Monday, August 14, 2006

The Bone Doll's Twin - Lynn Flewelling

Lynn Flewelling's The Bone Doll's Twin is the first in the Tamir Triad (the other two books are The Hidden Warrior and the long-awaited Oracle's Queen).

Long ago, during the dark days of the Great War with Plenimar, King Thelatimos journeyed to the Oracle of the God Illior at Afra in the hopes of discovering how to save his warn-torn kingdom. He was presented with a prophecy 'So long as a daughter of Thelatimos's line defends and rules, Skala shall never be subjugated.' Thus the line of queens ruling over Skala was established, but as the generations passed, some of the male heirs to the throne became intensely resentful of the prophecy that emasculated their claim to power. Then one day, Queen Agnalain took the throne and the people of Skala suffered greatly under her erratic and selfish command as she suffered from madness. Prompted by the people's outcry over the mad queen, her son Prince Erius declared himself the heir and seized the throne, despite the fact that he had a sister. Unfortunately, drought, plague, and famine have spread throughout the kingdom weakening its defences and offering easy pickings to its old enemy and neighbour, Plenimar. As people start to recall the Oracle's prophecy, Erius begins quietly killing off his female relatives who pose the only threat to his rule. Constantly in fear for her life, Princess Ariani the King's sister, gives birth to twins, a boy and a girl. But Ariani is married to Lord Rhius, the patron of the powerful Oreskan mage, Iya, and she has plans for the babies. She and her pupil Arkoniel find a hill-witch (who practises a different sort of magic from the Oreskan mages) named Lhel who has been expecting them, having had visions from her Moon Goddess about them. She helps them by disguising the girl baby as the boy, the intention being that she will prevent the boy baby from drawing breath as he's born. Unfortunately King Erius arrives at precisely the wrong moment and the boy does draw breath before he's killed, and his spirit continues to haunt Tobin, as the girl baby is named. Also unfortunately, Ariana heard the boy baby's cry and knows he wasn't stillborn as she is told, and she descends into a grieving madness that considerably tcomplicates Tobin's childhood.

I confess that when I started re-reading this book, I wondered if I was suffering from epic-fantasy-overload as it took me a little while to get back into the story, but by the end, I was fairly hooked, then cross because I forgot to take the second book of the series away with me for the weekend !

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