A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 55: Royal Assassin, Chapter 30

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


The next chapter, “Dungeons,” opens with a traditional “corrective” for the Witted. It moves on to Fitz awakening in a dungeon and assessing his situation; it is not good.

Rosemary in bloom.JPG
Rosemary, from Wikipedia; image used for commentary

Patience visits Fitz early on and, when a guard is distracted, briefs Fitz on the current situation in Buckkeep; it is not good. After Patience is escorted out, Fitz is fed, and he considers his situation further, trying to make sense of events.

The arrival of Regal and the Coastal Dukes interrupts Fitz’s musings. Regal levies charges against Fitz that he has killed by the Wit; Fitz denies them, and the Dukes demand that legal proceedings be followed. After some dickering, Regal agrees, and Fitz realizes that Regal will see him dead in his cell, that the Dukes still do not regard Regal as they ought.

After the others leave, Fitz contemplates suicide. He sleeps badly and tries in vain to hear a message Chade speaks to him. When he drowses again, he dreams of Molly, and Verity visits him through the Skill. Fitz is shaken from their conference by the arrival of Regal and a “witness” to his transformation via Wit magic. Fitz realizes that Kettricken’s young servant, Rosemary, has been Regal’s spy all along, and he despairs.

I yet again find myself trying not to read a chapter from a decades-old book against current political circumstances…but that is not new. What is new to the current chapter is the revelation that Rosemary is one of Regal’s operatives, the source of Regal’s information about the plot Fitz has headed up. In her, I am once again struck by the use of emblematic names in the Six Duchies; while Rosemary might seem a common enough feminine name to Hobb’s presumably primarily English-language readership (though I note for reason a number of translation studies done on Hobb’s works), it does serve as a usefully descriptive name for the character.

To explain, there is the bit from WebMD, here, noting that, among others, rosemary has been attributed abortifacient properties (even if not necessarily accurately; the resonance would still carry through). Rosemary is the operative whose actions led to Kettricken’s feared miscarriage, making her, in the event, an ineffective abortifacient. Too, rosemary is reported as associated with improved memory–something not unlike the conveyance of information, if within the body–and with a number of cosmetic concerns–and Regal has been demonstrated repeatedly to be particularly vain about his appearance. Further, the herb is reported to interact badly with certain seizure-causing disorders, and the lingering effects of Fitz’s being poisoned late in Assassin’s Apprentice include a tendency towards seizures (which, admittedly, seem to taper off throughout Royal Assassin, but still…), so there is another point of correspondence to be found.

It is a small thing, to be sure, and relying on a single source to provide context is far from the soundest argumentative strategy. But this is also an informal treatment, enough to suggest that more might be done–and that more attention should be paid to such details, as they can reveal much with a bit of consideration.

I appreciate anything you can send my way.

2 thoughts on “A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 55: Royal Assassin, Chapter 30

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