The next chapter, “Forged Ones,” opens with a brief rumination on Shrewd’s three sons, the close relationship between Chivalry and Verity, and the special status accorded to Regal. It pivots to Fitz’s return to Buckkeep and his shock at seeing Regal riding with Kettricken. He has opportunity to ask Burrich about it briefly before answering a Skill-summons from Verity.
When Fitz attends upon Verity, he is bidden eat while he is informed of the presence of Forged Ones in the area of Buckkeep. The two confer about the problem, and Fitz realizes that the Forged Ones appear to be converging on Buckkeep. Verity tasks Fitz with learning more about the converging Forged Ones and to put down those he can eliminate quietly. And Fitz broaches the issue of Regal’s attentions toward Kettricken with Verity, which Verity acknowledges but sets aside in favor of his own concerns before Fitz offers him a strange sort of comfort.
The chapter is brief, fewer than ten pages in the edition of the book I’ve long used for pleasure reading and for scholarly work. (I look forward to the illustrated anniversary editions of the Farseer books that appear to be forthcoming and have pre-ordered a copy of the first one.) That does not mean there is not material upon which to comment, however; it might be noted that Verity, for all the virtues he has as a character in the series, comes across as something of an ass in his attitude toward Kettricken, for example. While it may not be the case that an arranged marriage would be expected to be a happy one, and while a ruler-to-be could reasonably expect subjects to be of service to them, Verity does appear to view Kettricken as supposed to be what Fitz calls in his own father’s marriage to Patience “an escape,” rather than as a person in her own right who views herself as in service to the nation rather than to its leader.
It is something of a tension in the series as a whole, though, between service to the realm and service to its ruler. Some traditional theories of kingship, particularly medieval models that the Farseer novels might be thought to use because of their seeming medievalism (though, as I’ve asserted, it’s not the best reading), hold that the two, ruler and realm, are as one. Service to one is therefore service to the other. At the same time, it is also clear that at least one of the potential rulers of the Six Duchies is not suited to rule; Verity seems to muddle about, though with the thought of preserving the nation foremost in his mind, while Regal seems focused on himself. The theory clearly does not hold when it is clear that the ruler might well be bad for the realm–but that shows as much its writer’s background and presumed primary audience as much as anything else.