Oh my. This book. I’ve loved all Robin Hobb’s books so much, but especially the two trilogies that focus on FitzChivalry Farseer and his friend the Fool. Fitz and the Fool are both such great characters, and the world of the Six Duchies in which they live, the conflicts in which they are caught up, are so rich and believable, that those six books are virtually impossible for a fantasy-lover to put down.
The last book of the Tawny Man trilogy, Fool’s Fate, gave Fitz as much of a happy ending as is possible for someone who has lived such a tormented life. While he reluctantly accepts that he may never see his friend the Fool again, he is married at last to his childhood sweetheart Molly, far from the conflicts and power struggles of the royal court, with some hope of a peaceful retirement.
As a reader who loved the character, I was quite happy to leave Fitz there — but when I heard Robin Hobb was writing a new trilogy about Fitz and the Fool, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. After a character you love has suffered as much as Fitz did over the last six books, there’s a part of my reader’s heart that would just like to see him left to a happy old age. But even knowing that he will have to suffer again and go through terrible trials and lose almost everything he holds dear — it’s still irresistible.
So, to set this up just a little: Fitz and Molly have one child together, Nettle, but Fitz was not present in their lives while Nettle was growing up, so although she is fond of him, she doesn’t really think of him as her father. Molly has several sons from her first marriage, and she and Fitz raise those boys together, but it seems too late for them to have a baby of their own they can raise together … until suddenly it seems maybe it’s not too late? As Fitz falls further into what is either Molly’s late-life pregnancy or Molly’s post-menopausal madness, neither he nor the reader are sure what’s real and what isn’t. But the strangeness is only beginning …
And that’s enough. Enough to start Fitz on another unwanted adventure, lead him down another path so dark and dangerous that it’s impossible to tell where it will end up. Except that it’ll end up with another two books, and I CAN’T WAIT.