Very solid medieval-ish fantasy. Fascinating how it has all the trappings of Catholicism (and not just the cheap standard stuff either, you can tell Kurtz knows her stuff!) but … very little of the substance? It’s like an anti-Narnia in that way. I suppose the Lord Darcy books are similar?
I have to confess, I was way more into the setup than into either the story or the worldbuilding. The characters are as one-dimensional as you’d expect, which even with my high tolerance for heroic idols of perfect character and strength got a bit much.
My worldbuilding brain constantly goes “that makes no sense!” though, which also limited my enjoyment. Having a super-Christian country that is basically all of medieval Europe, but in a wildly non-Earth place with weird, magic-countries as neighbours is so … odd? The world feels flat and made-up due to that. Like, if you don’t have Rome and Israel, where did your Christianity come from? The Church, clearly Catholic, with archbishops and priests and politics is running stuff, crosses are mentioned aplenty, but Jesus not once? Is there … a pope? The church seems to have lots of power, but the king can threaten to dismiss bishops – where does their power derive from? Is there a Vatican-equivalent?
It’s fair that these are not answered to some degree, especially in a first book in a series, especially from 1971, but the lack of depth in world-building, coupled with the hand-wavy revulsion against Deryni (people with magic, but treated more like a different race) made it really hard to suspend my disbelief.
This book is part of the 2022 Backlog Incident.