Bending The Bookshelf's Reviews > The Bone Doll's Twin

The Bone Doll's Twin by Lynn Flewelling
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Aug 23, 10

bookshelves: transgender

The Tamir Trilogy is truly a `proper' trilogy - that is, a single story, broken up into three volumes, as opposed to a series of self-contained, interconnected books. Book 1 (The Bone Doll's Twin) sets-up the story and sends us on our way. In an age of plague and war, a girl child is destined to take her place as the rightful Queen, to reunite the people, and to bring peace back to the land. To thwart this prophecy and ensure his continued rule, the King carefully monitors all noble births and arranges to have the female children murdered.

When a daughter is born into the king's family, the odds of her escaping notice (much less death) are decidedly bleak. However, there is another child - a boy - sharing their mother's womb. Sadly, for one to live (and rule), the other must die. An act of darkest magic binds the twins together, concealing Tobin's true gender with that of her brother. Fittingly, for night of such dark magic, events do not go as planned. The boy child, who was to be declared stillborn, draws a single breath before his life is cut short.

That bleak mistake leaves the future queen tormented by the angry ghost of her death brother, drives their father into near-exile, and sets their unwitting mother on the path to madness and death. This is a dark, creepy, and deeply unsettling story that will have you questioning whether the end ever really can justify the means. Prince Tobin is brought up believing herself to be a boy, with only her father, her nanny, and a trio of wizards privy to the truth. We watch as she grows up, alone, isolated from the world, trapped in the confines of a gothic castle.

Perhaps not surprisingly for an author who so tenderly dealt with the intricacies of bisexual romance in her Nightrunner Series, Lynn Flewelling does an absolutely masterful job of handling Tobin's growing gender conflict. As readers who know the secret, the very subtle cues as to Tobin's true gender are as clear as they are heartbreaking, even while it remains completely conceivable how others can remain oblivious. Transgender readers especially will sympathise with Tobin's plight. For us, the cure may be surgical rather than magical, but we are no less trapped in the wrong sex than her.
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