13/31 – Kelson Haldane

13/31 – Kelson Haldane

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In before midnight! Man, this has been the closest I’ve come yet to saying, “Nah, I’ll do two tomorrow. Or maybe just one tomorrow.” And don’t think I haven’t had this inner conversation every day for two weeks. XD

King Kelson Haldane was my poster boy when I was twenty. I’d just moved to Cologne to study, and I discovered that the bookshops and libraries in Cologne had English departments. Not English shelves with one Steven King and one Rosamunde Pilcher, but actual departments. With Fantasy books. There were even bookshops devoted solely to English books. What slim money I had left over at the end of the month, I’d spend in them. (Who needed clothes?) I’d order books and drop by every day for three weeks to ask if they were in yet. And after two weeks, more often than not, they turned out to be the wrong ones. I miss those days. Last I walked past the street on Hohenstaufenring where “Books Around” used to be, it had closed – but sometimes, when I order an obscure English book on amazon and have it the next day, I still look back gratefully to those days when new books had to be earned.

The Fantasy series that left the most lasting impression back then were the Deryni books by Katherine Kurtz. Her world is rather down-to-earth medieval, dominated by a Christian church that goes through a large spectrum from benignity to bigotry, and with a streak of magic that, over the course of her books, starts out as being part of the Church until political and zealous developments render it anathema. Her books span four trilogies and two main eras, the one in which the Church suddenly turns on magic-users, the Deryni, and very nearly wipes them out entirely. The later-era books then deal with the survival of the magic streak in the royal family of Gwynedd, and the labours of young King Kelson to reconcile magic and the Church (and the war he has to fight over it). Though there was a fair lot of dying and war going on in these books (The “Heirs of Saint Camber” trilogy reduced me to a puddle as much as the Silmarillion) , today I consider them as quite the opposite of George R. R. Martin. I loved these books, the world, the story, the characters, and particularly Kelson, to bits.

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