The Golden Fool by Robin Hobb
Review by Floresiensis
The Golden Fool is the second book in Robin Hobb’s The Tawny Man series. First published in Great Britain by Voyager in 2002.
Fitz has succeeded in rescuing Prince Dutiful from the clutches of the Piebald rebels. But once again the cost of protecting the Farseer line has been dear: Nighteyes is dead.
A grieving and reluctant Fitz is assigned to protect Fitz and, at the urging of the mercurial old assassin, Chade, take on the mantle of Skillmaster. But Fitz’s efforts to locate Skill-users for Dutiful’s coterie attract some unlikely, and potentially dangerous, recruits…
Kettricken’s plans to marry Prince Dutiful to the Outislander Princess, Elliania, can now proceed, securing a lasting peace with the former enemies of the Six Duchies. But before Elliania will accept, she challenges Dutiful to undertake an impossible quest. He must travel to the Out Islands and slay a legendary Outislander dragon.
Fool’s Errand was a great beginning to a trilogy, it shared much with Assassin’s Apprentice (The Farseer Trilogy) in that it set the scene, introduced (or re-introduced) the characters and created a perfect platform for the rest of the series. I started the second book, The Golden Fool, hoping that there may be happiness and a well-deserved peace for Fitz, but very much doubting that it was on its way, at least not until the third and final book.
The prologue is called Losses Sustained and the opening of The Golden Fool deals with the loss that Fitz feels following the loss of his bond beast Nighteyes. There is also a sense of loss for the reader; the departure of Nighteyes leaves the series without one of its major characters, a gap which new characters such as Dutiful, Hap and Jianna simply do not fill to the same degree. The opening three hundred pages are OK but not as exciting and enthralling as you would hope. It is then, however, that two trilogies collide. The Farseer Trilogy and The Liveship Traders are separate series set in the same world. Suddenly, the major players from Bingtown (The Liveship Traders) appear in Buckkeep and the events of the two stories are like two great rivers meeting and forming a great lake.
The scaled lad advanced a step closer to the Queen. Chade made a motion to forbid it, but the boy merely dropped to one knee. He looked up at her as he spoke. ‘I beg forgiveness if I have given offence. I speak only of what I know. As you have said, I am young. But it is Tintaglia who has told us, with great sadness, that she is the last true dragon in the world. If it were otherwise, I would rejoice to bring her these tidings. Please. Let me see your dragons, let me speak to them. I will explain to them her need.
The first 300 pages, as I have already said, did not set my pulse racing. It is not often that a fantasy story will stay in one location (Buckkeep) for so long. The “quest” has long been a pre-requisite, perhaps a cliché also, but its main advantage is of moving the story along and introducing the reader to new locations. However, once the politics and domestic dramas of Buckkeep have been covered, Hobb gives the reader the excitement and adventure that they are waiting for.
There was time for the author to reacquaint us with an old and very dear friend in Burrich. This is a genuinely moving chapter, it still amazes me how attached you can become to an author’s creation. In Burrich, Robin Hobb gave us a person that all would like to know and it was lovely to see (read) him again and this event also opened up many more exciting possibilities for future stories.
The Golden Fool is another excellent book by Robin Hobb; the middle chapter of the trilogy sets up the story beautifully for the conclusion.
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