The next chapter, “Assassinations,” opens with notes about Chade’s efforts to rehabilitate a Forged One and to ascertain the causes and process of Forging from her. They are ultimately unsuccessful.
Fitz then begins to relate his disconnection from the stables at Burrich’s order, and the dislocation of his own life as a result. The Red-Sip Raiders grow bolder, as Fitz notes, and the people of the Six Duchies more restless. At length, Chade summons Fitz to his chambers and offers some apology for his earlier lack of engagement. He also rebukes Fitz for his dissolution before accepting his report of events and tasking him with part of Verity’s care.
Fitz ruminates on Verity and Regal, and he and Chade confer, before Chade delivers Shrewd’s assignment to Fitz. Fitz glosses over the work, offering only sketchy details of mercy killings and colder-hearted workings of justice against petty tyrants.
Fitz spends more time relating his work in caring for Verity. The older man, king-in-waiting after his brother’s abdication, has been expending himself in the exercise of Skill against the Red-Ship Raiders, aided minimally by the Skill-users Galen trained. Fitz begins to bond with his uncle, and Vertiy begins to understand what has been involved with Fitz’s training. He also reveals to Fitz what Chivalry had done to Galen, as well as what Galen had done to Fitz–but he commands patience in favor of unity within Buckkeep.
Fitz assents and offers his further assistance to Vertiy–who takes it through the Skill. Fitz suffers for it, and Verity explains by way of apology. He also notes that it was he who affirmed Fitz as a member of the Farseer family before dismissing him back to his other tasks.
Resistance to the Red-Ship Raiders, unrest occasioned by them, and preparations for Verity’s wedding all continue, as do heated discussions about them while Fitz is present. Verity’s admissions at one such discussion are heartfelt and disarming, and Fitz’s assignment to go with the wedding party is surprising. Less so is the implied assassination mission with which he is tasked, the elimination of the heir apparent to the neighboring Mountain Kingdom, which will result in Verity’s bride-to-be, Kettricken, ascending to that position.
There is something of a rite of passage, informal though it may be, in Burrich’s exiling Fitz from the stables. He has been a father-figure, after a fashion, to Fitz, and a young man leaving his father’s house is a fairly common feature of not only fantasy, but other kinds, of literatures. And, leaving, he goes through a period of dissolution commonly attributed to youths striking out on their own, as any number of complaints about “kids these days” attest. Soon after, he enters–re-enters, really–the working world for which he has been trained, even if the work is not always to his liking. But how many of us are actually always happy with our jobs?
It is interesting, too, the ways in which more of Verity’s character emerges in the present chapter. His recognition that he is not fit for the position he must discharge is one that doubtlessly resonates with many, if the myriad discussions of impostor syndrome are to be believed. It’s a wonderfully humanizing trait, and I recall being taken by it when I first read the novel. Anymore, it reads as another bit of verisimilitude among the many in Hobb’s work, but before…it informs, at least in part, my continued work with what Hobb writes.