The Oracle’s Queen is the final novel in Lynn Flewelling’s TAMIR TRIAD, an epic story about a queen who has been prophesied to rule the land of Skala. To prevent the emergence of this queen, the king, who usurped the throne by killing his own female family members, has killed all the noble women and girls who could possibly challenge him. He doesn’t know that his own sister’s daughter has been hidden by dark magic and a heinous murder.
In the first novel, The Bone Doll’s Twin, we watch this little girl grow up as a boy named Tobin. Tobin struggles with gender identity, the madness of his mother, the ghost of his murdered twin brother, the confusion and guilt of his father, and the need to deal with his uncle the king. It’s pretty compelling. In Hidden Warrior, the second novel, Tobin has learned that he’s really a girl. While this explains a lot about the weirdness of his life, the knowledge causes him all sorts of other issues — the gender identify issue is most prominent. Can someone who’s been thinking of himself as a boy all his life switch to being a girl? Fortunately, Tobin has time to adjust because he still must act like a boy until it’s time to reveal himself as the rightful queen.
The Oracle’s Queen begins where Hidden Warrior ended — with Tobin being transformed into a girl in public and claiming to be the prophesied queen. Now the nobles are forced to choose sides — will they be loyal to the king and the son he pronounced as his heir, or will they realize that Tamir must be crowned so that the land can be healed? Tamir’s friends — Prince Korin’s Companions — must also choose sides between Prince Korin and Princess Tamir. For me, this was probably the most gripping part of the story in this last book of the trilogy. These boys (and, covertly, a few girls) have been training for years to fight for their prince and this is not how they expected it to happen.
Most of the plot of The Oracle’s Queen involves the war that ensues after Tamir is revealed and, at this point, the story isn’t remarkably different from so many other epic fantasies. There’s a long slow build-up involving lots of strategizing, war preparations, troop movements, etc. There’s an oracle, visions, a race of helpful fae, and an evil wizard to defeat. Frankly, I thought much of this was dull, simply because it moved slowly and was reminiscent of so many other fantasy epics. I was further disappointed that, to try to secure her throne, Tamir resorted to some of the same ruthless tactics as her uncle had.
The other part of the story involves Tamir’s personal life. She is still trying to satisfy the ghost of her murdered twin (who we keep thinking is gone and at peace until he shows up again). She is also trying to learn to be a woman. Some of this is the little stuff, like learning to walk in a dress or how to style her hair, but other aspects of this new life are monumentally important for Tamir, especially her relationship with her best friend and squire Ki. She’s known for quite a while that she’s in love with Ki but his world is turned upside down when he finds out that she’s a girl. He feels like he’s lost his best friend and he has trouble thinking of her romantically. The angst this causes both of them goes on a bit too long and makes up a significant part of the plot.
If you’ve read and enjoyed the previous books in THE TAMIR TRIAD, you’ll definitely want to read The Oracle’s Queen since it successfully brings Tamir’s story to a close. While I did enjoy the story as a whole, I couldn’t help but think it would have been better if condensed into only two volumes. Again, I recommend Audible Frontiers’ version which is read by Victor Bevine.