The next chapter, “Secrets,” opens with the commissioning of the warships Verity has had built. It moves to Fitz’s minimally successful hunt with Nighteyes, after which Fitz finds himself confronted by the Fool. Fitz asks the Fool after his origins, and the Fool replies as plainly as he can, noting his prophetic powers and the system that allows them to flourish. As Fitz turns the ideas over in his mind, he is taken by the damage done by the poisoning at the end of the previous novel, and he collapses.
Amid his fit, Fitz wanders Buckkeep as if drunk or fevered. Patience manages to extricate him from a potentially awkward social moment, and, later, Chade quizzes him–as well as noting another source of Fitz’s malady. Chade also lays out assignments for Fitz to carry out before dismissing him back to his bed. Fitz enjoys an assignation with Molly, instead.
The next morning sees Burrich summon Fitz for more training. It does not go well to start, fatigue telling on Fitz. But at a point in it, something clicks for Fitz, and he seems to catch the knack of what it is he needs to do.
The (partial) revelation of the Fool’s origins in the present chapter has long-reaching ramifications in the Realm of the Elderlings novels as a whole, such as will receive comment in later installments of this rereading series. For now, though, a few points worth considering come up in the Fool’s explication of himself to Fitz:
- The Fool openly acknowledging himself as a prophet confirms things that had been suggested earlier in the series. Positioning himself as such, with Fitz as the agent through which he will work change, reinforces the already-noted status of Fitz as the protagonist of the series–he can hardly not be, even without the Fool’s revelation–and puts the Fool in a seemingly similar position, if uncomfortably. It also introduces to the novel a stronger element of the fate/free will discussion that continues to pervade many, many systems of thought.
- The comments about philosophy being necessary to everyday life are, perhaps, to be expected from someone who makes a living writing; writing and reading demand thinking, which is the source and substance of philosophy. But that there is some self-interest in an author commending reading and contemplation through the voice of a protagonistic character–which the Fool is, clearly–does not mean that the advice is not good. And it is always dangerous to assume authorial intent in characters’ speech, in any event; even if Hobb does not believe what her Fool says, it remains a good thing to note.
- The comments about the value of the individual function similarly. Each of us is a part of a future recollection; each of us can affect what will come, and in ways we cannot necessarily foresee. That does not mean what we do is without value, and that is a hopeful thing to think upon.