Fool’s Errand (Tawny Man #1) by Robin Hobb.
Fifteen years have passed since the end of the Red Ship War with the terrifying Outislanders. Since then, Fitz has wandered the world accompanied only by his wolf and Wit-partner, Nighteyes, finally settling in a tiny cottage as remote from Buckkeep and the Farseers as possible.
But lately the world has come crashing in again. The Witted are being persecuted because of their magical bonds with animals; and young Prince Dutiful has gone missing just before his crucial diplomatic wedding to an Outislander princess. Fitz’s assignment to fetch Dutiful back in time for the ceremony seems very much like a fool’s errand, but the dangers ahead could signal the end of the Farseer reign.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is a fantastic return to Fitz’s story. The Farseer Trilogy, while very good, suffered at times from an overly complicated story that was far too wide ranging. This books strips away the complications and distills it down to a much simpler story.
Much of the book is given over to reacquainting us with Fitz’s life and what has happened to him in the 15 years since we last saw him. During this time he has travelled far and wide, has spent time with folk of the Old Blood and has cemented his relationship with Nighteyes. He has cut himself off from the political world of the Six Duchies but still stays connected via his Skill knowledge of Burrich, Molly and Nettle and his infrequent visits from Starling.
I found it very poignant that while his relationship with Nighteyes pretty much completed the two it was only when the Fool returned that they were truly “Pack” once more. There was a very subtle suggestion that they almost met in Bingtown with Fool in his Amber persona that was cleverly woven into his story of their travels but not picked up on any further.
Three things made this book for me:
- the focus on Wit magic or Old Blood. This is a much more understandable and easily related type of magic than the Skill. It’s almost believable from a modern point of view. We all know someone that seems to have a special relationship with animals. In this book the author delves much more into the details of the Wit, explains how it works and develops the relationship between Fitz and Nighteyes, sometimes with difficult and heart breaking developments.
- the Fool is given centre stage. His previous Farseer character was a clever subterfuge to hide his true importance but he was a difficult friend for Fitz to have. In this book he and Fitz are given time together to be themselves and to show their true friendship together. The time at the cabin is one of happiness and fun and I especially enjoyed the transformation of the cabin by the Fool’s almost compulsive carving and whittling. The eventual end of this time transformed him back into the flamboyant Lord Golden who has to be one of the best fantasy characters ever created. His antics and machinations are a joy to read when you know the true character behind the mask.
- the development of Fitz. He is no longer the surly young man of the previous trilogy. He has grown up and accepted his role and how he was treated. He still carries his ghosts but in a much more mature way. His handling of his complicated relationship with Prince Dutiful and his new relationship with Chade is particularly good and it seems that happier times are also ahead for him.
I’m pretty sure that I have read this second trilogy in Fitz’s story but I can’t remember the other two books. This makes me anticipate reading them even more.