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Author Topic: Is this the Deryni Moment?  (Read 10239 times)

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Offline BalanceTheEnergies

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Is this the Deryni Moment?
« on: February 28, 2011, 11:24:52 pm »
I've been a bit reluctant to start a new topic, especially since "Memo to the Filmmakers" gets so many reads (1788 last time I checked) and zero replies, but this idea has been buzzing round my head for the last week, and this article from the LA Times has goaded me to type again. I also run the risk of being misunderstood in some of the comparisons I will make, but I cherish the hope that you will read the thing through before you flame me for what you think I've written (I alluded to a small point in a chat and got attacked for it until another member came to my rescue, so I speak from experience). I will strive for brevity, but I promise no results.

There's a good deal of media coverage discussing the state of Hollywood this time of year, and some of it alludes to the tentpole project, with its merchandising opportunities and the presumed economic security (noted in the LA Times piece) of previously existing ideas or material. The book/TV series/graphic novel/toy with a proven audience base is supposed to be a hedge against boxoffice failure for the risk-averse studios. This is supposed to reflect a major shortcoming of the major studios' mindset. Perhaps in the the general way it is, but in particular cases it may not be. Specifically, previously created works that reflect something in the current zeitgeist can offer both a hedge against the risk and a fresh feeling of timeliness. I suggest that KK's works, particularly those from Deryni Rising forward, are such works.

An overarching theme of ITKS and the subsequent novels is a tale of a vilified minority group that suffers because their very identities and the hideous deeds attributed to them (in most cases, falsely so) evoke fear in members of the majority over a period of decades/centuries. Power-hungry members of the majority stoke those fears and lies among their fellows, in part to secure their own power, and create a body of punitive secular law and religious dogma to codify their hatred. Despite these pressures, more members of the minority group are born all the time. Some minority members live openly (and pay a price), while many others conceal their membership in the minority group—some of them going so far as to internalize the hatred of the larger culture, denying their very natures to themselves. The solidarity of the minority group is tested as some members denigrate those who are thought to be inferior in having or demonstrating the minority trait, without much actual evidence that such inferiority exists (and much evidence that it doesn't), despite the manifest unfairness in penalizing people for things beyond their control, and in the face of common enemies who would cheerfully destroy the lot of them for possessing that same trait in any degree whatsoever. Sterling members of the minority group prove their loyalty and their worth in the face of centuries of discrimination, thereby gaining allies in the majority group. Restrictions of first law and then dogma are eased. A younger generation of leaders emerges who question the old precepts of hatred and discard them as incorrect and irrelevant. A long process of reconciliation begins.

Sound familiar? It should. The paragraph above could describe the changing position of LGBT people in Western democracies over the course of our lifetimes. Individuals reveal their orientation, putting human faces on the scary old demon queers. There have been (and sadly still are) tensions between gays and lesbians, between gays/lesbians and bisexuals, between "straight-acting" gays/lesbians/bis and transgender/genderqueer people. Full-on criminalization and the stigma of mental illness have been lifted in many places. Legal impediments only somewhat less onerous (employment discrimination and civil marriage bans) are gradually going away. While a vociferous subset of the hetero majority tries to turn back the clock, demographics are not on their side; polls indicate that younger generations of people support gay equality and reject the old ideas. The saga of the Deryni in eleventh- and twelfth-century Gwynedd mirrors themes in our news today.

That's merely the thematic aspect. I've already discussed at length the technological advantages of high definition for telling these tales on the silver screen, and several of us have mentioned the merchandising potential of the series. Factor in the winding down of the Harry Potter film saga and the opening that presents in the box office schedule, as well as the precedent it sets for a longer series of films. Remember that books have plenty of action (arcane duels and rituals, even a few battles) as well as existential angst. Recall the ongoing success of The King's Speech and consider that box office glory can come from emotionally compelling fare. Consider too the possibilities of Oscars in light of the LOTR successes. Think of the actors (particularly those with reputations and/or personal production firms) who might spot these themes and the dramatic power of various scenes and take an interest. Hell, picture Christian Bale, beard and all, portraying Warin de Grey about to stab Duncan McLain!

Many of us, myself included, have wanted these books to come to the big screen for a long time. I say our time has come at last. Do you agree? Don't be shy!
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Offline Alkari

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Re: Is this the Deryni Moment?
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2011, 12:35:44 am »
I agree with you, BalanceThe Energies, because the themes are very relevant to experiences in many places around the world today.   Fear of minorities, fear of "differences", desperate strategies to deal with real and perceived threats.  But my greatest fear is that alas, Hollywood all too often goes 'over the top' and rams The Big Themes down your throats, so that any sense of subtlety is lost.  There is also a most distressing tendency to go for the 'big action' scenes and flashy special effects, where none are needed.  I am sure we will get fireworks in the actual duel in DR, but I would sincerely hope that this is not made into the be-all and end-all of the movie, and that we are given a sense of the characters, tensions and conflicts to which you refer, and which lead up to the coronation.   

IF - and it's a big IF given the medieval settings - the scriptwriters and directors can see the Deryni books as something other than flashy 'swords and sorcery' stories, then yes, the books have great potential in terms of the themes.  I would hope they could be filmed along the lines of A Man for All Seasons or Becket or The Lion in Winter, where those aspects come to the fore, and magic is simply the basis on which certain people are feared, rather than an excuse for showing off special effects.   One of the problems with the Harry Potter movies is that many of the books' subtleties, themes and nuances have been lost, and (most heinously in terms of many book fans!) some of the key aspects between the three main characters were altered.   Sure, the makers were concentrating on telling a good movie story, but if you are wanting the movie versions of KK's books to resonate in terms of their complex and relevant themes, then they need to be made with respect for those aspects.   I would hate to see High Deryni, for example, be given anything other than the quiet ending KK has written - a thoughtful and emotional Kelson musing on the burdens of kingship and what has happened, what he has had to do, and will have to do in future.  I'd like to see it stop right there, with the end credits going up as he's given a white horse and he and his companions ride off to take the cheers of the Haldane army.   

Offline Evie

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Re: Is this the Deryni Moment?
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2011, 10:13:25 am »
I'm not sure whether to hope Hollywood recognizes the themes of the Deryni series, or hope that they don't!  It's a sort of "damned if they do, damned if they don't" proposition, most of the time.  Sometimes they don't recognize the themes of the story at all, but if they manage to capture as much of the surface storyline, basic conflicts, character interactions, etc. in the film as in the original book, then at least 80% of the original essence of the story will get through, and astute viewers might still pick up on the subtext, or at least be intrigued enough by the movie to go out and buy the books, and will discover the subtext there.  That is what I'm hoping for with the Deryni film(s), because in my opinion--given recent Hollywood offerings--that would likely be our best case scenario.

Sometimes, though, Hollywood says "Oh look, here's a cool and culturally relevant theme!  But it's subtle and we can't count on 100% of the audience getting it, so we'd better glitz and glam it up, take out all this 'unnecessary' stuff in the story ('unnecessary,' that is, to pushing their agenda, though quite necessary to the story if it's to remain something resembling the original, fully dimensional story and not just a delivery mechanism for an agenda!), change the characters a bit to 'modernize' them and make them more 'relevant' to today's audiences, and make the theme so glaringly obvious that even a toddler fresh out of diapers will learn The Moral Of The Story!"  And then you end up with a story that either slams you with an agenda to the point of killing the story ("Happy Feet," which starts out as a fairly sweet 'children's' tale--albeit with some awfully adult subtext!--about penguins trying to attract mates, but eventually devolves into a rant against commercial overfishing in Antarctic waters that had some young children--my own daughter included--traumatized, leaving the theatre in tears and vowing never to eat fish sticks again!), or you end up with filmmakers inexplicably forgetting what the original story was meant to be about in the first place because they've had "Better Ideas." (For one horrific example, compare the book version of A Ring of Endless Light with the TV version: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Ring_of_Endless_Light vs.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Ring_of_Endless_Light_%28film%29 ).  Now, I happen to love dolphins, and as an impressionable young teen, the book version of A Ring of Endless Light briefly made me consider a career in marine biology.  But it's first and foremost a book about a teenaged girl's struggle to come to terms with mortality, not just a "save the dolphins" story, and to strip away all of the rest of the book's message to reduce it to that both demeans the original novel and its intent, and alienates viewers (this one, anyway) from the "New And Improved Theme" the filmmakers tried to make it all about instead.  That's what hammering viewers with any theme tends to do, no matter how worthy the theme might happen to be.

And that's what I'm desperately afraid would happen to DR and the rest of the series, if Hollywood starts to see the series as "stories with a theme" instead of just "really cool stories we could do some fun special effects with."  I'd rather have the audience see the stories on screen as close to the original books as Hollywood is capable of depicting them, even if that only deals with the 'superficial, surface stuff' of the books, and hope that at least 80% of the underlying essence gets through despite the filmmakers' blissful unawareness that it has any sort of "theme," and that viewers are left wanting more, go out to buy the books, and KK ends up filthy rich off the royalties.  ;)  Otherwise, call me cynical, but here's what I predict will happen if this film ends up in the wrong hands:

"Oh, sweet!  Here's this great Deryni series of books that's chock full of LGBT issues; that's certainly timely and culturally relevant, so what can we do to crack that up a notch and make sure the audience doesn't miss the point?  Well, let's see...sure, this is the coming-of-age story of a boy king who is learning how to be a man and rule wisely and well...yadda yadda...ok, that doesn't really serve the agenda, so we'll downplay all that, but look here, here's a really compelling character in this Alaric, and he's one of those misunderstood Deryni, and he's got LOTS of freakin' potential...yeah!  OK, so just to make sure folks get the point, he's not just Deryni now, he's persecuted because he's Deryni AND he's gay...oh, wait, you say there's a wife coming up in the later books?  Well, no problem...'Richenda', 'Richard', no one's going to know the difference unless they've read the books, and they came out years ago...what, the 70s or early 80s?  Yeah, so 'Richard' it is, because s/he's just a bit character anyway.  So, Alaric's our hero, and he and his cousin Duncan are off to save the day, and...oh wait, we do need to write this Kelson chap in a bit, right?  OK, so that's our subplot now.  He's a boy king, so let's make him an angsty dithery sort, because strong leaders who know their own mind are SO 1960s, and we're not out to write about decisive men like Thomas More anymore.  Even the New and Improved Aragorn and Peter of Narnia had to learn how to dither and be J. Alfred Prufrocks*, because we can't have strong leaders presuming they know what they're doing without having to angst first...if they dared to wear the bottoms of their trousers rolled, they might disturb the universe!  So this Kelson...he'd be insecure too, much more so than he was in the books--that's more realistic and relatable, you know--and the great climactic point of the film can be when Kelson grows enough of a spine to stand up to Loris and have this showdown with lots of fireworks...what do you mean, Loris isn't in this movie?  Well, it can't be Alaric vs. Charissa, because if Alaric's gay, there's no chance to spice that duel up with sexual tension and lots of innuendo for audiences to giggle over, so let's just chuck her out of the script and bring Loris in a bit early.  Unless we want to change Charissa to Charles...."

I'd like to think that's over-exaggerated for comic effect, but then I go back to the differences between the book and film versions of A Ring of Endless Light and I really have to wonder if I trust Hollywood to "get" this series at all.   Since I don't, I'm hoping they'll stick to what they do best when they bother to try harder--telling a decent story that bears at least some strong resemblance to the original, with some decent special effects, and enough substance to make the viewers want to rush out and buy the books afterwards.  *sigh*  They might not have "nailed" the full essences of Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, or Harry Potter either, but at least they attracted more readers to those series, and if the DR film and any subsequent ones can manage that instead of alienating potential readers by being too hamfisted and so off the point that the original stories can't shine through, then I'll be content.


*For those of you whom I just lost with that literary reference, here's what I mean by "Prufrock."  I swear I think of this poor fellow whenever I watch many of today's modernized angsty-dithery "heroes" on film.   :D
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Love_Song_of_J._Alfred_Prufrock
http://www.uvm.edu/~sgutman/Eliot.htm
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Offline Alkari

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Re: Is this the Deryni Moment?
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2011, 10:56:40 am »
LOL Evie - but there is much truth (alas) in your Prufrock adaptation.

But apart from Hollywood's inability to 'get' important themes, my biggest fear is that the strong religious element would not sit too kindly with various powers that be.  The Church in Gwynedd may only be modelled on the medieval Church, but I can foresee some most unholy problems with certain elements of the current religious Right in the USA were these films to come up with what appears to be a "Church vs magic" theme, with most of the good guys on the magic side.   Sure, WE know that there are good and bad guys on both sides, but even on your superficial action movie scenario, you cannot escape the involvement of the Church, and the elements of fear and bigotry amongst the Church leaders.   Hollywood can handle corruption, cabals and intrigues in the political world, right up to the White House, but I don't like its chances of dealing with the strong religious elements in the books, without running into trouble with very vocal sections of the US community, or making a total travesty of the books and their plotlines.   Fortunately, KK is alive and well, and would (we all hope!) have strong veto powers over scripts.

Look at the fuss over the Harry Potter books, which have been banned from many local schools and libraries on the grounds that they promote the 'evils' of magic.   The HP books are constantly on the ALA's "challenged" list, purely for the witchcraft and magic elements, and they don't even mention "religion" as such!!   Fortunately, KK's books have escaped that kind of scrutiny and ill-informed challenge - so far. 





Offline Evie

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Re: Is this the Deryni Moment?
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2011, 11:22:39 am »
Well, as I wrote on another group when the final HP book first came out, if you're too busy railing against the fantasy "magic" in the books to bother reading them, you're going to miss out on the whole point of the stories, not to mention the fact that the Potter universe happens to be chock-full of Christian symbolism (which is doubtless why Rowling, in an early interview, said she didn't want to reveal too much about her religious beliefs for fear of giving away the series' ending too early.  Rowling, IIRC, belongs to the Church of Scotland, which might not be conservative enough to please the most rabid of her detractors, but last time I checked, the CoS was still Christian!)    I mean, never mind the whole sacrificial love theme, the communion cup imagery, protection under the blood of one who died for you, etc., since some of those elements arguably crop up in other world religions as well.  But is it even possible for any astute reader, Christian or not, to miss all that death/burial/resurrection stuff in Book 7 going on at KING'S CROSS, of all places?   ;D

But yes, there will always be those who miss the point, and can't be bothered to watch the films or read the books because of preconceived notions.  And my fear is, if the theme of a Deryni movie is "amped up" to the point of interfering with the story (due to Hollywood's often ham-fisted approach to storytelling), people will get preconceived notions about what KK "meant" or "didn't mean" by her books based on what filmmakers have decided to make their stories mean, not based on what she actually wrote.  And really, her themes have applicability to various situations at various times, whether it's LGBT issues in the early 21st Century, or antisemitism of the mid-20th Century (and remember, when KK first created the Deryni, that's what she had more in mind at the time, although certainly similarities can be drawn).  I'd hate to see them become too narrowed down by filmmakers as "THIS is what the stories have to mean," since they are meaningful to different readers for different reasons, and I expect the same would hold true for the films as well, if the filmmakers are wise enough to be as subtle as the books rather than...well, you know, Hollywood.    :D
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Offline Alkari

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Re: Is this the Deryni Moment?
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2011, 04:30:29 pm »
Oh certainly the Potter books have Christian symbolism, but there is no formal religion or "Church" as there is in the Deryni books.  However, the Church and organised religion plays an integral part in KK's books, and on the face of it, the conflict is simply the Church vs Deryni Magic.  That is where the danger lies, and that is what people are going to see.  Many, perhaps most, of them aren't going to read the books at all, so they will simply see and hear what they get in cinemas, and will react accordingly.  And given the doubts we both share about Hollywood's ability to portray complex moral issues, I'd say that this simple " Bad prejudiced Church vs Good Deryni magic"  would be the impression most audiences would take away, and - looking at US society as an outsider - I doubt it will sit easily with many people.  No matter what KK as author may have had in mind or what that conflict was meant to represent in larger moral terms, or how it could reflect various historical examples, I think you'd have to label this project "Here be dragons".

As I said in my first post, I'd really *like* to see some of these books on screen, but I'd want to see justice done to them, and even in the basic 'simple' story of Deryni Rising, I want to see the conflicts and prejudices addressed sensitively and appropriately.   If that cannot be done, then I'd rather just have the books, thanks.

Offline BalanceTheEnergies

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Re: Is this the Deryni Moment?
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2011, 11:58:12 pm »
Many thanks for the thoughtful replies, and many apologies for the  tardiness of my response; real life has been a handful, as my first foray into romance recently ended badly, and I've been licking my wounds. A bit of cinematic/literary therapy has been helpful (LOTR encore and Angels and Demons in particular), and along the way I've been able to come back to to this topic (Elijah Wood as Father Nivard? Ewan McGregor as Derry? Daniel Radcliffe as Conall? Broadbent or Wilkinson as Letald? Hmmm...). Now I can be sociable again, to the extent that I ever am sociable as opposed to skittish. I'll try to address the issues y'all have raised, and I look forward to the next round of replies.

I think my first answer to the Hollywood Objection is that these may not be Hollywood studio films as we know them. As noted in the LA Times piece I linked to in my introduction to this thread, movies are being brought to studios in a more developed state:

Quote
Lieberman says being required to deliver a complete package to a studio — a great script with a star and/or filmmaker attached — actually can be empowering.
... "It's a spec script with a director involved, and we're creating a visual plan, a physical effects plan, and we're going to the studios and saying: 'Here's the movie, here's what it will look like and here's what it will cost you. Are you in or are you out?'

The piece also describes how The King's Speech got the greenlighted after having a completed script and actor Geoffrey Rush attached, and how The Fighter was done without studio financing at all. Let's not forget the other ways films get financed, particularly the joint studio projects like Titanic, independent film companies, and the film boards of other countries (UK/Canada/Australia/New Zealand/et. al.).

I also think the success of TKS ($135 million and rising in domestic US box office gross receipts last time I looked) is a helpful precedent for Deryni movies. As screenwriter David Seidler put it:

Quote
"If I had gone into any executive office in Hollywood to pitch a story about a dead king who stutters, I would have been out of there in 30 seconds," he said. "They would have thought I was out of my mind."

Given the apparently wide appeal of the film and the award-winning prestige, that success may (I grant you, “may” is the operative word) garner financial support for Deryni films that are true to the books. For some players, (say, actors looking for emotional depth, creative challenges, or the promotion of political philosophy or ethics) nobler motives may also factor in their support. “...[F]or men follow their own interests for the highest as well as for the lowest causes...” (C.V. Wedgwood, The Thirty Years' War).

What is more, all these factors could be made to work together. The Deryni novels have always struck me as ensemble pieces, with different characters having their moments in the spotlight. Suppose a number of actors got interested in the material, or wanted to work with (an)other actor(s) on a project, and they club together and start shopping for a director. Then again, many of the actors I suggested have worked with others on my dream cast lists, and they might wish to renew their professional acquaintance. Those with especially large financial resources of their own may even choose to help with the financing. A national film council or two may want to lend a hand in hopes of benefiting (I'm thinking here of the LOTR tourism boost for New Zealand). A big-name director or producer may take a fancy to the material— I hear Harvey Weinstein is a voracious reader.....

None of this is a guarantee of anything, and much depends on the people who do get involved. I gathered from the chats that KK has had some input in the script process; if true, and particularly if it continues, that should prevent the worst excesses.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

I can't say I'm overly concerned about the possible fundie backlash.  Since the setting is medieval (i.e. prior to the appearance of Protestantism), the western Church could be read as Catholic. Not all Protestant/evangelical Christians are even convinced that Catholics are Christians (and never mind Eastern Orthodoxy, it hardly enters into the discussion). The whole “people of faith” umbrella may not apply, and organized opposition may not materialize. Even if it did, the vociferous types aren't as numerous or as powerful as they like to think; J. K. Rowling still made a fortune, despite fundie opposition. The Vatican may have something to say, but it hasn't stopped Ron Howard and Dan Brown, it has many other problems on its plate, and it may actually like the finished product.

I must beg to differ with Alkari: they cannot stop the films after High Deryni. Too many plots only fully develop (with the juicy scenes and arguments for all those actors!) in the subsequent books (Jehana, the Camberian Council, Duncan's self-outing and that chapel service!, to name only three). Stopping after HD also increases the likelihood that Kelson will come off as weak and angsty; he only becomes sufficiently ruthless for Vivienne's taste in the war with Meara. Worse yet, to the audience who only sees the first three installments with the plots as written, Kelson will seem as ineffective and insecure. At minimum, the tale must be taken through KKB in order to show Kelson as the statesman he becomes, a king who can effectively wield hard and soft power as required (yes, I know Joseph Nye only coined the term “soft power” twenty-odd years ago, but that doesn't mean it never existed until he named it.) In fact, I think there needs to be another installment to complete the story arc for the audience. More on that later...
« Last Edit: April 01, 2011, 11:26:48 pm by BalanceTheEnergies »
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Offline BalanceTheEnergies

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Re: Is this the Deryni Moment?
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2011, 01:27:10 am »
Right then. I said before that a sequel to KKB is needed to complete the narrative arc, particularly as films are in the offing. (Not that KK's readers would object to another volume either, am I right?) What follows is one suggestion for this sequel, intended to follow the dual plot structure KK has used before (in TQSC and KKB to name only two), though I've separated the plotlines to make them easier to follow. I intended to tie some story threads, and provide a few visions of things fans would like to see. I've drawn on a number of sources, real life history as well as the novels and the Codex, so much of this material may seem familiar. Please accept my gratitude if I've borrowed from you, and my contrition if I've bore you.

I put all these events largely three to four years after the end of KKB. Some of my jumping off points only happen around that time according to “Brother Theophilus” and the novels (Liam-Lajos returning to Gwynedd for that accolade from Nigel, Briony being old enough for a Naming ritual, Morgan chairing that committee), some require time to develop, and some very interesting possibilities lurk in the near future. It may even be that what I propose isn't in the Codex because the Codex was left unfinished because of the untimely death of the “author”!

Enemies Foreign

Teymuraz is clearly the biggest piece of unfinished business, and this plot concerns his actions, and how the new Gwynedd-Torenth alliance responds. The Codex has Teymuraz marrying into the Byzantine Imperial family, and this makes a great deal of sense; he will need to obtain wealth and other resources in exile. Azim points out that he could fall back, produce heirs and bide his time for years, even a decade or two, and still be in the prime of his life.

So let's say he does something akin to what Basil I did in real life: worm his way into the imperial family, marry an imperial princess, even get himself crowned as a joint ruler. In this period, he uses what agents remain to him to sabotage the new rapprochement where possible. Meanwhile, he secretly prepares the imperial army (perhaps with training in Rum or some desert region á la the sardukar and the Fremen of Dune) and he learns about Greek Fire. He hatches a four-pronged surprise attack against the Ile d'Orsal, Fathane, Coroth and Laas using Greek Fire, to be followed by the troops.

By the way, Greek Fire is tailor-made for this scenario. It is human technology long kept secret, yet it is so beyond what most people understand about fire that is can cast a long shadow over Deryni-human relations. Remember that old saw about technology that is not understood seeming to be magical. Surely people will attribute the “unnatural” characteristics of Greek Fire (burning on water and not being extinguished by it) to Deryni magic of the worst kind. Proving the contrary will be difficult, and an intentional disinformation campaign would compound the difficulty. It's also helpful in that regard that Teymuraz took the St. Michael/Fire Pillar position at Liam-Lajos' investiture.

Countermeasures are clearly in order. I suggest some counterespionage in a team effort, including Sofiana's and Azim's resources as well as Kelson's and Liam's. I particularly advise including Derry in the mix. In addition to helping build the new Gwynedd-Torenth alliance and bringing the Camberian Council into new and closer working relationships, it puts humans and Deryni in close partnership and it brings back a fan favourite after his release from that possession spell. Perhaps he can “get a little of his own back,” as it were.

Of course, a military campaign would follow one or more surprise attacks of such magnitude. A joint campaign would test the new alliance, and there would no doubt be some friction after so many centuries of distrust. Expect many of the enforced innovations of war, as has been the case in real life. Also expect considerable anguish, with so few Healers (precise numbers depending upon the progress of the scholaup to that time) and so many casualties. New regrets over what has been lost are a given, but there could also be a new opportunity, if Laran could roll up his sleeves and work with Morgan/Duncan/Dhugal in a medical context.

In real life, Basil I had his co-emperor murdered after a  year or so and founded an imperial dynasty on his own. Suppose Teymuraz does the same thing, but with this twist: instead of merely killing his colleague, he performs a new and dark magic, altering the immortality spell Ariella tried in conjunction with a Mind-Rip to take his colleague's energy (his very soul!) to himself. The need for arcane research to figure out what he did and how to stop him begins to tie in the knowledge search of the other plotline, and it brings Camber back into the picture, whether in the form of tangible discoveries in documents (just what do the Anvillers have, anyway?) and/or a visit from Camber himself.

It's hard to say just how to encompass the death of Teymuraz. Betrayal by his Byzantine allies is always an option; his wife might have him taken (and likely blinded, given Byzantine history) and presented to Kelson and Liam-Lajos in negotiations to allow the Byzantine forces to retreat and take the secret of Greek Fire with them. On the magical front, surely he'd be at high risk of insanity, as Camber was when he took on Alister Cullen's memories, so acting to trigger that could be an answer. We also know that using any Deryni powers is physically fatiguing, with more strenuous/powerful magic being more fatiguing; what if this is because of the connection of body and soul? If Deryni are using their souls when they use their powers, and Teymuraz is using two souls, what might that do to his body?

Domestic

We know from KKB that Kelson was thinking of releasing Araxie's Haldane potential, that Morgan supported the idea (in conjunction with the new openness and the schola), and Araxie herself was both intrigued and willing. We also know that the Camberian Council has been hostile to idea of more than one Haldane having the powers (they discussed eliminating Nigel in TKJ rather than permitting him to keep what he was given). Knowing Kelson, he'd probably also consider letting Rory in on some measure or power; Rory is to be Viceroy Meara, and Nigel himself suggested that such sharing done earlier might have prevented Conall from seeking power with Tiercel's help. I cannot see Kelson accepting a seat on the Council, in case it may be a means of controlling him as Sofiana once suggested. No doubt a councillor will again allude to Lewys ap Norfal, since Jehana and therefore Kelson is of that bloodline (per TKJ prologue). Given the unfocused discussions that seem to be their wont, this could lead to the topic of a Portal at Coroth; wasn't the castle, and particularly the green-windowed study, associated with Lewys ap Norfal? Is that why Morgan doesn't have one there, or why the Council hasn't permitted one there?

Of course, the Council itself is changing, and the old hostility could change with it. We might get to see the creation of a permanent Transfer Portal. Other things are also changing. Briony is at the right age for a Naming ritual, and it might be interesting to see one performed for her. It might be even more interesting if she displays potential Healing ability in this period. (Recall that Evaine and Rhys Thuryn had a son and a daughter who were Healers, and that the de Corwyns are descended from them.) Hard to say just how this is learned; perhaps research turns up some particular resonance in Healers that can be read once one knows what to look for, or perhaps it manifests in response to some need (as in “Catalyst”). However it happens, it triggers a row between Morgan and Richenda: she points out that there are precious few Healers, he's the protective father who doesn't want his little girl witnessing so much blood and suffering, she plays the trump card and reminds him of his mother's fate, asking if women deserve any chance to avoid such a death as hers.

Also in this early stage, Duncan discovers the faint Portal at Sheele. Say he goes to administer Extreme Unction to someone in that master bedroom and feels the faint tingle, but another Deryni cannot find it. Arilan can be called upon for Portal expertise, and Morgan can use his committee post to research the ownership of the manor. At some point, they learn that the Portal was attuned to blood relatives only (like the library Veil) and put that together with the former owners of the manor (namely, the Thuryns). Suddenly, the cousins begin to understand Camber's interest in them (which they couldn't fathom in the Chronicles): they and theirs are Camber's descendants!. Should this information get back to the Council (likely via Arilan), it might prompt a reconsideration of old hostilities. This process might be helped along if Kelson reveals more of his visions (say, the one at Nigel's partial empowering). Given their reverence for their founder, can they really justify hostility toward his descendants, especially given their loyalty and their integrity? And doesn't Camber's apparent approval of Nigel's empowering mean something as well?

Other research is more pressing, however. Teymuraz has been located, but he's at the head of a far-off government (with huge resources at his command), and all the allies have to learn what they can of his plans in order to counter them. Perhaps they can learn of the dark magic in the other plotline from the Anvillers' archives (perhaps after Teymuraz goes there himself or has an agent do it). Kelson and some of his courtiers have long wanted to know more about Camber and the mysteries around his sainthood and Joram's behaviour. What was an intellectual pursuit takes on more urgency in these circumstances. Suppose Kelson and his courtiers figure out what Teymuraz has done in altering that spell (which would require some thinking outside the box). Teymuraz is confronted, the other soul is released (maybe Arilan or someone else does what Evaine did for Camber?), and the war is brought to a close.

In addition to enabling them to defeat Teymuraz once and for all, might not these events finally earn Morgan and Duncan seats on the Council? (Given old age, illness, accidents, assassination and war, more turnover on the Council is probable.) Picture the ceremony, with old members and new joining hands around the table, Morgan and Duncan on either side of Camber's Siege. See Camber take his seat and place his hands in blessing upon the clasped hands of his descendants. Perhaps even Barrett can “see” it as he “saw” Michon's funeral. That, my friends, is an ending.

Dubito ergo sum

Offline Alkari

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Re: Is this the Deryni Moment?
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2011, 05:45:34 pm »
Some interesting ideas, BTE.

Though I think you are wrong about the Transfer Portal in Coroth - from what KK has said and also written in Deryni Magic, the apparent lack of a portal doesn't have anything to do with Lewys ap Norfal. Rather, it is because Duke Stiofan (Morgan's great great grandfather) died in 1068 and there was no Deryni in residence in Coroth until Alaric himself took over there on reaching his majority (1105).   (It is true that Duke Stiofan was a friend of Lewys's, and that the experiment was carried out in Castle Coroth as the result of what Lewys found in his excavations, but the Duke himself was not a participant.)  

It is highly likely that there was a TP in Coroth at one stage, given that the Dukes have always been Deryni, but as TPs can fade from lack of use, it seems this is what has happened and Alaric hasn't found traces of it yet.  There should not be any problems getting one installed however - even Arilan in KKB mentions the desirability of having one there and getting the CC to 'agree', and with the membership of the CC as at the end of KKB, I can't see them opposing it (and after all, Richenda is related to both Sofiana and Azim).  Of course, Kelson, Alaric, Richenda and co could well have the power to construct one themselves if they worked together, regardless of the CC! :D  

« Last Edit: April 05, 2011, 09:10:16 pm by Alkari »

Offline tenworld

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Re: Is this the Deryni Moment?
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2011, 01:47:49 pm »
I like your scenarios, too bad that once published here they can never be incorporated into canon novels.
I liked the bit about Greek Fire, the secret for which has never been rediscovered.  Human technology vs Deryni magic!  (the old saw is of course from Authur C. Clarke).

I have always thought that the moment when Morgan, Duncan and the council (especially Arilan the arrogant) learn that they are descendants of Camber will be a defining moment in the series, maybe even the last words written.

Offline BalanceTheEnergies

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Re: Is this the Deryni Moment?
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2011, 07:16:35 pm »
I'm sure you're right about the fading of unused Portals, Alkari, and I'm sure Alaric Morgan's forebears had one at one time. It may even be that others like Azim or Arilan will find what has been missed all this time, and it could be restored instead of building one from scratch. Such a restoration might even be easier to accomplish.

Alkari wrote:
Quote
even Arilan in KKB mentions the desirability of having one there and getting the CC to 'agree'
which implies the CC has some kind of veto power in the matter (must they issue a construction permit?). I merely speculate as to why they might not agree. In rereading the Histories, I was struck by the mention of the long-gone Lewys ap Norfal, not just as an ancestor of Jehana's (and Kelson's), but in a conversation about controlling Kelson's planned actions (activating part of Nigel's power). We know they have control-freak tendencies when it comes to people and things they deem improper (eliminating Nigel, for crying out loud), so is the implied objection to which Arilan alludes in KKB just against Morgan the rogue half-breed, or is it something to do with the physical location (an investigation of which might reveal whatever Lewys was working on), or is it a grudge against Lewys, or is it some combination thereof? A possible consideration of Lewys is one of the things I mentioned as being satisfying for the fans.

As far as it goes, Arilan might defy the Council again, if it comes to that (he has done so before), though I'm inclined to think that wouldn't be necessary. Thanks to Sofiana and Azim, the Council is already moving in a direction favourable to Kelson, Morgan, and Duncan. (They haven't actually killed Nigel, not yet anyway.) Vivienne's replacement could continue the process. Some distance remains; even Sofiana says,
Quote
"How does one define trust? I trust him [Morgan] to be a proper husband and father to my kin: I trust my niece's sincerity when she tells me of his honor in all that he has done since she has known him. Beyond that, all else is hearsay...(TKJ, italics in the original)"
My suggestion simply posits a way to give the Council more evidence of the cousins' worth (working with them towards understanding and thwarting Teymuraz's schemes) and their heritage (as descendants of Camber himself), for I think the two factors, combined with openings on the Council (which will happen at some point) would prompt an offer. Of course, their acceptance is no sure thing either; aside from what the Council did in making them liable to arcane challenge just when Loris and company were ascendant, Morgan doesn't like the innuendo and secrecy and high-handedness of the Council (he says as much in KKB). It may take a new policy of openness on the Council's part to persuade Morgan and Duncan to accept a Conciliar offer to join them. That said, I would find it appropriate that the cousins take their Council seats together, just as they were Named together when they were four. Camber's benison, given in person as it were, would just be the icing on the cake.

Tenworld wrote:
Quote
I like your scenarios, too bad that once published here they can never be incorporated into canon novels.
Well, it isn't my place to write the canon; that's for KK to do. I have similar scruples about writing fan fiction, and I doubt I can match her skill—her books keep me awake at night until I finish them. ;D  I simply proposed the plotlines to support my contention that another installment is needed to complete the narrative arc, the more so since films are planned. (I broke the material into two posts because of the length, and to give myself the time to look up Basil I. My last foray into Byzantine history was quite some time ago, and I was fuzzy on the details.) Stopping after three, as Alkari suggested, runs the risk of making the Camberian Council and Stefan Coram in particular look like a deus ex machina, as well as making Kelson seem like that mutant in X-Men 3 who wanted to "...form a committee. Take our complaints to the right people." Besides, I'm sure KK can do better than I have done, though I do like the image of Teymuraz's little toddler son spying his father making that cupped-hand gesture over the "corpse" of his grandfather and later telling his mother that "Papa prays funny!"—and the closing scene at the Council table is nice, too.  ::)

Tenworld also wrote: 
Quote
I liked the bit about Greek Fire, the secret for which has never been rediscovered.
Not for lack of trying. Research into Greek Fire was done as recently as five or six years ago by Professor John Haldon and others.

Tenworld also wrote:
Quote
I have always thought that the moment when Morgan, Duncan and the council (especially Arilan the arrogant) learn that they are descendants of Camber will be a defining moment in the series, maybe even the last words written.
I largely agree with that statement. It did occur to me that Camber might not take form and verbally confirm the ancestry, but that a silent climactic appearance such as I described could be taken as approval of the cousins, if not explicit confirmation of their descent, and would be characteristic of him. No doubt Camber considers one's actions more important than one's bloodline, but he was also a politician in a feudal monarchy once upon a time. He might condescend to put in such an appearance for the sake of "[h]uman fraility—and Deryni."

I beg to differ on the characterization of Arilan as "arrogant". In the tension between secrecy and openness (both of which have merits and drawbacks), Arilan has often come down on the side of secrecy, even to the point of never suggesting in open Council that the "rogue" talents of Morgan, Duncan, and the Haldanes could be aspects of Deryniness: Sofiana actually utters the idea, but after she does so we are told that Arilan "had examined that very possibility more than once,"  and that "no one had ever dared to voice it in full Council." [TKJ, emphasis mine] In other words, he has kept things secret even from those with whom he has taken a powerful soul-baring oath. Indeed, he has made so many such solemn commitments that Kyri once twits him with her hope that he never has to choose among his oaths. Secrecy and discretion is his method of balancing his many conflicting obligations, and "scrupulous" is a good word for it, but that does not truly amount to arrogance. A human frustration at the need for secrecy and the limits discretion imposes upon his relationships isn't really arrogance either, despite appearances.
Dubito ergo sum

Offline Alkari

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Re: Is this the Deryni Moment?
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2011, 08:49:34 pm »
Quote
or is it something to do with the physical location (an investigation of which might reveal whatever Lewys was working on),
I very much doubt that the mere location of a portal would reveal anything about what Lewys was working on.  His excavations, and that final experiment, took place out in the open, in the middle of the gardens where the rays of the sun could light the coloured windows in the towers in succession.   And there were lots of onlookers.

Sure, it was well-known that the Dukes of Corwyn were Deryni, but I hardly think they located a transfer portal outside like that!   :D   Aside from any personal inconvenience in bad weather, appearing or disappearing in full view of the castle's residents (humans) would not be exactly discreet.   Being known to be Deryni was one thing, but even the younger Morgan took reasonable care with how and where he used his powers.  
« Last Edit: April 07, 2011, 12:08:51 am by Alkari »

Offline BalanceTheEnergies

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Re: Is this the Deryni Moment?
« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2011, 12:17:48 am »
LOL I wouldn't put a Portal outdoors either.  ;D  I'm inclined to think it's mostly the Council's antipathy toward Morgan that would be behind any objections they might raise (assuming they do raise any). I only raise the second possibility at all because of the Conciliar (over)reaction to Lewys' work that we do know about, and the friendship with His Grace Duke Stiofan. We don't know what Lewys was working on, or for how long. 
Dubito ergo sum

Offline tenworld

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Re: Is this the Deryni Moment?
« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2011, 08:24:12 pm »

I beg to differ on the characterization of Arilan as "arrogant".

Oh, I was just tweaking the several readers here who if they could go into this timeframe would want the law of celibacy for priests abolished:) Morgan is my favorite character so I tend to judge other characters from his point of view.

Offline Evie

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Re: Is this the Deryni Moment?
« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2011, 10:01:13 pm »

I beg to differ on the characterization of Arilan as "arrogant".

Oh, I was just tweaking the several readers here who if they could go into this timeframe would want the law of celibacy for priests abolished:) Morgan is my favorite character so I tend to judge other characters from his point of view.

Oh, he can keep to his vows. Just because I happen to be fond of the curmudgeonly git doesn't mean I'd be crazy enough to want to marry him.   ;)  The soft spot Annie has for Arilan happens to be about six feet under a peat bog, and as for Alkari, she'd probably run screaming from the room ululating at high pitch at the thought of Denis Arilan being "available." 

Now, if Bradene would only make Duncan McLain's vows retroactively optional rather than mandatory....  :D
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