fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review: The Bone Doll's TwinThe Bone Doll’s Twin by Lynn Flewelling

I finished listening to the audio version of The Bone Doll’s Twin, the first in Lynn Flewelling’s fantasy epic THE TAMIR TRIAD, around midnight a few days ago. Instead of going to bed, like normal people might, I immediately downloaded book two, The Hidden Warrior, and listened for a couple more hours. That’s how much I was involved in this story about a young girl who doesn’t know she’s magically hidden in the body of a boy.

Tobin, who’s really a girl, has had a difficult childhood. When he was born, his uncle, the king of Skala, was covertly killing off the royal women and girls because a prophecy says that the land must have a queen as ruler. King Erius had gained his throne through treachery and he intends to keep it. Tobin’s parents asked a magician to hide their newborn daughter, but they didn’t realize what kind of dark magic they were getting into. The cost was heavy and now Tobin’s mother has gone mad and Tobin’s twin brother is an evil ghost. On top of that, Tobin’s family has moved to their country estate because they fear that the king’s magicians might be able to detect the cover up. Tobin is an odd child already, so it doesn’t help that he’s being raised so far from noble society. His father and the magicians who help him must mold Tobin into someone worthy to take the throne someday.

These days I don’t have as much patience as I used to for long epic fantasies involving prophecies and boys coming of age, so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself enjoying The Bone Doll’s Twin so much. Lynn Flewelling’s writing style is pleasant and her story gently moves along at a pace that’s leisurely without becoming dull, most comparable perhaps to Robin Hobb’s FARSEER saga. There is a large cast of male and female, young and old, magical and normal, common and noble characters who are well developed, not simply stock characters. It helps that we see the story from several of their perspectives, not just Tobin’s.

A main theme in The Bone Doll’s Twin is gender identity and Flewelling handles this very well. While Tobin, who doesn’t know he’s a girl, wants to be a famous warrior like his father, and is successfully working toward that goal, he has a softer side, too, which he thinks is a weakness and fears to show others. He sleeps with a doll but we’re not really sure if that’s because he’s a girl and it’s natural for him to like dolls, or if the doll is a connection to his mother who made it. Similarly, he loves to spend his time building a model of the capitol city, a pursuit that could be seen as either a masculine or feminine hobby. While we see hints of Tobin’s feminine side, it’s all tantalizingly ambiguous so far. Things will begin to look different when Tobin reaches puberty in the next book, The Hidden Warrior.

I’m listening to the audio version of THE TAMIR TRIAD which was produced by Audible Frontiers and expertly narrated by Victor Bevine. Lynn Flewelling reads her introduction to the book. As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, I immediately downloaded and started listening to The Hidden Warrior when I finished The Bone Doll’s Twin. This is a story that’s worth my time.

The Tamir Trilogy — (2001-2006) Takes place in the same world as Nightrunner, five centuries earlier. Publisher: For three centuries a divine prophecy and a line of warrior queens protected Skala. But the people grew complacent and Erius, a usurper king, claimed his young half sister’s throne. Now plague and drought stalk the land, war with Skala’s ancient rival Plenimar drains the country’s lifeblood, and to be born female into the royal line has become a death sentence as the king fights to ensure the succession of his only heir, a son. For King Erius the greatest threat comes from his own line — and from Illior’s faithful, who spread the Oracle’s words to a doubting populace. As noblewomen young and old perish mysteriously, the king’s nephew — his sister’s only child — grows toward manhood. But unbeknownst to the king or the boy, strange, haunted Tobin is the princess’s daughter, given male form by a dark magic to protect her until she can claim her rightful destiny. Only Tobin’s noble father, two wizards of Illior, and an outlawed forest witch know the truth. Only they can protect young Tobin from a king’s wrath, a mother’s madness, and the terrifying rage of her brother’s demon spirit, determined to avenge his brutal murder…

Tamir Trilogy: The Bone Doll's Twin, Hidden Warrior, The Oracle's QueenTamir Trilogy: The Bone Doll's Twin, Hidden Warrior, The Oracle's QueenTamir Trilogy: The Bone Doll's Twin, Hidden Warrior, The Oracle's Queen


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.