We can trust Robin Hobb to do the right thing by us.
The past few months have been difficult to find much reading time and even harder to find time to sit down and review that which I have read. But one of the most telling things to come out of that is the fact that I was still able to plough through Robin Hobb’s latest addition to her masterful Elderlings universe, Fool’s Quest.
For those who are not fans of jumping points of view, this book might at times irk, as we continue to jump primarily from Fitz’s point of view, to that of his daughter, Bee. Bee does not receive a lot of page-time in this novel, and when she does the complete juxtaposition in character from that of her father rubs a little raw at times. However, I choose to see that as an example of just how well Robin Hobb has written these characters that the reader is so easily able to see that they have jumped perspective and are now in the mind of a completely different character.
In the same vein, Robin Hobb is able to write the Fool in just such a way that he is completely and utterly believably a selfish jerk throughout the vast majority of this book, leaving me, the reader, feeling thoroughly uncomfortable at having to sit through portions of the book where he is whining about one thing or another.
But the twist in this is not that the character is badly written, but that his situation has created a person so deeply traumatised and simultaneously hell-bent on revenge that all common-sense and reason has been eaten away, leaving behind only the shell of what once was, and in its place a vengeful and hateful, yet cowardly and fearful replacement.
So while I might itch at returning to the point of view of our hero, Fitz, and away from the helplessness of his daughter Bee’s point of view chapters, and while I might desire to throttle the Fool for his absurd view on life, I can do neither (not least because it’s a book) because those are the characters they are, and to be otherwise would result in a lesser story and lesser characters.
Therefore, the only real way to look at Fool’s Quest is to see it as another crowning career achievement in the lifetime of one of fantasy’s modern-day masters.
Robin Hobb weaves a tale so heart-breaking and intricate that you cannot help but turn the page to see what happens. And while the story takes an odd turn with about a fifth of the book to go, speeding up and jumping gears, so to speak, it is done in just such a way as to fall perfectly in line with the character whose point of view overseas the jump.
There is so very little I can say about the plot, for fear of ruining it for anyone yet to read, so I won’t say anything. Everything you want from a Fitz and Fool book is here, and the surrounding characters who many of us hold so dear are put front and centre, given roles and interaction that reveal more and more of themselves to us, the reader. I finished this book feeling more in touch with Nettle, Riddle, Kettricken, Dutiful, and even the new Queen, Elliania.
Fool’s Quest takes us where we, the reader, wanted to go all along, into the mind of Fitz again, and to see through his eyes the world that he helped shape. And though there is tragedy along the way, I think we can trust Robin Hobb to do the right thing by us, but more importantly, by her characters.
Review by Joshua S Hill
1 positive reader review(s) for Fool's Quest
City of Dragons, the third instalment in The Rain Wild Chronicles, will be published in the UK on the 23rd of April 2012. In advance of the book's release, Robin Hobb has kindly taken time to expound on the inspirations b [...]
Patricia from South Africa
Rebecca... spot on, exactly the way I feel. Love my Fool and The Fitz.
Rebecca from US
Well. First, I am without doubt a certified Robin Hobb fan. And I could probably be classified as a Fitz and Fool obsessive. So I did begin this new series with trepidation. I even put off reading Fool's Assassin for several months. I waited even longer to begin Fool's Quest, mainly because I struggled so with the pace of Fool's Assassin. I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue reading the series. I've read the previous 6 Fitz and Fool volumes and loved them so much--the pace suited me even if you consider that 6 books do not two lives completely detail! But I did take a deep breath, and this weekend, jumped with both feet into Fool's Quest. Perhaps it's my own age. Maybe it's my own irritation with the unfocused, chaotic NOW NOW NOW that constantly bombards us all. But this time, as I began Fool's Quest, the pace seemed to feel better to me. So be aware if you aren't already that the pace of this volume is the same as the previous one. If the pace of this review is annoying, you may want to rethink reading these books! The characters have clearly aged. I won't say evolved, because Fitz, the Fool, and Chade in particular remain as they have ever been--sharp, intelligent, impulsive, and thoughtlessly violent. But they have also remained damaged, fallible, prone to overreaction, and yet enormously entertaining. I still feel I could spot any of them on the street any day. Yet they exhibit many of the characteristics that I have noticed as I've aged--fearful of change, fearful of pain, less confident of their own abilities. This author embraces the truth of aging and reflects it back to us with such great skill! The younger characters, Dutiful, Elliania, Nettle, Riddle, and a host of new ones, show true evolution. But that is as it should be, like in real life. This is one of the things that makes Robin Hobb's characters so especially vivid, and so easy to love. As the plot slowly spools out, it promises great complexity, and it is difficult to imagine that she will wrap this series up in one more volume. I suspect there will be a 4th book, which doesn't hurt readers like me in the least. (Maybe I just hope for a 4th.) While waiting for the next revelation, this storyline offers some deeply satisfying results that will make fans like me swoon. I won't reveal and ruin it for others; but a number of times I laughed out loud, cried a bit, reread passages just to enjoy it again. This book, while ending on a cliffhanger, promises a great deal in the setup of the next one. I am hoping to forget about it as I read less satisfying (and unworthy) books while we all wait for the master to present.
9.7/10 from 3 reviews