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Hidden Warrior
Lynn Flewelling
HarperCollins Voyager, 551 pages

David Wyatt
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: Hidden Warrior
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 Cindy Lynn Speer


"So long as a daughter of Thelatimos' line defends and rulers, Skala shall never be subjugated."
That is the prophecy, but King Erius, who managed to seize power when the last queen died out, refuses to allow it to come to pass. Instead he slaughters mercilessly: priests, wizards, the original people who inhabited Skala, anyone who even speaks of the prophecy. This caused some people to take pretty drastic measures. The King, determined never to have a girl child around to try and take the throne from him, has had any eligible daughter killed. His sister, who gives birth to twins, kills her own newborn son, and with the help of a witch uses his likeness to cover his sister. Her twin brother's bones were taken and used as the framework for a rag doll. It is not until the end of the previous book, The Bone Doll's Twin, that Tobin learns the truth. That he is, in fact, a girl, and not just second in line to the throne of Skala, but its rightful ruler.

Which is basically what Hidden Warrior is about. Tobin knows that he's not really a boy and he just can't imagine not being one. It's one of the most interesting aspects of this book, and Lynn Flewelling handles it so well. We have Tobin who, at the beginning of this book, is about to turn thirteen and who, all his life, has been trained to be a boy. He's second in line to the throne, he's trained as a warrior to defend the "true" heir, Prince Korin, and everyone around him has treated him as a male. His mental identity is unequivocally male, and since he's pretty young, the sexual part is just beginning to come into play. The fact that he has never been attracted to women (in fact, he's attracted to his squire, Ki, who's pretty hot on the ladies...) and that he's not bulking up like his fellow warriors are the only things that exist to make him actually consider that being female is something that will actually impact his life. There is one scene that I found really charming on this. For the first time ever, he is allowed to go to his lands, and to the castle where his parents lived. He ends up in his mother's bedchamber, where he sees a dress, and he holds it up to himself, trying to imagine this, trying to see if he could be attractive like all the other women are, if men might actually look at him in that way. He even holds up an earring to see if he can make this feel real to himself. But quickly, boy-like, he shoves the things away.

Brother doesn't make it any easier. Bound to Tobin by a shard of bone from the doll sewn into his chest, he is a miserable ghost, one who can take physical form and kill people he deems a threat to Tobin. Their relationship is especially hard because Brother, his identity completely stolen from him, can't help but resent the one who took his place, even as he is forced to protect him. Even though he is often quite mean, I can't help but feel a great deal of pity for him, even as I do for Tobin.

Right now the story is a lot about training Tobin, and getting him ready to fight the king, his evil wizard, and the prince. It's also a lot about him seeing how the land, rather than being a place of prosperity and joy, is one of horror. They are constantly fighting off the invaders, magic is dying. The magic system was based on the people who originally lived on Skala -- the old ones intermarrying with their invaders -- and now that the old ones and the wizard children are being killed, there is very little hope to preserve the once-great power. If that's not bad enough, there's a plague. It's very exciting in a way, but also very sad, to see so much suffering come from one man's greed.

I can say quite positively that there has to be a third book. The whole idea of Tobin and his/her struggles makes this a very different book, one that you can really get into. Your empathy is called into play, because you can't help but feel that his new reality is going to be very hard one him, but you admire him because he handles it well. A strong and intriguing book.

Copyright © 2004 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

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