Katharine Kerr
Daggerspell (Book 1 in the Deverry-series)
Ballantine Books 1986

Katharine Kerr
Darkspell (Book 2 in the Deverry-series)
Ballantine Books 1987

Katharine Kerr
The Bristling Wood (Book 3 in the Deverry-series)
Doubleday 1989

Katharine Kerr
The Dragon Revenant (Book 4 in the Deverry-series)
Doubleday 1990

A young prince is torn between his love, Brangwen, his responsibilities as king-to-be and his urge to learn dweomer, the ancient magic of which he has a great talent. Confused he runs away - and because of that, his love gets involved in an incestuos relationship with her brother, Gerraent - a relationsship that in the end kills her, her brother and Blaen, his best friend. In his desperation, the prince vowes that he shall not die before he has set everything right again and takes the name Nevyn (Noone).

After 400 years, many lives later, the mother of a girl named Jill dies. Her father, the silver dagger (mercenary) Cullyn, comes to take her with him. And because of that, she becomes the first female silver dagger ever. Rhodry, half elf, half human, is made an outlaw by his older brother, the gwerbret. Fighting is what he is good at, so he becomes a silver dagger too. Their adventures, sometimes together with Nevyn, is the main plot of the series, but their are also stories from other times vowen into it.

Out of this, Katherine Kerr creates an amazing story of love, adventure, tragedy and reincarnation. Yes, reincarnation. And what you've done in one life influence next life, quite like "karma". The mess Nevyn, Brangwen and the rest created in the first story, has got effects in their lives for several hundred years. The story jumps back and forth between different incarnations, creating an interesting web of plots (there are tables with lists of who is incarnated as who in what time, to help clear out their often complicated relationships).

The people of Deverry are gauls who, led by a great dweomer master, escaped when a rebellion against emperor Nero failed. But there are also elves, dwarves and hellenized Moores in their new world. The magical/religious system of the world, dweomer, is quite shamanistic, but the idea of reincarnation is taken from the real gauls - it is one of the few things we know about their religious beliefs. Mrs Kerr has taken her time to study celtic culture and language, and it shows in her writing, which gives a very realistic impression. This must be what life really was like for nobles and warriors in the celtic Middle Ages - at least in Deverry.

Before I started reading these books, I didn't like celtic fantasy. But the stories are so good you almost forget the celtic setting... Because of the reincarnation concept, Kerr gets the opportunity to tell sad tales as well as happy ones. Most fantasy novels are bound to have happy endings, but good stories are often tragedies - and the most memorable one in this series is also the most tragic.

This is one of the best fantasy series I've ever read. It is unique, because of the excellently applied reincarnation concept. But it is also filled with good stories well told. If you want to read celtic fantasy, I recommend these books. Or if you want fiction with reincarnation. Or if you just want real great fantasy entertainment. Prepare for a couple of weeks in Deverry!

(There are new versions of "Daggerspell" and "Darkspell". I haven't read them, but Katherine Kerr recommends them, especially "Darkspell" where the story has been slightly changed. Her editors at the time made her make some changes she didn't like, so now she has rewritten the book to fit her original intentions.)

Karl Henriksson

Order your copy from Amazon.com now:

The Bristling WoodPaperback
The Dragon RevenantPaperback

Books by the same author:
A Time of Exile
A Time of Omens
Days of Blood and Fire
Days of Air and Darkness

The Red Wyvern

Katherine Kerr's personal home page
Deverry Home Page (fan page)

Reviews - FantasyLinks - BoardRoom - Top 5

Henriksson & Henriksson 1996.