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Fool's errand by Robin Hobb
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Fool's errand (original 2002; edition 2001)

by Robin Hobb

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3,713311,408 (4.22)72
Member:Sabinko
Title:Fool's errand
Authors:Robin Hobb
Info:London : Voyager, 2001.
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

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Fool's Errand by Robin Hobb (2002)

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This epic fantasy trilogy is actually a continuation of The Farseer Saga trilogy. I would say it is more accurately a hexalogy (a set of six related books), except that I understand the author will be going back to the same characters in a new series next year (a development about which I am more than delighted) so the story may encompass even more than six books.

Background (Big Spoilers for the Farseer Series - Skip to Evaluation for NO Spoilers)

Fitz was born out of wedlock to Chivalry Farseer, the King-in-Waiting of the Six Duchies. At age six, Fitz was taken away from his mother by his grandfather and handed over to Verity, Chivalry’s brother, at Buckkeep Fortress.

With Fitz's existence known, Chivalry was forced as a point of honor to abdicate his right to the throne and to leave Buckkeep. Fitz’s care was given by Verity in part to Burrich, the Stablemaster of Buckkeep and Chivalry’s right-hand man. A third brother, Regal, was jealous of Chivalry and Verity, and when Fitz came, Regal began to hate Fitz the most of all of them. Regal resolved to get rid of all three of them so he could rule after the death of their father, King Shrewd.

The others ignored Regal, because the Six Duchies had bigger (or so they thought) problems. They were being besieged by pirates from the Outislands, who traveled in distinctive red ships, raiding the shores and stealing the wealth of the Six Duchies. Then the Outislanders began kidnapping villagers and by some unknown process returning them as zombie-like monsters. Because this practice began with the village of Forge, such people, no matter their origin, were ever after known as “Forged.”

People who were Forged could not even be detected by the Skill. This was magic common to those in the Farseer line enabling a person to reach out to another’s mind, no matter how distant, and know that person’s thoughts. If the other person were Skilled also, the two could even communicate through mind-speak, and if one had evil intent, he or she could control or even kill the other person via the Skill.

Some people also had a magic called the Wit. This was the ability to form a special, and mutual, bond with an animal. Fitz was witted, and had such a bond with the wolf, Nighteyes.

As The Farseer Series ends, the Outislanders have been defeated, and Chivalry, Verity, and Shrewd are gone. Verity’s Queen Kettricken now rules Buckkeep and has a son who is heir to Verity, Prince Dutiful. Chade has come out of hiding to be the Queen’s counselor. Burrich and Molly, thinking Fitz dead, have married. Fitz lives as a hermit in an isolated cottage outside Buck with his wolf Nighteyes and with the young boy Hap brought to him by the minstrel Starling. During the day, Fitz still wrestles with being drawn to the Skill, and at night, he dreams of dragons.

Specifics for Fool's Errand (or skip to Non-Spoilery Overall Evaluation)

This story picks up fifteen years after the end of the The Farseer Saga. Fitz, now 35, still lives in his isolated cabin with his Wit-bonded wolf, Nighteyes, and his foster boy, Hap, 15, who has been with Fitz for seven years. Hap was brought to Fitz by the minstrel Starling, who still occasionally visits with Fitz. Otherwise, Fitz has been mostly alone, and is going by the name of Tom Badgerlock. As the story begins, Fitz receives a very unexpected visit from Chade, his old mentor from his days at the royal court. Chade brings news of all the people from Fitz’s past, including Fitz’s daughter Nettle, now 15, raised by Molly and Burrich along with their five boys. Chade also tells him news of Prince Dutiful, 14, who, unbeknownst to almost everyone, is also Fitz’s child. Chade asks Fitz to return to Buckkeep and instruct both the Prince and Nettle in the Skill.

Fitz refuses, but Chade’s visit awakened something in him, and Nighteyes tells Fitz he senses change in the air. “Changer” is what Nighteyes sometimes calls Fitz, similar to the name “Catalyst” given to Fitz by his old friend Fool. Hap is restless too; he is growing up, and wants to be an apprentice to a woodworker in Buckkeep Town.

Fitz’s unquiet is exacerbated further by a visit from Fool. Fool too wants Fitz to come back, to be The Catalyst again. The matter is settled when Chade sends a message urgently calling Fitz back to Buckkeep. Prince Dutiful is missing. Fitz returns as “Tom Badgerlock,” servant to Lord Golden, who is actually Fool.

In the years Fitz has been gone, prejudice and animosity have increased toward those who are witted. A renegade group of Witted calling themselves Piebalds have taken to exposing families “tainted” by the Wit. Some of those outted end up drawn and quartered by the fearful and superstitious masses. Prince Dutiful is witted, and Kettricken and Chade fear the Piebalds have taken him, either to disclose his nature, or use the threat of disclosure to blackmail the queen. Furthermore, in two weeks, Dutiful is scheduled to be betrothed to a princess from the Outislanders, an alliance deemed essential to maintain peace. Kettricken and Chade beg Fitz to find the prince and get him home safely before the Outislander delegation arrives. He has sixteen days. Fitz, Nighteyes, and the Fool set out to find Dutiful.

Much of the plot of Book One is palpably saturated with Fitz’s anguish and loneliness. I cried myself to sleep after finishing this one.

Overall Evaluaton - No Spoilers This is a wonderful series, which really should be read as part of a six-book saga rather than a trilogy, with The Farseer Series preceding this one. (In fact, one of the mysteries of The Farseer Series - about Forging - is not uncovered until the third book of this series.) The characters are unforgettable, and their lives in this story full of fantasy are nevertheless richly exemplary of "the human condition." This is a tale made up of a lot of pages, and perhaps there is a bit of repetition. But I didn’t regret reading any of it, except for the matter of all the kleenex I went through, and for the reluctant necessity of leaving the world of the Farseers when the saga was over. ( )
  nbmars | Dec 12, 2014 |
Wah, Nighteyes! *crying*

Okay...attempting to move on from that heartbreak...

For some odd reason, I spent most of this book thinking about the next book I was going to read. I enjoyed reading it, yes, and I'd been looking forward to reading it for a while. But I couldn't keep my mind from wandering a bit. I'm not sure why that is- around page 400 or so, it finally hooked me. Perhaps it was because Fitz kept meandering through, reluctant to start anything. The beginning of the book was very staid.

I look forward to coming back to this series, but a while from now. ( )
  liveshipvivacia | Apr 26, 2014 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.
This review refers to the entire Tawny Man Trilogy:

Robin Hobb is one of my favorite fantasy authors because her stories are unique and complex and she's a great writer. Her prose is pleasant and she is particularly good at characterization; When you get finished with her books, you feel like her characters are your friends and you hate to say goodbye! Her plots are absorbing and they move forward at a pleasant pace.

Fitz of The Farseer Saga is one of my favorite fantasy heroes. He is so well characterized — I felt a lot of empathy for his situation. I was really upset when the first trilogy ended (things weren't so great for Fitz), but then I found out that his story continues in The Tawny Man Trilogy. I think that was one of the happiest days of my life. I was filled with hope for Fitz. I immediately sent my husband to the bookstore with a picture of the book and told him not to come home without it. I was happy with the way Fitz's story ended. It wasn't one of those rush, rush, and they lived happily ever after endings. It was a bit sad; it seemed realistic. It was wonderfully done. These are books that I’ll definitely read again!


Read more Robin Hobb book reviews at Fantasy literature. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
This trilogy is a return to Fitz. In my opinion, that's a very, very good thing, because my enjoyment of Hobb's writing skyrocketed back up, after Liveships which I found difficult and disappointing. It's interesting to see how Hobb builds Fitz back up into a fit and capable character after his life seemed to be over at the end of Farseers. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
There are sooooo many things I like about Hobbs books, and this one was no disappointment.
The characters are the same as always,; well, even 'matured', if you may, so they show depth that others book not always show. The world is as beautiful and complex as ever, and then of course there's the politics and court intrigue... even if this one is but a prelude of what is to come.

One of the things I like most of these books, outside of character and world development, is that no matter what book you pick up first, it's well explained enough and has enough references and tidbits, that you wouldn't really get lost if you started with the last and worked your way randomly through the trilogies. Sure, you'd be missing out on the typical details of understanding and backstory, but the gist of it is explained so that you know what happened before and aren't completely lost.

I did find that this first one repeated itself a little where there was no need to. I thought it a bit odd, as I hadn't found the Farseer trilogy to be so, but it was only in a couple parts and not too noticeable, so it didn't bother me much.

At any rate, I loved this book and can't wait to finish the other two. ( )
  AshuritaLove | Apr 7, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robin Hobbprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Howe, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Santikko, SauliTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Youll, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Is time the wheel that turns, or the track it leaves behind? Kelstar's Riddle
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For Ruth and her Stripers,
Alexander and Crusades.
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He came one late, wet spring, and brought the wide world back to my doorstep.
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Grief has always seemed to me a time of waiting not for the hurt to pass, but to become accustomed to it.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553582445, Mass Market Paperback)

This first volume of a new trilogy from one of fantasy's most popular and skilled authors will delight longtime Hobb fans as well as first-time readers of her work.

FitzChivalry, the hero of The Farseer trilogy, now lives an isolated and quiet life with his foster son Hap and his Wit partner wolf, Nighteyes, until he is sought out by his old mentor Chade and the enigmatic, charming Fool. Once again, duty calls: Fitz must find a missing prince and prevent political chaos in the Six Duchies. The mission will test his conflicting loyalty to country and family, his uneasy compromise with his own magic, and all the relationships he values most.

If you're a fantasy fan who hasn't yet explored the Farseer world, this is a fine place to start: Hobb deftly provides new readers with all the needed information. The finely detailed world building and intensive character development rarely slow down the action of the story. Fool's Errand is a complex, beautifully written and sometimes heart-rending examination of the consequences of duty and love. --Roz Genessee

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:43:10 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

FitzChivalry Farseer emerges from seclusion when Prince Dutiful, the young heir to the Farseer throne, disappears, and as Fitz sets out to find the Prince before his betrothal ceremony, he is unexpectedly confronted by betrayal and intrigue at every turn.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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