Saturday, April 18, 2009

Heroic Deryni Knight

My media recovery program now moves into another body of work, that is, pieces inspired by the Deryni books of Katherine Kurtz. The stories are set in the Middle Ages on an alternate Earth (with our own yellow sun and single moon), where the geography is different and nationalities are re-named but recognizable. Two races of humans inhabit the earth: ordinary humans, who have no psychic/magical ability, and the Deryni, who have psychic/magical ability. They are not two species, though, and they often interbreed, producing hybrids who may or may not have magic powers. The ordinary humans (a medieval version of Rowling's "muggles," perhaps) are mostly superstitious, ignorant, and prejudiced against the magical Deryni who live among them. Every so often a war breaks out and Deryni are burned at the stake for being witches. 

Katherine Kurtz' books are filled with swashbuckling, intrigue, magical rituals, clerical and theological complications, and plenty of blood 'n' guts. Unlike in Marion Zimmer Bradley's books, Christianity (or a Gnostic, alternate-universe form of it) is important to the characters as well as the author. And the Deryni books do not have the heavy-breathing eroticism that permeates the Darkover books; sex takes place offstage, though there are plenty of "romantic" elements. 

The chivalric character depicted here is Duke Alaric Morgan, the dominant character in many of Kurtz' books. He is the ideal knight: brave, skilled, enduring, gracious, and loyal to his king. He also has magical powers including the ability to heal wounds instantly, even though he is only half Deryni. He's tall, blond, and heroic, clad in chain mail with his green and black heraldic design. In the back is the golden lion on red which is the heraldic device of his king, the youthful Kelson. 

I painted this in the summer of 1980. It's acrylic on Masonite, 10" x 18". I exhibited it and sold it at the World Science Fiction Convention in Boston, August 1980.

Marion Zimmer Bradley is gone, but Katherine Kurtz is alive and well and still writing Deryni books. Marion was only an acquaintance (and patron) of mine, but Katherine is a longtime friend. I met her and her husband Scott in the early 1980s and we have been friends ever since. She's also the leader of my religious group, the "Order of St. Michael." My relationship with the Deryni world, then, is ongoing to this day.


Tristan Alexander said...

Nice! I still would love to see you do some scrolls for the SCA!

Pyracantha said...

Tristan I think it would be cool to do scrolls for the SCA but 1. I am not sure what a scroll involves and 2. I'd have to join the SCA.