A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 37: Royal Assassin, Chapter 12

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.


The next chapter, “Tasks,” opens with Fitz’s later musings on the winter and the state of the Six Duchies during it–not good, in the event. It moves to Fitz departing Verity’s chambers and reporting to Kettricken with Verity’s message for her to take the Queen’s Gardens. Kettricken leaps eagerly to the task, her ladies following her despite the cold, and Fitz muses on the quiet deception he is facilitating in the event.

Fitz and Molly by Mirre-Kala
Fitz and Molly by Mirre-Kala on DeviantArt,
used for commentary

After, Fitz takes a meal in strange solitude and goes out to Nighteyes. He proceeds thence to review the documents with which Verity had entrusted him, regarding them amid his chamber for a time in frustration before calling on Patience. There, he encounters Molly and makes something of a fool of himself to her–in front of Patience and Lacey. Patience chides him gently for the outburst after Molly makes her excuses and departs, and Fitz unburdens himself of some of his cares to her. He also conveys to her that she might go to Kettricken and help her with the Queen’s Garden.

Once he leaves Patience, he purposes to call upon Molly once again, doing so by climbing down to her window. She reluctantly admits him into her chambers as tells him that Regal has pressed upon her that a relationship would be ill-advised. In something of a rush, they consummate their love, and they part in the throes of teenaged romance the next morning.

I’m not sure, at this point, how to read the intimate interlude. Hobb does well to elide the more salacious details, certainly; a passage of erotica or outright pornography would seem out of place against the rest of the narrative. And it is the case that there has been motion throughout the series to have Fitz and Molly come together; it is not necessarily a sudden thing that they do. But Fitz does seem to force the issue a bit, which seems…squicky to my reading, anymore. (And, no, I did not always find the passage problematic. I am still not the person I should be, but I am better than I was, and I keep trying to be better, thanks.) Fitz is hardly an honorable character–being an assassin more or less precludes that, and I’ve discussed the topic at some length elsewhere–so a less-than-upright action may be in character, but I do not want to defend even a fictional offender. So there is that.

I suppose my…unease with the passage now is a sign of the ways in which I *have* changed, partly as a result of getting older, partly as a result of having had the exposures I had in graduate school and in life after. I’ll not deny there is a certain ironic orthodoxy that affected me (ironic in that it is predictably heterodoxical), but having the time to think about things that higher education offers did much to help make me more humane. Carrying that into the world outside the ivory tower is not always an easy thing, to be sure, but it does little enough good staying inside it–especially in the windowless basement rooms thereof that I shared with many, many others.

I continue to welcome your contributions.

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 36: Royal Assassin, Chapter 11

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.


The next chapter, “Lone Wolves,” opens with a brief musing on the Fool before turning to a hunting scene, with Fitz guiding the wolf cub in a failed attempt to take a white rabbit in the snow. After, Fitz guides the cub to an abandoned shack that mice have taken over, purposing to leave him there. He attempts to do so, forcefully and with regret against which he tries to steel himself.

Drawing 2: Fitz and Fool Coloring Book by Alex Berkley on DeviantArt, used for commentary

Lost among his thoughts, Fitz is attacked by Forged Ones who purpose to eat him. He fights them, faring poorly until the wolf cub arrives and turns matters. When Fitz wakes from his exertions, the wolf cub reveals his name, Nighteyes, and their bond reasserts itself with greater intensity.

After, Fitz returns to Buckkeep and reports to Verity, whom he finds Skilling with greater intensity than is to his good. Verity, with some apology, directs Fitz to resume exterminating the arriving Forged Ones. The two also confer about Kettricken, and Verity notes the consuming passion for the Skill. Verity also asks about Fitz’s injuries before bidding him be careful. They eat together, and Fitz considers what is likely to come. They also confer about the Fool and the dearth of Skilled people who should be present but are not. Verity assigns Fitz a mapping task and bids him report early the next morning.

As I read the chapter again, I found myself annoyed by the continued treatment of Kettricken as a childish figure who has to be given tasks to distract her. The fight against the Forged Ones she led, among many others, should have served to Verity as an indication that she is a woman of her own volition and no mean leader, not some idle arm-ornament. And while some allowance might be made to Verity for the thought-disrupting effects of any addiction–and the Skill is repeatedly asserted to be addictive–it still rankles that he looks on the leader his wife is as in need of distraction.

Fitz, too, ought to know better. Indeed, in the chapter, he notes knowing Kettricken better than her husband does. Too, he has demonstrated in the text that he has no small degree of political acumen; his specific suggestion speaks to that acumen, in fact, as well as serving as a bit of revenge for wrongs done him in the previous novel. And while it may be the case that the power difference between him and Verity accounts for some of his behavior, Fitz has proven willing to talk back to power before; he seems to have forgotten things he has already learned, no less so than Verity. It’s something that vexes me as I read again, though I will concede it may be me reading with more affect than I ought to once again.

Fall is coming; help me lay in supplies for the rest of the year.

A Rumination on Writing Series

It should not be a secret at this point that I do a fair bit of work that emerges from earlier work I’ve done or that calls back to it. The Robin Hobb Reread on which I’m working now is perhaps the most put-together example, but it’s not the only one, even in this webspace; the abortive Pronghorn Project and Points of Departure are others, as are the several responses to Erin Bartram I’ve made here, as well as the many sample assignments I’ve posted. This is not to say that I always think of things as being series when I start them, but even when I do not set out to put together some kind of continuous narrative or set of essays, I do often look back at what I have already done to find something else to do.

 how writing seor assignment GIF
Image from Giphy.com

That I am often able to do so, though, does not mean I am always able to do so. There are many occasions that see me finding some idea I’ve had in passing, often made in some footnote, that I’ve pursued further; I’ve gotten several conference papers out of doing that very thing, and I tend to write with a lot of footnotes when I do my academic writing. (One professor commented that I tend to make my better points in my footnotes. I’m still not sure what I should think of that.) But I write less academic stuff at this point than I used to (sensibly, given that I am much less involved in academe than I used to be–which is likely to my benefit and others’), so I have far fewer footnotes from which to work.

Between that and being between teaching sessions at the moment–I expect to have a class in each of the next two upcoming sessions, which will be good, but I don’t have access to course materials to work on sample assignments and the like–I find that I have been struggling for things to write between the entries in the current writing series, and I am not able to work on that series enough at any one time to get away with making three or more entries into it each week. I would love to, of course, but there are enough other things going on that I have not been able to make the time for it.

Even with the challenges to composition, though, I am glad to have the writing series to work on. I do better having direction than not, and working on series gives me that direction or some semblance of it. I could wish to have such direction in other ways, as well, but I am no longer in a place where I’ve got a lot of people telling me what I need to do to be able to get what I want–nor yet any such clear idea of what I want as I have had at points in the past.

Any support would still be appreciated.