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Hidden Warrior
Lynn Flewelling
Bantam Spectra, 553 pages

Hidden Warrior
Lynn Flewelling
Lynn Flewelling was born in Presque Isle, Maine in 1958. She received a B.S. from the University of Maine, 1981. Past jobs have included house painter, sales clerk, teacher, necropsy technician and copy writer. She lives in Bangor, Maine, with her husband Doug and 2 sons.

Lynn Flewelling Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Bone Doll's Twin
SF Site Review: Traitor's Moon
SF Site Review: Luck in the Shadows

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Sherwood Smith

Readers who enjoy fantasy adventure ought to be pleased by this new offering from Lynn Flewelling. She began her fantasy career with her Nightrunner trilogy (Luck in the Shadows, Stalking Darkness, and Traitor's Moon) considerably increasing her readership with this new series that began with The Bone Doll's Twin.

Readers new to the fantasy genre might do best to begin with The Bone Doll's Twin before trying this book, though Flewelling does a superlative job of layering in needed back story so that this book is not completely incomprehensible. But the world she has built is complex, and the action non-stop, which might make it difficult for a young reader, or someone just trying fantasy for the first time, to assemble all the clues quickly enough to stay with the headlong pace. Experienced readers should have no problem beginning with this book -- and will probably find the backstory serves as hints tantalizing enough to want to go back and read the first one before the third book comes out.

In Hidden Warrior Tobin, the protagonist, wakes up after a harrowing experience in which he discovered that he is really a she, but imprisoned in a boy's body. But this boy's body is the body Tobin is used to, has lived in for twelve years! There is hardly time to brood over it, though, as there are serious problems all around: his squire and best friend is severely wounded, maybe dying; his horrible guardian wants him back under control; his uncle, the king, who ordered the deaths of all warrior women and their babies, might be coming back from the wars. And weaving eerily in and out of real life is Brother, the demonic ghost of Tobin's dead twin brother, who is gaining powers of his own.

Tobin eventually has to go back to a capital city that is increasingly beset by horrible famines and plagues, as predicted by the practitioners of Skala's oldest religion. Despite the Harriers, who are busily extirpating wizards (who are being blamed for Skala's problems), the old magics are not only being preserved, but the mages are making discoveries that they are determined to use to come back, and put a queen back on the throne, as Skala is supposed to be ruled.

Tobin remembers every once in a while that that queen is he -- a fact that is a real smack in the spirit, because he loves his cousin who is heir to the throne, and discovers he loves the king, when he finally does return, though sometimes the king's moods are difficult.

What happens as Tobin and his friends pass from young teens to young men and women, and seasoned warriors, comprises the remainder of the book. They must train and discover sex; Tobin discovers history and philosophy and his own past; the wizards who protect and menace him work at their own goals. There are no Evil Emperors or one dimensional henchminions. All the people surrounding Tobin are fascinating and quite unpredictable characters. Above all, Flewelling handles the gender questions with such skill that the reader really feels Tobin's ambivalence, and gradual change; refreshingly enough there is no hint of axes grinding, though the question of gender roles has spawned plenty of rather earnest sermons in fantasy form elsewhere.

There is a strong climax and enough resolution to satisfy the reader, while leaving enough threads dangling enticingly to make one look forward to the third book. Recommended highly for anyone seeking a rollicking good read.

Copyright © 2003 Sherwood Smith

Sherwood Smith is a writer by vocation and reader by avocation. Her webpage is at

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