Rereading the classic novel, “Deryni Rising”

I first read Deryni Rising back in the 70’s when I was in Junior High. It became one of my favorite fantasy novels, and I have looked back fondly at it ever since. I remember wanting to be Kelson Haldane. Well, maybe not King Kelson, but a Deryni like him. I remember how Katherine Kurtz managed to bring the complex, yet colorful setting alive and pull me into the story, where I felt like I was wandering the halls of Rhemuth Castle alongside Morgan, Duncan, Kelson, and the other many characters in the book.

Lately, I have stepped up my game as a writer. I’m now in a writer’s group, and I have written—an am writing—several novels. I’m immersed in editing most of them at this point. I’m in a frame of mind where I look at the books I read from an editor’s perspective, letting me see the stories in a way I’ve never seen them before.

I reread Deryni Rising recently, and I discovered something both fascinating and wonderful. I figured out how the esteemed Katherine Kurtz let the reader look inside each character’s head without it becoming confused or chaotic.

In one scene, I was in the head of Alaric Morgan, one of the books main characters, and I was fully aware of the stress he was under and the urgency of his work. Then, Queen Jehana stormed into the room and began shouting at him. As it happened, I was inside Morgan’s head and experienced the argument through his perspective.

Then Jehana turned on her heel and left the room…

And I followed.

With the ending of the argument and the physical change of the Queen leaving the room, I had switched perspective and was now marching down the castle hallway, trying to keep up with Jehana as her mind seethed over the dispute. I heard what she was thinking and I understood her point of view—even though I didn’t agree with it. She went through a doorway and had a heated conversation with Prince Nigel—she was always angry throughout the novel.

And when she left Nigel, she left me as well. I stayed behind in Nigel’s room and head.

This technique was brilliant because it not only accomplished the necessary task of keeping the reader abreast of what was going on, and what everyone was thinking, but it actually pulled me into the story, where I felt like I was there walking beside them. When they had inner dialog, it was as though they were talking to me.

I think it was this subtle means of perspective shifting that helped make the book so magical for me—beyond the intriguing characters, fantastic yet realistic setting, and suspenseful plot.

Deryni Rising was not one of the first fantasy novels I ever read, but it has stood the test of time to remain always one of my favorites. And now, it has taught me how to handle stories that involve a large ensemble cast—something I was hesitant to attempt, but am now looking forward to.