The Deryni Series > The Legends of Camber of Culdi

A personal heresy - Camber *did* die at Iomaire


A major motivation for Camber seems to be his impossible desire to be a Healer. He always assists Healers when possible, learns the theory, grieves when in the presence of Healing.

And then Alister Cullen lies dying at his feet at Iomaire. Suppose Joram misinterpreted what Camber was suggesting about Camber "taking Alister's place"? Alister can't die; Camber will have to use magic to free his soul. But if instead of cutting the remaining bonds to life, suppose Camber went a different path: not healing, but transferring health, accepting Alister's injuries into himself. Sympathetic healing is a common idea in magical thought, so Camber would have understood the concept. Given a shapeshift can change features, closing a wound should be well within its' capabilities.

In effect, Camber is casting the same spell he does in canon to become Alister, but in reverse, to allow Alister to become Camber. So why doesn't Alister remember who he is?
Many reasons.
Firstly, to ensure that the spell is completed properly. Alister has a healthy distrust of necromantic magic, and might refuse to do so: certainly he will not be able to complete it with the proficiency that Camber will, so Camber "magic feather's" Alister into believing that he is the greatest practitioner of the age.

 Secondly, to ensure that his regular assistants, particularly Evaine, will assist to the fullness of their capabilities - assisting 'Camber' means they are working with decades of confidence.  Joram's amgical power would have been needed in the forest, so his memories would have been modified there to ansure he would assist.
 Thirdly, to ensure that Alister will use his position to guide Cinhil.
 Possibly also to prevent Alister feeling survivor's guilt...and given the spell would have been cast on the spur of the moment, it is likely that Camber thought it would wear off after Alister had healed, allowing Alister to deal with the consequences when healed.

Of course, this then all blows up in Camber's face when the canonization procedure begins. If Joram had known that his father was actually dead? No sacrilege.

Anyone wanting a solid piece of canon disproving this though need only go to his death at the end of Camber the Heretic; when  Jebediah dies, Alister's soul comes to great him. Of course, only 'Camber' remembers this, and tells no one, so my little heresy still works if it is an inferred event.

That's an interesting theory, but I'm not sure I'm on board with it.  In order for it to work, Camber would have had to do some very complex magic (even more so than canon suggests, regarding taking on what remains of Alister's memories, giving Alister's body the semblance of Camber's, and taking Alister's physical characteristics himself) in very short order, with no preparation and very little time to consider what to do and how to do it.

Metaphorically, though, Camber does die in a sense at that time, because he can no longer live as himself except in a very few, very short periods of time (the ceremony wherein he integrates Alister's memories, for a significant example).  And given that however fascinating Camber found the Healing gift, he did not have it and was never able to learn it (because while it requires intensive training to use well, it's apparently innate; you're either born with the Healing trait or not), I'm not sure he could have transferred his health to Alister's body.

And he would also have had to transfer all his memories to Alister, which doesn't square up with the aforementioned integrating of Alister's memories into Camber's mind.

I'm also not sure that Joram would have recoiled much less over the canonization of his father had he known his father was actually dead, because part of Joram's problem with the concept of Saint Camber is that he knew good and well that his father was mortal and fallible (in addition to knowing, in canon, that Camber was still alive).

Still, it's good fodder for thought and discussion.


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