The Bone Doll's Twin is set in a fictional fantasy world where a mad king has killed all of his female relatives to avoid a prophecy that proclaimed a queen would rise to the throne to bring peace and prosperity to the land.
Then Tobin is born, she is a female twin, and her twin brother follows shortly after. To protect her, Tobin's father brings a witch from the woods to their home on the night of their birth. She sacrifices Tobin's twin to cast a spell to make her take on her brother's appearance. However, during the spell's casting the king arrives and the witch lets her hand slip and the boy takes a breath. This ties the boy's spirit to the land and he spends all his days haunting Tobin and his parents until eventually Tobin's mother is driven mad with guilt and throws herself from a tower. This is the world Tobin lives in when we first meet him.
Best part of story, including ending:
Lynn Flewelling is a masterful writer and she weaves a beautiful tale of Tobin growing up as a boy, while secretly being a girl.
Best scene in story:
I don't have a particular favorite scene. The entire book is very well written.
Opinion about the main character:
I love Tobin's friendship and loyalty to his squire Ki.
The beginning is very familiar. In response to a prophecy which encourages that all rulers of his kingdom be female, a ruthless King kills all female members of his family, save his sister, who he loves too dearly. When she bears twins (one a boy and one a girl), a pair of wizards and a witch sacrifice the boy to cast a spell on the girl, switching her and her brother's appearances until such time as the spell is broken. The mother, who is not consulted prior to the ritual, is driven insane by her son's untimely death. The act is justified in the wizards' eyes, by the arrival of the King, who is relieved to see that the girl child was stillborn. He had clearly intended to kill her, anyways.
The girl is called Tobin and raised as a boy. Throughout her childhood, she contends with her crazy mother, her brother's vengeful spirit, and her curiously effiminate preferences (she believes that she is a boy, and therefore strives to behave as one). Tobin almost manages to establish a bond with her mother, when she throws herself out the window at the news of her brother's impending arrival. Tobin's only keepsake from her mother is an ugly doll, which her mother had carried around.
Eventually, Tobin meets up with the witch who had botched the spell. The doll turns out to be a means of comforting the angry spirit of her brother. The witch attunes the doll to Tobin, forming a bond between her and her brother. She then establishes a truce with her brother, since she is now responsible for his "well-being."
With the coming of Tobin's first menstrual cycle, the spell which hid her gender is torn (but not quite broken).
This report prepared by Bernie Margolis
THE BONE DOLLS TWIN
Bantam, Oct 2001, 6.99, 544 pp.
The Oracle says that as long as the true-blooded female's of Queen Gherilain's line rule and defend Skala, she will never be conquered. For generations this has come to pass as a queen rules the empire and females serve in the army and other very important positions in the civilian sector. All that changed when Erius takes the throne as he is determined that his son Prince Korin rules after him. To prevent anything from going wrong, all royals of the female gender seem to mysteriously die, save the king's precious sister.
Instead, she gives birth to twins, a girl and a boy. While the male is killed, the female is magically transformed into a male until the time is right to reveal her destiny. He's called Prince Tobin and the soul of his dead brother haunts him. When Tobin's father is killed in battle he becomes a ward of the king and is ordered to the capital city where he meets his cousin. Tobin adjusts to court until he suddenly takes ill and returns to his former home so that the people who know the truth can fix the spell that is dissipating.
THE BONE DOLL'S TWIST is a fascinating epic fantasy that shows the lengths those in power will go in order to determine their successor. Tobin's world is similar to that of medieval Europe so readers will have a good picture of his country life and city adventures. This is the first book in a trilogy so some threads are left dangling, making readers eager for the next novel to appear so as to see what will happens next.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner