A chapter titled “Escapes and Captures” follows, opening with commentary about the historical basis for the tensions between the Coastal and Inland Duchies. It moves to gloss over the lead-up to the ceremony in which Regal is invested as King-in-Waiting. Rumors of ill portents surround the event and penetrate it as Regal crowns himself as the heir apparent to the Six Duchies’ throne.
In the wake of the formalities, Fitz realizes that the Coastal Dukes do not fear Regal as they ought to do. He makes as hasty an exit as he can from the following revelry and sets about the next phase of his plan, feeling the weight of his folly as he does so. Stealing into Shrewd’s chambers, he looks on as Kettricken, the Fool, Rosemary, and a hated attendant try to make a bit of cheer in the room without success. The attendant is dismissed, and Kettricken and Rosemary exit, leaving the Fool and Fitz to spirit Shrewd away. The old king refuses to go, however, and uses Fitz to Skill to Verity one last time.
The effort kills Shrewd, and Fitz learns that the other Skilled ones–Serene and Justin–had been leeching power from Shrewd. A clamor rises, and Fitz urges the arrived Chade to take the Fool and flee. Fitz then goes about foolish, burning revenge. While he kills Serene and Justin, he is taken in the following melee.
The present chapter refers back to comments made in previous chapters about Fitz’s self-destructive tendencies; Fitz himself asks “Did I taunt self-destruction, or did I desire it?” as he sets about his revenge for Shrewd. Given the references to Galen in the chapter and the demonstrated lingering effects of Galen’s work upon Fitz, I have to wonder if the self-destructive tendencies are themselves the ongoing work of Galen’s machinations, if they are the echoes of a Skill-suggestion or command that Fitz die. It is not the only explanation for them, of course; Fitz is an adolescent who has suffered repeated traumas and who has indulged in or been subjected to mood-altering chemicals on no few occasions, so a fair bit of recklessness is to be expected. But the idea that Galen has had a lingering effect on him fits with Fitz.
As I continue to work through the re-read–and I am surprised to realize I’ve got more than half a hundred entries in it so far, with a lot of reading left to do again–I find myself wondering about the fan communities whose edges I glimpse as I look for images to use to accompany my commentary. I wonder how much of what I see has been seen by others already and where such sayings are, if they are. I have tried to compile scholarly and related works on Hobb, of course, but I do not pretend that I have a comprehensive list, and I know better than to think that the scholarly world is the sum of insightful treatments of the Elderlings corpus. I am aware of my not-“fan” status and of the dangers fandom can present (as noted), and I wonder what I miss because of it.