One of the things I’d forgotten until this re-read of the serious is just how morally flexible Camber and his crew are. In the first series, Alaric and Morgan see Camber as a legendary figure who could do no wrong. While this trilogy allows for the fact that Camber’s just a man, we’re clearly still supposed to see him as always on the side of good and right. In fact, it becomes a little annoying just how righteous he is – at least in his own eyes and the eyes of the author. The truth is that he’s astonishingly manipulative and Machiavellian. Ends, in this case, virtually always justify the means; the token protests and qualms are just that – tokens, not to be taken as serious obstacles. Even within the heavy religious layer, devotion to god takes second place to political need. It wouldn’t all be so troublesome if it weren’t for the fact that we’re clearly meant to see all these decisions as amply justified, because Camber is on the side of Right. He warns against Deryni exploitation of vulnerable humans, even as he exploits vulnerable humans for his own goals.
There’s also a much stronger fascination with clothing than I recalled. If you’re not interested in a detailed description of sumptuous religious habiliments, you’ll be able to skip long paragraphs.
A big appeal of the books for me was always the magic that later generations were slowly discovering. Here, in the earlier time… they’re busy discovering the magic of an earlier generation. And a lot of what they find is both awfully convenient, and thinly described. A couple of warding cubes, a religious invocation, some mumbling, and you’re pretty much good to go. Need a particular skill? Camber and crew are bound to discover it just in time.
Don’t ruin your memory of this book by re-reading it.