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Oracle's Queen
Lynn Flewelling
Bantam Spectra, 576 pages

Oracle's Queen
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: 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 Sherwood Smith

This book is the last in a trilogy. Those who have not read the previous two and don't like any hint of spoilers might want to skip the next three paragraphs.

Mahti, a hill mage, comes down from the mountains in search of the girl who was once a boy. His form of magic is neither predictable nor easy; we don't know whether to trust his vision or his motivations when we remember that in the first book in this series, it was this kind of magic that bound a pair of newborn twins -- so that the girl could grow up in his body, the boy was sacrificed. This was a necessity the mages were driven to due to the Herodic excess of the king Erius, who was slaughtering his female relatives. He was determined to contravene the prophecy declaring that the kingdom of Skala could only thrive with a queen on the throne.

And Skala has gone steadily downhill under kings. Due to mage interference Erius's son, Korin, has only succeeded in fathering monstrously deformed children -- until his beloved princess dies. The kingdom is invaded by warlike people; Erius is finally killed in battle; and Korin reveals that despite his looks, strength, first-rate training, and supporting friends and companions, he is no leader.

The battle is saved by Tamír -- who has recently discovered that she is in fact a girl -- and it's not saved through her wishing hard, or through convenient magic goodies, but because she has gone through the same hard training as Korin, while she wore her boy's body, only she has learned, step by step, the difficulties of command. And the costs.

And that's where the third book opens. Tamír is now a girl, and a queen -- but she's not left to sit idly on a throne and charm all who see her. Instead, she has to get used to being a girl while coping with the detritus of battle, and of a war-torn kingdom. Under threat from beyond its borders.

She also has to deal with Korin, who was once her friend. He cannot believe in her transformation -- a decision fostered by the mage Niryn, who has his own motivations for doing what he does. Korin is forced into marriage with Nalia, and if he can just get her pregnant, Niryn convinces him everything will be resolved. When you are not a leader, it's with relief you listen to single-cause 'solutions' to complicated problems, and thus the hapless Korin is as used as he is a user.

Meanwhile, drifting as an angry ghost through all three novels, is Brother -- the twin who never got to taste life. He has his own motivations and desires, and Tamír has to come to terms with them. He is, after all, her brother.

This novel delves deeply into the psychological effects of razzle-dazzle magic, thrones, swords, and the rest, and makes for a terrific read. Tamír isn't gorgeous -- she's ordinary -- and she has to come to terms with the physical aspects of being a girl. So do her friends. And the mages. And the people of high and low degree.

Everyone in Oracle's Queen has believable motivations -- including the evil Niryn, whose road to evil is explained early on. And keep your eye on the supposedly helpless Nalia, princess in the tower. Meanwhile, Tamír has to face the Oracle, bringing her full circle with the magic that put her in her current place, and that's not easy. She has to deal with events that are inexorable forcing her toward battle with Korin -- and that includes facing with steel many former friends. And, she has to deal with the emotional fallout of turning into a girl just about the time she and her best friend, Ki, have hit their mid teens, and their feelings were already in turmoil.

Magic, mystery, politics, emotions, and rare golden threads of the numinous all make this book a rich tapestry of a read right through the climax that Tamír so wanted to avoid, but must win. There is never an easy answer in Oracle's Queen: the characters gain so much dimension that they linger in the mind long after one reads the last page. This trilogy is a must for those who love fantasy with all the Good Stuff stitched together by intelligent world-building and a wise eye for the frailties, and the greatnesses, of the human spirit.

Copyright © 2006 Sherwood Smith

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

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