The Deryni Series > The Legends of Camber of Culdi

Camber MacRorie

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I'm splitting this off from the discussion of Donal Haldane under the Childe Morgan section, because I think it's worth discussing independently.

revanne said:  (The scene to which she is referring in the first sentence of the quote below is when Donal, with Jessamy MacAthan's assistance, plans to drug Alyce and rape her to try to conceive another half-Haldane Deryni protector for Donal's sons, after the death of Krispin MacAthan, who was Donal's illegitimate son by Jessamy.  I have formatted the part I thought was worth a separate discussion in bold text.)

--- Quote from: revanne on March 25, 2018, 01:27:59 AM ---The scene is unspeakably monstrous but it does not make Donal into a monster. He is a man walking an impossible tightrope and he becomes obsessed. I also think it possible that he is so horrified by the manner of Krispin's death and his inability to mourn him as his son that he ceases to function rationally or morally. Yes of course there are other better options but not necessarily obvious to him. I think Alyce understands and pities him which is why she reacts as she does. And Donal both avenges Krispin and protects Alyce ( as far as he is able) at considerable cost to himself.

One of KK's great talents is that she portrays a believable world in which good intentioned people do monstrous things, which is the tragedy of our world.

(I know this is off-topic but rereading the Camber era books I think that Camber's treatment of Cinhil is equally monstrous and I wonder whether his future appearances are less evidence of his special sanctity than his penance).

--- End quote ---

In my opinion, Camber was definitely very high-handed, and I think some of his behavior leaned toward (or outright crossed the line into) "the ends justify the means," particularly his dealings with Cinhil Haldane and Camber's assumption of Alister Cullen's identity after the latter's death at the hands of Ariella.

It seems to me that Camber fell into a fairly common trap of thinking that because his goals were the betterment and safety of the kingdom and people of Gwynedd, that anything he did to try to achieve those goals was moral, or at least more moral than it might seem.

Certainly Imre and Ariella were making life very difficult for the human subjects of Gwynedd and would have continued to do so had Camber and his children/associates not engineered the Haldane Restoration, but it also seems that the backlash starting in subtle ways while Cinhil was still alive and becoming (much) more blatant after the king's death was nearly as bad. 

Gwynedd in the centuries following the Council of Ramos was absolutely worse for the Deryni, and honestly not great for humans, either, since indoctrinating people into thinking that other people who have a different in-born trait/set of traits are not really people is generally harmful--for example, Gilrae d'Eirial and his fairly innocent thinking that the Deryni are evil because the church in his lifetime taught that Deryni are evil, a teaching Gilrae doesn't really question fully (though he doesn't seem to accept it fully either) until Simonn heals the injury on Gilrae's arm.

So going back to revanne's parenthetical above, perhaps part of the deal between God and Camber (when Evaine, Joram, and Queron attempt to reverse the Forbidden Spell only to find that Camber can't be brought back to mortal life but he can be released to the service of God from a place on the border between mortal life and immortal reward) is that Camber is to help whenever he reasonably can, as both a penance for his behavior during his mortal life and as (sort of) a hand guided by God in the mortal world.  (I hope that makes sense.)


Thank you for this DR and for moving the topic. Your suggestion as to what happens to Camber post-mortem is what I had in mind. His final use of a forbidden spell seems to sum up his ability to convince himself all along that something is right just because he does it. I am hoping someday to finish my Joram fanfic though it will take far more time than I have at present, because Joram was clearly fairly unhappy about much of what his father, and to an extent Evaine, did and I would love to explore how much Joram may have seen the calamities which befell the Deryni, and Gwynedd in general as divine retribution.

The persecution, almost to the point of annihilation, of the Deryni post Ramos was catastrophic. Obviously some humans were better off, those who had had tyrannical Deryni masters and those who like the Regents and their cronies were able to profit during and after the reign of Cinhil's sons, but I suspect life for many was harder. For a start there would have been little or no medical care for the poor once the healers were gone (at the beginning of Camber of Culdi we see a moving picture of Rhys - a healer with noble connections at that - working amongst the poor) and the religious orders were obsessed with finding Deryni. And Gwynedd was condemned to a couple of hundred years of on/off war with Torenth.

Linking back to Donal Camber overrides Cinhil's free will every bit as much as Donal does Jessamy and attempts to do with Alyce, and it is hard not to see the stripping of his innocence and purity as akin to rape. Maybe there was no other way, and Camber is acting out of desperation but there is an arrogance and self-justification that I find hard to stomach.

Yes, Joram seems particularly uncomfortable with a number of Camber's decisions (and increasingly so over the years post-Restoration).

When Evaine goes to Bishop Niallan for final confession and extreme unction, she outright tells the bishop that she knows the working with Camber's suspended body (though she doesn't get specific with Niallan) will be very dangerous and possibly fatal to her and that she doesn't want to tell Joram or Queron that she knows she may very well die during the ritual; I believe she even specifically says she doesn't want to tell either of them because she thinks (probably accurately) that one or both may try to dissuade her and/or refuse to perform the working at all if her life is a possible price.  So one might infer that Evaine and Joram have clashed (obviously not badly enough to strain their sibling relationship) over the ethics of Deryni abilities and specific applications thereof.

I think Evaine and Camber both are sometimes so excited over the prospect of being able to do some action that they don't stop to consider whether they should (both for their own safety and for general ethical concerns).

If Cinhil hadn't been a monk from his late adolescence, or even if Cinhil had married, fathered children, and been widowed before taking holy orders, I think that Camber, Rhys, Joram, Evaine, et al. would probably have looked to his children for the throne upon realizing the depth of Cinhil's devotion.  But of course he hadn't, and he evidently had no siblings or cousins in the "lost" Haldane line to be alternative candidates for the throne.

Camber's dismissal of Cinhil's actual vocation and his general lack of willingness to become a king really does hit that "the ends justify the means" problem I mentioned above; Cinhil's emotional/spiritual well-being seems to be an acceptable bit of collateral damage in Camber's calculus, and that really isn't remotely fair to the Cinhil as a person or indeed to the people of Gwynedd (particularly Deryni but also humans, both in the ways I mentioned in my first post and in the ways revanne mentioned, such as the loss of Healers and Healer training) in the ensuing couple of centuries.

To be entirely fair, Camber doesn't dismiss it out of hand or without consideration, but it does seem that Camber doesn't fully understand how important a vocation is until he himself is ordained, well after the ship of Cinhil's fate had sailed.

Raksha the Demon:
Great topic! 

Much as I admire Camber's commitment to returning the governance of Gwynnedd to the human dynasty that had ruled it for centuries before the Festillic conquest, I am not completely sure that his motives were totally unselfish.

Despite the obvious cruelty of Imre's regime and the suffering of humans, Camber doesn't shift into active conspiracy-to-unseat-Imre mode until Imre murders Camber's son and heir Cathan.  It's been awhile since I read Saint Camber, but I think that Camber's resolve to play Kingmaker is less about saving the suffering humans and more about safeguarding his own family and dependents - Imre's obviously an unstable murderer; if he could murder Cathan, who was his best friend, Imre could easily turn on the rest of the MacRories, especially with Ariella to urge him on. 

Camber definitely had huge and rather unwarranted faith that once Imre was killed and Cinhil enthroned, there would be human-Deryni harmony in the newly liberated kingdom, all would proceed as it should, and his cute little human ward Megan would be the blissful mother of future Haldane kings for human and Deryni...

We all know how that turned out. 

I wonder what might have happened if Camber had returned Cinhil to his monastery, and gathered a Deryni rebellion of fellow lords concerned about Imre's excesses, and installed himself as the new king after killing Imre?  I wonder if he would have forced Joram from the priesthood and made him marry the human Megan for symbolic reasons or eventually made little Tieg Thuryn his heir. 

Or, Camber could have anticipated, a year or two prior to Cathan's death, that Imre was a washout; arranged a marriage between Imre and Evaine, and had Imre quietly killed in a way that looked like illness as soon as Evaine managed to produce a couple of sons.  (Presumably Ariella would still have fled)  Maybe I've been watching too much Game of Thrones; but I think Camber could have pulled that off and lived long enough to steer a more gradual reconciliation between human and Deryni...

But (A) Camber has to force the serene priest Cinhil to become the very unhappy King Cinhil so that Kelson will be born into the situation we see in Deryni Rising, the result of two hundred years of persecution and oppression of Deryni under Haldane rule, (B) Camber may have little compunction at having Cinhil kidnapped, mind-probed, mentally coerced and emotionally manipulated into the kingship, but he would never dream of pushing his children into doing anything contrary to their vocations or desires.

Raksha the Demon:

--- Quote from: DesertRose on March 25, 2018, 04:20:33 PM ---

I think Evaine and Camber both are sometimes so excited over the prospect of being able to do some action that they don't stop to consider whether they should (both for their own safety and for general ethical concerns).

--- End quote ---

They're certainly not the only Deryni to become so enraptured by the performing an unanticipated or new bit of magic/deryni enchantment that they don't really consider the ramifications of what they're doing.  Think about Tiercel de Claron, Boy Genius and Enfant Terrible of the Camberian Council:  Wow and gee whiz, he can give the Haldane power to a Haldane heir while the king lives!  He thinks that his fellow Camberian Councillors are a bunch of hidebound old fogies for telling him he can't do it; but hah-hah; he's already well along his teaching of Haldane Power 101 to the delighted Conall.  Unfortunately, Tiercel doesn't stop to think, even after getting to know Conall pretty well, that he's giving the keys to the Haldane kingship to a kid who has even less impulse control than he has...

A bit of irony - the person who considers the consequences of her exercise of Deryni powers the most carefully is Jehana, because she is terrified of being Deryni and using those powers.  It's interesting that she goes ahead anyway, for the best reasons - to save Nigel's life, to use handfire to light her way, to strike out at the sorceress threatening to kill her son (though that act was totally instinctive, Jehana did not hesitate). 


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