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The Oracle's Queen by Lynn Flewelling

01/02/2011. Contributed by Sarah Bruch

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The Oracle's Queen (The Tamir Triad book 3) by Lynn Flewelling. pub: Bantam Spectra. 557 page paperback. Price: $ 7.50 (US), $ 9.99 (CAN). ISBN: 0-553-58345-X.

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‘The Oracle’s Queen’ is the third book in Lynn Flewelling’s ‘Tamir Triad’, this means that this review will probably hold a lot of spoilers for those who haven’t read the previous two books, ‘The Bones Doll’s Twin’ and ‘Hidden Warrior’.

‘The Bone Doll’s Twin’, released in 2001, introduces us to a character that we are told is Tobin, the young son of a nobleman raised in the country and brought to court to become a companion of the young prince Korin. During the book we learn that Tobin is not all that he seems and has in fact been put under a spell to appear as a boy to protect the girl he really is from his uncle, the current King. This is all related to a prophesy that we learn about in this first book of the series.

‘Hidden Warrior’, released in 2003, carries on the story with Tobin now understanding that he is actually a girl but having to hide this fact to save his own life. Tobin struggles throughout the book with this knowledge and the fact that he is going to eventually have to come clean and possibly kill the people he considers friends.

‘The Oracle’s Queen’ is when Tobin, now Tamir, comes into her own. She has spectacularly shown that she is in fact a girl and now has to try to fight to regain her rightful throne while trying to come to terms with her changed gender. Basically this book is a lead up to the final battle but Flewelling does this in such as way that it isn’t dull, you learn a great deal about the characters and learn to love them more and more. Although this last book is a slow build, it certainly speeds up towards the end, this was a good and a bad thing because as with all really great books I wished for it to last forever, not speed up!

As with the last book in all good fantasy trilogies, all the storylines are neatly tidied up with the good guys winning and the bad guys getting their comeuppance. Flewelling does leave one of her storylines to be tidied up in another of the sets of books she has written which allows the reader to slip nicely from one set of books to another.

I have to say that I love Lynn Flewelling’s books, so much so that this is the second time I’ve read this particular book and I never re-read books… ever! I’m only glad that she has written an entire series of books set in the future in the same land as this series or I might have to re-read the entire trilogy again. ‘The Nightrunner Series’ currently stands at five books but there’s a possible sixth in the pipe-line which is good news for Flewelling addicts such as myself.

One of the main themes in ‘The Tamir Triad’ is the change of gender that Tamir goes through. Gender seems to be something that Flewelling likes to look at in her novels, either using gender changes or having homosexual characters. This is a very brave thing to do as these are issues that can be very provocative but Flewelling deals with these issues in a very sensitive manner. I felt very comfortable with the situation and enjoyed reading about how the characters deal with coming to terms with their gender issues. Flewelling doesn’t present Tamir’s gender change as something ‘Disney’ and easily accepted, we work through Tamir’s issues along with her. I’m not sure whether this delicate writing hand is due to the fact that Flewelling is a woman but I certainly find her writing very different to the other male fantasy authors out there.

Unlike a lot of fantasy authors, Flewelling does not make the ‘baddies’ completely beyond redemption, I even felt a tear come to my eye during some of their moments of introspection and during their deaths. Each and every one of her characters is ultimately very human with good and bad elements to each of them and they all get a chance to shine. I found myself reading some of Korin’s thoughts and watching as he realised he had no way out of the situation he had found himself in and feeling very sorry for him. I found the death of one particular character to be quite funny and could see him in his after-life looking quite peeved that he had been dispatched in such an ignoble way.

Lynn Flewelling has a very distinct voice, it’s one that I love to read and know that a lot of other people really enjoy as well. Every bit of the book is something I enjoy reading, none of it appears to be filler or boring at all. Flewelling’s writing style is slightly more feminine than any other fantasy writer I’ve read, maybe a little like Juliet Marillier. I’d love for there to be more books in this series, and from the hints at the end of this book it might be that my luck is in. I would love to read about the setting up of Tamir’s dream city and the wizard community at the heart of it.

Sarah Bruch

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