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fool’s fate

Fool’s Fate (Tawny Man Trilogy #3) by Robin Hobb

From Goodreads:

The triumphant conclusion to the Tawny Man trilogy, from the author of the bestselling Farseer and Liveship Traders trilogies. The moving end to the tale of the Farseers, in which kingdoms must stand or fall on the beat of a dragon’s wings, or a Fool’s heart. A small and sadly untried coterie – the old assassin Chade, the serving-boy Thick, Prince Dutiful, and his reluctant Skillmaster, Fitz – sail towards the distant island of Aslevjal. There they must fulfil the Narcheska’s challenge to her betrothed: to lay the head of the dragon Icefyre, whom legends tell is buried there deep beneath the ice, upon her hearth. Only with the completion of this quest can the marriage proceed, and the resulting alliance signal an end to war between the two kingdoms. It is not a happy ship: tensions between the folk of the Six Duchies and their traditional enemies, the Outislanders, lie just beneath the surface. Thick is constantly ill, and his random but powerful Skilling has taken on a dark and menacing tone, while Chade’s fascination with the Skill is growing to the point of obsession. Having ensured that his beloved friend the Fool is safely left behind in Buckkeep, Fitz is guilt-stricken; but he is determined to keep his fate at bay, since prophecy foretells the Fool’s death if he ever sets foot on the isle of the black dragon. But as their ship draws in towards Aslevjal a lone figure awaits them…

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Robin Hobb is without a doubt one of the very best fantasy fiction authors that I have read. The fantasy world that she has created is outstanding and the stories that she has created are simply wonderful to read. She builds the stories around a small number of central characters but creates detailed supporting characters that manage to bring depth and understanding without the reader getting lost in the detail.

Over three series she has also managed to create three separate but interlinked stories and bring them all together in this final book to a hugely enjoyable conclusion. There is a huge amount of sadness throughout this final book. Fitz definitely does not have an easy life nor does he make it any easier for himself. There is a lot of loss and strife for him in this final installment but there is also a very emotional and satisfying conclusion. It is one of the very few endings that provoked a genuine emotional response from me. That is incredibly difficult to do with a book and shows Robb’s skill in creating a character that you really get to know and become attached to.

The book finishes as an end. It feels like the author intended to leave the story here but there are two further series that I haven’t read and have seen mixed reviews on. With such a perfect conclusion to this story I’m in two minds whether to carry on or just leave it here. We’ll see…..

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fool’s errand

Fool’s Errand (Tawny Man #1) by Robin Hobb.

From Goodreads:

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.

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