Golden Fool (Tawny Man, #2)
Robin Hobb

The acclaimed Farseer and Liveship Traders trilogies established Robin Hobb as one of the most splendidly imaginative practitioners of world-class fantasy.

Now, in Book 2 of her most stunning trilogy yet, Hobb continues the soul-shattering tale of FitzChivalry Farseer. With rich characters, breathtaking magic, and sweeping action, Golden Fool brings the reluctant adventurer further into the fray in an epic of sacrifice, salvation, and untold treachery.

Golden Fool

Prince Dutiful has been rescued from his Piebald kidnappers and the court has resumed its normal rhythms. But for FitzChivalry Farseer, a return to isolation is impossible. Though gutted by the loss of his wolf bondmate, Nighteyes, Fitz must take up residence at Buckkeep and resume his tasks as Chade’s apprentice assassin. Posing as Tom Badgerlock, bodyguard to Lord Golden, FitzChivalry becomes the eyes and ears behind the walls. And with his old mentor failing visibly, Fitz is forced to take on more burdens as he attempts to guide a kingdom straying closer to civil strife each day.

The problems are legion. Prince Dutiful’s betrothal to the Narcheska Elliania of the Out Islands is fraught with tension, and the Narcheska herself appears to be hiding an array of secrets. Then, amid Piebald threats and the increasing persecution of the Witted, FitzChivalry must ensure that no one betrays the Prince’s secret—a secret that could topple the Farseer throne: that he, like Fitz, possesses the dread “beast magic.”

Meanwhile, FitzChivalry must impart to the Prince his limited knowledge of the Skill: the hereditary and addictive magic of the Farseers. In the process, they discover within Buckkeep one who has a wild and powerful talent for it, and whose enmity for Fitz may have disastrous consequences for all.

Only Fitz’s enduring friendship with the Fool brings him any solace. But even that is shattered when unexpected visitors from Bingtown reveal devastating secrets from the Fool’s past. Now, bereft of support and adrift in intrigue, Fitz’s biggest challenge may be simply to survive the inescapable and violent path that fate has laid out for him.

From the Hardcover edition.

Golden Fool (Tawny Man, #2) book cover

“Oh, good. Perhaps this will be more a task for shovels and ice saws than for a prince and a sword.”

a jest, of course, but wrong. So, so wrong, nonetheless. The huge sense of – inevitability? Of the implacable path of parenthood? However you think on it, it’s there, and it sweeps one up and makes you feel sorely for Fitz. it’s a trial unlike many of his previous, but it still pulls. The masterful way in which Hobb takes us from the little joys of rediscovering court life to the deepest levels of unease and dissatisfaction as the threads of Fitz’s life tangle and knot is truly potent stuff.

“You would ask a promise of your queen? Do you not think you presume too much?” I set my jaw. “Perhaps. But perhaps for a long time, the Farseers have presumed too much of me.”

Duty is becoming ever more a pressing watchword, and of course the conflict of loyalties and allegiance is going to feature heavily in the conclusion to this adventure. There were some parts of it that excelled for me – the whole of the seventeenth chapter seem to exude revelation upon revelation, and the atmospherics of the challenge in the thirteenth stirred me, too. But I think what gripped me most of all about this work was the marvelous sense of power it holds: Chade’s aging, Hap’s youth and Fitz’s experiences here all coalesce to form an almost irresistible read.

And what next? Well, as our beleaguered narrator observes – The Prince was right. Buckkeep Castle was stuffed full of secrets, and half of them were not secrets at all. They were only the things we dared not ask one another for fear the answers would be unbearably painful.
Will the climax to this trilogy be “unbearably painful”? Only time (and another eight and a half hours of reading, according to my ereader, will tell.

Published by Sean Randall

I am an avid reader, technologist and disability advocate living in the middle of England with my wife, daughter and pets.

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