A chapter titled “Fat Suffices” follows, opening with a longer-than-usual musing on the Fool and his background. When the narration shifts to events, it sees Fitz waking in the night and stalking off to the local kitchens to eat. He scrounges himself a simple, hearty meal, from which he is interrupted by a young woman, clutching a small dog. Fitz’s extranormal senses and training in the stables and kennels tell him that the problem is a bone lodged in the dog’s throat; he makes to remove it, succeeding with help from the young woman.
It is only belatedly that Fitz realizes the young woman is Lady Grace, Kelvar’s new wife. He realizes his social gaffe as she offers him reward, but he is able quickly to turn it to advantage by spinning a fabricated story; his mind plays out the benefits likely to come. Thinking his mission done, he goes to bed.
Fitz is roused before dawn by a message that Lady Thyme requires his immediate attention. He dresses and races to her, only to find that she is a persona Chade uses. The old spy briefs him on the circumstances occasioning his sudden summoning: the nearby village of Forge has been raided, and a ransom is demanded, or the raiders will release the prisoners. The two race through the night towards Forge, Fitz reporting his success with Grace along the way.
Something occurs to me in the present reading that did not before. According to the Continental Kennel Club (and I am aware that there is a potential for problems in using such a source), the feist as a breed is a product of the United States. This is important for reasons I discuss in my chapter in Fantasy and Science Fiction Medievalisms, wherein I argue that the Realm of the Elderlings milieu borrows more from North American than from the nebulously European medieval setting common to Tolkienian-tradition fantasy fiction. In the chapter, I do consider some of the fauna described in the books as justification for the central assertion; I had missed the bit about the feist early on. Having another point in support of my idea is a welcome thing, even if it’s not terribly likely that having made the argument will do me much good.
It occurs to me, too, that the action is divided strangely at present. That is, the incident with Grace forecast by the title’s chapter and the race towards Forge are different scenes, however, compressed in time they may be. Many authors would put each in its own chapter. Combining the two and stopping well before reaching Forge has the effect of building suspense for the oddity forecast by the raiders’ strange message as well as eliding the possible effects of Fitz’s work. His interaction with Grace is made almost incidental; the salutary effects of that interaction are thereby foreshadowed as coming to little effect. Hobb makes much of presaging in the novel; how the foreshadowing functions or fails to will be of interest as the re-read continues.