The third chapter in the novel, “Renewing Ties,” opens with a description of an old scroll detailing the encounter of the early Six Duchies ruler, King Wisdom, and the Elderlings after which the overall series takes its name. It moves to Fitz going back out into Buckkeep Castle before he finds himself drawn to a tower room to which Verity has summoned him via the Skill. The two of them confer frankly and surprisingly openly, and Verity seems to have great affection for his bastard nephew.
When Fitz leaves Verity, Lacey, Patience’s maid, finds him and bustles him to her lady. Patience quizzes Fitz randomly, and he begins to suffer again from the lingering effects of the poison that had been used upon him. Patience recognizes his infirmity and sends him off to rest–and he encounters Molly along the way. He is initially buoyed by the encounter, but as he elicits information from her, he finds himself rebuked for his seeming drunkenness and for the many lies he had told and allowed, and he learns that matters have been poor for her family. She leaves him despairing of his infatuation with her, and he staggers back to his room to sleep.
Again, I find myself reading affectively, sympathizing with the folly of an adolescent boy trying to make sense of lust and love at once, and I have to think that that correspondence informed my early regard for the novels; when I first read the Farseer books, I did so much closer to my own adolescence than I am now (though some might say I still need to grow up), and I was not much more adept than Fitz in such matters, if I was at all. It is as good a reason as any to start to make a fuller study of something, and better than most.
There are parts of me, even now that I am largely out of academe–I’ve given up the search for an academic job, and I’m not teaching in the current session at the one school where I do still get to stand in front of a classroom–that clamor for me to make some kind of insightful, scholarly comment about the chapter. And I could tease out something about, perhaps, a suggestion of something between Charim and Verity like that I have suggested lay between Burrich and Chivalry in the imagined past of the novel, or I could point out that Hobb subtly signals the ultimately untenable nature of chivalry through reflecting on Chivalry when Fitz’s eyes meet Patience’s and “She nodded slowly, accepting the lie [Fitz had told] as necessary, and looked aside. [Fitz] wondered how many times [his] father had told her similar lies. What did it cost her to nod?” Neither would be wrong, exactly, and either might be fodder for a short piece of commentary that might well be worth doing. So might a bit linking what happens in the chapter to more of the foreshadowing that is itself a common theme in the series of novels; looking ahead only to find later that such peerings were correct is something of a motif in the main Elderlings novels, perhaps the dominant one. (I’d have to do more work on that, though.)
At another time, I will have such things to write. I hope you will continue to read them.