Daggerspell: Innovative world building, sympathetic characterization

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsepic fantasy book reviews Katharine Kerr Deverry 1. DaggerspellDaggerspell by Katharine Kerr

As a young man, Nevyn’s inability to choose starts a series of events that leads to the death of his betrothed, her brother, and another man. At his beloved’s grave he swears to never rest until he has righted the wrongs he caused. The gods accept his vow, and he is gifted with immortality until he has fulfilled his promise. Daggerspell follows Nevyn’s attempts to pay the debts he owes as the spirits of the three people to whom he is spiritually tied are born and reborn.

Set in a pseudo-Celtic world, this first book in the Deverry series is an intriguing tale of love and redemption. The characters are interesting, and the central role of reincarnation provides an innovative variation on what would otherwise be a standard fantasy novel, complete with magical elves and dwarven blacksmiths. The system of magic, called dweomer, is well-detailed and complex, complete with restrictions and consequences for actions.

Daggerspell has a somewhat slow start, exacerbated by the need to keep track of characters with fairly similar names who appear repeatedly in different timelines with different names which are also similar to previous names of other characters. This made it difficult to follow who was reincarnated into whom. Daggerspell would have been greatly aided by a quasi-genealogy chart that showed who was whom throughout the different time periods.

Also problematic was an overreliance on archaic sounding dialect, which felt clunky and overworked. However, once the jumping between timelines settles down into the main action, the characters are deep and absorbing, and I felt myself emotionally connecting to their lives. Daggerspell comes to a satisfying conclusion while still serving as the start of a new series. Kerr writes with a beautifully dense prose and displays innovative world building and sympathetic characterization.

Though the thought of embarking on a storyline that already has ten books in it is a bit overwhelming, Katharine Kerr‘s talent definitely induces me to pick up the next book in the Deverry saga.

Deverry — (1986-2009) Publisher: Even as a young girl,  Jill was a favorite of the magical, mysterious  Wildfolk, who appeared to her from their invisible  realm. Little did she know her extraordinary  friends represented but a glimpse of a forgotten past  and a fateful future. Four hundred years-and many  lifetimes-ago, one selfish young lord caused the  death of two innocent lovers. Then and there he  vowed never to rest until he’d rightened that  wrong — and laid the foundation for the lives of Jill  and all those whom she would hold dear: her  father, the mercenary soldier Cullyn; the exiled  berserker Rhodry Maelwaedd; and the ancient and  powerful herbman Nevyn, all bound in a struggle against  darkness… and a quest to fulfill the  destinies determined centuries ago. Here in this newly  revised edition comes the incredible novel that  began one of the best-loved fantasy seers in recent  years — a tale of bold adventure and timeless  love, perilous battle and pure magic.

Act one: Deverry — In the UK, the third book is Dawnspell: The Bristling Wood, and the fourth book is Dragonspell: The Southern Sea.

Katharine Kerr Deverry Daggerspell, Darkspell, The Bristling Wood, The Dragon RevenantKatharine Kerr Deverry Daggerspell, Darkspell, The Bristling Wood, The Dragon RevenantKatharine Kerr Deverry Daggerspell, Darkspell, The Bristling Wood, The Dragon RevenantKatharine Kerr Deverry Daggerspell, Darkspell, The Bristling Wood, The Dragon Revenant

Act two: The Westlands — in the UK, the third book is A Time of War and the fourth book is A Time of Justice.

Deverry Katherine Kerr The Westlands: A Time of Exile, A Time of Omens, Days of Blood and Fire, Days of Air and DarknessDeverry Katherine Kerr The Westlands: A Time of Exile, A Time of Omens, Days of Blood and Fire, Days of Air and DarknessDeverry Katherine Kerr The Westlands: A Time of Exile, A Time of Omens, Days of Blood and Fire, Days of Air and DarknessDeverry Katherine Kerr The Westlands: A Time of Exile, A Time of Omens, Days of Blood and Fire, Days of Air and Darkness

Act three: The Dragon Mage

Katharine Kerr Deverry Dragon Mage: The Red Wyvern, The Black Raven, The Fire DragonKatharine Kerr Deverry Dragon Mage: The Red Wyvern, The Black Raven, The Fire DragonKatharine Kerr Deverry Dragon Mage: The Red Wyvern, The Black Raven, The Fire Dragon

Act four: The Silver Wyrm — in the UK, these are continuations of Act Three: The Dragon Mage.

Katharine Kerr Deverry The Silver Wyrm: 1. The Gold Falcon 2. The Spirit Stone 3. The Shadow Isle 4. The Silver MageKatharine Kerr Deverry The Silver Wyrm: 1. The Gold Falcon 2. The Spirit Stone 3. The Shadow Isle 4. The Silver MageKatharine Kerr Deverry The Silver Wyrm: 1. The Gold Falcon 2. The Spirit Stone 3. The Shadow Isle 4. The Silver MageKatharine Kerr Deverry The Silver Wyrm: 1. The Gold Falcon 2. The Spirit Stone 3. The Shadow Isle 4. The Silver Mage


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RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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