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The Camberian Council is a secretive group of highly trained Deryni adepts in the historical fantasy novels of Katherine Kurtz. Originally formed in the early tenth century to maintain peace between the races by controlling the actions of disaffected Deryni nobles, the Council's goals soon expand to include researching ancient Deryni lore and regulating certain Deryni rituals. The Council first appears in the novel Deryni Rising, but it is actually created over two hundred years earlier, during a period between the novels Saint Camber and Camber the Heretic.
The group first receives its formal name from Archbishop Jaffray of Carbury, who believes it appropriate that they be named after the Patron Saint of Deryni Magic, Saint Camber. In addition, one of the chairs in the Council chamber is known as Saint Camber's Siege, a name first suggested by Earl Jebediah d'Alcara. When the Council does not immediately fill the vacant seat of Dom Turstane following his death in 916, Jebediah (somewhat jokingly) suggests that the empty seat provides Saint Camber with a place to observe and guide their meetings. Not only does the empty chair retain its identity after that point, but the remaining members of the Council decide that they operate better with seven members instead of eight. The membership of the Council only very rarely exceeds seven members over the following two centuries.
The members of the Council elects two Coadjutors to direct and guide their meetings, but all significant decisions are made by a majority vote of the entire Council. The Council meets in a hidden chamber located in the Rhendall Mountains in northeastern Gwynedd, accessible only by means of a single Transfer Portal. Although the chamber is almost entirely subterranean, a massive dome of purple crystal allows limited natural light into the chamber. Beneath the main Council chambers is the keeill, a large, pillared room in which the Council performs their most powerful and complex arcane rituals. Both chambers were built by an ancient Deryni brotherhood known as the Airsid, from whom the Council draws much of their inspiration.
After the Haldane Restoration of 904 (detailed in Camber of Culdi), many Deryni nobles in Gwynedd are attainted or deposed for supporting the last Festillic king, King Imre Furstán-Festil. Not only do these families lose their titles and their lands, but numerous human lords petition King Cinhil I Haldane for the restoration of the titles and lands their families lost during the initial Festillic coup eight decades earlier. As a result, the Gwyneddan peerage becomes largely human within a few years, and many Deryni begin to express open resentment over their change of status. Some of these Deryni, especially the younger sons of the former nobles, eventually take up random acts of violence and vandalism to express their outrage.
Realizing that such actions only served to fan the flames of anger and suspicion among the humans, several highly trained Deryni lords decide to monitor and control their fellow Deryni, hoping to maintain the peace between the two races in Gwynedd. This group is formed on April 15, 909, with five founding members: Bishop Alister Cullen (the public identity of Camber MacRorie), Father Joram MacRorie, Lord Rhys Thuryn, Lady Evaine MacRorie Thuryn, and Earl Jebediah d'Alcara. The following year, Archbishop Jaffray of Carbury, Earl Gregory MacDinan of Ebor, and Dom Turstane were inducted, increasing the group's membership to eight. The Council's attempts to secretly police the growing number of disgruntled Deryni and maintain the balance of power between the races are described in Camber the Heretic, but they are ultimately unable to prevent an explosion of violent persecutions against Deryni throughout Gwynedd. Within a year and a half of King Cinhil's death in 917, four of the five founding members of the Camberian Council are dead.
Survival in secrecy
Despite its losses, the Camberian Council survives, though the plight of Deryni in Gwynedd results in alterations to their original goals. The Council works in secret from its beginning, but the rampant Deryni persecution force them to conceal their operations and their existence to an even greater degree, for the mere knowledge of a group of highly trained Deryni would provoke a violent reaction in Gwynedd. Although the Council originally seeks to research and reclaim ancient Deryni lore in the beginning, much of their efforts turn to simply protecting the knowledge they already possess, for the loss of so many Deryni institutions of learning results in an alarming loss of knowledge. Attempts to maintain the peace between humans and Deryni quickly evolve into desperate attempts to save as many of their people as they can, as the survival of their race becomes more important than its social standing.
For two hundred years, the Council both achieves successes and endures failures, though the true extent of their involvement in many public events remains unknown. Theirs is a constantly uphill battle against forces that far outnumber them, and their achievements are often in the nature of small victories in the larger war. While they are unable to halt the persecutions in Gwynedd, they succeed in hiding many Deryni and protecting them for future generations. They cannot repeal the legislation that outlaws their race and prevents them from joining the Church, but they facilitate the plan that removes the former Regents from power in 928 and eventually discover the means by which the Church is discovering Deryni priests. They are unable to protect all of the arcane knowledge from their past, but they do manage to save more of it than anyone else. For centuries, the Camberian Council patiently bides their time, working toward a future date when their race would once again be accepted and safe.
The current Council
Although it still retains many of the same ideals and goals as it did in the tenth century, the Camberian Council of the twelfth century has evolved. While the membership of the Council was exclusively Gwyneddan at its beginning, it grows to include Deryni from several surrounding lands as a result of the mass exodus of Deryni from Gwynedd that followed the initial onslaught of the persecutions. Additionally, the Council's interests have expanded to include the affairs of foreign realms, though much of its interest remains focused on Gwynedd. While the early Councils saw it as their duty to watch over the House of Haldane and ensure the activation of each king's Haldane potential, their direct involvement with subsequent Haldane kings remains unknown. (Both King Brion Haldane and his son, Kelson Haldane, have their power activated without the assistance of the Council.)
As a group, the Camberian Council has become quite conservative over the centuries. Although they still strive to protect and defend Deryni, they make a distinction between those who are full-blooded Deryni and those who are not, often viewing the latter with pity and/or contempt. It is unclear just how much arcane lore they have retained over the centuries, and while they certainly possess more knowledge and power than any other Deryni in Gwynedd, they place limitations and conditions on the use of that knowledge (such as permitting the construction of new Transfer Portals). On the other hand, they have clearly lost some of their previous lore, most notably the knowledge of Healing and the process of identifying and training Healers. Nonetheless, the Council remains as secretive as ever, known only as a whispered rumor by most Deryni throughout the Eleven Kingdoms. Though they are few in number, most of the members of the Council are highly placed persons of power in their own lands, and each is an acknowledged master of the magical arts. As a result, the Camberian Council can exert an impressive combination of political, ecclesiastical, and arcane power at any given time to accomplish their goals.
The various characters who are known to be members of the Camberian Council are listed below according to the order in which they join the Council. The dates listed to next to each name represent each character's time of service on the Council, not the dates of their births or deaths. However, unless specifically noted otherwise, most members of the Council are presumed to have died while in office.
- Bishop Alister Cullen (909 – 918): Bishop of Grecotha, Chancellor of Gwynedd, public identity of Camber MacRorie
- Father Joram MacRorie (909 – 948?): priest and knight of the Order of St. Michael
- Lady Evaine MacRorie Thuryn (909 – 918): daughter of Camber MacRorie, sister of Joram MacRorie, wife of Rhys Thuryn
- Lord Rhys Thuryn (909 – 917): Healer to the Royal Family of Gwynedd
- Earl Jebediah d'Alcara (909 – 918): Earl of Alcara, Earl Marshal of Gwynedd, Grand Master of the Order of St. Michael
- Archbishop Jaffray of Carbury (910 – 917): Archbishop of Valoret and Primate of All Gwynedd
- Earl Gregory MacDinan (910 – 932?): Earl of Ebor
- Dom Turstane (910 – 916): priest and Healer of the Order of St. Gabriel
- Lord Ansel MacRorie (918 – 948?): hereditary Earl of Culdi, grandson of Camber MacRorie
- Lord Jesse MacGregor (918 – 981?): hereditary Earl of Ebor, later Count of Trevalga, son of Gregory MacDinan
- Dom Queron Kinevan (918 – ?): priest and Healer of the Order of St. Gabriel, founder of the Servants of Saint Camber
- Lord Tavis O'Neill (918 – 922): personal Healer to Prince Javan Haldane
- Bishop Niallan Trey (918 – 942?): exiled Bishop of Dhassa
- Lord Michon de Courcy (1067–1097): Titular Baron de Courcy
- Lady Vivienne de Jordanet (1080? – 1128): Lady de Jordanet
- Lord Barrett de Laney (1080? – 1130+): Titular Lord de Laney, later Earl Barstowe
- Lord Sief MacAthan (? - 1082): Royal Councilor to King Donal Blaine Haldane
- Oisín Adair (before 1082 – after 1096)
- Lord Seisyll Arilan (before 1082 – after 1096): Royal Councilor to King Brion Haldane
- Lady Dominy de Laney (before 1082 – after 1096): sister of Barrett de Laney
- Prince Khoren Vastouni (1082 – after 1096): Prince of Andelon
- Lord Rhydon of Eastmarch (1091–1105): Titular Earl of Eastmarch and Baron Coldoire, resigned in 1105
- Stefan Coram (1098? – 1121)
- Sir Jamyl Arilan (1100–1107): Laird of Tre-Arilan, nephew of Seisyll Arilan
- Baron Laran ap Pardyce (1102–1130+): Baron Pardyce
- Princess Sofiana Vastouni (1105–1112 and 1123–1130+): Sovereign Princess of Andelon, niece of Khoren Vastouni
- Bishop Denis Arilan (1107? – 1130+): Auxiliary Bishop of Rhemuth, brother of Jamyl Arilan, later Bishop of Dhassa
- Lord Thorne Hagen (1113–1121): Lord Saint-Stéphane, resigned in 1121
- Lady Kyri de Róiste (1119–1127): resigned in 1127
- Tiercel de Claron (1120–1125)
- Sir Sion Benet (1127–1130+): Under-Chancellor to the Royal House of Llannedd
- Prince Azim ibn Qais ibn Hassan ar-Rafiq (1128–1130+): Prince of Nur Hallaj, Preceptor of the Knights of the Anvil
- Katherine Kurtz and Robert Reginald, Codex Derynianus (Second Edition), ISBN 1-887424-96-2
- Katherine Kurtz, In the King's Service, ISBN 0-441-01060-1
- Katherine Kurtz, Childe Morgan, ISBN 0-441-01282-5