to the episcopal See of Meara and his fate becomes a major part of the book's plot.
    • Revan (the boy saved by Cathan at the beginning of Camber of Culdi) disappears from the narrative until more than halfway through Camber the Heretic (twelve years later in-story), when he is recruited by Evaine to take a leading role in a subplot that will last through the end of that book and two more.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Kelson Haldane, Javan Haldane from the prequels, Liam-Lajos in King Kelson's Bride. Naturally involves a Coming of Age Story for all of them. Since they are leaders, and other people want their jobs and their lives, Growing Up Sucks.
  • Choke Holds: Dhugal reacts badly to the psychic energies unleashed at Duncan's consecration as bishop. Morgan uses a choke hold on Dhugal to get him away from the cathedral via Transfer Portal and avoid unwanted attention from potentially hostile clerics when Dhugal's shields prove impossible for Morgan to breach.
  • Circling Vultures: These are the first clue to the fate of Duke Jared's army in High Deryni. It isn't pretty.
  • The Clan: The Haldanes (complete with black hair and grey eyes) and the House of Furstán (including the Furstán-Festil cadet branch).
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Derry is tortured by Wencit and Rhydon in High Deryni. After Duncan is captured at Dorna, Loris and Gorony keep him drugged (the side effects are themselves very unpleasant) and torture him for hours, including multiple whippings and pulling out all his nails.
  • Color-Coded Eyes: The Haldanes and Alaric Morgan have grey eyes, and all are dangerous and effective warriors. Morgan and Nigel Haldane in particular serve as Mentors, and Kelson begins to advise Dhugal later on. Morgan's eyes not only associate him with the royal house he serves, they also point to his innocence (wardrobe notwithstanding).
  • Color-Coded Patrician: Haldane rulers (Brion, Kelson, wear red. Prince Nigel Haldane, Duke of Carthmoor (Brion's brother and Kelson's uncle) wears Haldane crimson when acting in an official Regent capacity, for other court functions he wears royal blue. (In a much earlier unpublished draft of Deryni Rising, the Haldanes all wore blue.)
  • Color-Coded Wizardry: Deryni with green or silver auras are able to Heal. The Haldanes have red auras. Since the society is feudal, Deryni nobility tend to have their aura colours included in their coats of arms (Haldane red, Morgan's Corwyn green).
  • Combat by Champion:
    • Late in Deryni Rising, Kelson responds to Charissa's challenge of his right to rule Gwyenedd by offering this form of combat. (She brought armed troops into the cathedral where Kelson's coronation was underway.) His Champion, Duke Alaric Morgan, defeats hers, the traitorous Lord Ian Howell, but she and her wounded champion contrive to injure Morgan afterwards and she issues a second direct challenge to Kelson.
    • The ending of High Deryni involves Wencit of Torenth demanding a four-on-four duel arcane in the sight of the combined armies of Gwynedd and Torenth. Things do not go as Wencit planned.
    • Years later in The King's Justice, Sicard MacArdry asks for single combat with Kelson before their forces to end the war with the Mearans, and Kelson refuses.
  • Comes Great Responsibility:
    Dhugal, I may have access to more and other kinds of power than most men, but I must answer for the use of that power to the same God and king that you do—or that any of the priests and bishops do—and to my own conscience as well, which can be a far sterner taskmaster. Because I've been given far greater abilities, I've had to contend with far greater responsibilities. I didn't ask for them, but I have them. All I can do is serve the best way I know how.
    • Explicitly invoked in the Healer's Adsum Domine, a Gabrielite hymn. Rhys Thuryn sings it in the short story "Healer's Song" and Duncan McLain sings it during the dedication of Camber's chapel in King Kelson's Bride. The English translation of the first verse makes the point:
    Here am I, Lord:
    Thou hast granted me the grace to Heal men's bodies.
    Here am I, Lord:
    Thou hast blessed me with the Sight to See men's souls.
    Here am I, Lord:
    Thou hast given me the might to bend the will of others.
    O Lord, grant strength and wisdom to wield all these gifts only as Thy will wouldst have me serve...
  • Coming of Age Story: A number of major characters are depicted from childhood into adulthood.
    • Cinhil Haldane's surviving sons come of age in the Heirs of Camber trilogy.
    • Kelson's tale is unfolded over two trilogies The Deryni Chronicles (which covers the hectic first eight months of his reign) and The Histories of King Kelson (which draws from the next three years).
    • The Childe Morgan books cover the early lives of a number of characters, with the first volume discussing Donal Haldane's children as well as the Corwyn heirs (Alyce, Vera, Marie, Ahern). The second and third books add the next generation of Corwyn's ducal house.
    • Liam-Lajos postpones taking on his royal status as King of Torenth until after he makes one last court visit to Coroth as a squire.
  • Cool Crown: A number of these, including:
    • The Haldanes have the State Crown of Gwynedd, bejeweled and with intertwined gold leaves and crosses, worn at coronations and state occasions. Even Kelson wears this when duty calls for it, though he prefers a "simpler circlet of gold" like the hammered gold circlet he wears when addressing the bishops at Valoret in The Quest for Saint Camber.
    • Also in The Quest for Saint Camber, Kelson wears "the oldest and plainest of [his] official crowns: a band of hammered gold two fingers wide, chased with a design of Celtic interlace and set with small, round cabochon rubies in some of the interstices."
    • Caitrin Quinnell, soi-disant Queen of Meara, has a regal crown of gold set with sapphires and rubies. This one is notably heavy; it creases Caitrin's brow (the marks are visible when she takes it off), Ithel flinches under its weight when Caitrin briefly sets it on his head, and Kelson complains of its weight after wearing it at the surrender ceremony in Laas.
    • Mátyás brings a crown from Torenth's treasury when he comes to Rhemuth to escort Liam-Lajos back for his investiture: "a handsome circlet of beaten gold, nearly the width of a man's three fingers, set round with smoky balas rubies, baroque pearls, and chunky rough-polished emeralds the size of a man's thumbnail." Liam receives a newer traditional Torenthi crown at the ceremony: "a golden diadem studded with rubies and emeralds and pearls, with great jeweled pendants hanging just short of his shoulders at either side.".
    • Late in The King's Deryni, Brion Haldane wears a leather band studded with cabochon garnets (a "practical diadem for travel") on a military campaign.
  • Corrupt Church: Played both ways. The Custodes Fidei commit murder, and are generally outside the law, while Archbishop Hubert gains that title by drugging his king, tampering with the royal will, and conniving at other murders. Two centuries on, Archbishop Loris commits or commands abduction, torture, judicial murder and treason. However, even during the eras in the series when Gwynedd's church is at its worst, there are priests who are wonderful human or Deryni beings and credits to their callings, and when the church is at its best, in Camber of Culdi and King Kelson's Bride, it is a powerful force for Good.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: In Deryni Rising, a guard is murdered and his body is found with a gryphon (alluding to Morgan's coat of arms) drawn in his blood. Lord Ian Howell killed the man and drew the gryphon to frame Morgan for the crime as one more distraction for Morgan.
  • Counterspell: An explicit spell and counterspell appear in Kelson's coronation duel against Charissa in Deryni Rising. Charissa begins:
    "Drathon tall,
    Power come.
    Conquer all,
    Senses numb."
    The shape of a dragon begins to coalesce from mist, and Kelson interrupts with the counter
    "Drathon kill,
    Power fade.
    Senses still,
    Conquer shade!"
  • The Coup: The (backstory) takeover of Gwynedd by Festil I is referred to in-universe as "The Coup". The restoration of the Haldane line in Camber of Culdi also qualifies, with a relatively small group of conspirators plotting the takeover.
  • Coup de Grâce:
    • After Derry overcomes two men who tried to drug him in Fathane, he finds that one of them is injured but alive and near returning to consciousness. He slits the man's throat before setting the scene to resemble a murderous quarrel, and he vomits in an alley a short distance away.
    • After the traitor Lord Ian Howell loses his single combat to Alaric Morgan in Deryni Rising, Charissa administers one of these to him. Before she does, she tells him that she read his thoughts and thus knew he planned to defeat her later.
    • In a combined secular and ecclesiastical meeting discussing the plight of the captive Bishop Istelyn, Bishop Arilan says, "Prayers will not deliver him from the agony Loris intends for him. If I could give him the coup and save him Loris' spite, I would." Archbishop Bradene and Bishop Hugh de Berry look startled at his words, but Dhugal recalls having to give such a death blow to a clansman who had fallen from a cliff.
  • Courtroom Episode: A partial list:
    • In the short story "Trial", Morgan visits a court conducted by Ralf Tolliver, Bishop of Corwyn. Morgan helps discover the real culprits in a rape and murder case.
    • Morgan is tried for treason and heresy early in Deryni Rising, and Kelson gets to use Unconventional Courtroom Tactics to get him off the hook.
    • After a drumhead court-martial, Kelson has Ithel of Meara and Brice, Baron of Trurill, hanged.
    • On his entrance into Laas, Kelson collaborates with Archbishop Cardiel and Bishop Duncan McLain in a very quick trial of Loris and Gorony. Cardiel surrenders them to secular judgement, and Kelson has them hanged right there in the hall.
    • An ecclesiastical hearing is held to decide whether Duncan and Maryse MacArdry were legitimately married (which would mean their son Dhugal is Duncan's legitimate heir to the Duchy of Cassan). Bishop Denis Arilan gets to show off his scholarship with an unanswerable argument likening the Presence light and the Host to the Jews' Ark of the covenant: in other words, God Himself witnessed their vows.
  • Court Mage: A variant of this recurs in the Deryni works. Since the Haldane kings need help (including a magical ritual) to access their powers, one or more other Deryni serve this function. It starts with Camber and his family discovering the Haldane Potential and helping Cinhil Haldane and his sons in the Legends of Camber and Heirs of Camber trilogies. Generations later, Donal Haldane uses the services of Deryni (including Alyce de Corwyn Morgan) and actually imprints instructions for his son Brion's ritual in the minds of Alyce and her son Alaric. The adult Alaric Morgan and Duncan McLain work together in this unofficial position for Brion's son Kelson.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Deposed Archbishop Edmund Loris has Bishop Henry Istelyn hanged, drawn, and quartered in The Bishop's Heir. Some time beforehand he has the man's ring finger cut off (complete with his amethyst bishop's ring) and sent to Kelson in a show of defiance, and afterwards, he sends Istelyn's head.
  • Crystal Ball: Large shiral crystals are used this way in the Deryni works. Alaric Morgan has a fist-sized one in a golden gryphon holder in Deryni Checkmate, and the Camberian Council have a larger one suspended from the ceiling of their meeting chamber.
  • Cue the Sun: Kelson invokes this in his coronation duel with Charissa, calling the sun to appear to help him kill one of her monsters, then calling on the skies to darken until he finished her. Afterward, the sun reappears to cast the same pool of multicoloured light on the floor (through a stained glass window), and people in the congregation murmur, thinking it's still dangerous. Kelson moves to stand in it before summoning Morgan and Duncan to join him there.


  • Daddy's Girl:
    • Alaric Morgan's daughter Briony (his firstborn child). In King Kelson's Bride, this "bright-haired girl-child of about five" is described as running to meet her father when the royal party arrives at Coroth "dodging among the forest of moving horses' legs with reckless abandon" on her way to greet him with a flurry of kisses. Later in the book, while awaiting the start of the dedication ceremony for the Camber chapel, Morgan is shown gently playing with one of her curls.
    • Nigel Haldane's daughter Eirian (his fourth child). When he accompanies Kelson, Morgan and Dhugal to the royal family's private garden at Rhemuth late in King Kelson's Bride, father and daughter have this exchange:
      Eirian: Papa, have you come to play with me? I've missed you so!
      Nigel (indulgently): What, since breakfast?
    • Charissa's relationship with her father Hogan seems to be the sole positive personal relationship in her life.
  • The Dark Arts: For the reactionary persecutors, all Deryni powers are Dark Arts. Partly from the fears of the power imbalance between ordinary humans and Deryni, and partly from the threat Deryni can pose to the political, economic and spiritual power of ordinary humans. Of course, some of the things Deryni can do are evil, and some Deryni did evil things with their powers and/or felt themselves superior for having them. The human reaction to such tyranny is justified in specific cases. Unfortunately, this was easily elided into a hatred of all Deryni people.
  • Darkest Hour: Given the press of events (many of them bad news), these crop up fairly frequently. A partial list:
    • Soon after King Brion's death, as he's troubled by vile rumours and worried about the Shadowed One, and having just been acquitted of treason and heresy, Alaric Morgan stands contemplating Brion's new tomb in Deryni Rising:
      ...That the good and gentle Brion should end this way was not fitting. Life had been too short; the good done well, but not enough done, for lack of time. Why? Why had it been necessary for him to end this way?
      You were father and brother to me, Morgan thought dully. If only I had been at your side that day, I might have spared you this indignity, this useless gasping out of your life's breath! Now, with you gone...
    • Morgan again, late in Deryni Checkmate. He's barely escaped from men who wanted to burn him at the stake, his people are in revolt against him, the Church Militant has excommunicated him and his cousin (who's radiating his own misery over his threatened priestly vocation), his king and country are facing imminent invasion, his beloved sister Bronwyn and her fiancé have died from a badly set love charm. He withdraws to his mother's memorial chapel and overhears his bard weeping and composing a lament in honour of Bronwyn.
    • Duncan has one that begins in Dhassa, once he learns his father's army is missing; he stares out the window racked by guilt over his duty to his father (Duncan is now the elder Duke Jared's only heir) and troubled by conflict between his priestly vocation ("at once held and not held") and his Deryni powers. Then one of his father's pages arrives on a foundering horse and collapses, and Morgan Reads the boy's memories to learn of Jared's betrayal at the hands of Bran Coris. After that, Duncan is at the forefront of Kelson's army when they witness the executions of a hundred Cassanis (including Duke Jared) on Wencit's orders. Duncan doesn't entirely snap out of his funk until Richenda asks him to hear her confession two or three days later.
    • In High Deryni, when Derry realizes the extent of Wencit's control over his mind, he tries to kill himself to avoid betraying Morgan and Kelson. His failure (caused by Wencit's implanted psychic compulsion) reduces him to weeping bitterly and stabbing the dirt floor of his cell with the dagger he cannot use on himself.
    • Morgan has another one in The Quest for Saint Camber. Kelson and Dhugal are thought to be dead, Nigel is wasting away before his eyes, and Royal Brat Conall looks set to be the next king. As Morgan meditiates in preparation for a ritual, he has a vision of himself in the Haldanes' royal crypt looking down on Nigel's body on his funeral bier.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Morgan again, though he plays up his fearsome reputation to some extent (in part by dressing in black) as a means of protecting himself.
  • Dashed Plot Line: While some gaps are only a few months or less, years-long gaps happen between some works in the Deryni cycle:
    • In the Legends of Camber trilogy, the third volume (Camber the Heretic) takes place a decade after the second (Saint Camber).
    • In the Heirs of Saint Camber trilogy, there's nearly three years between the first and second volumes and nearly six between the second and the third.
    • There's two years between In The King's Service and Childe Morgan.
    • About three years elapse between the end of The Quest for Saint Camber and the start of King Kelson's Bride.
  • Dead Guy on Display:
    • From High Deryni: By order of Wencit of Torenth, most of Duke Jared's army are impaled, minus their heads and left for Kelson's forces to find. Arilan examines the bodies and points out that the wounds don"t match the tears in the clothing and there's little blood on the ground, as if the Torenthis displayed battle casualties.The next day the heads are displayed on pikes before the Torenthi encampment.
    • From King Kelson's Bride: After their failed coup d'etat, Mahael and Braynyg are impaled before the royal burial ground. King Liam-Lajos orders the bodies be left on display three days and nights as required by Torenthi law.
  • Decadent Court: Gwynedd under Imre and the regency after Cinhil, Torenth especially under Wencit and the regency after him. Let's just say you wouldn't want to be a prince named Alroy.
  • Deadly Hug: In Camber Of Culdi, King Imre promises Cathan MacRorie reconciliation after their disagreements (including over the fifty human hostages), and the embrace to seal the deal is the moment Imre chooses to act by stabbing Cathan in the back.
  • Deadpan Snarker: In The Bishop's Heir, Morgan and Kelson are watching a figure that appears to be two people riding a single horse. It proves to be Dhugal carrying Sidana away from the Mearans in Ratharkin. Morgan remarks that "to be riding double at that speed and on a horse that spent, the Devil himself must be chasing them."
  • Death by Despair: When Caulay MacArdry learns of Dhugal's capture, he clutches at his heart and dies within seconds. The news was the last straw for Caulay's already failing health.
  • Death by Falling Over: Rhys Thuryn. He was drugged and off balance at the time, but it was still pretty anti-climactic.
  • Decapitation Presentation:
    • Duke Jared McLain orders the execution of his architect Rimmell for his part in the deaths of his son Kevin and his future daughter-in-law Lady Bronwyn Morgan, and he tells his executioner, "I would see evidence of your work before you leave the garden, Fergus." Fergus shortly returns from the terrace holding Rimmell's head by the hair.
    • Loris's messenger does this with Bishop Henry Istelyn's head at Kelson's court in The Bishop's Heir.
  • Defiant to the End: Llewell of Meara insults Kelson to his face after murdering his own sister at her wedding ceremony. He glares at Kelson from the scaffold just before his subsequent execution.
  • Dehumanization: The Deryni are often spoken of this way by their human foes.
    • In Deryni Checkmate, Archbishop Loris asks Warin de Grey, "You would kill Morgan without chance to repent his sins?" Warin replies, "I doubt there is hope in the Hereafter for the likes of him, Excellency. The Deryni were the spawn of Satan from the Creation. I do not think salvation is within their grasp." Warin later tells Morgan much the same thing to his face, admitting that Morgan will be granted time to confess his sins before he is killed against Warin's "better judgement": "Personally, I feel that such is a waste of time for your kind; but Archbishop Loris disagrees."
    • Years later, in The King's Justice, Loris tells Duncan McLain, "I do have a care for your soul though—if Deryni even have souls, of course."
  • Demonization: This is a long-term problem for the Deryni in Gwynedd. Some churchmen and lay people believe that Deryni (the people), their powers and their use are satanic, and they say so openly in some cases (see above). And no, it doesn't really matter the use to which those powers are put.
  • Destined Bystander: Keep an eye on the extras, especially if they have rank:
    • Archbishop Loris has a relatively minor role in Deryni Rising; aside from leading the troops who arrest Morgan for treason and heresy, he's generally shown in tandem with Archbishop Corrigan and has little to do aside from official functions (sitting in Corrigan's support in the Regency Council, aiding in Kelson's coronation). In the next four books, he's a major antagonist.
    • Prince Conall Haldane spends a good deal of time at his father Nigel's side in The Chronicles of the Deryni, and has little to do other than help out, in part because he's only about fourteen at the time. Look out when he grows older though...
    • There are other characters who are either not explicitly mentioned as being present at Kelson's coronation in the text of Deryni Rising, or who are mentioned only in passing. They make bigger impressions later in the series, either because the action shifts to their homes (like Duke Jared McLain and Caulay MacArdry, Earl of Transha), or because other characters are absent or dead (such as Nigel's wife Meraude, who fills Jehana's place at court, and to some extent her brother, Saer de Traherne).
  • Devil's Advocate: In The Quest for Saint Camber, Bishop Wolfram de Blanet acts as devil's advocate at the hearing establishing the legitimacy of Duncan McLain's brief marriage to Maryse MacArdry. The Church hierarchy would be happy for Duncan to have a legitimate heir so that he could resign his secular titles and lands, leaving him free to concentrate on his spiritual duties, but they also wish to avoid seeming to bend the rules for one of their own. Using an adversarial proceeding helps them avoid the appearance of favouritism.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Kelson falls deeply in love with Rothana of Nur Hallaj, a Deryni princess who is a novice at a convent called St. Brigid's (which is sacked by Ithel of Meara's forces in The King's Justice). They make tentative plans to wed (she writes to Archbishop Cardiel to have her temporary vows set aside) before he leaves on his quest for Camber relics, but when he and Dhugal are thought to be dead, she is persuaded to marry Kelson's cousin Conall instead. Not only does Kelson return to find her married to Conall and carrying his son, Conall's actions leave Rothana somewhat tainted by association. Though Kelson is quite willing to marry her after Conall's execution, she refuses him and plays matchmaker for Kelson and his distant cousin Araxie Haldane.
  • Disguise Tropes: For Camber, Replicant Snatching elides into Becoming the Mask. Morgan and Duncan pull off Dressing as the Enemy, with help from the Beardness Protection Program. Brion travels to see Alyce in squire's livery. Derry also travels in disguise on his reconnaissance missions for Morgan.
  • Distinctive Appearances: Whether it's ethnic/cultural clothing, or secular/religous kit, character wardrobes do a great deal of work. Bodily attributes like hair colour, eye colour, and the colours of Deryni auras also factor into the mix.
  • Distressed Dude: Boy howdy, does this come up a lot in the books:
    • After the young Barrett de Laney surrenders himself in exchange for twenty-three Deryni children, he's rescued by another Deryni (one of the teachers at a forbidden Deryni scola) who dies of arrow wounds he sustained in the rescue. The short story "Bethane" gives one version of these events, and Barrett himself recounts the story to Jehana in King Kelson's Bride.
    • In In the King's Service, rebellious Mearans try to assassinate Prince Richard Haldane, the King Donal's younger half-brother. The plot is unsuccessful, but Earl Keryell is slain and his eldest son and heir, Lord Ahern de Corwyn, is seriously wounded in the attack. Three years later (but also in the same book), assassins strike at King Donal directly, and Sir Kenneth Morgan (future father of Duke Alaric Morgan) is wounded defending him.
    • Late in Childe Morgan, a young King Brion Haldane is the target of an assassination plot led by rogue Deryni Zachris Pomeroy (a friend and foster brother to the Festillic Pretender Hogan Furstán-Festil mac Tadhg a.k.a. "the Marluk"). Pomeroy and his minions are defeated and killed by the combined efforts of Sir Kenneth Morgan, Master Jamyl Arilan (a squire to Brion and elder brother of future bishop Denis Arilan), Lord Rhydon of Eastmarch (who is wounded in the face) and Sir Sé Trelawney.
    • Alaric Morgan is abducted by Warin de Grey's men and has to be rescued by Duncan McLain in Deryni Checkmate.
    • Derry is retrieved from Wencit during a tense parley in High Deryni (though Wencit seems to have permitted this knowing he had control of Derry's mind).
    • Dhugal is taken captive by allies of the Mearan Pretender (who happens to be his great-aunt by marriage); he contrives his own escape and takes the Pretender's daughter Sidana hostage, and one of her brothers is taken by Kelson's forces while he's riding to the rescue.
    • Nigel (and possibly young Liam as well) is the target of Torenthi assassins in The King's Justice. He gets warnings from a couple of sources (one of them Jehana), and is able to fight off the assassins with the help of Conall and the Haldane household archers.
    • Duncan is rescued from Loris' clutches by Kelson, Morgan, Dhugal and their army in The King's Justice.
    • Dhugal keeps Kelson alive after they both get caught in a landslide and are washed over a waterfall (Kelson has a head injury) in The Quest for Saint Camber. In the same mudslide, Conall is saved from going over the side by his maternal uncle Saer de Traherne.
    • Later in The Quest, Nigel is attacked by his son Conall and is left in a psychic lock (a magic-induced coma state) for a fortnight until Morgan, Duncan and Dhugal learn what to look for and how to fix it.
    • Kelson and Liam are attacked by assassins disguised as servants en route to the Hort of Orsal's palace in King Kelson's Bride. First, Morgan's stepson Brendan Coris tackles one of the assassins, giving them some breathing space, then Morgan saves Liam from falling off a nearby precipice.
    • Later in King Kelson's Bride, Liam is attacked by Mahael and Braynyng during a vulnerable moment in his killijálay, whereupon Mátyás and Kelson attack them, giving Liam enough time to finish the ritual and assume the power of Furstán.
  • Divine Right of Kings: King Kelson Haldane very specifically distinguishes his "Haldane" powers from those of ordinary Deryni and associates them with his right to rule. He's quite explicit about this when testifying before Archbishop Cardiel in the matter of Duncan McLain's marriage.
  • Do You Trust Me?: In High Deryni, after Denis Arilan reveals his Deryni aura to his brother bishop Thomas Cardiel, Cardiel recalls looking for him in a chapel (and failing to find him) a few nights earlier and asks Arilan where he went. Arilan tells his friend he may not answer, and Cardiel probes, asking if there is some organized hierarchy of mages with authority over him. Arilan asks for patience and when Cardiel asks again, he replies, "Trust me, Thomas? I swear I'll not betray that trust."
  • Don't Call Me "Sir": Partially invoked by Kelson: In private moments with close kin and certain courtiers, Kelson will allow them to address him by his first name, though Morgan and Duncan will often call him "my prince" even after he is crowned king. On meeting Dhugal again after four years, Kelson specifically says, "You didn't use my title when we were boys, Dhugal, and I wish you wouldn't in future, at least in private." Since he's king, he sets the rules, and the others follow his lead.
  • Doomed by Canon: Many characters in the Camber-era books, especially since the appendices include death dates for historical characters. This is also why the author has said she doesn't want to write a book covering the events of 1025 - too many characters are listed as dying around this time.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: When Cinhil dies during a ritual setting his sons' Haldane potential, Archangel Uriel escorts his soul from the circle, reuniting him with his long dead wife and first son.
  • Downer Ending: Camber the Heretic and the Heirs trilogy, except for The Bastard Prince.
  • Dream Sequence:
    • Nigel has a powerful dream during the ritual Kelson uses to partially trigger the Haldane potential in The King's Justice. Nigel experiences the change as himself being washed down a raging cataract and landing on a beach (which may reflect his feelings of helplessness and unease regarding his place in the succession), followed by the reassuring presence of Camber of Culdi.
    • Kelson has a drug-induced dream about marrying and mating with Rothana during his cruaidh-dheuchainn (trial ritual) in The Quest for Saint Camber.
    • Kelson has recurring anxiety-induced dreams about Mahael, Teymuraz and Araxie in King Kelson's Bride. Their faces are vague because he doesn't really know what any of them look like (this is before he met Liam's uncles for the first time, and he hasn't seen Araxie since they were children).
  • Dress-Coded for Your Convenience: The general adherence to real-world counterparts in dress marks out the various factions and nations. From the Gwyneddian point of view, the Eastern styles of dress of the Torenthis clearly evoke exoticism and mystery. Women and Moorish officers veil their faces; the male Torenthi courtiers wear rich brocades trimmed with fur, flat-topped caps with jeweled pendants, and braided sidelocks. In the west, the lowlanders feel much the same about the borderers' tweeds, tartans, and border braids; Kelson played up this association by retaining border garb on his return to Rhemuth in The Quest for Saint Camber, "letting the rough, slightly barbaric splendor of his mountain leathers and tweeds speak for the very uncivilized anger that still smoldered in his heart."
  • Dual Wielding: Alaric Morgan habitually wields a sword in his right hand and a stiletto in his left. He carries the stiletto on a wrist sheath hidden by his sleeve. In Deryni Checkmate, Duncan is depicted using both a sword and a dagger when he rescues Morgan from Warin and his men at St. Torin's shrine.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • The House of Haldane has a royal crypt below Saint George's Cathedral in Rhemuth. Various characters are seen paying their respects and leaving floral tributes. Kelson has Sidana buried there, despite the extreme brevity of their marriage.
    • The House of Furstán has the Field of Kings, "a vast walled necropolis" located near Torenthály. It includes the Nikolaseum, which is dedicated to Prince Nikola, who saved his elder brother King Arkady II's life at the Battle of Killingford in the eleventh century. Nikola's effigy is slightly larger than life-sized and is accompanied by a statue of Arkady grieving beside it. Also in the area is the Hagia Iób, a memorial church that contains the tomb of Furstán himself; Torenthi kings are invested at his sepulchre, which thrums with power.
    • Sir Sé Trelawney visits Marie de Corwyn's grave annually, leaving a floral wreath behind. They were engaged to be married when she was poisoned.
    • Morgan and his sister Bronwyn both visit the tomb of their mother Lady Alyce de Corwyn Morgan in Culdi. The tomb features a beautiful carved effigy of Alyce.
    • The twelfth-century Servants of Saint Camber use a series of connected caves as burial chambers, where they place offerings of food and drink with their dead. The starving Kelson and Dhugal break into the tombs in their effort to escape the underground cave system, and the Servants intend to burn them at the stake for desecrating the graves until they discover their Camber medals.
  • Dying for Symbolism: In Camber of Culdi, Cathan MacRorie, Master of Culdi and Camber's heir, begs his king to release the human hostages taken after a tyrannical Deryni lord is murdered. Cathan is Deryni, but he argues for the common humanity and innocence of the hostages. Later, Cathan is literally stabbed in the back.

  • Earn Your Happy Ending: For those characters who live so long, there's a number of close shaves, lost friends and loved ones, personal injuries (mental and physical), civil and not-so-civil wars, all of which occur over a period of years. To name just a few:
    • Morgan and Duncan at times show signs of PTSD, particularly involving people being burned at the stake or seeing such a stake prepared for an execution.
    • Morgan finds true love, but when he meets her, she's married to someone else a traitor, no less. After he eventually marries her, some of his household officers don't trust her for several years.
    • Duncan is reunited with the son he didn't know he had after losing his father and elder half-brother. His vocation is called into question, even by himself. He is even tortured nearly to death by Loris and Gorony, and afterward bears the scars.
    • Kelson also finds his crown a heavy burden st at times, and he makes two unsuccessful matrimonial forays before finally getting a bride.
    • Barrett de Laney loses his sight (and nearly his life) as a young man, and doesn't find love until he's in his seventies.
    • After making herself and the rest of the cast thoroughly miserable with her hatred and fear of Deryni and their magic and tormenting herself over her own Deryni heritage Jehana finally resolves her conflict and finds peace and a new love in King Kelson's Bride (see Barrett above)
  • Easily-Overheard Conversation: In Camber the Heretic, Rhys and Alister have a conversation after the attack on Tavis. They know that Javan is in the room, but assume he is still asleep. What Javan hears, and discusses later with Tavis, starts Javan and Tavis breaking through the Laser-Guided Amnesia imposed the night Javan's father died (and will, at least in part, lead to Rhys's death).
  • Emergency Impersonation: In Saint Camber, Alister Cullen dies in arcane combat with Ariella. Camber finds his body and takes his identity because King Cinhil trusts Alister above any other Deryni. With the aid of his son Joram, Camber shapechanges to look like Cullen and makes the corpse look like himself so the world will think he is dead; his later efforts to make sense of the scraps of memory left in the corpse endanger the deception and fuel the demands for his sainthood.
  • The Empath: Deryni are naturally empathic, which forces them to learn to cope with emotions (others' as well as their own). While they can use their "shields" to screen out others' emotions and/or conceal their own temporarily, Deryni are generally depicted as well-rounded emotionally, men and women alike.
  • Ensemble Cast: The stories involve royal courts, religious hierarchies, families and councils. The epic sweep demands a big cast.
  • Entitled to Have You: Conall feels this way about Rothana Nur Hallaj, in part because he knows Kelson loves her, and in part because he was born a prince.
  • Epigraph: Quotes from the Bible, the Apocrypha, and other early Christian and Jewish writings appear at above the start of most chapters.
    • Other real-world sources (such as the Roman philosopher-statesman Cicero and the Roman playwright Terence) get quoted this way as well. The chapter in which Jehana is introduced in Deryni Rising has an epigraph adapted from William Congreve's The Mourning Bride (1697): "Heaven has no rage, like love to hatred turned,/ .....Nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorned." That idea is far older (not to say proverbial), as seen in Euripides' play Medea (263): "In all other things a woman is full of fear, incapable of looking on battle or cold steel; but when she is injured in love, no mind is more murderous than hers."
    • A few sources are from within the Deryni universe. The first chapter of Deryni Checkmate has an epigraph from a "St. Veneric" which mentions the fickleness of Gwynedd's weather in March, and chapter fifteen of the same book has this from an unknown Deryni monk: "The humans kill what they do not understand." The final chapter of High Deryni has an epigram from Saint Camber himself: "It is oftimes a bitter lesson, to be a man."
  • Establishing Character Moment: To name only one, there's Duke Alaric Morgan's first appearance in Deryni Rising, when he and Sean Lord Derry ride into Rhemuth for Kelson's coronation:
    • Morgan glances down at his sombre black clothing in contrast to the colourful trappings of the coronation guests. Morgan prefers to dress this way for much of his early adult life.
    • Morgan grieves for Kelson's father Brion, and recalls the harrowing events of the past several days. This is appropriate for Deryni, whose powers are partly psychic and partly empathic, and his reverie functions as an exposition beam between the author and the reader, akin to those used by Deryni in-universe. We also learn of an ambush which Morgan survived largely uninjured, establishing his martial credentials.
    • Morgan comes to using breathing and concentration efforts (part of Deryni training to use their powers) and checks on his injured human aide Derry. Morgan is loyal to his own men and doesn't discriminate against ordinary humans, rather treating them according to their merit.
    • Morgan's ministrations to Derry are rudely interrupted by a whip-wielding giant-sized Connaiti mercenary announcing "His Loftiness" the Supreme of Howicce. Morgan stops Derry from retaliating (noting the giant was accompanied by six more just like him), but cannot resist indulging his sense of humour. When Derry asks, "By all the devils in hell, what is a Supreme of Howicce?" Morgan replies in a penetrating stage whisper that he isn't sure if such a title is "as high as a Quintessence or a Penultimate", but thinks the man is likely "some minor ambassador with delusions of his own importance." At a glare from the last of the giant mercenaries, Morgan puts on an innocent expression, but once the party has proceeded down the street, he discreetly uses his powers to entangle the whip-wielder's whip round his horse's legs, bringing down both man and beast and forcing the Connaiti to cut the whip to rescue his horse. If life for Gwynedd's Deryni is a dangerous game of Grandmother's Footsteps, Morgan is an expert player.
    • At the castle courtyard, Morgan dismounts and looks over the courtiers for faces he knows, thereby introducing them to the reader and establishing his thorough understanding of Gwyneddian politics. After exchanging greetings with a friendly minor lord, he notices people near him reacting to his presence, realizing they know who he is and have heard dreadful rumours about him. He strikes a pose while dusting off his clothes before slowly gazing on the little assembly to play up the menace. Morgan cultivates his dangerous reputation and uses it to protect himself.
  • Everyone's in the Loop: In The Bishop's Heir and The King's Justice, many of the characters make regular efforts to invoke Mind Speech over distances to explain where they are on a military campaign, or to keep the ones on campaign up-to-date on what's happening back home. These efforts are often integral to the plot.
  • The Evil Prince:
    • Prince Festil Furstán of Torenth was a younger son who didn't like being landless, so he gathered other landless younger sons, borrowed some troops from his king and conquered neighbouring Gwynedd in 822. Nearly all the Haldanes, down to the months-old infant Princess Ysabeau, are slaughtered.
    • Then-Prince Wencit Furstán deposed his nephew King Aldred (with the help of Aldred's wife Charissa of Tolán) and took the throne of Furstán for himself.
    • Prince Conall Blaine Cluim Uthyr Haldane is the eldest son of Prince Nigel Haldane and terminally jealous of his cousin King Kelson and Kelson's foster brother Dhugal, Earl of Transha. He takes secret instruction in using the Haldane powers, which are only supposed to wielded by the reigning monarch. He puts merasha in Dhugal's flask while traveling on a quest for Camber's relics. He seduces the woman Kelson wants to marry. He attacks his father and leaves him in an arcane coma. He ultimately challenges his cousin to a duel arcane at his treason trial. By the way, his second name was also that of a Festillic king; coincidence? Maybe not.
    • Mahael and Teymuraz Furstán are this (as well as being evil uncles) to Liam-Lajos in King Kelson's Bride. One or both of them are widely suspected of suspected of disposing of Liam's elder brother Alroy previously, and are thought to be behind an attempt on Nigel's life while Kelson was on campaign in Meara.
  • Evil Uncle: Played straight and averted in the various works:
    • As noted above, Liam-Lajos' uncles Mahael and Teymuraz are definitely this, while his youngest uncle Mátyás is emphatically not.
    • In contrast, the Haldanes have a couple of loyal uncles who serve their brothers and nephews to the best of their considerable abilities: Brion's uncle (Donal's younger half-brother and Araxie's father) Prince Richard Haldane, and Kelson's uncle (Brion's younger brother) Prince Nigel Haldane. Both men hold the royal Duchy of Carthmoor in turn and serve as close aides to their kings.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Kelson's adoption of a border braid started as a one-time diplomatic gesture. He retained both the hairstyle and the propensity for diplomacy in his exercise of smart power as a mature king.

    F - G 
  • Family Eye Resemblance: The Haldanes (legitimate and otherwise) are depicted with gray eyes. In cases of illegitmate relatives, the eyes are visible clues toward establish kinship.
  • Fantastic Catholicism: Sans the Vatican and the Papacy, but otherwise...
  • Fantastic Drug:
    • Merasha is a drug that severely disables Deryni, with nausea, dizziness, blackouts, and severely disorienting psychedelic effects on the brain that prevent the drugged person from concentrating (a requirement for the use of Deryni powers). In ordinary humans, it only produces a mild drowsiness. In earlier times, Deryni were exposed to it as part of their training; after the persecutions began, knowledge of it, like so much else, became fragmented and contradictory. It does appear quite frequently in The Deryni Chronicles and The Histories of King Kelson, and arrangements are made to expose Kelson and Dhugal to it in a controlled setting so they can learn to recognize it and mitigate its effects.
    • The climax of High Deryni involves the use of two such drugs, though they are not explicitly named. One is a very slow poison (said to take at least a day to kill) which also prevents Deryni from using their powers, and the other is an "antidote" which slows the initial symptoms of the first but hastens its end result.
  • Fantastic Racism: Prejudice against the Deryni because of fear of their magical powers. Kurtz has said that this was based on medieval anti-Judaism, but many critics think that anti-Deryni prejudice is closer to homophobia because they are an invisible minority, indistinguishable from the rest of the population and present in all religions (including a few depicted as Muslims). Also, people can be Deryni without knowing it or using their powers.
  • Fantastic Religious Weirdness: The very existence of Deryni complicates religious questions.
    • Deryni celebrants of the Sacraments can sense the psychic energies and emotions of participants (especially during key points of the Eucharist and the bestowing of Holy Orders). Does that make them higher than other humans on the Chain of Being? (Queen Richeldis suggests this to Deryni Lady Jessamy MacAthan in In The King's Service.) Were the Deryni persecutions a matter of jealousy as well as fear?
    • Some few Deryni can heal just as Christ is depicted doing in the New Testament. (This may be one reason why Morgan didn't heal the exhausted McLain page boy before all those Christian clerics in High Deryni; he may have expected the clerics would get wrapped up in a debate after witnessing him perform a miracle and forget all about Wencit's impending invasion.) How does that undercut the rationale (such as it is) for persecuting Deryni? Was Christ Deryni?
    • Was Camber really a saint? Perhaps a guardian angel? Did he choose to become a saint or an angel in the afterlife? Did his powers and his arcane knowledge permit him to choose that destiny for himself?
  • Fantasy World Map: The map of the Eleven Kingdoms looks like a rough approximation of Northern Europe. Imagine Ireland and the UK are attached to the continent, so that The English Channel is a broad estuary; Scandinavia is a simple vertical coastline sans Denmark; there's no Italy or Greece or Mediterranean visible. The analogues to modern nations would be something like Cassan/Kierney/Transha/Claibourne = Highland Scotland, Meara = Lowland Scotland, The Connait/Howicce = Ireland, Llannedd = Wales, Gwynedd/Carthmoor/Corwyn = England/The Netherlands/Germany, Bregmagne/Fallon/Fianna = France, Torenth = Hungary/Russia/Belarus, Tralia/The Forcinn = The Levant (Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Jordan), R'Kassi = North Africa (Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, possibly Arabia).
    • Culturally, the regions and their inhabitants as depicted in the text match their real world analogues; R'Kassi horses are famous, as is Fianna wine, while people from the Cassan/Kierney/Transha/Claibourne region wear tartans, speak with broad Scots-like accents, and have a clan system and tanistry (elected leadership within the clan). Also, the linked monarchies of Howicce and Llanedd have separate laws and customs (particularly regarding inheritance) akin to those of Aragon and Castile in the real world. Thus, the map and the books generally reflect an alternative history dynamic (including an alternative geologic history).
  • Feuding Families: The Haldanes vs. the Furstán-Festils, with the latter making repeated efforts over two centuries to gain control of Gwynedd.
  • Fictional Age of Majority: The age of majority is fourteen in Gwynedd. It is an important plot point in Deryni Rising, where Kelson having been born in the afternoon is a plot point; he rules as king as soon as the time of his birth passes, even though his coronation is the next day.
  • Fictional Document:
    • Camber is seen working on an ancient scroll in his research on Orin and his student Jodotha; Camber has a scholarly bent which he indulges in retirement.
    • In the short story "Legacy", Prince Wencit Furstán is reading one of Ariella's letters to her brother and lover Imre; a key paragraph is part of the text of the story.
    • In The King's Justice, Rothana reads some of Orin's poetry aloud to Richenda in the ladies solar. Jehana overhears and enjoys them until she's told the author was Deryni.
    • Jehana later finds a copy of Annales Queroni, an autobiographical treatise on Deryni Healing by the tenth-century Dom Queron Kinevan, in Kelson's arcane library annex. She's reading it when she discovers she isn't alone in the library: Barrett is reading a work by Kitron, and he refers Kitron's Principia Magica, as well as authors Jokal and Sulien.
  • Finger in the Mail: Loris sends Kelson Bishop Henry Istelyn's finger (still wearing his bishop's ring) in a show of defiance. Istelyn's head later follows.
  • Fire-Forged Friends:
    • Mátyás Furstán becomes such a friend with Kelson, Morgan and Dhugal as a result of their success in foiling Mahael's coup d'etat and Teymuraz's attempt to murder Mátyás in King Kelson's Bride. The process may have begun years earlier when Nigel Haldane protected himself and Mátyás' nephew Liam from assassins in The King's Justice.
    • Also in King Kelson's Bride, the existing alliance between the Hort of Orsal and Gwynedd is strengthened, and the formerly tense relations between Tralia (the Orsal's principality) and Torenth moves in this direction. This is in reaction to both an assassination attempt against Kelson and Liam at the Orsal's summer palace of Horthánthy and the need to pool resources against the threat of an escaped Teymuraz. Létald says, "It seems we must all trust one another far more than we had planned or dreamed."
  • First Girl Wins: Reconstructed for Kelson:
    • He first marries Sidana, daughter of the Mearan Pretender and a non-Deryni human, in an effort to resolve the conflict with the Mearan separatists. The effort fails when her brother kills her at the altar.
    • Later, Kelson meets Rothana of nur Hallaj, a Deryni princess who is also a novice at a convent sacked by Mearans. Rothana is the first Deryni woman of his own age he's ever met, and she shares a rape victim's memory with him, which, as Morgan points out afterward, is an intensely intimate experience. Morgan and others suggest to both of them that they would make a suitable couple, and they make plans to wed, but Kelson and Dhugal are washed away in a mudslide and presumed dead. Kelson's cousin Conall plays upon Rothana's sense of duty and her sympathies, persuading her to marry him instead shortly before Kelson and Dhugal return.
    • Although Rothana is free to marry after Conall's execution, she plays Cupid for Kelson and his cousin Araxie Haldane, and we learn that Kelson had met Araxie and played with her when they were children. Thus, Araxie is the First Girl After All.
  • First-Name Basis: In private, Kelson uses either names ("Alaric"/"Morgan" or "Dhugal") or familiar titles (Monsignor Duncan McLain is "Father", Nigel is "Uncle") when addressing these people.
  • Forging the Will: Cinhil's will is tampered with, to allow one faction amongst the regents to seize power. His son, Rhys Michael, secretly alters his will to give legal cover to a move against the evil regents.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: In King Kelson's Bride, Kelson is reminded (by Rothana) that he had not only met his cousin Araxie when they were children, he also played with her and they got along very well with each other. Though their marriage is arranged, Kelson and Araxie decide to use those happy memories to build upon when forging their relationship.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Early in The Bishop's Heir, Bishop Henry Istelyn is enthroned as Bishop of Meara in his new cathedral, which is dedicated to Saint Uriel and All Angels. Istelyn's tenure will be short, for Uriel will be paying him a visit.
    • Also in The Bishop's Heir, Dhugal is found to have very strong shields which no one can account for in his known heritage. Kelson's mental touch is unbearably painful, Morgan's less so, and Duncan's even less. This makes sense later when it's revealed that Duncan is Dhugal's father, which makes Morgan also a blood relative.
    • Early in The Quest for Saint Camber, Rothana asks Kelson to help encourage a love match between his squire (soon-to-be knight) Jatham Kilshane and the Princess Janniver. At the time, Kelson teases her about playing matchmaker, and she will do so again two years later for Kelson himself.
    • The morning after Duncan reveals himself as Deryni by showing his aura while bestowing Dhugal's accolade, Arilan gives him a severe reprimand for doing it without discussing it with him and Cardiel. At one point, he says, "It could be worse, I suppose. You could have done it at the altar, in full pontificals. Now, wouldn't that have been a coup?" A couple of years later, Duncan will do exactly that, consecrating a new altar by extending his aura over it, with an archbishop standing at each elbow, and again while elevating the Host and the Chalice in the celebration of the basilica's new Camber chapel's first Mass.
  • From Bad to Worse: Happens a lot. Morgan lampshades this in Deryni Checkmate after escaping from Warin and Gorony's attempt to burn him at the stake, only to find his sister Bronwyn and Duncan's half-brother Kevin have been killed by magic two days before their wedding was to take place:
    "It's been like a very bad dream, my prince. The past three days have been unlike any I've ever endured, almost as bad as when your father died—perhaps worse in many ways. I keep thinking I'll wake up, that it can't possibly get any worse—but then it does."
  • Fugitive Arc: In Deryni Checkmate, Duncan rescues Morgan from the rebel Warin de Grey and his forces, but during the battle a fire starts that burns down the shrine where Morgan was taken captive. Morgan and Duncan flee, and are soon excommunicated by the Church hierarchy. Kelson ignores the decree of anathema to consult Morgan on war preparations against a coming Torenthi invasion, and Duncan ignores his suspension and the likely excommunication to celebrate a Mass (the funeral mass for his brother and Morgan's sister). In High Deryni, after learning of the schism in the Curia, Morgan and Duncan slip into Dhassa to meet with Cardiel and his faction and get the ban lifted.
  • Functional Magic: Ritual magic and theurgy make several appearances throughout the series. Notable examples include the setting of Wards and the power assumption rituals of the Haldane kings.
  • Gender Bender: While helping her father assimilate Alister Cullen's memories, Evaine must conceal her presence in Cullen's room, so she swiftly takes the shape of a robed man with black hair and a beard. When questioned, "he" calls himself "Brother John" in a clearly masculine voice. It is remarked that taking the shape of the opposite sex and of someone she completely invented (rather than mimicking a real person) are indications of Evaine's high degree of power and skill.
  • Glowing Gem:
    • The gryphon-shaped emerald inlay of Morgan's signet ring glows against the black onyx background when the ring is magically attuned to the Deryni mage holding it. Properly attuned to Duncan in Deryni Rising, it allows him to unlock a secret compartment in the high altar of Saint Hilary's Basilica in Rhemuth.
    • The gems used in the Haldanes' power triggering ritual glow internally when a drop of blood from the next heir(s) comes in contact with the stones. This is true for both the Eye of Rom (a single red ruby mounted as an earring) and the Ring Of Fire (a ring with red garnets set in a cluster).
    • Shiral crystals also glow when a Deryni or someone with a triggerable potential concentrates sufficiently.
  • God Before Dogma: Some human members of the Christian hierarchy claim that Deryni are evil by nature and thereby justify persecuting them, but a schism eventually occurs within the Church when some bishops, led by Cardiel and Arilan, dispute this assertion. Things get complicated when some few Deryni discover they have Healing abilities, since (as Scripture records) Christ Himself healed.
    • A rebel leader who had been attacking mages' estates and tenants (particularly those of a certain Deryni duke) is forced to confront this when he gets a demonstration of Deryni Healing; Cardiel (a human bishop) is there to emphasize the contrast between the religion and the views of some of its self-styled followers.
    • Later, a guilt-stricken and self-hating Deryni (King Kelson's mother, Queen Jehana) has her anti-Deryni religious indoctrination overcome by Deryni clerics Arilan and Father Nivard.
    • It's important to note that the Deryni are true believers, at least in part because of the evidence of experience. They sometimes perform rituals for powerful workings that summon beings taken to be archangels (and specifically named: Raphael, Gabriel, Michael and Uriel). They mostly see coloured light and fleeting impressions of wings, and of course they could be mistaken or rationalizing their experiences, but they do believe. It also helps that their powers are triggered by an altered state of consciousness akin to meditation or prayer. They are to some extent justified in taking this God-over-dogma view.
  • Godly Sidestep: In The Quest For Saint Camber, Kelson converses via Mind Speech with a being who appeared and helped him vanquish his treasonous cousin Conall:
    Are you who I think you are? Kelson dared to ask.
    And who do you think that I am? the being replied.
    I believe you are Saint Camber of Culdi, whom I sought on my quest. You—came to my aid.
    Did I? the being answered. Or am I but a convenient image for the stronger and better part that is within you and, indeed, within all folk who seek the Light, and which can be called up when darkness threatens?
    Kelson blinked. It had to be Saint Camber. Only the irascible Deryni saint would be so evasive and yet speak so primal a truth.
If he won't even cop to his identity, forget about asking him about God/Heaven/Hell/the Meaning of Life/Whatever.
  • Going Native: In King Kelson's Bride, Morag, Mahael, and Teymuraz think that Liam-Lajos may have done this during his four years at Kelson's court in Gwynedd, making him unfit to rule Torenth. They discuss the possibility of passing over Liam in favour of his younger brother Ronal-Rurik.
  • The Good Chancellor: Camber of Culdi is described as having loyally and ably served Imre's predecessors in council, and is depicted as only gradually moving against Imre for the good of the country. Alaric Morgan (King's Champion and Lord General of the Army) and Nigel Haldane (Prince Regent when Kelson is away, be it for war or diplomacy) divide this role in the later books. Mátyás serves the same function for Liam-Lajos in Torenth.
  • Good Is Not Soft:
    • In The King's Justice:
      • After Kelson's forces defeat Sicard MacArdry's Mearan rebels, Kelson denies Sicard's request for single combat, orders his archers to surround Sicard and his men, and calls for a bow:
        "But you—you can't just cut me down like a dog," Sicard said weakly.
        "Indeed?" Kelson said, calmly laying an arrow across the bowstring. "Sicard, I can and shall cut you down precisely like a dog, if I must. For, like a rabid dog, you have ravaged my lands and slain my people. Now, will you and your men surrender, or must I do what I would rather not?"
    Kelson goes on to tell Sicard that his only other son is dead, and when Sicard still refuses to surrender, Kelson puts an arrow through Sicard's eye.
    • After Kelson Truth-Reads Loris and Gorony, he orders his guards not to converse with them or answer any of their questions, saying "I want them to sweat a little, wondering what I have in store for them." A week later in the great hall at Laas, Archbishop Cardiel and Bishop McLain swiftly pronounce Loris and Gorony guilty of the charges against them and surrender them to secular judgement. Kelson immediately orders them hanged right there in the hall.
    • In King Kelson's Bride:
      • Mátyás learns of his brothers' plan to kill Liam at his killijálay and comes up with his own plan: he has one of the four Moving Wards (magical guardians for the ceremony) murdered, making it look like a jealous husband was responsible, so Kelson can take his place.
      • Liam Mind Rips Mahael after the coup d'etat fails, then orders his guards to impale him him and the corpse of a dead co-conspirator outside the family burial ground ("that his ancestors may witness his shame"), with the surviving Teymuraz to bear witness in person. Liam specifies that this be done before the ceremony is over and later commands the bodies be left in place the full three days and nights the law requires.
  • The Good King: Haldane kings are often portrayed as this, particularly Kelson and his father Brion. Berand Haldane was canonized a saint (according to the Codex), and the unfortunate Ifor (murdered with most of his family in the Festillic Invasion) is described as a good king unjustly destroyed.
    • On the other hand Festil I, Festil II and King Blaine of House Festil-Furstán all have the reputation of being strict but fair rulers. Blaine is even honored by having his name used by his Haldane successors.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Plenty of room to play with this, especially given the medieval setting. Rhydon of Eastmarch has a sinister facial scar Face–Heel Turn acquired in a good cause. Duncan proves to have typical nobleman's training scars when he removes his shirt for a Healing demonstration in High Deryni, and he acquires another one later from a cautery iron used to save his life. Kelson and Dhugal have faint scars on the palms of their hands from swearing a blood oath as foster brothers when they were boys.
  • The Grand Hunt:
    • Deryni Rising opens with King Brion Haldane's household on a deer hunt, with a mortified Duke of Claibourne frustrated with his master of hounds (the dogs keep losing the scent). Brion's brother Nigel uses the occasion to instruct his pages in the proper forms of address for the various courtiers.
    • In King Kelson's Bride, Kelson Haldane plays host to the Ramsays (the last descendants of the old Mearan royal line) on a hawking expedition in the days before the Ramsay heir marries one of Kelson's cousins. Nigel and his sons are also along (Nigel is specifically described working a gyrfalcon), and more matrimonial diplomacy is discussed on the hunt's periphery.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Conall becomes envious of Kelson's political and magical power, and he covets Princess Rothana of Nur Hallaj not only because she's a beautiful princess, but also because he knows Kelson loves her.
  • Grin of Audacity: Morgan and Derry exchange wicked grins in Deryni Rising just before Morgan secretly uses his powers to give a Connaiti mercenary his comeuppance.

  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Most notably, Morgan and Duncan come in for a great deal of criticism from the Camberian Council for their mixed parentage. They are frequently denigrated as "rogue half-breeds", and despite showing great promise as mages (including manifesting a Healing talent lost for centuries), they are extended official Counciliar protection only after much acrimonious debate in High Deryni. Even their continued heroism and loyalty does not mitigate the stigma for some elder Deryni High Lords and Ladies. From the human side of things, since there is an absolute taint (socially speaking) from magic, their parentage does not make them any less reviled.
  • Handicapped Badass: Javan Haldane, due to his club foot. Ahern de Corwyn, who appears in In the King's Service trilogy, also becomes this following an injury he sustained defending Prince Richard Haldane.
  • Happily Married: Perhaps to balance out the many difficulties in their lives, many characters live this trope:
    • Rhys and Evaine Thuryn are depicted as an affectionate couple and arcane partners throughout The Legends of Camber trilogy and in the short story "Healer's Song". Their Deryni powers add additional levels to their flirtations and marital bliss.
    • Lady Alyce de Corwyn and Sir Kenneth Morgan in In the King's Service and Childe Morgan, until her untimely death. Despite King Donal's sustained efforts to keep Kenneth occupied with business early in their marriage, Kenneth manages to get back to Alyce so they conceive their son Alaric, and Kenneth tells his king this is the reason for it. While Kenneth lacks Alyce's powers, she nevertheless enters his mind for deep communication with him from time to time.
    • Nigel Haldane and his wife Meraude. In The Quest for Saint Camber, Meraude speaks of being in love with Nigel since she saw him receive his knightly accolade some twenty years previously, and in King Kelson's Bride Nigel says of her, "...once I set eyes on Meraude, there were no other contenders, so far as I was concerned." After Nigel is reconciled to his granddaughter (Conall's illegitimate daughter Conalline Amelia), the two go into Meraude's private apartments, and Jehana describes them thus: "They looked like a pair of newlyweds." Their marriage also follows the Babies Ever After trope; in addition to their three sons and daughter who appear in the The Chronicles of the Deryni and the the Histories of King Kelson trilogy, Meraude tells Jehana she thinks she's pregnant again in King Kelson's Bride. The Codex Derynianus indicates that another daughter is born one year after the events of King Kelson's Bride.
    • Alaric Morgan and Richenda of Marley settle into this after a tense start to their marriage (Richenda is the widow of a traitor, and since she has a son by her first husband, some of Morgan's household don't fully trust her until after she's provided Morgan with a male heir of his own). Like Rhys and Evaine, they become arcane partners (with Richenda filling in the gaps in Morgan's education), and their marital intimacies are also enhanced by their powers. Perhaps because his duties separate them from time to time, Morgan is fairly open about expressing his desire to be with his wife.
    • Jehana describes the "laughing, happy court" of Prince Létald (the Hort of Orsal and Prince of Tralia) and his wife Princess Husniyya (known as Niyya). Theirs most definitely includes a case of Babies Ever After: in addition to Cyric, Rezza Elisabet, Rogan, twins Marcel and Marcelline, Aynbeth, and Oswin, Niyya is expecting another set of twins in King Kelson's Bride. Jehana's mention of them is a bit of a sore point for Kelson thanks to her expressed wish for grandchildren from her only son and his marital misfortunes.
    • Kelson and Araxie aspire to this once they decide to marry, and they are determined to build on the friendship and affection that they had for each other as children. Their Official Kiss is the first hint of their success, and the scene at their nuptial bed (which closes King Kelson's Bride) also bodes well. The Codex Derynianus indicates that they have become the parents of twin daughters and a son after two years of marriage.
  • Healing Hands: Among the many forms of arcane knowledge lost and later rediscovered, although the ability remains rare.
  • Healing Magic Is the Hardest: Deryni Healing is a rare talent - so rare, in fact, that even before the Ban on Magic, Deryni found to be Healers were actively discouraged from taking vows of celibacy. By the 1120s, only four people in the whole nation of Gwynedd are known to be able to do this, and three of them are blood relatives.
  • Hedge Maze: In Deryni Rising, just after Alaric Morgan's arrival from Cardosa, Kelson arranges for his meeting with Morgan to take place in a summerhouse outside a boxwood maze. Nigel conducts him there, and during their conversation: "Morgan suddenly realized it was almost symbolic of the dilemma he now faced: convoluted, enigmatic, with new and unforeseen difficulties around every turn. Except that there was a way out of the boxwood maze."
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Princess Morag of Torenth starts to realize that Gwynedd doesn't have to be Torenth's enemy, but she's murdered by Teymuraz before she has a chance to demonstrate her change of heart.
  • The Heretic: Heresy charges get thrown around a great deal throughout the novels. As part of the backlash against Deryni after the Festillic Interregnum, The Church taught that the powers were evil and condemned the Deryni to civil liabilities (forbidding them to own land, for example) and ecclesiastical ones (the death penalty for becoming a priest). In this turbulent period, Camber of Culdi went from being acclaimed a saint to condemned as a heretic. While some of the civil disabilities were eventually reduced (those who inherited land/titles could do so at age 25 instead of at age 14, and they were required to pay heavy fines), using Deryni magic was still grounds for a heresy conviction.
  • Hermetic Magic: Arises in the larger-scale rituals more than in the off-the-cuff uses of magic. It includes:
    • References to the Four Alchemical Elements (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water), both in formulae (assigning them as attributes of the Archangels) and in practice (candles/incense, holy water, sometimes contact with earth).
    • Use of diagrams. Circles and other symbols drawn with light or in the earth appear in many contexts, from Naming Rituals to staring patterns to creating a temporary Transfer Portal.
    • References to larger esoteric forces. Rituals commonly call upon divine/angelic powers and invoke a kinship between the practitioners and Supreme Goodness (often called "the Light").
  • Heroic Ambidexterity: Alaric Morgan is noted as training himself to fight with either hand, and often wields a sword in his right hand and a stiletto in his left. Morgan also advocates such training to his king Brion Haldane, when the king had an expressed preference for having all his pages and squires train to be right-handed. Morgan sensibly observed that fighters lacking training with their left hands would be defenseless if their left hands or arms became injured.
  • Hero on Hiatus: Happens frequently in the Deryni works, effectively swapping the members of the heroic ensemble. Notably:
    • Rhys Thuryn is drugged by Tavis O'Neill and Prince Javan Haldane in Camber the Heretic. They question Rhys about Javan's fuzzy memories of his first empowerment ritual, then set Rhys free to join Camber/Alister against the Regents. Rhys's merasha hangover contributes to his accidental death in the cathedral.
    • Kelson passed out after a portion of his empowerment ritual in Deryni Rising. He briefly came to long enough to deal with a disturbance and protect Morgan from scrutiny, then passed out again.
    • Derry is severely injured while guarding Kelson's quarters in Deryni Rising; he was already at a disadvantage from an injury to his hand sustained defending Morgan from assassins days earlier. Morgan, distressed at the possibility of losing him, goes to his side and attempts to Heal Derry—with success!
    • Morgan after being drugged and abducted in Deryni Checkmate. He was partially functional for a bit, but Duncan came to his rescue, led the way to hide out at the ruins of Saint Neot's, and put Morgan to bed so he could sleep off the drug's effects while Duncan searched for a Transfer Portal.
    • Dhugal is beaten and concussed when he's taken captive by the Mearans in The Bishop's Heir. He's held, together with Bishop Henry Istelyn, for several days.
    • Morgan again when he collapses from overextending himself to Call on campaign in The King's Justice. Kelson insists on sharing the energy drain and puts Morgan to sleep for the night, and they alternate sending Calls each night after that.
    • Nigel passes out from his partial empowerment ritual in The King's Justice. He comes to for a time, but Richenda has him drink some wine and he's sent to bed to sleep off the aftereffects.
    • Duncan after being tortured in The King's Justice. He stays with the combined Haldane-Corwyn-Cassan-Transha armies, riding in a litter for a few days.
    • Kelson from injuries sustained in a fall from a cliff trail in The Quest for Saint Camber. Dhugal, who fell with him and also sustained some damage, gives him medical care before they try to find their way back to civilization, but Kelson isn't fully functional until Dhugal successfully Heals his injuries.
  • Heroic Fatigue: Morgan is particularly prone to this in regards his Deryni powers. He is apt to use use his powers literally to the point of falling over at times, unless he he is prevented from doing so. Kelson scolds him for it in The King's Justice (see above), and Azim forbids him from helping with Derry directly after he and Dhugal have just spent themselves Healing Mátyás in King Kelson's Bride.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Not surprisingly, given the setting, this comes up:
    • While the heroic characters can and do use other weapons (Morgan's stiletto is practically an extension of his arm, and he, Kelson, and Dhugal are among those shown shooting bows), the heroic characters are shown to use swords often. Even Duncan McLain keeps in practice, despite having taken holy orders.
    • In the short story "Trial", Morgan uses his powers to find the real culprits in a rape/murder case, freeing a foreign swordsmith who was falsely accused of the crime. In gratitude, the smith offers to make Morgan a custom sword and asks to join his service.
  • Hero's Muse: In Deryni Checkmate, (then) Countess Richenda of Marley is this to Alaric Morgan from the first time he sees her. He dreams of her for months afterward, and is finally introduced to her by Kelson during preparations for the Torenthi campaign in High Deryni. She lampshades this trope just after they share a Mind Link: "Then I have given you that much more to fight for." After their marriage, she also inspires him to fill the gaps in his arcane education, passing on much of her own Eastern-influenced training to him.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Deryni in general, Camber and Alaric Morgan in particular. Partly because they're infamous. Of course, Morgan actively cultivates his scary reputation to some degree.
  • Hidden Agenda Hero: Denis Arilan. As a member of the Camberian Council, he keeps them informed of events around the Haldane royal family. The Council wishes to exercise control over the Haldanes and the transmission of the Haldane powers. Arilan, with his thorough arcane training and a seat on the King's Council, is their inside man for things like the ritual Kelson organizes to trigger some of his uncle's powers in The King's Justice. Kelson and his courtiers resent the high-handedness the Council displays, and once they know of Arilan's position they don't entirely trust him. The other Councilors have reason to be wary of Arilan as well; he occasionally takes Kelson's side against them.
  • Hidden Backup Prince: This trope is the Backstory of "Daniel Draper": he was born Prince Aidan Augarin Ifor Haldane and survived the massacre of his parents and six siblings when Prince Festil Furstán conquered Gwynedd in the year 822. The toddler is quite literally found hiding during the killings and smuggled out of the palace in a load of laundry by a loyal servant. In the book Camber of Culdi, an elderly Aidan is on his deathbed in 903 and reveals his identity to his Healer Rhys Lord Thuryn. He also "tells" Rhys of his son (who died in the Great Plague of 878) and his grandson Cinhil, who has lived as a cloistered priest for the past twenty-four years.
  • Hidden Depths: Late in King Kelson's Bride, Sofiana reveals to her Camberian Council colleagues her previous role as godmother and arcane tutor to Mátyás Furstán. She implies that they intentionally downplayed his arcane abilities: "He was also a formidable pupil of the ars magica even then—far more formidable than I felt his brothers should know." She goes on to say that he came to her secretly for help when he learned of his brothers' plans, and that she and Azim (another Councillor) covertly assisted him.
  • Holy Ground:
    • In Deryni Rising, Morgan and Kelson remove their swords in the small chapel adjoining Duncan's study. "The tradition of coming into the House of God unarmed was an old and strong one."
    • When Charissa literally throws down a gauntlet to interrupt Kelson's coronation in St. George's Cathedral, Kelson asks her, "What would you in the House of the Lord?"
    • Morgan and Duncan are excommunicated after the events at St. Torin's shrine near Dhassa. Specifically, they are charged with killing men on sacred ground and profaning the place by using Deryni magic there, as well as getting the blame for starting the fire that burned the wooden structure to the ground. Never mind that the place was used to set a trap for Morgan in the first place...
  • Horse Archer: The Haldane Household Archers function this way in battle, as seen in The King's Justice. In that same book, Kelson himself is one when he executes Sicard by shooting an arrow through his eye.
  • Horseback Heroism: Occurs several times in The King's Justice:
    • Duncan fights for his life when his army is surrounded by Loris' troops and the main Mearan army, then casts a spell for a diversion while ordering Dhugal to leave and warn Kelson.
    • Kelson and Morgan, riding with their forces, cast spells to save Duncan from arrows as he's being burned at the stake.
    • Dhugal rides his horse through fire to stop Loris from killing Duncan.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Averted with the Haldane powers, which include the knowledge needed to use them, but played straight for other Deryni, who normally get years of training starting as children. A good example is Morgan trying to access his Healing talent — while he had had Deryni training, no one knew he could Heal, and there were no other Healers at that time to instruct him.
  • Human Shield: A few examples:
    • Deryni Checkmate: While fighting his way out of St. Torin's shrine to rescue Morgan, Duncam grabs Gorony, holds him at swordpoint and demands Warin unlock the door. Warin refuses, so Duncan uses his Deryni powers on the lock, and he and Morgan take Gorony with them, leaving Warin and his remaining men locked inside.
    • The Bishop's Heir: Dhugal MacArdry leads a band of men to investigate another band of armed trespassers on Transha land. The two groups get into a skirmish and the leader of the other group, Brice of Trurill, grabs an injured Dhugal and holds him as a shield with a sword to Dhugal's throat to end the skirmish and allow him to escape with his men. Brice brings Dhugal all the way to Ratharkin, where he's held captive by Loris and the Mearan Pretender.
    • Also in The Bishop's Heir: Dhugal uses Sidana as a shield, taking her before him on horseback as he's fleeing the city of Ratharkin after Judhael's consecration as bishop. Her father and brothers lead some of their troops in pursuit until they unexpectedly encounter Kelson and his forces.
  • Hunting "Accident": Liam-Lajos's older brother Alroy dies in a "riding accident" a month after reaching his majority. Both Kelson and the boy's uncles are rumoured to have engineered it to put another child heir on the Torenthi throne. Eventually, Mátyás confirms that Mahael and Teymuraz were behind it.
  • Hypocrite: Some of the members of the Camberian Council express contempt for Morgan and Duncan because of their half-breed parentage (which of course they did not choose), despite the fact that there are other people who regard all Deryni (including the Council, if they were known) with contempt (and worse) and none of them chose to be be Deryni.

    I - L 
  • Icy Blue Eyes: The glares fanatic Archbishop Edmund Loris gives his enemies are at times described as "frigid".
  • I Didn't Mean to Kill Him: Late in The Quest for Saint Camber, this is Conall's response when Duncan asks him about Tiercel's death. Specifically, he says an argument degenerated into a shoving match at the top of a staircase.
  • Identical Grandson: Cinhil's close resemblance to a portrait of his great-grandfather King Ifor Haldane is used to get Cinhil (and others) to accept that he is the Haldane heir and must be King after Imre is overthrown.
  • I Just Want to Be Free: This is one goal of the Deryni characters, and it's likely high on the list (once the rebellions and invasions and assassins are defeated). Kelson is exhorted to be a king to humans and Deryni by a figure of Camber visible only to Deryni, and he founds a new schola to preserve and openly teach Deryni magic and its ethical use. Essentially, Kelson, his courtiers and others aspire to The Unmasqued World, which would imply this trope.
  • Immediate Sequel: Camber's body is found at the end of Camber the Heretic; The Harrowing of Gwynedd opens with his son and daughter discussing the fact that his body shows no signs of decay.
  • Implicit Prison: Religious houses are occasionally used this way in the Deryni works:
    • Prince Javan Haldane spends time in a monastery run by the Custodes Fidei. While Javan bides his time there, studying and trying to avoid the regents' notice, he is still flogged for disobedience at one point and is pressured towards taking religious vows and resigning his position as his twin brother's heir.
    • The prologue of The Bishop's Heir shows Archbishop Loris confined to a monastery (in the custody of the Fratri Silentii) after being stripped of his ecclesiastical offices.
    • As part of The King's Justice, Kelson decrees that Caitrin Quinnell, the Mearan Pretender, will live out her life in a convent.
  • Impostor-Exposing Test: The drug merasha (which causes an immediate and violent reaction in Deryni but has no significant effect on "normal" people) was used during the persecutions as a way of uncovering secret Deryni. One application that's specifically mentioned (in the short story "The Priesting of Arilan") is that whenever a new priest was ordained, the communion wine at the Ordination Mass was spiked with the drug to make sure no Deryni got into the Church hierarchy.
  • Inciting Incident: At certain points in the Myth Arc, the action is kickstarted by one of these, typically at the beginning of a trilogy:
    • Camber of Culdi opens with the discovery of the dismembered remains of a tyrannical Deryni noble, Lord Rannulf. King Imre takes disproportionate revenge for this murder, adding to his already dire reputation. In the aftermath of this, Camber and his family seek an alternative ruler for their country, then act to make the coup d'etat a reality.
    • Deryni Rising starts with the assassination of King Brion while on a hunting trip. Prince Kelson orders his courtiers to send for Morgan, who has been watching the Torenthis at Cardosa. On his return to Rhemuth, Morgan has to help Kelson, face Kelson's mother (who hates and fears him), cope with hostile churchmen and the rival claimant Charissa.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Both King Cinhil Haldane and his eldest son King Alroy suffer from a lung disease that produces symptoms akin to those of tuberculosis/consumption. The process of their deaths does take some years, with Alroy's much earlier death justified by a sickly constitution noted from his birth (and likely hastened by the evil regents' use of drugs to keep the young king tractable).
  • I Need a Freaking Drink:
    • After he meets a strangely well-informed grey-cowled figure on the road to Coroth, Duncan goes to Morgan's study and pours himself "a small glass of the strong red wine Alaric kept for just such emergencies", downs it and pours another for sipping while waiting for Morgan to gracefully exit the state dinner in progress downstairs. After Duncan begins recounting the event to his cousin, Morgan gets up and pours a glass for himself.
    • After Rothana shares Janniver's memory of her rape, Kelson wanders his camp for a time before going to Morgan's tent. Seeing the expression on Kelson's face, Morgan sends his stepson Brendan to bed and pours Kelson a cup of wine; Kelson gulps half of it down, sits down with a sigh, and takes a second deep pull before he can discuss the experience.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: In The Quest for Saint Camber, a member of the Camberian Council is found dead in a secret passageway of the king's palace. In a conversation with Nigel, his eldest son Conall says the victim's entire name, which the younger man is not supposed to know. Nigel realizes Conall had been secretly working with the dead man (to obtain arcane powers reserved for the monarch) and killed him in that stairwell; Conall attacks his father with those powers and leaves him in a coma.
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Sean Lord Derry, Morgan's aide-de-camp, is human, but Morgan introduces him to the use of magic as part of his reconnaissance missions. When Morgan teaches him Mind Speech, Derry's "blue eyes were wide, but trusting." When confronted by by a guardsman in Deryni Rising Duncan McLain staged dropping his tabernacle key and "turned innocent blue eyes on the man". Duncan is also a Deryni (and as such forbidden to be a priest), so cultivating this innocent look is important to his protective arsenal.
  • In the Blood: Generally the Deryni abilities, specifically the Haldane abilities. The Haldane males also have black hair and grey eyes; Princess Araxie Haldane and Amelia, Conall's illegitimate daughter, though having different hair colours, also have the Haldane grey eyes.
  • Internal Reformist: Interesting dynamics (due to ethical questions provoked by their roles) among several of these in the Corrupt Church:
    • Type 1: Bishop Denis Arilan is the first Deryni to be successfully ordained a priest in Gwynedd in nearly two centuries, and he is very scrupulous about concealing his identity. He rises to Auxilary Bishop of Rhemuth (the secular capital) and later to the See of Dhassa (third-ranked in precedence in the kingdom) as well as serving as an advisor to King Brion and King Kelson. He works secretly to find and ordain more Deryni priests, and he takes a secondary role to Cardiel's in the schism over the Corwyn Interdict in 1121. He's a also a member of the Camberian Council, which entails keeping yet more secrets. Though he has a more confident framing of his penchant for secrecy when confronted by Cardiel, he finds it harder to face another Deryni: "I did what I dared, Duncan. I would that it had been more....I dared not jeopardize what greater good I might achieve by acting prematurely. You can understand that, can't you?"
    • Mixed Type 1 & 3: Bishop (later Archbishop) Thomas Cardiel is a charismatic leader with an honest curiosity and a scrupulous conscience that will not let him condemn Deryni out of hand. He rises within the ranks to be the (traditionally neutral) Bishop of Dhassa, then takes a stand on conscience by leading a schism over the Corwyn Interdict. As a result, he becomes Archbishop of Rhemuth (second only to the Primate, the Archbishop of Valoret), and he goes back to working within the system. After Duncan outs himself, Cardiel orders him to disappear for a while; when Duncan asks "For how long?" Cardiel replies, "Until I can get the bloody law changed, goddammit, man!"
    • Type 3: Monsignor (later Bishop) Duncan McLain is first introduced as King's Confessor, and he later rises to Auxiliary Bishop of Rhemuth under Cardiel. The Laws of Ramos force him to begin his career in secrecy, but events help blow his cover. His relationship to his infamous cousin Morgan and his own ducal inheritance push him into the limelight, and he eventually embraces the Icon role to live as an open example of an upright Deryni priest. As he tells Arilan: "And just how long was I supposed to have waited? Twenty-odd years, like you? Is that how long you've been a priest? And you still haven't owned up to what you are! Someone's got to be first, if there's ever going to be a change."
Both sides of the debate have a point. Time and experience are both needed to overcome the fear and stigma that have been promulgated as holy truth and enshrined in law for generations, and it's far easier to get to know people as people if the Deryni powers don't come up. Yet the ultimate goal is to live openly as Deryni, and for that to happen, the secrecy must be abandoned. This seems to be underlined in King Kelson's Bride; during the consecration of the Saint Camber chapel when Duncan extends his aura over the altar to consecrate it, Cardiel is at his elbow and Arilan is in the back, wearing the plain black working cassock of a simple priest.
  • In the End, You Are on Your Own: Whatever assistance Kelson and Liam get from their friends, at some point, they each find they must cope with some things by themselves:
    • In one step of his empowerment ritual, Kelson has to pierce his own hand with the clasp of a large Haldane brooch. As they're preparing for this, Morgan and Duncan have this exchange:
    Morgan: What about me? Is there anything I'm supposed to do besides watch?
    Duncan (shakes his head): No. And whatever happens, you mustn't touch him or attempt to aid him in any way until the reaction has run its course. We're dealing with fantastic amounts of power here, and if you interfere, it could kill him.
    • On his coronation day, Kelson tries to have his champion defend his right to rule, but Morgan is wounded and Charissa reissues her challenge. Kelson's mother Jehana tries to intervene, but Charissa easily defeats the untrained queen. Kelson must ultimately defeat Charissa in arcane combat by himself.
    • To satisfy the Servants of Saint Camber, Kelson must undergo their ritual trial alone (and naked) in an underground chamber that prevents Dhugal from maintaining mental contact with him.
    • While Kelson and Mátyás can help stave off Mahael's attack against Liam in the killijálay, Liam has to perform the central ritual (taking control of the power from Furstán's tomb) by himself. Only after that can he join the others to defeat Mahael and his allies. Oh, and no one outside the Wards can help Kelson and Mátyás in their task, either.
  • Intrinsic Vow: Subverted in High Deryni, when Wencit of Torenth has physically and mentally tortured Derry, he tells Derry that he'll make him do anything he wants, then proceeds to demonstrate this by making Derry stab himself nearly to death. Wencit also assures Derry that he can make him betray his liege lord and friend Alaric Morgan. Wencit even leaves the dagger with Derry, asserting that his control is so complete that Derry cannot kill himself unless he Wencit wills it. After Wencit leaves his cell, Derry does try to kill himself to avoid betraying Morgan, but finds he cannot do so and weeps in despair.
  • Invisible Writing: In In the King's Service, Alyce de Corwyn gets a letter from her late father, Keryell of Lendour, that appears to contain only a banal message about a bequest of family jewels. In fact, Keryell has also left a second message revealing that Vera Howard is really Alyce's twin sister that only becomes visible when Alyce activates her father's spell by kissing the wax seal.
  • Irrational Hatred: Quite a bit.
    • Some members of the Camberian Council feel free to deride Morgan and Duncan for being half-breeds (having one human and one Deryni parent) as if they could choose their parents.
    • In The Bishop's Heir, Caitrin twits Archbishop Loris over the failure of his assassin to kill Duncan McLain; in response, Loris mutters, "The archfiend Morgan came to his aid. He used his Deryni sorcery to heal him." Never mind that healing was a miraculous sign of Christ's divinity.
    • Morgan, Duncan and other characters dissect anti-Deryni prejudice on the part of humans much the same way; people don't choose their innate talents any more more than they choose their physical traits or other skills, so it's better to consider what people do rather than what they are.
  • I Want Grandkids: Jehana, while talking to Kelson before he leaves for Torenth in King Kelson's Bride, mentions that she wants him to marry because "apart from Gwynedd's need for an heir, I would have grandchildren to dandle on my knee."
  • Just a Kid: Also happens a lot, given the tendency for Haldanes to come to the throne at young ages (14 is considered the age of adulthood in this universe). Javan and Rhys Michael are both dismissed this way, with Javan doubly so due to his club foot. Kelson has a similar problem, in his mother's eyes and in the view of some members of the Camberian Council; putting down two rebellions and coping with a Church schism and facing an invasion show just how ruthless a grown-up he can be.
  • Kick the Dog: In The King's Deryni, when Bishop Oliver de Nore sees young Alaric Morgan has been touching his horse (the boy calmed the animal for a short journey by sea), he orders the animal slaughtered and summons a butcher to see the deed done on the spot. The bishop arrogantly points out the horse is his property, suggests he's motivated by a desire to feed the poor, and refuses all offers to purchase the horse. While de Nore nurtures a particular grudge against Alaric due to the role the boy's mother played in the conviction and execution of his brother, he is also well-known for persecuting Deryni generally. His promotion to Archbishop of Valoret is looked upon with dread by Alaric and others.
  • Kid Has a Point: This is a recurring theme in the Deryni works generally; younger people are seen to question and doubt old ideas: the fears promulgated by the Church hierarchy and the received wisdom (untested) of the High Deryni Lords of the Camberian Council. Some of the younger people even act on their different notions of the proper and the just. In particular:
    • Deryni Checkmate: During the meeting of the Curia on the Corwyn Interdict, Archbishop Corrigan (then Archbishop of Rhemuth and Loris's ally) reacted to the defiance of the younger Cardiel and his allies by "[throwing] up his hands in dismay and asking if they are 'now to be schooled by [their] juniors'".
    • High Deryni: In a meeting of the Camberian Council, its youngest member Tiercel de Claron mounts an eloquent defence of Morgan and Duncan when two other members deride them for being half-breeds. Tiercel starts with the proposition that they should be sought out "on bended knee, begging them to share their great knowledge with us" (referring to the pair's rumoured rediscovery of Healing, a talent lost for some two centuries). He goes on to suggest, based on what they know of the powers, that being Deryni may be an all-or-nothing proposition like other traits. After a long silence, Barrett de Laney quietly says, "We are well instructed by our juniors."
  • King Bob the Nth: The rulers and younger sons of the Festillic Interregnum have a certain monotonous rhythm to their names: Festil I; his sons Festil II and Prince Imre; Festil III and his sons Festil, Imre, and Blaine, Blaine's sons Prince Festil and King Imre. Contrast the Haldanes, who generally each have a different first name.
  • Klingon Promotion: Wencit comes to the Torenthi throne by overthrowing and killing his nephew Aldred II with the aid of his nephew's wife, Charissa, Duchess of Tolán in her own right and Festilic Pretender to the throne of Gwynedd.
  • Knighting: Several of these (and likely more forthcoming due to prequel in progress); perhaps the best to date is the ceremony in which Kelson, his foster brother Dhugal and his cousin Conall receive their accolades. Dhugal's father Bishop-Duke Duncan Mc Lain is himself knighted to remedy an oversight (he had taken holy orders before reaching the usual age, and in the scramble of invasion and civil war the matter was forgotten) before knighting his son and showing his Deryni aura. Dhugal shows his own Deryni aura in happy response.
  • King on His Deathbed: Cinhil and his eldest son Alroy, both dying of consumption/tuberculosis (based on the canon descriptions).
  • Language of Magic: Frequently Latin, with occasional additions of Greek and Hebrew.
    • Wards Major are named and triggered with Latin: "Primus, Secundus, Tertius, Quartus, fiat lux!" note 
    • After Richenda marries Alaric Morgan, she provides him with further magical training. She invokes the quarters at Nigel's partial empowering in The King's Justice by Eastern (possibly Greek) names and adds the Hebrew word Selah to ritual use.
    • Some magic formulae are in the common tongue (effectively English in the books), but intoned or chanted, not uttered conversationally:
    "Now we are met. Now we are One with the Light. Regard the ancient ways. We shall not walk this path again."
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Deryni make fairly frequent use of this to cover their tracks. A few examples:
    • In their second effort to slip into Dhassa, Morgan and Duncan question a number of fellow travelers and erase their memories before releasing them. They also question a group of children who try to steal their horses, leaving them with false memories to explain their possession of the animals (which they must leave behind to take the path one boy described).
    • The clergy assigned to Rhemuth's Cathedral of Saint George and Saint Hilary's Basilica (including Brother Jerome, the sacristan and Duncan's chaplain Father Shandon) are regular victims of this trope in several books. A Transfer Portal is located in the cathedral sacristy, and another is in Duncan's study at the basilica; inconvenient clerics often must to be dealt with to maintain The Masquerade and allow Deryni to secretly use them. Eventually, the issue is remarked upon: Duncan says of Shandon, "He's discreet and he's loyal——and I can make sure he doesn't remember anything he oughtn't. I don't like to do that, but sometimes there's no choice."
  • The Last DJ: Morgan and Duncan vis-à-vis the Camberian Council.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Mátyás, Liam's uncle-mentor introduced in King Kelson's Bride, proves to be adept and ruthless at intrigue and a powerful mage in thwarting his brothers' attempted coup d'etat against Liam.
  • Light Is Good: Use of the Deryni powers can involve the appearance of light, but "Light" is also frequently used to refer to the forces of goodness. Even the human Bishop Cardiel refers to Morgan as a "servant of Light". On the other hand...
  • Light Is Not Good: Some Deryni use their powers for evil ends, yet they produce auras that are not distinguishable from those of heroic characters. Imre and Ariella display their auras to underline their power; Kelson and his closest courtiers only gradually come to do so, and only in certain formal settings. Some of the worst villains are Deryni, in part because the powers, especially those involving mind control, offer so many opportunities for cruelty that are unavailable to ordinary humans. Even the heroes make use of their powers in ways that could be morally questionable (blurring the memories of inconvenient witnesses, in some cases repeatedly) when forced to do so by circumstances.
  • A Lighter Shade of Grey: While there are heroes and villains among humans and Deryni, the Deryni are by and large shown in a more sympathetic light, largely because they have lived with persecution, and because the stories focus on mages striving to be treated according to their personal merit. As noted above, morally questionable actions done by the heroes tend to be responses to the demands of The Masquerade. That said, some of the heroes' actions and proposed actions (the discussion of Sidana as Kelson's bride, regardless of her wishes) are more matters of expediency.
  • Living Legend: Duke Alaric Morgan. He helped King Brion Haldane defeat a Festillic Pretender at age 14, and rose to become Lord General of Gwynedd's armies. Although prequels showing his childhood and youth are either published or in process, he was introduced as a Living Legend when he first appeared in Deryni Rising in 1970. Indeed, he is depicted as cultivating a reputation for dangerous power as a means of intimidating potential foes and thereby protecting himself.
  • Long-Running Book Series: What began with early drafts and a proposal in the 1960s as The Chronicles of The Deryni (the trilogy of Deryni Rising, Deryni Checkmate, and High Deryni) has become a career of 16 novels (with more in the works), short stories, background essays and fan fic that has lasted forty years and counting. And there are still more tales to be told; The Battle of Killingford should be worth a trilogy, and Teymuraz escaped...
  • Lost Technology: Lost Magic version.
    • Deryni went from having thriving Healer schools and a regular cadre of Healers as part of society to no Healers in the whole of Gwynedd, with a very slight comeback (a handful of untrained Healers flying by the seat of their pants) two centuries later. Arcane knowledge generally is hidden away and /or lost, with traces gradually coming to light.
    • Camber and his family circle also investigate more ancient ancestors Orin and Jodotha, as well as a strange altar with black and white cubes (akin to Wards Major) showing patterns they've never seen, much less used. Testing shows one of the patterns makes the altar drop into the floor to reveal a secret room beneath it.
  • Love Epiphany: Morgan's reaction to his first mind-link with Richenda in High Deryni:
    In the first soaring ecstasy of union with her mind, he was filled with a sense of wonder so profound that in that instant, he knew with a certainty born at the root of his powers that he had found that other part of himself, missing all his life. That whatever happened tomorrow, and for all the days of his life, he could endure with this blessed woman at his side.
  • Love Ruins the Realm: Imre, the last Festillic king, indulges in an incestuous affair with his sister Ariella, which (aside from being incestuous) distracts him from marrying and producing a legitimate heir. On top of that, Ariella is no force for moderation or mercy, and Imre is a weak man who allows himself to be swayed by her.
  • Lured into a Trap: In Deryni Checkmate, Morgan and Duncan have to pay their respects at Saint Torin's shrine to obtain pilgrim badges and enter the city of Dhassa. Some of Morgan's foes put a drug on a needle on the gate latch, just where anybody would put his hand to open the gate. Morgan is drugged and abducted this way.

    M - O 
  • Mage Species: Deryni are frequently referred to as a separate race of humans, especially by their enemies. They are both male and female, and can and do interbreed with ordinary humans.
  • Magical Eye: These are attributed to Barrett de Laney by a panicky human priest. After Barrett surrenders himself in exchange for twenty-three children, the priest hisses, "His eyes! Evil! Evil! Beware his eyes, my lord!" The gathered crowd takes up the cry and his captors take the hint; they blind Barrett with a hot iron as a precaution, despite their intention to kill him anyway.
  • Magic Enhancement: In High Deryni, the Gwyneddian forces receive reports of strange noises coming from the Torenthi camp at night. Morgan and Duncan join Kelson, Nigel, and a couple of scouts to observe, and Morgan uses his powers to extend his hearing. All agree they hear sounds of construction: sawing, chopping, hammering.
  • Magic Knight: Lots of these throughout the Deryni works, including:
    • The Orders of the Michaelines and the Anvillers are full of these types, specifically trained to be both warriors and mages.
    • Alaric Morgan, Duke of Corwyn, is Lord General of the Armies, King's Champion, and a Deryni sorcerer. His magic has the usual limits of all Deryni powers (requiring concentration to use it, for starters), and his arcane education is limited thanks to the persecutions.
    • To a lesser extent, Duncan McLain, Auxiliary Bishop of Rhemuth and formerly Duke of Cassan, has both military and magical training. In addition to the limitations of Deryni magic, Duncan is a cleric who spent many years at university and in The Church. That said, he is shown both practising sword fighting and engaging in actual combat.
    • Younger men coming into their own as warrior mages include King Kelson Haldane, Dhugal MacArdry McLain, and King Liam-Lajos II Furstán.
  • Magical Accessory: Haldane empowerment rituals use a number of different pieces, starting with a single ruby earring called the Eye of Rom. Rhys Michael Haldane pressed an enameled brooch into service for a self-designed triggering of his powers; this piece was used later in the timeline for the more structured rituals of his successors. Donal Haldane used a silver bracelet to encode his son's ritual; Alyce de Corwyn Morgan triggered part of the process on her deathbed, and her son Alaric finished it years later. Later still, Kelson's ritual used the Ring of Fire in addition to the Eye of Rom and the Haldane Lion Brooch.
  • The Magocracy: The Festillic Interregnum was characterized by Deryni nobility dividing the spoils of conquest; lands and titles were redistributed among Festil's followers, giving mages effective control of the government. The excesses of some High Deryni Lords set the stage for the backlash and the centuries of persecution against all Deryni.
  • Malicious Slander: Charissa spreads lies and scary gossip about Alaric Morgan as part of her plan to undermine him. She's assisted by her lover, the traitorous Lord Ian Howell, who tells her, "I'd assumed it was an exercise in malice—not that you need the practice." Since Morgan is already a known Deryni, her efforts merely add to his bad reputation.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Predictably enough, the marriage of Lady Alyce de Corwyn and Sir Kenneth Morgan is condemned by both humans and mages. Hostile clerics and other humans don't like to see a wealthy and beautiful "sorceress" wed and reproduce; High Deryni Lords and Ladies who worry about protecting their heritage against hostile forces would prefer she wed another mage instead of a mere human, who will only father "inferior half-breeds".
  • Masquerade: Played with extensively throughout. Once the anti-Deryni backlash begins, many Deryni go underground. Camber's son-in-law accidentally discovers he can block Deryni powers, and after some testing, a baptism cult is set up to turn off the powers of many Deryni so that they can go into hiding (this cult goes on for two or three years as depicted in King Javan's Year and The Bastard Prince). After a couple of centuries, the dispute over when and how to open the closet door turns on the question, "Is the world ready yet?" (Given the long and recent history of persecution, the answer may be "No.") The demands of exigent circumstances (particularly the need for Deryni clerics to conceal their magical activities) lead to human witnesses having their memories altered, often without their knowledge or consent.
    • On the other hand some humans taken into the Masquerade are completely comfortable with having their memories altered. Zoë Morgan actually suggests her best friend Alyce de Corwyn 'switch her off' before they confront a potentially dangerous anti-Deryni cleric.
    • Mutual Masquerade: Scenes where a secret Deryni learns that somebody they know is also a secret Deryni are fairly common occurrence in the works set after the beginning of the persecutions.
      • After Morgan and Duncan break their word to Cardiel and use their powers during their reconciliation service in Dhassa's cathedral, Bishop Arilan angrily demands an explanation from them. He and Morgan get into an argument and Arilan finally reveals to the cousins he is also Deryni. He offers Morgan the chance to read his mind (which Morgan accepts) in an effort to make peace.
      • In The King's Justice, Arilan finds Jehana guilt-stricken after she warned Nigel of an assassination plot, knowledge she acquired thanks to her powers. First he tries to teach her through a couple of parables that she had an affirmative duty to reveal what she had learned, and when she retorts that he doesn't understand, he displays his Deryni aura to show her that he actually does.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Some of Camber's twelfth-century appearances are accounted for by a living person. Some aren't.
  • May–December Romance: Jehana, Dowager Queen of Gwynedd, and her second husband Lord Barrett de Laney are some three decades apart in age.
  • Meaningful Funeral: A selection:
    • in In the King's Service, Marie de Corwyn is decked out as if for her wedding (including a floral wreath) because she died a virgin. Her brother Ahern's funeral reflects his status as heir to Corwyn (not its duke) because the anti-Deryni laws prohibit Deryni from succeeding to their titles until they're twenty-five (a full eleven years later than ordinary humans).
    • In Childe Morgan, the new King Brion Haldane recoils when he sees clerics kneeling in prayer around his father's bier and demands to know why they're there. He's told the Archbishops ordered it as a mark of respect. It's possible Brion recalled how Donal was flogged by order of the Church for executing a priest who was an accomplice to the rape and murder of a small boy.
    • Alaric Morgan's beloved sister Bronwyn and her fiancé (Duncan's elder half-brother Kevin McLain, Earl of Kierney) have a joint funeral in Deryni Checkmate. Duncan celebrates the funeral Mass at his father's request despite his suspension from the priesthood. Like her aunt before her, Bronwyn is bedecked as if for her wedding, which had been planned to take place that same day.
    • In discussing arrangements for Lady Vivienne de Jordanet's funeral in King Kelson's Bride, her fellow councillor Barrett recalls how another of their number was carried to his grave:
    Six vowed Knights of the Anvil carried him to his rest, Azim, all of them arrayed in the full panoply of your Order—and none of them laid a hand on the coffin. He floated on a catafalque of golden fire. I could see it even without these poor, blinded eyes—as if the very angels had come to sing Michon home.
Azim promises to have his fellow Anvillers make proper arrangements for Vivienne and recalls the councillors' attention to other pressing matters.
  • The Medic: Lots of playing with this one. The Camber trilogy and the short stories "Catalyst" and "Healer's Song" cover a period when Healers were relatively numerous and had well-established training schools, complete with characteristic garb ("Healer's green" clothing) and schools with differing approaches to the Healing trance. Fast forward two hundred years, and the talent is so rare only four people are known to have it (as of King Kelson's Bride), so all bets are off. Alaric Morgan rediscovers the talent first, and he's definitely a combatant. His cousin Duncan is a cleric, but he's also known to fight when circumstances demand it (first when attacked, later to save Morgan's life after an ambush, later still as a combat leader commanded by his king in time of civil war). His son Dhugal is also a combat leader, but he has more typical training as a battle medic, in part because his clan isn't very wealthy. Warin de Grey is also a combat leader, heading a rebellion against Morgan in particular, Deryni in general, and King Kelson by extension. It could also be argued that the novels are set in a feudal society which lacks modern population numbers and niceties like well-developed laws of war; certainly some things are beyond the pale, but fighters with medical skills is a comparatively minor detail.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: The books are set in a world with feudal social structures in most known countries, and the technology is on par with that of the real world's Western Europe in that period. For example, the books depicted in-universe are either in scrolls or codex-style, but printing isn't in use (some characters create illuminated manuscripts as valuable gifts).
  • Mentors: Long a Deryni tradition, they become vital for transmitting what Deryni heritage remains after the persecutions begin.
    • Camber and his family teach Cinhil and his sons as well as the next generation of their own kin.
    • Alyce and Vera de Corwyn get instruction from Father Paschal. They begin training Morgan and Duncan by Naming them when they're four years old (some three or four years earlier than usual, we're told). Vera takes over after Alyce dies from a combination of childbirth complications and psychic fatigue.
    • Morgan later gets his first lesson on setting Wards Major (among other things) from Anviller Sir Sé Trelawney.
    • Richenda and Rothana were pupils of Rothana's Uncle Azim.
    • Sofiana of Andelon taught Mátyás until she assumed the throne of her principality and sent him to another Deryni to continue his training.
    • Morgan, Duncan and Nigel guide and advise Kelson, Dhugal and Liam-Lajos (Nigel's portfolio includes training pages and squires). Liam-Lajos also gets guidance from his uncle Mátyás.
    • Denis Arilan secretly seeks out Deryni seminary students and helps them become ordained priests, as well as supervising their arcane training. Among his prize pupils is Father Nivard.
    • Tiercel de Claron speaks of training Deryni children and compares his older pupil Conall Haldane favourably.
  • Mercy Kill: At the climax of High Deryni, this resolves the four-on-four duel arcane between Torenth and Gwynedd. After Stefan Coram reveals he's poisoned Wencit and his colleagues with an incurable and slow-acting toxin, Kelson is advised this is a good idea. Bishop Arilan claims to recognize the substance Coram took to speed his own death, and it's said that the others will take at least a day to die. Also, the terms of the duel will keep all of them there in the circle until all of one side are dead. Wencit himself asks for death. Morgan offers to do it, but Kelson insists on doing it himself and all but commands Morgan to show him the means: the same spell Charissa used to murder King Brion months earlier.
  • Merlin and Nimue: Alaric Morgan is seven years older than his wife Richenda, but she's the one teaching him, since her arcane training has been more complete.
  • Metallic Motifs: Prince Nigel Haldane, Duke of Carthmoor, is nicknamed "the Iron Duke". He's proven himself at combat from the age of twenty onwards, and he has gray eyes to boot.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: In The King's Justice, Kelson questions Gorony and Loris telepathically after they're captured. Gorony was an enthusiastic inquisitor, and Kelson likens reading Gorony's mind to "taking a swim in the castle middens in the summertime." When it's Loris' turn, Kelson finds reading Loris "even more loathsome than reading Gorony had been"; Loris gave explicit instructions to Istelyn's executioners and revelled in their grisly work, and he engaged in inquisitions and burnings in many outlying areas of the kingdom prompted by his "long-standing and unreasoning hatred of the Deryni."
  • Mind Rape: Wencit of Torenth uses a combination of mundane and psychic/magical techniques against Sean of Derry in High Deryni, in the process also casting a powerful spell to control Derry's mind. Years later, when Kelson and Morgan decide to see if Derry is up to traveling with them to Torenth for Liam-Lajos' investiture, Morgan lampshades this trope after he makes a frightened and reluctant Derry relax enough for his metal probe.
  • More than Mind Control: Wencit of Torenth uses a variety of tactics against Sean Lord Derry in the effort to establish control over Derry's mind. At one point, he has his minion Rhydon of Eastmarch summon a tentacled monster called a caradot to menace Derry, who is then tied to a chair. Wencit himself puts a dagger to Derry's throat, and when that elicits no reaction, he begins cutting the leather thongs of Derry's jerkin:
    "Do you know, Derry," cut "I've often wondered what it is about Alaric Morgan which inspires such loyalty in his followers," cut "Or Kelson and those rather strange Haldane powers of his," cut. "Not too many men would sit here as you do," cut "refusing to talk, though they know what unpleasantness awaits them," ''cut "and still remain loyal to a leader who is far away and can never hope to help them out of this, even if he knew."
  • Mounted Combat: Happens a fair amount, usually with the leading figures/nobles/officers on horseback, as well as contingents of lancers and mounted archers.
  • The Mourning After: Kelson puts off the thought of remarrying for a couple of years or so after Sidana is slaughtered at the altar by her brother, and procrastinates a further two or three years after Rothana refuses him after Conall's execution. In this interim, he's pressured by his mother and his courtiers to provide for the succession. Rothana finally picks out another woman to marry him (his cousin Araxie Haldane) and persuades each of them that their marriage would be for the best.
  • Mr. Exposition: Just as there many people who take the part of The Watson at different times, the part of Mr. Exposition gets split among many characters, justified by the various levels of experience they have, particularly with regard to the magic.
    • Morgan and Duncan share this role as they prepare the early stages of Kelson's empowering ritual, complete with a demonstration when Morgan attunes his gryphon signet ring to Duncan so his cousin can use it to retrieve Brion's written ritual verse.
    • Duncan explains to an anxious Nigel about the rules for arcane combat during Kelson's coronation duel with Charissa in Deryni Rising.
    • Arilan can be very forthcoming, and he is among the most highly trained of Deryni, since his family have successfully hidden their magic for over two centuries. However, his long experience with the Camberian Council (his elder brother Jamyl and his uncle Seisyll were members before him) means he's apt to keep things to himself. The night Morgan and Duncan arranged for Kelson and Dhugal to experience merasha under controlled conditions, Arilan produces the very flask of drugged wine used to in Brion's assassination four years previously, which Arilan retrieved that day. Kelson goes white, Nigel gasps, Duncan crosses himself, and Morgan goes for Arilan's throat, only just pulling up short to clench his fist near Arilan's face.
  • Muggles: The majority of people in the Eleven Kingdoms are not Deryni. Because of their relative numbers and ecclesiastical power, they are able to persecute the Deryni for over two centuries, making the Masquerade a necessary evil during that period.
  • My Nayme Is: King Brion (Brian) Haldane, Lord Seisyll (Cecil) Arilan.
  • My Rule Fu Is Stronger than Yours:
    • Kelson's Unconventional Courtroom Tactics in the treason and heresy trial of Alaric Morgan in Deryni Rising involve stalling for time by having the charges read in full, then asking for each member of the Regency Coucil to vote individually, then he casts Morgan's vote for him (causing a tie), since he's still a member of Council until he's convicted. Jehana objects, then casts a vote against him since Kelson is presiding in person. Once Kelson hears the clock chime the hour and knows he's turned fourteen, he asserts "I rule today!" and appoints Morgan's aide Sean Earl Derry to the vacant seat (one of the members was killed in an ambush days earlier); this forces a tie vote and Kelson breaks the tie, freeing Morgan and insisting that any resubmission of the charges will require further proof. Jehana is not happy to be defeated by a suddenly-grown son: "Kelson had stood before the Council and defied her—not with childish threats and impotent taunts, but with decisive, adult that Kelson was King in fact as well as in name—a development she hadn't even considered before—how could she possibly lure him away from Morgan's evil influence?"
    • When Istelyn delivers Loris's notice of Kelson's excommunication and Interdict for Gwynedd to the king at Dol Shaia, Kelson reads it and loses his temper. While Morgan is simply unimpressed, having gotten used to being excommunicate himself (and being a worldly man by nature), Duncan calls the documents "worthless" and points out that Loris' reduced conclave of eleven bishops is insufficient to pass anything (canon law requires more than half of the twenty-two bishops to pass any such acts). Kelson scans the documents again, saying, " A twelfth. By God, you're right! How could I have forgotten?"
  • Mystical High Collar: In King Kelson's Bride, Liam wears a "long, high-collared coat all of pure white wool save for the black Furstáni hart emblazoned on his breast" for his magical investiture as padishah (called the killijálay).
  • Mysterious Protector:
    • Morgan and Duncan meet a stranger in the ruins of Saint Neot's who appears in the guise of Saint Camber; he refuses to give his name (preferring to call himself "one of Camber's humble servants"), but he does warn them of other Deryni mages who may challenge them to test their powers, for as "half-breeds" they were supposed to have far less arcane ability than those whose parents were both Deryni. They don't know it at the time, but the Camberian Council had just voted to make them liable to arcane challenge. Duncan had met this fellow a few months before on the road to Coroth (see Secret Secret-Keeper below).
    • Sir Sé Trelawney, by this time a fully avowed Knight of the Anvil, makes a brief and stealthy appearance to shoot a single well-placed arrow in the effort to save Brion from assassination in Childe Morgan. Mission accomplished, he quickly disappears.
  • Mysterious Watcher: In The King's Justice, Kelson sends Conall and an escort to conduct Princess Janniver and the nuns of a convent sacked by Mearan rebels to safety in Rhemuth, then expresses his wish to leave in pursuit of the rebel forces. "As Morgan gave the orders sand the officers scattered to relay them, neither king nor general noticed a R'Kassan scout draw apart from his fellows and disappear beyond the picket lines, obscured by the bustle of breaking camp." He is later revealed to be an agent of Princess Sofiana of Andelon, who shares what she has learned from him with the rest of the Camberian Council.
  • Myth Arc: Two interconnected myth arcs drive the novels and short stories:
    • Relations between Gwynedd and Torenth. Conquest, tyranny, restoration, repeated attempts at reversing the restoration, and finally efforts to build an alliance of equals.
    • Deryni-human relations in Gwynedd. In the aftermath of the Haldane Restoration, painful memories of the tyranny of some Deryni are used to justify persecution of all Deryni. Gradually, some few Deryni and their human sympathizers rise to positions of power in the Church and government. The old consensus of acceptance is carefully rebuilt, with much success among younger generations. Late in the arc, it becomes possible to begin searching out some of the knowledge lost during the persecutions.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Of course, among famous people, it's also as much to do with family and/or friendship as fame.
    • Haldane royalty tends to reuse the names of certain illustrious predecessors. Since princes get four names in addition to the surname, there's plenty of opportunities for this. Among the popular candidates for reuse are Cinhil (first Haldane king of the Restoration), Blaine (also used by the Festils), Donal (Brion's father's first name, King Brion and King Cinhil's second), Nygel/Nigel, Aidan (second Haldane in the seventh century, also Cinhil's grandfather, the only survivor of his family's massacre during the Festillic Invasion) and Alroy (Cinhil's father and Cinhil's eldest surviving son).
    • Morgan's first two children. His daughter is named Briony after the late King Brion Haldane, and his son is named Kelric (a combination of King Kelson and Morgan's own first name Alaric).
    • Kelson's heir, born in the year 1130 (according to the Codex), is christened Javan Uthyr Richard Urien Haldane; the prince's first name is that of the ill-fated King Javan Haldane, King Cinhil's second surviving son (and the protagonist of King Javan's Year), and his third name honours Kelson's great uncle and Araxie's father, Prince Richard Haldane Duke of Carthmoor. And is it coincidence that his other two names are those of Haldane Kings with Deryni mothers?
  • Never Found the Body: When the mountain trail washes out in The Quest for Saint Camber, Kelson and Dhugal are seen to go over the falls with the others, but their bodies are not found. This fact is part of what sends Morgan and Duncan to the site of the accident and join the search.
  • Nightmare Sequence:
    • While being held captive by Caitrin and Loris in The Bishop's Heir, Dhugal has a vivid nightmare about facing divine judgement for failing to save Kelson, whose gory corpse rises up from its bier to point an accusing finger at him.
    • When Kelson reads Loris' mind during questioning late in The King's Justice, he learns that Camber appeared to Loris in a dream (later speculation attributes this to his possession of Duncan's episcopal ring, which was originally made for Henry Istelyn from an old piece of altar plate associated with Camber himself). Reliving the experience through Loris's eyes, Kelson knows that while Camber spoke of tolerance, Loris so demonized all things Deryni that for him it was a nightmare.
    • During his preparatory meditation for Conall's triggering ritual in The Quest for Saint Camber, Morgan gazes on the unconscious and frail Nigel, dressed in Haldane red court robes with one of the state crowns on a pillow above his head (in token of his status as an uncrowned king). Suddenly, Morgan vividly imagines himself gazing down at Nigel's body on his funeral bier.
  • Not Afraid to Die: Given that Anyone Can Die, this happens from time to time.
    • Evaine MacRorie Thuryn frees her father Camber's soul in a magic ritual in The Harrowing of Gwynedd.
    • Barrett de Laney fully expected to die when he offered himself in exchange for a number of Deryni children, as he recounts the episode to Jehana in King Kelson's Bride, and as depicted in the short story "Bethane".
    • Henry Istelyn in The Bishop's Heir, about to be hanged, meets "the archbishop's frigid glare with a serenity and even compassion which made Loris drop the contact first, to gesture brusquely to the guards." The guards are also put off-balance when Istelyn stubs his toe on the scaffold steps and murmurs an apology.
    • Judhael of Meara in The King's Justice. He refuses Kelson's offer of clemency to forestall another Mearan rebellion.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: The Camberian Council later in the timeline, particularly from In the King's Service forward.
  • Nothing but Skin and Bones: In The Quest for Saint Camber, Nigel is described as wasted and frail some two or three weeks after Conall attacked him with magic and left him in a coma. Since Nigel got no solid food for that period, it's entirely plot-justified and not pretty. Morgan and Duncan leave Rhemuth to search for Kelson and Dhugal partly to avoid watching Nigel starve to death.
  • Official Couple: A partial list: Evaine MacRorie and Rhys Thuryn, Alaric Morgan and Richenda Coris (née Fitz Ewan), Rory Haldane and Noelie Ramsay, Brecon Ramsay and Richelle Haldane, Kelson and Araxie Haldane.
  • Official Kiss:
    • In High Deryni at one point during the long night before the confrontation with Wencit at Llyndruth Meadows (and in a now or never frame of mind), Morgan and Richenda share one of these.
    • In King Kelson's Bride, Araxie arranges to secretly meet Kelson (they haven't announced their betrothal to avoid offending the Mearan Ramsays) to suggest a solution to his thorny problems with his prospective relatives; he's so overjoyed with her brilliant idea he takes her face in his hands and kisses her. They're both a trifle astonished at how much they enjoy it, particularly so early in their arranged relationship.
  • Offing the Offspring: Kelson recounts a tale about two princes executed by their father (an ancestor of his); he says his nurse told him the story and pointed out their graves on a visit to the family crypt in an effort to ensure his behaviour in the crypt was seemly. According to her Backstory, Charissa was once wed to a king of Torenth (Wencit's nephew); he beat her in a fit of rage while she was pregnant with his offspring, causing a miscarriage and leaving her sterile.
  • Open Shirt Taunt: In High Deryni, Morgan, Duncan, Kelson and Cardiel slip into Morgan's Castle Coroth to retake it from rebel leader Warin de Grey. They secretly watch Warin heal an injured man before confronting Warin and his officers. Morgan informs Warin that he and Duncan can Heal just as he does, and Warin refuses to believe him. Duncan suggests a demonstration of Deryni Healing and volunteers to take the injury to be Healed; he removes his shirt and is shown to have the training scars typical of a nobleman on his pale torso. Duncan's vulnerability is heightened when he tells Warin to choose the weapon and inflict the injury himself to be certain there is no trickery.
  • The Order: As medieval fantasies set in a realm of Fantastic Catholicism, the Deryni works feature a number of these, including:
    • The Gabrilites, named for Saint Gabriel the Archangel, are an order that provides instruction to Deryni Healers until the regents' coup in 917 and the Ban on Magic that follows. They had a school for this purpose at their monastery called Saint Neot's, which the regents' forces destroy; the ruins of Saint Neot's are a setting for several incidents in the lives of Brion, Morgan and Duncan depicted in the Chronicles of the Deryni trilogy.
    • The Michaelines, named for their patron Saint Michael the Archangel, are a military order prominent in the Legends of Camber trilogy. They are presented as a cross between common notions of the Templars and the Jesuits: wealthy, powerful, and adept at all forms of combat (including intellectual). Their membership was mixed human and Deryni, with the Deryni leading the others in quasi-arcane meditations. Camber's son Joram was a member, as was his late-life alter ego Alister Cullen (Vicar General of the Order). The Michaelines were suppressed by the the regents circa 918, and many members fled into exile with the Knights of the Anvil.
    • The Knights of the Anvil, or Anvillers, take their name from their home region, a harsh environment southeast of Bremagne called the Anvil of the Lord. A military order with a reputation for stealth, the Anvillers were influenced by many cultures, Muslim as well as Christian. Members have small crosses tattooed on their bodies in remembrance of Christ's wounds when they take final vows; Sir Sé Trelawney displays those at his wrists (and jestingly refers to the others) on a visit to Alyce de Corwyn Morgan in Childe Morgan.
  • Outliving One's Offspring:
    • Camber MacRorie outlives his eldest son Cathan and his grandson Davin, both of whom die violently, the latter while Camber helplessly watches via a psychic link.
    • This is King Donal's recurring problem. All the offspring of his first marriage are either stillborn or die in early infancy. After his first wife dies, he remarries a younger woman to ensure the succession, but two of his four legitmate sons die in childhood, as well as the illegitmate son he sires to be an arcane protector for his heir in In the King's Service, his second son Blaine saves his sister from drowning but contracts pneumonia, and his youngest son Jatham suffers fatal injuries in a tragic riding accident. The death of his youngest son hastens Donal's own demise in Childe Morgan, but time was not on his side to begin with.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The Lady Oksana Ramsay is a fiery, ambitious woman and her husband expects screaming and throwing things when he breaks the news that King Kelson is not going to marry their daughter. Instead Oksana sits in silence dripping tears - all night. Sir Jolyon is terrified.
  • Oracular Urchin: The Quorial, the body of mostly middle-aged and older leaders among the Servants of Saint Camber, curiously includes Rhidian, a woman "who looked to be barely into puberty," yet provides a psychic shield for the whole Quorial, preventing Kelson from reading their minds. It is she who speaks for the Quorial to inform Kelson of their decision to offer him a chance to avoid the death penalty for sacrilege by undergoing the cruaidh-dheuchainn, a ritual ordeal which she tells Kelson she has herself undergone. She is said to speak enigmatically and has "a disturbingly direct gaze".
  • Overly Long Name: Even without their titles, Haldane princes have plenty: Brion Donal Cinhil Urien, Nigel Cluim Gwydion Rhys, Kelson Cinhil Rhys Anthony, Conall Blaine Cluim Uthyr. Compare the nobles, who usually make do with more the usual first, middle, and last name: Alaric Anthony Morgan, Duncan Howard McLain, Dhugal Ardry MacArdry ... well, the books definitely engage in some heraldry porn.

    P - R 
  • Pardon My Klingon: The exclamation "Khadasa!" appears in Deryni Rising, although the characters otherwise use English, including other swearing in English on occasion (Archbishop Cardiel actually shouts "Goddamnit" once, as noted above).
  • Peaceful in Death:
    • After Duncan breaks the spell Charissa had left on Brion's body, "the body of Brion slept peacefully now, the gentle grey eyes closed forever, the lips relaxed, the lines of tension which had been part of Brion's appearance for as long as Morgan could remember erased now in death."
    • Lady Vivienne de Jordanet of the Camberian Council dies peacefully of old age in the arms of her eldest son the morning after Liam's investiture in King Kelson's Bride. Some Deryni manage to do that.
  • Phosphor-Essence: Deryni don't have to show their auras, but sometimes they do, often as a means of revealing themselves (since They Look Just Like Everyone Else!). Glowing is no guarantee of goodness among Deryni. Kelson gradually plays with this trope: after his coronation duel at the end of Deryni Rising, he stands in a pool of coloured sunlight (from one of the cathedral's stained glass windows), then summons Morgan and Duncan to join him there. In the great hall of Laas at the end of The King's Justice, he shows his Deryni aura faintly and signals Morgan and Duncan to follow suit; his and Duncan's auras could be dismissed as sunlight reflecting off their jewelled coronets, "but Morgan's, misting faintly greenish gold on his golden hair, could not be so rationalized." By the end of King Kelson's Bride, when Kelson and his courtiers appear before the Servants of Saint Camber to invite them to staff a new Deryni schola, not only do more of them manifest (Kelson, Araxie, Morgan, Richenda, Dhugal, and Duncan), but they manifest fully, and some of the Servants do likewise.
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege!:
    • In The King's Justice, Judhael of Meara enters Kelson's presence barefoot and wearing a homespun robe to offer renewed fealty to Kelson as King and Prince of Meara. After Judhael's death sentence is pronounced, his aunt Caitrin asks that he be sent into custody with her, but her request is denied. Later, Kelson privately offers Judhael his life but Judhael declines the offer, citing the possibility of future Mearan separatists rallying around him to provoke yet another civil war.
    • In Camber Of Culdi, Cathan begs Imre not to execute 50 human peasants — Imre responds by offering to free one of them, forcing Cathan into a Sadistic Choice.
  • Plot Coupon: The Eye of Rom, the single ruby earring used in Haldane empowering rituals, becomes one of these in Deryni Rising. During their preparations for Kelson's ritual, Morgan and Duncan learn from Kelson that it was buried with his father. The trio have to pay a visit to the royal crypt to retrieve it before they can begin the ritual sequence. Of course, it isn't as simple as that...
  • Plot Threads: Multiple characters with various relationships and obligations lead to multiple plot lines, sometimes splitting into three or more depending on the demands of the story. Some of these plot threads continue from one book to the next, lending a verisimilitude that tidy resolutions lack.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: A couple of these.
    • The death of King Brion Haldane at the start of Deryni Rising, which begins the multi-volume saga of King Kelson Haldane's rule as well as the specific challenges of getting him safely crowned king.
    • The discovery of Lord Rannulf's dismembered corpse starts the action in Camber of Culdi, leading to betrayal, murder, and a coup d'etat.
  • Politically-Active Princess:
    • Araxie Haldane is clearly this, particularly in the period just prior to her marriage to Kelson in King Kelson's Bride. When presented with a plan to evacuate the family to the safety of Rhemuth, her mother and sister raise many objections over the incomplete wedding preparations, and Araxie steps in to get them to cooperate. She later makes a diplomatic suggestion to resolve Kelson's difficulties with his prospective Ramsay in-laws (for which she gets a relationship-changing kiss from Kelson), and leads the negotiating team to convince Rothana to take the scola position Kelson offered.
    • Morag Furstána is sister to King Wencit, but cannot rule under Torenthi laws and traditions. Even so, she serves as a regent for two of her sons in succession, and she is depicted as an equal participant in the family deliberations. Later still, Liam asks her opinion on what to do with Teymuraz directly after the failed coup d'etat.
  • Power of Trust:
    • In High Deryni, Bishop Arilan reveals his Deryni powers to the human Bishop Cardiel in an effort to strengthen their partnership, and he explicitly asks Cardiel to trust him regarding his arcane secrets and the commitments they entail. (Arilan is not only the first ordained Deryni in Gwynedd in two centuries, he is also a member of the secretive Camberian Council.) Arilan shares what he can with Cardiel so they can both lead their side of the schism against Archbishop Loris (which is over Deryni in general and certain ones in particular). Together, they help reconcile the Church with King Kelson before the coming Torenthi invasion.
    • In King Kelson's Bride, Liam and Mátyás escort Kelson, Morgan and Dhugal to visit the Nikolaseum, a great memorial tomb for a Torenthi prince who saved the life of his king in battle against the forces of Gwynedd a century earlier. There, Liam and Mátyás ask for Kelson's help to foil a plot against Liam. In deciding what to do, Kelson says, "Someone must trust, if we are ever to end what brought Nikola to his death." In a mental conference with Morgan and Dhugal, Kelson asks if he should trust them, and Morgan replies, "As you say, my prince, someone must trust." Mátyás offers the location and pattern of a Transfer Portal nearby, and Kelson and Morgan allow Liam to bring them to one of Mátyás' private chapels via Portal (with Liam in control, since he knows their destination) to confer in detail. This reciprocal exchange of trust sets them on a course towards a deep friendship forged in adversity.
    • Later in the same book, Létald, the Hort of Orsal, says in a meeting with Liam and Kelson and their advisers, "It seems we must all trust one another far more than we had planned or dreamed." The meeting is to discuss measures to take against the escaped traitor Teymuraz.
  • Power-Strain Blackout: Alaric Morgan is apt to do this, since he's a bit of an overachiever and Deryni powers are physically taxing to use. In High Deryni, Morgan tries to contact Derry mentally (sending a Call) during the reconciliation service for himself and Duncan and faints from the effort; Duncan makes the excuse that his cousin isn't used to fasting. He also collapses from overextending himself to Call on campaign in The King's Justice, and Kelson scolds him for pushing himself too hard.
  • Prayer Pose: When Richenda invokes the quarters (calls the archangels by name) for Nigel's empowering ritual in The King's Justice, she finishes by "bowing her head over hands joined palm-to-palm in an attitude of prayer". Light then washes out to finish Warding the ritual circle before Kelson begins his part.
  • Pregnant Hostage: In Camber of Culdi, one of the fifty human hostages taken after a Deryni lord is murdered is a pregnant woman. Cathan MacRorie pleads for their release and is offered the chance to take one of them; he first chooses the pregnant woman, only to be asked if he wants her or her baby. Cathan tries to argue, then chooses to take a teenaged boy instead. The woman later gives birth in captivity and is later hanged like the rest of the hostages.
  • Prematurely Grey-Haired: A couple of these in the Deryni works:
    • The architect Rimmell in Deryni Checkmate has had white hair since a childhood encounter with an old woman popularly supposed to be a Deryni witch. Some unknown magic of hers was blamed for the overnight change in his hair colour.
    • Judhael in The Bishop's Heir and The King's Justice is in his late thirties, yet his hair is grey-white. Unlike Rimmell, his hair colour is not blamed on magic from a Deryni.
  • Prequel: Thanks to the author's willingness and imagination and spurred by fan demand, a number of novels and short stories have been set at various points in the Deryni timeline. The short story "Catalyst", set about fifteen years prior to the beginning of Camber of Culdi, shows Camber's sons and daughter and their friend Rhys Thuryn as children.
    • Interquel: Several short stories, the Heirs of Camber trilogy (published 1989-1994) and the Childe Morgan trilogy (published 2003-2014) are set between the Legends of Camber trilogy (published 1976-1981) and The Chronicles of the Deryni trilogy (published 1970-1973).
    • Prequel in the Lost Age: Katherine Kurtz wrote the Legends of Camber trilogy and the Heirs of Camber trilogy to explain the state of affairs in Gwynedd during The Chronicles of the Deryni trilogy. Specifically, the Legends of Camber and Heirs of Camber books explain how a land that had humans and Deryni co-existing openly (including Healers as a regular feature of the practice of medicine) became a land where Deryni often had to conceal their abilities or face death.
  • Prestige Peril: Kingship in the Eleven Kingdoms is often a dangerous job, so a partial list of the dangers includes:
    • In Gwynedd, King Donal Haldane is rescued from assassins on a couple of occasions. His son Brion is attacked shortly after his ascension in Childe Morgan, and years later he is murdered by a Festilic pretender to his throne. His grandson Kelson is also targeted a week or two later when the same Pretender, Charissa Duchess of Tolán, sends a poisonous creature to attack him in a garden and personally challenges him at his coronation ceremony.
    • In Torenth, Wencit of Torenth comes to the Torenthi throne by disposing of his nephew. Years afterward, Liam-Lajos's older brother Alroy dies in a "riding accident" a month after reaching his majority. This resets the clock on the power of the Torenthi regents, the boys' uncles, since Liam-Lajos is under age at the time. It is later revealed that two of those uncles actually murdered Alroy to extend their power. Later, there is some inkling that the assassins sent to kill Nigel while Kelson was away fighting rebels were also tasked with killing Liam-Lajos while they were at it.
  • Privileged Rival: Deryni Rising has Kelson (young, inexperienced, labouring under a religious and social system that persecutes Deryni) facing Charissa, who's about a decade older, highly trained in arcana, wealthy and related to the royal family of the neighbouring kingdom that has no such history of persecution.
  • Properly Paranoid: Morgan wears a stiletto up his sleeve and chainmail under his clothes, even at his own ducal state dinners (in his own castle!). He sometimes travels in disguise. He had "the cloak of his Deryni power surrounding him like an invisible mantle wherever he went." Yet he is drugged, taken captive, and faced burning at the stake, only to be rescued by his cousin.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide:
    • When Morgan, Duncan and Kelson visit Brion's tomb to retrieve the Eye of Rom the night before Kelson's coronation, they're surprised by Lord Rogier, Earl of Fallon. Morgan and Duncan use their powers to make him sleep until they leave the crypt, then send him safely on his way with his memory erased. The next morning, Rogier is found stabbed to death by Brion's ransacked tomb, "with his own hand on the dagger and a terrible expression on his face, as though he fought whatever it was that made him do it," as Nigel puts it.
    • Minions sent by Deryni often have death-triggers or death-compulsions implanted in their minds. To give only one example, the assassins who attacked Kelson and Liam outside the Hort of Orsal's palace both had these, as well as mind-wipes to prevent anyone from reading their memories after they died.
  • Psychic Powers: a full range of telepathy from an empathic sensing of emotions through Truth Reading through compelling targets to speak the truth (Truth Saying) and all the way up to total Mind Control. They can also send and receive words (Mind Speech) and images at a much faster rate than ordinary speech. These skills prove highly useful when questioning people or gathering information from scouts, not to mention facilitating private conversations in the presence of other people. The good guys tend to reserve Mind Control for maintaining the Masquerade; the bad guys (and girls) have no such compunctions.
    • Physical contact is not actually required to use these powers, but it does make it easier. Kelson and Morgan foster the impression that subjects must be touched in part to ease the fears of the human population.
    • Psychic Block Defense: Deryni have what they term "shields" which can be adjusted from a complete blockage down to transparency. The more skilled a Deryni is, the more control s/he has over the adjustment. Since Deryni are also empathic, the shields are quite necessary to protect them from the strong emotions of others as well as keeping their own thoughts and feelings private. Shields can be affected by head injuries or drugs like merasha, and they rapidly degrade when a Deryni dies. A few people thought to be human (Sean Lord Derry and Sir Kenneth Morgan, Earl of Lendour de jure uxorisnote  among them) are found to have rudimentary shields. Psychic walls can also be constructed in the minds of people (human or Deryni) who have sensitive information that must be protected.
  • Public Execution: Practised by those who have political power (kings of Torenth and Gwynedd, and presumably the sovereign rulers in the rest of the Eleven Kingdoms) and those who aspire to it (as when Loris and Sicard prepare to burn Duncan at the stake before the entire Mearan army).
  • The Quest: As shown by its title, this is the main plot of The Quest for Saint Camber.
  • Rage Breaking Point: In The Bishop's Heir, after Morgan and Duncan fail to save Sidana's life when Llewell slashes her throat just after she exchanged wedding vows with Kelson, Morgan looks up and sees Llewell's triumphant expression, leaps to his feet, grabs Llewell by his tunic, yanks him downward and shouts, "On your knees before your king, Mearan excrement!" He wants to kill Llewell and says so. Cardiel has to step in, grasp Morgan by the wrist and forbid him from acting.
  • Rags to Royalty: Snow White-style, gender flipped for Cinhil Haldane (formerly Nicholas Draper/Father Benedict).
  • Rape Discretion Shot: In The King's Justice, Princess Janniver's memory is read by Rothana, who shows it to Kelson. The text reflects Rothana's editing of the vision in its description of Janniver's emotional reaction, emotions an outraged Rothana passes unfiltered to Kelson. Thus, the readers get no explicit details of the act itself, yet there's no doubt what happened, or who did it: Caitrin's elder son Ithel.
  • Red Is Heroic: The kings of the House of Haldane wear red (as do their liveried servants, pages, and squires), and the coat of arms features a golden lion on a red field.
  • Regent for Life: The regency council, in the Legends of Camber and the Heirs of Camber trilogies.
  • Rejection Ritual: Two of the novels include rites of excommmunication, a Church ritual that cuts off the named individual(s) from participating in any Church rites. During the ritual, each participating bishop carries a single lit candle; at the end, all drop their candles, which should go out when they hit the floor.
    • In Deryni Checkmate, Alaric Morgan and Duncan McLain are excommunicated after being unjustly accused of crimes against the Church. When the ritual ends, one of the fallen candles remains burning, indicating that someone believes they are not deserving of this fate. It's later revealed that one of the bishops has reasons to sympathize with Morgan and Duncan, so it was probably his candle that stayed lit. However, in the world of the Deryni one can never be entirely sure of such things.
    • In The Bishop's Heir, the targets are the evil ex-Archbishop Edmund Loris, his allies among the Council of Bishops, and the rebellious Mearan royal family. This time, all the candles go out.
  • Releasing from the Promise: Cinhil starts out as a priest and cloistered monk, and must be formally released from his earlier vows before he can accept a wife and a crown.
  • Relegated Mentor: This happens to Alaric Morgan relative to Kelson Haldane in the Deryni works. Morgan has a bigger role in the events of the Chronicles of the Deryni trilogy, but Kelson comes more to the fore in the next trilogy (called The Histories of King Kelson). It's justified in that Kelson is introduced as a boy of fourteen at the start of the Chronicles, and that entire trilogy takes place within the following year, so he lacks age and experience. The Histories take place a few years later, after Kelson has grown a bit and been on the throne for a while, and the third volume centers around Kelson's knightly accolade and the coming of age that represents. Morgan is still alive and well as a friend and advisor (the Codex lists him as such several years after the events of King Kelson's Bride), but his presence isn't as large as in the earlier works.
  • Reluctant Ruler:
    • King Cinhil Haldane was happy as a cloistered priest, and he came to resent Camber for his misery after he was persuaded to accept a dispensation from his vows, together with a wife and a crown.
    • Centuries later, Prince Regent Nigel Haldane is this in prospect; he prepares for his empowering ritual with a heavy heart because he doesn't want to confront the possibility he'll become king, and later on he insists on postponing his coronation for a year when his nephew is reported missing.
    • Liam-Lajos and Kelson have this exchange (together with Nigel), while Liam holds the jewelled circlet his uncle Mátyás brought for him:
      Liam: I don't want this. I never wanted it. But I've got it. And I know I'll have to wear it, and wear the responsibilities that go with it when—when I go home. I only wish...
      Kelson (gently): What is it you wish?
      Liam (shrugs): It little matters. I have duties to my people, to my House—and to deny those would be to deny who I am, who I was meant to be—or, who I became, once various relatives got themselves killed and pushed me that much closer the throne of Furstán.
  • Request for Privacy: In King Kelson's Bride, when Liam's uncle Matyas and the Torenthi ambassador Rasoul arrive in Kelson's court to escort him back to Torenth, Liam (who is fourteen and serving as a royal squire) expresses some anxiety. Kelson has Matyas and Rasoul conducted to the withdrawing room and takes the boy aside with Prince Nigel to find out what the problem is. Turns out there are three: Liam doesn't particularly want to rule Torenth, is uncomfortable facing an adult role and he wants to get his knightly accolade from Nigel. After some reassurances and a proposal to extend Liam's tenure as a simple squire for a bit longer, the three go into the withdrawing room with Matyas, Rasoul, and Morgan.
  • Requisite Royal Regalia: Some of these items are also magical, such as the Haldanes' Eye of Rom, Ring of Fire and Lion Brooch. Kelson is also shown selecting a certain style of crown to fit the needs of diplomacy (a Celtic design while visiting the Borders, for which read "Scotland").
  • Rhyming Wizardry: The instructions for Kelson Haldane's power ritual are written as a poem with four stanzas, each with a rhyme scheme of AABA. Then in Kelson's magical battle against Charissa the sorceress, both of them recite their spells in verse. The need for rhymes in Deryni spellcasting is downplayed and eventually dropped completely in later books in the series.
  • Rightful King Returns: Cinhil Haldane, the last descendant of the former rulers of Gwynedd, is sought out and restored to Gwynedd's throne due to the evil nature of the last Festillic king.
  • Ring of Power:
    • The Ring of Fire is officially the Haldanes' coronation ring, but it also figures in Kelson's secret Haldane empowerment ritual.
    • Brion Haldane commissions a new ducal signet ring for Alaric Morgan (reflecting his personal coat of arms, a blend of those of his parents), This ring becomes a Ring of Power, at one point magically securing items for Brion's son's ritual as well as securing the door of Morgan's study
  • Rite of Passage: As in Real Life, people experience a number of these at different ages:
    • The Deryni Naming ritual is usually done when a child reaches the age of reason and can distinguish right and wrong (usually at around seven or eight, just when Catholic children first go to confession and take Communion). Morgan and Duncan are actually only four when they are Named in Childe Morgan, but they demonstrate the requisite knowledge of right and wrong already.
    • Brion's fourteenth birthday in Childe Morgan. Donal pierces his son's ear the night before and uses the blood to prime the Eye of Rom; at court on the day itself, Brion is presented to major vassals as the recognized heir to the throne and oaths of fealty are taken.
    • The knightly accolade when given in peacetime to squires who've completed their training. Morgan hangs this lampshade when Kelson asks about the urgency of learning to cope with ''merasha'':
      "Because you aren't a child any more, my prince," Morgan said a little sharply. "Because in three days' time, you'll be knighted. For those who never wear a crown, that's the official seal of manhood. It makes you fair game for those who might have spared you before because of your youth—especially as your talents become more widely known. When you go on progress, and especially when you meet the Torenthi legates in Cardosa, you'll be particularly at risk."
  • Ritual Magic: This has a dual purpose: to foster the deep concentration needed to use the more demanding Deryni powers, and to draw the esoteric connections of Hermetic Magic. Most of the typical traits are present in Deryni arcana:
    • Magical Gestures can be as simple as snapping one's fingers to light a candle or torch. Other gestures facilitate the drawing of geometric or esoteric figures as focal points for summoning divine/angelic beings.
    • A polyglot Language of Magic sees much use. (See the examples above.) The short story "Healer's Song" features a sung prayer normally performed at the consecration of a Healer on completion of his training; Lord Rhys Thuryn sings it to welcome his newborn Healer son to the family.
    • Rituals intended to emphasize bonds between people, such as Naming and triggering the Haldane potential, involve token sacrifices, generally burning incense and shedding a few drops of blood.
    • Some rooms become places of power from repeated ritual use, notably chapels in larger churches or in private suites/homes. A specific Place of Power is a plot point in Deryni Rising.
    • Geometric Magic most often crops up in the protective circles invoked in Warding, both to protect mages from interference during a ritual and to protect outsiders from the energies unleashed in duels. When creating a Transfer Portal, the shape delineates the area to be enchanted.
  • Romantic Spoonfeeding: Several examples:
    • Duke Jared McLain and Lady Vera Howard are seen feeding each other during a banquet in Childe Morgan.
    • Princess Janniver and Sir Jatham Kilshane spoonfeed each other during their wedding banquet in King Kelson's Bride.
    • Late in King Kelson's Bride, Princess Richelle Haldane is seen feeding grapes to her fiance Brecon Ramsay while they're on a hunting trip with other members of their families.
  • Royal Brat: Conall, especially in The Histories of King Kelson; ultimately degenerates into an Antagonistic Offspring.
  • Royal Decree: Kelson dictated terms to the Mearan Pretender in The King's Justice in one of these. Dhugal (who was related to her by marriage) entered Laas and read the decree to her and her advisors. He was frequently interrupted by questions from Caitrin and Judhael about the fates of their kin in the Mearan army.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Javan codifies the laws of Gwynedd in his tragically brief reign. Kelson investigates places associated with Saint Camber, collects Deryni manuscripts and makes them available to scholars, and founds a school for Deryni training. Oh, and he's a warrior prince by necessity.
  • Royal "We": Played with in Deryni Rising: When Kelson is addressing his last Regency Council after they have voted to convict Morgan of treason and heresy, he says, "We have lost" and gestures vaguely to include Morgan and his supporters in the plural pronoun. Moments later, he hears the clock strike four and knows he's come of age, so he asserts his royal authority, appoints Morgan's aide to the vacant council seat, and breaks the newly-resulting tie vote, setting Morgan free. After this, Kelson plays it straight, especially in documents and formal court functions.
  • Ruler Protagonist: Kelson Haldane becomes King of Gwynedd at 14, and as he ages, he goes from being a type of MacGuffin to one of the key POV members in an Ensemble Cast. This is particularly true in the trilogy called The Histories of King Kelson (which covers his later teens) and the sequel King Kelson's Bride (when he's in his early twenties). Throughout this period, Kelson has to take his dead father's throne, fight off invasion from a neighbouring country, deal with internal rebellion (including a hostile Church), learn to use his magic powers and, well, grow up into adulthood.
  • Ruling Couple: This seems to be Kelson's plan for Araxie in King Kelson's Bride, as it had been for Rothana in The Quest for Saint Camber. Since things with Rothana didn't pan out, and since Araxie is also a Haldane by birth, Kelson suggests triggering the Haldane potential in her as it has already been done in himself. Araxie is not averse to the idea and enters into thoughtful speculation on the matter; no Haldane has ever been Queen of Gwynedd before, and it isn't known if a female Haldane could have her potential triggered (or even that she carries it).

  • Sacred Scripture: A jeweled manuscript Bible appears in several important occasions, most often in the form of oaths of fealty or allegiance sworn on the Bible.
  • Sadistic Choice: In Camber of Culdi, King Imre is going to execute 50 human peasants in reprisal for the murder of one Deryni lord. When Cathan begs him not to, Ariella suggests, and Imre agrees, that one of the peasants shall be spared — but Cathan must choose which one.
    Ariella: And it's not to be by lot or anything, either... Lord Cathan has been granted the power of life and death—if only over a single person. If he's to save a life, he should experience the exquisite torture of having to choose which one it is.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Edmund Loris was Archbishop of Valoret and Primate of All Gwynedd, but in the aftermath of the schism in High Deryni, he was stripped of his office and imprisoned in a monastery. On his escape, he simply takes up where he left off, calling himself Primate when he first confronts Istelyn and takes him prisoner in The Bishop's Heir. So far as he's concerned, Cardiel, Arilan, Istelyn and the rest are the traitors to the Church, and he Loris is the only one who can bestow that label. (Naturally, Istelyn doesn't agree; in a subsequent argument after Dhugal's escape with Sidana and Llewell's capture by Kelson's forces, Istelyn reminds Loris that the bishops deprived him of his office and its authority.) When the new Primate Archbishop Bradene sends a writ of excommunication against Loris, Judhael, Caitrin, and their followers, Loris claims it has no force. In response to this, Loris strips Istelyn of his office as priest and excommunicates him (on the basis of his old authority) expressly so Istelyn can be executed (hanged, drawn and quartered) as a traitor.
  • Sdrawkcab Alias: In Deryni Checkmate, Duke Alaric Morgan's bard Gwydion ap Plenneth informs him about public opinion in his ducal capital Coroth, including songs against Morgan. One of these is about an evil oppressor and entitled "The Ballad of Duke Cirala". In his report, Gwydion lampshades the trope: "...I might also mention that the name Cirala is quite familiar if one only spells it backward: C-I-R-A-L-A-A-L-A-R-I-C."
  • Secret-Keeper: Morgan and Duncan keep their true relationship secret from most people (they are first cousins through their mothers, who were twin sisters); they're also distantly related through their fathers, so they have an excuse to call each other "cousin".
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: In 1121, Duncan believes only he, Morgan, and Kelson know about his heritage (he has Deryni blood through his mother, a full Deryni adopted by a non-Deryni couple) when he is greeted on the road to Coroth by a man who looks like Saint Camber:
    "Hail, Duncan of Corwyn," the stranger murmured.
    "What do you mean?" he managed to whisper, his voice a quarter octave higher than normal. He cleared his throat. "I'm a McLain, of the lords of Kierney and Cassan."
    "And you are also a Corwyn, of your sainted mother's right," the stranger contradicted gently. "There is no shame in being half Deryni, Duncan."
We later learn this fellow has secrets of his own.
  • Secret Stab Wound: Camber does this after an assassination attempt on Cinhil, to try to avoid adding to the resentment building in Cinhil about how much he owes to Camber.
  • Secular Hero: Despite the medieval setting and the presence of many clerical characters, some characters in the Deryni works are less than devout.
    • Alaric Morgan, partly in contrast to his more devout cousin Duncan McLain. Morgan once used his magic to contact his aide-de-camp during a religious service, and used fasting as a cover/excuse when he fainted from the effort. The morning after the knightly accolades of Kelson, Conall and Dhugal, Morgan arrives late to an Ash Wednesday Mass, having stayed up to celebrate with Nigel and an excellent port the night before. He is elsewhere described as being uncomfortable with the idea of receiving the attention of Heaven. He does ask his cousin to give him a blessing (after said cousin became a bishop), and Duncan expresses some surprise at this request; it happens on the day Duncan (who is like a brother to Morgan) was leaving on a military campaign, with the unspoken possibility they night not see each other again.
    • Nigel Haldane, in The King's Justice:
    "He did not often feel the need for a physical expression of his religious feeling. Like Brion, he preferred to witness for his faith through the example of an upright life, rather than spend overmuch time on his knees, in a building that took the place of belief for many folk."
Given that he's facing an unfamiliar arcane ritual that also makes him confront the unwelcome possibility that he may become king himself, he feels the need to pray. "A little awkwardly, then, he bowed his head and framed his thoughts in a far more formal petition than was usually his wont..."
  • Separated at Birth: Alyce and Vera de Corwyn were fraternal twins whose parents secretly passed off Vera as the daughter of human friends whose own child was stillborn at around the same time.
    • For Vera, this becomes a Changeling Fantasy when she begins to receive Deryni training in secret. The girls learn of this after their biological father's death and keep the secret within the family.
    • Later in the timeline, Alyce gives birth to Alaric Morgan and Vera has her son Duncan McLain, making them first cousins.
  • Sex as Rite-of-Passage: During his cruaidh-dheuchainn, Kelson has a vivid dream of marrying and mating with Rothana. Meanwhile, Dhugal observes a young female Servant named Rhidian disappear through another door near the underground chapel (the girl is gone for an hour); he later speculates that Kelson participated in some kind of sexual initiation or ritual marriage, but he doesn't share this idea with Kelson.
  • Sexy Priest: Bishop Denis Arilan's face is described as "handsome", and then-Monsignor (later Bishop) Duncan McLain prompts this exchange between two ladies at his cousin's ducal court:
    "...I do hope he gets back in time for dinner. You've seen him, haven't you?"
    "Ummm," the blond woman sighed approvingly. "I certainly have. What a pity he's a priest."
  • Shotgun Wedding: In The King's Deryni, Princess Xenia Haldane is caught having sex with a Torenthi diplomat during Twelfth Night celebrations in Rhemuth. After Xenia is questioned and physically examined, it is decided the pair must wed. Her uncle Duke Richard tells young Alaric Morgan that her mother the queen insisted Xenia must either marry the man or take the veil and that Xenia chose to marry. Due to her rank, there's a large dose of Defiled Forever in this outcome; Richard says, "For royal women, there are rarely other choices."
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift:
    • The relative security of Deryni in Gwynedd (as well as his status as a badass is reflected in Alaric Morgan's clothing. During his twenties and early thirties as reactionary forces hold sway in the Church and government, he generally wears "sable" (black) riding leathers, with a chain mail shirt that "gleamed openly at wrists and throat, boldly belligerent and just a little too ready for trouble". By the time Kelson had ruled for several years (in The Bishop's Heir), he's described as having transitioned through muted grey with a deep burgundy cloak, followed by deep blues, then greens and golds and particolours—"the rich jewel tones rather than bright shades". For Kelson's accolade in The Quest for Saint Camber, Morgan is "[c]lad in forest green velvet", with his gold ducal coronet and "with Kelson's sword in his hands, he looked like some elemental godling—sunlight on forest leaves and pine boughs, puissant and vital". Secure at last?
    • Duncan's tenuous position within the Church is reflected in his swapping between secular and sacred garb. Aside from the need for discretion, Duncan reverts to mostly secular dress when his vocation is in doubt or when it's prudent to emphasize his secular role. Even then, there are usually subtle clues to his priesthood: he left to lead the northern army on the Mearan campaign with the sword and crozier crossed en saltire behind the embroidered crest on his clothing and the cross-shaped nose piece on his helm, and he entered Laas with Kelson in ducal coronet and armor with a scarlet bishop's cope.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The Deryni series falls into the middle of the scale on this trope, with good winning in the end, but "in the end" being centuries rather than years. This makes it fairly cynical for a fantasy series.
  • Sliding Scale of Plot Versus Characters: The Deryni works are equally plot and character driven, largely because many of the protagonists have to deal with the powers and the persecution that come with being Deryni, as well as the strife between the rival kingdoms of Gwynedd and Torenth. In particular, Denis Arilan and Duncan McLain have to resolve a basic personal conflict (between their arcane abilities and their vocations) which is tied to church politics and a later schism; they both choose to be priests, but Denis keeps his secret as far as possible, while Duncan eventually lives openly as a Deryni priest. Alaric Morgan has spent years cultivating an ominous reputation, yet he has to adjust when a new king (Kelson, himself half Deryni) takes the throne and works to end the persecutions and regain lost knowledge. Kelson has to grow into his own as a man and a king, cope with his heritage on a personal level and cope with rebellions, church schism, and the rival kingdom to the east. Even for characters with smaller parts to play, like Nigel and Jehana, plot events have personal consequences, and personal choices influence the plot.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Or rather, cardounet. Joram MacRorie and Rhys Thuryn are playing it when the short story "Catalyst" begins. Young Alaric Morgan gets a set as a gift, and he and some fellow pages later give a travel set to Prince Nigel Haldane as a birthday gift. Both Alaric and Joram excel at such tactical games.
  • Sore Loser: Conall Haldane loses an informal archery match to Dhugal MacArdry early in The King's Justice and "all but slammed down his bow, though he did manage a stiff little bow of acknowledgment before stalking off sullenly toward the stables". This is noticed and commented upon; Kelson says his cousin "hasn't yet learned the graceful art of losing."
  • Spare to the Throne: A partial list:
    • Sickly King Alroy Haldane is succeeded by his younger twin Javan, who is turn succeeded by the still younger Rhys Michael.
    • King Donal Haldane has four sons (Brion, Blaine, Nigel and Jatham), but only two (Brion and Nigel) outlive him. Nigel is heir presumptive to the throne for nearly half his life, and while he'll do his duty and rule if it comes to that, he doesn't want the job.
    • In Torenth, Liam succeeds his elder brother Alroy after his riding accident. Liam has a younger brother named Ronal-Rurik.
  • The Squire: All nobly-born candidates for knighthood serve in this capacity. Prince Nigel Haldane oversees the training of pages and squires in the royal household, including his own sons and the Torenthi prince Liam-Lajos Furstán. Liam actually asks to maintain his squire's status until he returns to Torenth in King Kelson's Bride.
  • Stab the Scorpion: Early in Deryni Rising, Morgan kills a stenrect crawler that was inches from Kelson's hand. A lady-in-waiting sees him draw and use his sword, but not the creature; she screams, guards come, and Morgan's reputation is invoked.
  • Staff of Authority: The Camberian Council has two of its members serve as "coadjutors", and they each carry a staff of office as a symbol of their authority to censure other members when discussions get heated.
  • Stage Whisper: Played for Laughs early in Deryni Rising. Morgan is checking his aide Derry's injury when he is rudely interrupted by a whip-wielding giant-sized Connaiti mercenary announcing "His Loftiness" the Supreme of Howicce. Morgan stops Derry from retaliating, noting that the giant is accompanied by six more just like him, but cannot resist indulging his sense of humour.
    Derry: By all the devils in hell, what is a Supreme of Howicce?
    • At a glare from the last of giant mercenaries, Morgan puts on an innocent expression, but once the party has proceeded down the street, he discreetly uses his powers to entangle the whip-wielder's whip round his horse's legs, bringing down both man and beast and forcing the Connaiti to cut the whip to rescue his horse.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Rimmell in Deryni Checkmate; Conall in The Quest for Saint Camber.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: A couple of instances:
    • Duncan McLain and Maryse MacArdry. Expecting to be parted over a feud between their clans, they marry in secret and Maryse conceives a son, Dhugal. Duncan later learns Maryse died of a fever the following winter, but he doesn't know the rest of the story until much later.
    • Rothana of Nur Hallaj and Kelson Haldane. After much thought, she decides to put aside her temporary novice's vows and marry him, then he disappears down a waterfall and is thought to be dead. She is persuaded to marry someone else Kelson's traitorous cousin Conall Haldane, and feels she cannot marry Kelson once they are both free to do so. She even arranges for him to marry someone else!
  • Stern Teacher: Prince Nigel Haldane, Duke of Carthmoor. The "Iron Duke" trains the pages in the royal household, and he's generally called "tough but fair".
    • The very beginning of Deryni Rising features Nigel, near a royal hunting party, teaching his pages about proper forms of address for various royal, noble, and ecclesiastical ranks.
    "No, no, no," Nigel was saying. "If you ever address an earl simply as 'Sir' in public, he'll have your head, and I won't blame him. And you must always remember that a bishop is 'Your Excellency.' Now, Jatham, how would you address a prince of the royal blood?"
    • In The King's Justice, he's shown training two young pages in the rudiments of riding, catching one boy by his tunic and belt when he falls and putting him back on the warhorse: "They [Kelson, Morgan and Dhugal] could not hear what Nigel said to the lad, though his words brought an immediate flush of scarlet to the downy cheeks."
  • Stress Vomit: Several of these:
    • In Deryni Checkmate, Sean of Derry is on a reconnaissance mission for Morgan in the town of Fathane when he's accosted in an alley by two men who try to drug him. He kills one of them outright in his fight for freedom, but he has to slit the throat of the injured partner before the fellow comes to and raises the alarm. Derry leaves the alley and resumes his drunk act, retching in a nearby gutter. Passersby think he is simply drunk, "but Derry knew better."
    • After his forces defeat those of Sicard and Loris at the climax of The King's Justice, Kelson goes in search of Duncan McLain. On seeing the extent of Duncan's injuries, Kelson is so lightheaded he must put his head briefly between his knees. When he assists the men treating Duncan by using his powers on Duncan's mind, the memories of Duncan's torture and near-execution combined with his present pain are too much for Kelson; Morgan takes over, and he is violently sick before passing out from exhaustion.
    • In the epilogue to The Quest for Saint Camber, we learn that the execution of Kelson's cousin Conall for treason went badly, partly because the executioner was unnerved at having to kill a Haldane prince, and partly because Conall himself flinched: "It had taken two more blows to end the matter—though at least Conall knew nothing after the first—and Kelson had been violently and wretchedly sick as soon as he was out of public view."
  • Succession Crisis: With the occasional Unexpected Successor. All the time. In Gwynedd and Torenth. Funny how everyone seems to want a job with such a short life expectancy.
  • Sudden Principled Stand: In Deryni Checkmate, the day after the Curia excommunicated Morgan and Duncan, its leaders, Archbishops Loris and Corrigan, tried to push through an Interdict on Morgan's duchy as well. The previously neutral Bishop Cardiel spoke against the measure, precipitating a schism within the Church. Cardiel argued that it was unjust to punish the people of Corwyn for the actions of its duke and left open the possibility that Morgan and Duncan were morally innocent. The conflict escalated as other bishops, including Arilan and Tolliver (Corwyn's bishop) joined in, accusing Loris of supporting a rebellion against the king and promoting genocide against the Deryni. Bishop Bradene of Grecotha quietly defies both sides, abstains from voting on the Corwyn Interdict and announces his intention to retire to his see.
  • Summon to Hand: Denis Arilan does this with his Deryni powers in The Quest for Saint Camber: "A distracted snap of his fingers brought two empty goblets, floating over from the dishes cleared away after supper, one of which he filled from the flask."
  • Supernatural Elite: This appears frequently in the Deryni works. King Kelson Haldane in particular holds that his arcane powers (which he distinguishes from those of Deryni in general) are a manifestation of divine favour, signifying his right to rule. He says as much during an archiepiscopal tribunal investigating Duncan McLain's marriage:
    "Deryni are not the only ones to have this power, Bishop Arilan....We Haldanes can tell when a man is lying. It is a power of our sacred kingship."
  • Supernatural Sensitivity: Deryni can generally tell who is Deryni and who isn't, because Deryni have mental/psionic barriers called "shields" that are detectable over short distances. Some highly skilled Deryni can disguise their shields, making them seem transparent. Ordinary humans lack these shields, so their surface thoughts are easily apparent to Deryni. Transfer Portals have a residual signature that Deryni can feel and recognize (described as a tingling sensation coming from the area of the floor/ground where the Portal is located). Other objects and places associated with arcane rituals take on psychic energies over time, and Deryni can feel these power traces as well.
  • Superpowerful Genetics: Both the ability to manifest Deryni powers and the Haldane potential (apparently a variant) are transmitted genetically; the trait is dominant, so only one parent needs to have the trait for an offspring to inherit it. Thus, so-called "half-breeds" are just as powerful as full-blooded Deryni. Deryni generally need to be taught to use their powers; carriers of the Haldane potential need no training, but must have the potential triggered by a outside action. This is usually done in a ritual, the specifics of which vary slightly from one generation to the next; certain heirloom objects are used, and new ones may be added.
  • Symbol Motif Clothing: Kelson Haldane has in his wardrobe a tunic of red covered with tiny golden Haldane lions. His coat of arms features a single golden lion on a red field.

    T - Z 
  • Take Care of the Kids: King Donal Haldane wants Alyce de Corwyn to trigger his son Brion's Haldane potential if he dies before her son Alaric is old enough to do it, and he implants a mental compulsion in her to make certain. On her deathbed in the same book, Alyce asks this of her husband Kenneth for their own children, the four-year-old Alaric and the newborn Bronwyn.
  • Taking the Bullet: In Deryni Checkmate, Duke Alaric Morgan is sailing to a meeting with the Hort of Orsal aboard his ship Rhafallia when the auxiliary helmsman, a partisan of rebel Warin de Grey, attacks him with a poisoned knife. A royal squire named Richard FitzWilliam happens to turn at the right moment to see the helmsman leap at Morgan, and he threw himself between them while shouting a warning. Richard takes the dagger in his side, and he asks to be allowed to swear the oath of fealty so he can die as Morgan's liege man. Morgan grants his request, and Richard just manages to recite it before he dies. The assassin had taken poison himself before attacking, and he defiantly resists Morgan's questioning until he also dies. Morgan gives orders to have Richard's body buried with full honours at his capital Coroth, while the assassin's remains are dumped overboard.
  • A Taste of the Lash: Part of the torture inflicted on Duncan by Loris and Gorony in The King's Justice. That they abuse their victim in the same way Jesus Christ was tortured before the Crucifixion seems to escape them, but their victim consciously models the stoicism of Christian martyrs.
  • Tension-Cutting Laughter: In Deryni Rising, though the protagonists are anticipating trouble from Charissa at Kelson's coronation, there's some larking about whilst dressing for the ceremony. Morgan strikes a pose in his finery and Duncan calls him conceited, wagging a finger in the role of scolding priest, whereupon both men burst out laughing, Morgan holding his sides and Duncan collapsing into a chair. The chapter's epigraph is "For surely laughter masks a nervous soul."
  • Teleporters and Transporters: Deryni have Transfer Portals, which are small areas on a floor or earth (usually roughly a square meter at most) that have unique psychic signatures (described as a faint tingling sensation for the Deryni who touch them or stand on them). Deryni can travel instantaneously between two Portals by standing on the departure Portal, mentally concentrating on the destination Portal and "warping the energies just so". There are a number of limitations which keep them from being excessively advantageous:
  • Terror Hero: Alaric Morgan finds himself as a known Deryni from childhood, since his mother was also a courtier of King Donal Haldane's and known to have used her powers publicly at Donal's express command. Since he lacks the protection of the Masquerade, he cultivates a fearsome reputation as a Deryni mage as well as honing his fighting skills to a high level. Thus, he has psychological tools: a scary reputation for self-protection and the occasional yet credible Blasé Boast to convince people to cooperate with him instead of attacking him. It doesn't always work, and he has less need to use this reputation as Kelson becomes more securely established on his throne.
  • Test of Pain: In Deryni Rising, Prince Kelson Haldane must go through a specific ritual to awaken the Haldane magic he inherited from his father King Brion. At the heart of the ritual is a huge jeweled brooch whose clasp is a three-inch-long sharpened needle made of gold. Kelson has to drive the clasp through the palm of his hand. And he has to do it himself; no one else can help him, or the ritual will be ruined and the backlash could kill him.
  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!: Early in Deryni Rising, Morgan lectures a lady-in-waiting who addresses Kelson as "Your Highness" and talks to him as if he were a child, despite that fact that it's the day before Kelson's coronation and King Brion has been dead for about a fortnight. In contrast, Duke Ewan of Claibourne addresses Kelson as "Sire" just seconds after Brion's death.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: For those who fear Deryni, this is part of their fear: they look just like ordinary humans, so you can't tell if people are Deryni just by looking at them. Of course, this fact is also helpful to good and heroic Deryni as well.
  • Think in Text: Kurtz makes liberal use of this to distinguish Mind Speech and similar unspoken thoughts from actual spoken dialogue.
    • Thought dialogue between Deryni characters is rendered in italics. This is helpful to visually distinguish it from things other, ordinary humans could hear (and such conversations sometimes take place in front of humans who are unaware), and from words the same people verbally utter in the same scene. It also lends some sense of urgency which is often justified by circumstances.
    • Early in Deryni Rising, when Morgan grieves for Kelson's father Brion and recalls recent harrowing events (see the Establishing Character Moment above), the exposition beam between the author and the reader is done using a series of descriptive phrases separated by points of elipsis.
  • This Cannot Be!: Bishop (and Regent) Hubert McInnis's reaction to Alister's election as Archbishop of Valoret is "That's impossible!" — both when the first ballot for Alister is reported, and when the final count is completed.
  • Throwing Down the Gauntlet: In Deryni Rising, Charissa literally throws down a mailed gauntlet to interrupt Kelson's coronation and challenge him to a Duel Arcane for the right to rule Gwynedd. Kelson first appoints his Champion to act on his behalf, and later picks up the gauntlet himself when Charissa reissues her challenge.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Done by the dying Alister Cullen in his battle with Ariella.
  • Touch Telepathy: In the twelfth century portion of the timeline, King Kelson Haldane and his mentor Duke Alaric Morgan spread the idea that Deryni can only read someone's mind if they are touching the person. While this is not strictly true (touch is helpful but not needed), they promulgate this notion to ease the fears of the ordinary humans in the population.
  • To Unmasque the World: The ultimate goal for the protagonists. People know Deryni exist, but they're so feared (and consequently persecuted) that they must conceal themselves. Not that everyone agrees upon methods and timing. Gradually, (OK very, very gradually) through a combination of heroic examples and royal fiat, the masks come off.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Sidana's wedding ring. Kelson wears it on his little finger until he gives it to Rothana (as an unofficial betrothal ring) before leaving on his quest. When Rothana learns Kelson and Dhugal are missing, she throws it into the palace moat. After his return, Kelson has it retrieved. A few years later, when he decides to propose to Araxie, he melts it down and gives the gold to Bishop Arilan, asking him to have a new ring made for Araxie.
  • Trouble from the Past: The people of twelfth century Gwynedd have to deal with the evils done in the ninth and tenth centuries (invasion and conquest, a nasty Magocracy, a rebellion that leads to a backlash, and then two more centuries of Fantastic Racism).
  • Try to Fit That on a Business Card:
    • His Majesty, King Kelson Cinhil Rhys Anthony Haldane, by the Grace of God, King of Gwynedd, Prince of Meara, and Lord of the Purple March
    • His Royal Highness, The High and Mighty Prince Nigel Cluim Gwydion Rhys Haldane, Duke of Carthmoor and Regent of Gwynedd
    • The Most High, Potent, and Noble His Grace The Duke of Corwyn, General Sir Alaric Anthony Morgan, Lord General of the Armies and King's Champion
    • The Most High, Potent, and Noble His Grace The Duke of Cassan, Sir Duncan Howard McLain, Priest and Bishop
  • Turbulent Priest: Hubert, Loris, Gorony, Creoda,
  • Tyrannicide: In novel Camber of Culdi, the coup d'etat against King Imre Festil by Cinhil Haldane, aided by Camber MacRorie Earl of Culdi and his family, involves this. Imre is depicted mistreating ordinary humans (taking Disproportionate Retribution for the murder of a Deryni lord by taking fifty human hostages and executing them whe the killers don't come forward), and he's killed in an arcane duel by Cinhil. Camber and his family are motivated to find Cinhil and persuade the reluctant priest to take the throne because of Imre's tyranny.
  • Unexpected Successor: Often due to the succession crises mentioned above. Discussed in Childe Morgan by the Haldane courtiers after the death of Prince Nimur of Torenth and the mysterious removal of his brother Prince Torval from the succession promote the relatively unprepared third brother Prince Karoly. Remedied in Liam-Lajos' case by Kelson and Nigel, who supervise Liam's education in Rhemuth after Kelson becomes suzerain of Torenth and Liam's older brother dies in a "riding accident".
  • Unfit for Greatness: King Cinhil Haldane in the Legends of Camber trilogy. Having spent most of his life as a cloistered priest, he is unprepared for the machinations of politics, and is unable to prevent several human lords on his council from staging their own coup d'etat after his death. He also blames Camber (the man who engineered his succession to the throne) for the loss of his vocation and his misery over it, and he distances himself from an experienced courtier's advice when he needs it most.
  • The Unmasqued World: Ultimate goal of Kelson, his courtiers, and at least some of the Camberian Council. Not that everyone agrees upon methods and timing.
  • Unhappy Medium: Dowager Queen Jehana overhears the thoughts of assassins about to attack Nigel; she agonizes over whether to warn him (and thereby save his life) when she believes the means she used to learn the information corrupts her soul.
  • The Unreveal: In the epilogue to The Quest for Saint Camber, Kelson and Dhugal meet a cowled man on the beach near Castle Coroth. The man won't give his name or admit appearing to Duncan years before, but he does draw a sigil in the sand that shows them a vision of Camber on his bier. Though there's no clue as to where or when the vision actually happened, Kelson finds a tiny shiral crystal bead (like those sewn into Camber's netted shroud) in the sand once the sigil is washed away by a wave.
  • Villainous Incest: Imre and his sister Ariella, in Camber of Culdi. Their son is the founder of the House of Furstán-Festil, which will unsuccessfully try to re-take Gwynedd for the next two centuries.
  • The Watson: Often, the limitations or rules of Deryni magic are explained in answers to questions posed by characters who are ordinary humans or otherwise inexperienced:
    • As the coronation duel unfolds in Deryni Rising, Nigel fires a series of anxious questions at Morgan and Duncan. Nigel is particularly disturbed at the tactical "mistake" of giving Charissa the first blow, but Duncan explains that allowing a woman the first blow, even if she issues the challenge, is one of the rules.
    • The younger Kelson, especially in the first year or so of his reign, was tempted to use his powers directly against the archbishops (Loris and Corrigan) who were undermining his government by persecuting Deryni generally and Morgan in particular. Morgan and Duncan must remind him (and the audience) why such a direct to route towards conflict resolution is no solution.
    • Derry asks key questions about the distance and using the spell when Morgan teaches him to join in long-distance rapport for his first reconnaissance trip in Deryni Checkmate.
    • Early in The Bishop's Heir, after a boyish-looking assassin with Mearan sympathies tries to kill Duncan, his superior Cardiel wants Arilan to question Judhael of Meara and make him forget afterwards; Arilan has to explain why that's a bad idea. A bit later in the same book, Dhugal is present when Kelson uses his powers to question a sleeping Caulay MacArdry, and more questions follow when Kelson breaks off to answer Morgan's distant Call and needs Dhugal's help to establish so distant a mental contact.
    • Kelson reverts to being the questioner when working with Prince Azim Nur Hallaj to prepare for his role as a Moving Ward for Liam's killijálay in King Kelson's Bride.
  • White Hair, Black Heart:
    • Rimmell, Duke Jared McLain's architect in Deryni Checkmate, had his hair turn white overnight when he was a boy, and his family and neighbours blamed a local Deryni woman for it. He falls madly in love with his boss's prospective daughter-in-law, Duke Alaric Morgan's sister Bronwyn, and he goes so far as to obtain magic to woo her despite the difference in their social stations and the fact that she's in love with someone else (her finacé Kevin McLain Earl of Kierney). This does not end well.
    • Judhael Quinnell, Prince-Bishop of Meara, is said to be in his thirties, yet his hair is prematurely white. He goes along with the plans of his aunt, the Mearan Pretender Caitrin Quinnell, and former Archbishop Loris to further his own ambition to become a bishop. He gets what he wants, but he stands by and allows Loris and Caitrin to condemn the loyal Henry Istelyn to a grisly death for his loyalty to King Kelson Haldane. He later repents of his ambition and refuses Kelson's offer of clemency to avoid further rounds of Mearan separatist rebellion.
  • Widowed at the Wedding: Kelson, during his first marriage to Sidana of Meara at the end of The Bishop's Heir.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Apt to happen to Haldanes and Deryni children, especially with the pressures making them grow up fast.
    • Kelson's deft questioning of his father Brion in the first chapter of Deryni Rising. The prince is a couple weeks shy of fourteen, and Brion admires his son's shrewd intellect.
    • Perhaps the best example is the four-year-old Alaric Morgan in Childe Morgan. Alyce is conducting a Naming ritual (which is usually done when the child is seven or eight), and she questions him as part of the ritual:
      "Alaric," she began, "I know that Father Anselm has talked to you about the difference between right and wrong."
      Alaric nodded solemnly.
      "Do you think you could tell me about something that's wrong? Can you give me an example?"
      The boy cocked his head thoughtfully, then looked at her with all the wisdom of his four years.
      "Do you mean just naughty, like when I kick Cousin Kevin, or really bad?"
      Alyce had to concentrate to keep from smiling at the sagacity of that answer. She need not have worried about her son's understanding.
  • The Wise Prince: Kelson again, and Liam-Lajos shows signs of this in King Kelson's Bride.
  • With Us or Against Us: Invoked by both sides near the end of Deryni Checkmate during the acrimonious Interdict debate in the Curia which began the schism in the Gwyneddian Church. At one point, Cardiel addresses a couple of junior bishops: "Siward? Gilbert? Do you stand with us? Or with Loris?" Loris finally hangs the lampshade when Cardiel (host of the assembly in Dhassa) orders him to leave: "Then it is war. And all who side with the enemy shall be counted as the enemy. There can be no other alternative."
  • Wizard Duel: Generally to the death.
    • Cinhil vs. a priest who poisoned his infant son in a spur-of-the-moment affair.
    • Cinhil vs. Imre subverted when Imre kills himself.
    • Alister Cullen vs. Ariella fatal for both combatants.
    • Donal vs. Sief MacAthan, also spur-of-the-moment when Sief realizes he's been cuckolded by his king.
    • Brion vs. the Marluk
    • Kelson vs. Charissa, played straight (including throwing down the gauntlet) after a slight delay.
    • Kelson/Morgan/Duncan/Arilan vs. Wencit/Lionel/Rhydon/Bran Coris subverted by "Rhydon" revealing himself to be Stefan Coram after poisoning himself and his side.
    • Kelson vs. Conall, to clear defeat only. Kelson had no wish to give Conall an honourable death in combat.
    • Liam-Lajos/Kelson/Mátyás/Morag vs. Mahael/Teymuraz/Branyg, prompted by Mahael's attempt to Mind Rip Liam during his investiture.
  • Won the War, Lost the Peace: Sure the Haldanes were restored, but a cadre of ruthless human lords temporal and spiritual played upon the remembered sufferings of the human populace to fuel the persecution backlash and Imre's descendants kept coming back for more.
  • The Wrongful Heir to the Throne: Cinhil Haldane vis-à-vis Imre Furstán-Festil
  • You Are What You Hate: Kelson's mother Jehana violently hates Deryni and all magic, and a lot of the drama in Deryni Rising comes from the heroes having to work around her. Morgan finally blackmails Jehana into keeping her peace during Kelson's coronation ceremony by implying that she herself is Deryni and offering to read her and ascertain the truth. She eventually tries to tap into her powers to defend her son, although it doesn't work very well.
  • You Killed My Father: Kelson vis-à-vis Charissa. Also Charissa vis-à-vis Brion and Morgan.