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:: The Bone Doll's Twin, and sequels

Just finished a fantastic set of books from Lynn Flewelling: The Bone Doll's Twin, Hidden Warrior, and The Oracle's Queen. The story centers around a prophecy made by the gods of Skala that as long as a queen sits on the throne, the country will never be conquered. After a centuries-long tradition of female rulers, and of a society in which women can be warriors alongside men, an unfortunate strain of madness in the royal bloodline and an ambitious male heir have recently resulted in a king taking the throne. Plague, drought and invasion have followed, as well as a vicious campaign against wizards (instigated by Niryn, the King's wizard, who wants no competitors) and the removal of women from any training or fighting.

With this as a backdrop, the book opens with Ariani, sister of the King and last surviving daughter in the queen's line -- her brother has killed all the others, old or young -- giving birth to twins. Two wizards, aided by the powerful magic of a hill country witch, give the girl twin the form of her dead brother, hoping to keep her safe until she's old enough to claim her birthright. The books follow Tobin as he grows up, learns to fight, becomes a Companion to the King's son Korin, and slowly realizes that the people he has loved and trusted have in fact been hiding a very important truth from him. Along the way he has to deal with his mother's madness and the vengeful spirit of his dead brother, not to mention his confusing feelings for Ki, his squire and best friend. And eventually, of course, he becomes she, when she resumes her true form and, as Tamir, fights for her crown and her country against her former friends, Korin and the Companions.

I can't praise these books highly enough. The characters are complex and realistic, the premise unusual and gripping, the mix of politics, religion, magic and war intriguing and well-done. There are no pat happy endings; people die, some of them people you like a lot. There are no clear-cut heroes or villains, and each person has to make choices, sometimes very hard ones, about what's right and what's wrong. The girl-in-a-boy's-body element could obviously have been turned into a heavy-handed polemic about gender, but it isn't; rather than sacrificing plot or nuance for the sake of some pointed social commentary, Flewelling sticks to her purpose of telling a cracking great story -- thank you,Lynn!!

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ennyousai
Aug. 29th, 2010 11:07 pm (UTC)
Oooh, this sounds right up my alley! I'll have to check it out. :)
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