Javan Haldane of Gwynedd is a fictional character in the Deryni series of historical fantasy novels by Katherine Kurtz.
Javan Jashan Urien Haldane is the fourteenth King of Gwynedd. He is the ninth member of the House of Haldane to serve as king, and the third consecutive Haldane king following the end of the Festillic Interregnum
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Although neither Javan nor Urien are previously-established royal names within Javan’s family history, the name Jashan does have precedent. Prince Jashan Haldane was the eldest son and heir of King Ifor Haldane, the last Haldane king prior to the Festillic Interregnum.
Javan’s primary motivation is his personal sense of honor and morality, which is integrated with his sense of duty as a royal prince. As a result, he opposes his enemies not only because he finds their actions evil, but also because they have usurped the rightful authority of the crown.
Javan’s main goal is to gain the independence of the throne of Gwynedd from the great lords of state who have seized most of the political authority in the kingdom. In addition, he hopes to halt the Deryni persecutions and undo the social damage they have created.
Javan mostly struggles against his political opponents, particularly Archbishop Hubert MacInnis, Earl Murdoch of Carthane, and Earl Rhun von Horthy of Sheele. In addition, Javan has occasional fraternal conflicts with his younger brother, Prince Rhys Michael Haldane.
Javan is forced to grow up very quickly, often dealing with issues far beyond his years. As a result, many of his childhood beliefs are brutally destroyed as he personally witnesses the brutal and bloody realities of the world. However, Javan learns from each painful experience, and he is able to face his opponents with much greater maturity and cunning than they expect from someone his age.
Javan is born on May 25, 905, the second surviving son of King Cinhil I Haldane and Queen Megan de Cameron, and the younger twin brother of Prince Alroy Haldane. Javan was born with a clubbed right foot, but he learned from a young age to compensate for his disability. By the age of eleven, he was acknowledged as being a better rider and archer than either of his brothers, and he took fierce pride in being able to take part in the same physical training as the other princes. During his childhood, Javan formed a close friendship with Lord Tavis O’Neill, a Deryni Healer who served as both a tutor and a personal physician to the young prince.
The eleven-year-old Javan begins the novel in the care of his personal Healer and friend, Lord Tavis O’Neill. Despite the pain of his clubbed foot, Javan is fiercely determined to become a warrior, but his training often requires Tavis’ ministrations to speed his recovery. On the night of February 1, 917, Javan and his brothers are drugged by Lord Rhys Thuryn, who is acting on the orders of Javan’s father. Later that night, unbeknownst to the princes, King Cinhil performs an arcane ritual to set the Haldane potential in his three sons, but the stress of the ritual results in the death of the aging king. Javan is secretly returned to his quarters, then awakened a short time later to witness the formal declaration of his father’s death.
Over the following months, Javan succeeds in keeping Tavis at his side, despite the attempts of the Regency Council to purge all Deryni from the royal court. Javan’s elder twin Alroy is formally crowned King of Gwynedd on their twelfth birthday in May, and Javan soon begins to discover his own emerging arcane powers. While tending to Tavis after the Healer is attacked by a group of rogue Deryni, Javan discovers that he has acquired mental shields. After the royal court moves to Rhemuth during the summer, Javan helps Tavis recover his memory of the night of Cinhil’s death. Although they confirm Rhys’ involvement in the night’s events, they cannot determine the purpose of Cinhil’s ritual. By mid-October, Javan’s powers continue to develop, and he confesses to Tavis that he has begun to Truth-Read custom glass bottles. Determined to discover the truth, they begin to make plans to interrogate Rhys.
Their opportunity arrives in December, when the royal court travels to Valoret for the election of the new Archbishop of Valoret. After Bishop Alister Cullen is chosen as the new archbishop, Javan and Tavis learn of the Regents’ plan to retaliate against several Deryni abbeys. They warn Rhys of the impending violence, and Javan fakes an illness to summon Rhys to his chambers. After Rhys’ arrival, Tavis drugs him and Javan orders Tavis to probe Rhys’ memory. Although they acquire more detailed information about the events that occurred the night of Cinhil’s death, they are still unable to discover exactly what happened during the ritual. The following morning, Javan learns that the Regents are planning to arrest the bishops, and Rhys eventually convinces Javan to free him and allow him to warn the bishops.
Over the next several days, Javan can only watch helplessly as the Regents seize control of the Holy Church. Eventually, he convinces Tavis to take him to Dhassa through a Deryni Transfer Portal, where he meets with the outlawed bishops and learns of Rhys’ death. They return to Valoret the same night, but Javan soon learns that Regents are about to enact a series of brutal anti-Deryni laws. On the first day of 918, Javan commands Tavis to flee to safety, leaving the young prince to face the Regents alone.
Javan and the rest of the royal court remain in Valoret, delaying their return to Rhemuth until the winter weather breaks. He learns of the deaths of Alister Cullen and Jebediah d’Alcara on January 10, 918, and later makes a clandestine rendezvous with Tavis O’Neill. A week later, Javan assists Tavis and Ansel MacRorie when the two Deryni conduct a secret mission in Valoret Castle, but he discovers the following morning that the mission was interrupted and Ansel identified as a participant. During this time, Javan begins to spend increasing amounts of time in prayer and religious study, a hobby that not only gives him greater access to the Transfer Portal in the archbishop’s quarters but also provides him with a daily reprieve from the close attention of the king’s Regents. The Regents interpret his actions as an emerging religious vocation, and Javan actively encourages this impression, believing that he will attract less notice from the Regents if they believe him to be devoted to a religious life.
Javan’s arcane powers continue to develop through the spring, but he carefully keeps his abilities hidden from the Regents. In addition to his successful use of a Transfer Portal, he also reads the minds and alters the memories of his brother the king, his squire, Charlan Morgan, and Archbishop Hubert MacInnis. The only person at court to learn of Javan’s abilities is Lord Oriel de Bourg, who pledges to protect Javan’s secret in exchange for Javan’s promise to help Oriel’s imprisoned family. After the court returns to Rhemuth, Javan is eventually contacted by Evaine MacRorie Thuryn, and he utilizes his religious studies as a cover for maintaining contact with his Deryni allies. After a bloody incident on his thirteenth birthday in May, Javan embarks on a plan to assist the baptizer cult that the Camberian Council has established to hide Deryni. He travels to Valoret in early June, professing to Archbishop Hubert that he wishes to further explore a religious life. While there, he defies Hubert and participates in the baptismal, openly giving the cult his approval and sanction. Hubert has Javan flogged for his actions, but Javan agrees to take temporary religious vows to further convince Hubert of the prince’s emerging priestly vocation. Javan knows that the decision is risky, since it places him under the direct control of Hubert for the next several years. However, it also removes him from the immediate attention of the other Regents, and it will provide him with an excellent scholarly education. On August 1, 918, Javan takes vows as a lay brother of the Custodes Fidei in Valoret with both of his royal brothers in attendance to witness the event.
In the early morning hours of June 23, 921, Javan’s meditation at Arx Fidei Abbey is interrupted by the arrival of his former squire, Sir Charlan Morgan, and a company of royal troops. Charlan informs Javan that he has been sent by Javan’s brother, Prince Rhys Michael, to bring Javan back to Rhemuth immediately. Aware that his elder twin, King Alroy, is dying, Javan defies the abbot of the abbey and returns to Rhemuth with Charlan. After his arrival, Javan is greeted by Rhys Michael and the two brothers immediately go to their eldest brother’s side. Javan shares a final brief conversation with Alroy, and the young king dies shortly thereafter. At an Accession Council later that day, an attempt is made to pass over Javan as the next king when claims are made that Javan’s religious vows bar him from the throne. However, Javan quickly faces down the challenge and disproves the allegation, claiming the throne with the vocal support of Rhys Michael and several nobles and knights.
Javan quickly re-establishes contact with his Deryni allies, secretly meeting with Father Joram MacRorie the following night. Two nights later, Javan’s Haldane potential is fully activated by Joram, Dom Queron Kinevan, and Javan’s old friend, Tavis O’Neill. As Javan settles back into life at court over the next month, he attempts to secure his own political authority without provoking open conflict with the former Regents, who still wield much of the ecclesiastical and secular power in the realm. Javan and his allies succeed in establishing a new Transfer Portal in Rhemuth Castle in late July, and Javan is formally crowned King of Gwynedd on July 31. Several weeks later, Javan discovers his brother dallying with Lady Michaela Drummond in the castle gardens. All too aware that another Haldane heir would only increase the danger that the brothers face, Javan commands Rhys Michael to stay away from Michaela until their situation is more stable. Rhys Michael refuses to believe that the former Regents are as dangerous as Javan claims, but he reluctantly agrees to follow Javan’s orders.
The king continues his uneasy dance of power with his lords of state into the autumn, often clashing with them over various political and religious points. In November, Javan learns that Rhys Michael has been kidnapped by Deryni bandits led by Ansel MacRorie. Two weeks later, Javan reads Archbishop Hubert’s mind and discovers that Rhys Michael’s « captivity » was staged by the former Regents, with the goal of securing a marriage and eventual heir from Rhys Michael aluminium drink bottle. The plan is ultimately successful, as Michaela tends to the unwitting prince’s wounds and soon consummates their marriage. By the time Rhys Michael and his new bride return to Rhemuth in December, Javan can do nothing but accept his new sister-in-law.
The following spring, Javan begins attempts to free the families of the Deryni collaborators that are still being held prisoner. However, one such collaborator, Sitric, attacks Oriel, forcing Javan and Guiscard de Courcy to kill Sitric with magic. Another collaborator, Ursin O’Carroll, is murdered after Javan negotiates his release with the former Regents. Nonetheless, Javan decides to take Sitric’s and Ursin’s families to the baptizer cult near Valoret, hoping that their participation in the baptismal will convince Hubert to set the free. However, shortly after the royal party’s arrival at the river, the former Regents launch a joint attack on both the cult and Javan. The king can only watch helplessly as both Revan and Tavis are slain, and he is soon forced to engage in a desperate fight for his own life. Although Javan and his knights fight bravely, they are eventually overwhelmed, and Javan dies in the arms of his loyal friend, Sir Charlan Morgan. King Javan Haldane is killed on May 11, 922, at the age of 16. He is succeeded by his younger brother, Prince Rhys Michael Haldane.
The recurring theme of Javan’s life is his struggle to overcome extremely difficult obstacles, the first of which is his clubbed foot. From an early age, Javan is forced to deal with not only the physical limitations of his foot, but also the negative opinions of those at court who believe that his deformed foot makes him unworthy to be king. While Javan does not agree with that particular opinion, he does believe that his foot is a sign of divine displeasure, a curse that God inflicted upon him for his father’s sins. Nonetheless, Javan refuses to allow the opinions of others (or himself) to deter him from his goals. Despite the pain of his foot, he doggedly takes part in the same martial training as his brothers, determined to become a capable warrior in his own right. In the end, he is ultimately successful, achieving much greater martial prowess than many had believed possible.
Javan’s second major obstacle is his battle against the lords of state, and it is another struggle filled with difficult obstacles. When the Regents first come to power, Javan is the underage brother of an underage king school team uniforms, a position which provides him with virtually no authority or power to fight the Regents’ avarice. By the time Javan reaches his legal majority, he is a lay brother under religious vows of obedience. Even when Javan eventually becomes king in his own right, the former Regents have had several years to secure their positions of power in the realm. Nonetheless, Javan continues to fight against them at every stage, refusing to back down and allow them to retain control of his family’s throne. He uses every available resource and weapon at his command to continue the battle, often forced to fight alone against a group of men much older and much more experienced than him. Although Javan wins several individual battles, he is ultimately unable to win the war, as the Regents are simply too powerful and too numerous for the young king to defeat. Despite his tragic ending, Javan is a heroic figure, often portrayed as fighting for a righteous cause with bravery and courage.