A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 52: Royal Assassin, Chapter 27

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

The next chapter, “Conspiracies,” opens with a series of what read as folk sayings before moving into plans to present Kettricken as having had a miscarriage in the hope of creating a sufficient distraction to allow Chade to have a private audience with Shrewd. Kettricken but begrudgingly goes along with the plan, finding the situation distasteful.

I Never Meant to Break Your Heart by Jessica “Sieskja” Albert on DeviantArt,
image used for commentary

After tumult from Kettricken summons Regal away, Fitz presents a fatal distraction to the guard left on Shrewd’s door, allowing Chade time to meet with his king. Fitz then goes about the castle, looking as nonchalant as he can manage, and taking in the gossip. It indicates to him that Chade has been at work around Buckkeep. And he encounters Molly as he goes about; she rebukes him and declares her intent to go elsewhere to protect someone she loves more than him.

After being staggered by Molly’s break with him, Fitz calls on Burrich; the Fool is with him. They confer about events, and Burrich and the Fool offer their sympathies for Fitz’s broken heart. They all incur rebuke from Lacey, who arrives to have them help dispose of the signs of the feigned miscarriage and to note to Fitz that there are axemen trying to break down Shrewd’s door. The Fool is scandalized, but Fitz allays his concerns.

The group of conspirators disperses, and Fitz calls on Nighteyes. They spend a bit of time together, happily. After, Fitz returns to Buckkeep, taking in more gossip before returning to his rooms and finding Serene waiting for him. A tense exchange follows, after which, Fitz is summoned to Kettricken. They two have an oblique conversation about next steps to take–which Fitz carries to Chade when he reports to his summons, in turn. They purpose to move swiftly to evacuate Chade and Kettricken from Buckkeep, and Chade begins to exhibit a strange merriment at plotting how he will enact the escape.

The rush towards the end of the novel continues in the present chapter, as might be expected, and it is coupled with in-milieu urgency by the need of the various characters to effect their plans before Regal can take certain people–Shrewd and Kettricken, particularly–more fully into his power, both through not having other oversight and through assuming more formal, titular authority.

As I think on it now, though, I have to wonder why those involved–notably Chade and Fitz–do not take more overt action against Regal. They obviously fear Regal is acting against Shrewd–Fitz far more so than Chade, admittedly, but even Chade is acting as if Regal is a threat. They know Regal is a traitor to his father. Why neither of them takes steps to eliminate the problem he presents is not clear; Fitz might, admittedly, be restrained by obedience to Chade and a promise effectively extorted from him by Shrewd, though those justifications scan weakly. Chade, however, is not in such a position; his reluctance to act seems strange in context, now. And things will grow yet more odd…

The holidays are coming; can you help me out?

Sample Assignment Response: Case Study Presentation

Yet another assignment required of students in ENGL 135 during the November 2019 instructional session at DeVry University is a presentation deriving from the earlier Persuasive Writing and Counterargument Case Study that distills and re-presents the materials from the written document in more interactive form. The assignment asks for seven to ten slides and ten to twelve minutes of audio, which precludes giving a straight reading of the paper. (Typically, a five-page paper will be a ten-minute read–and not all of the papers will be the full five pages.) Slides to introduce the presentation and to provide references are obligatory; slides to present content will vary based on the needs of the presentation.

Presentation Screenshot
Once again, I’ve gotten to do a lot of staring at this kind of thing.
The image is still a screenshot taken from my earlier work.

I’ll note here that I make liberal use of previously prepared materials in this discussion, as the assignment and its preparation follow general models I’ve already established, here and here.

As I had with previous exercises of this sort, I opened the paper I would be remaking for presentation, printing out a copy (because I still work on some things better physically than on a screen) and conducting a reverse outline of it to highlight what ideas I treat and in what proportions. Doing so, I found that I had overlooked some typographical errors in the piece when I had proofread it (annoyingly enough, but correcting them is an effort for another situation); I also found that I had eight “sections” in the paper. Taking them with the requested introductory and references components would yield ten slides (and the paper from which the presentation emerges only deploys four references, so one slide for citations would likely be enough).

With the basic organization of the presentation taking shape, I once again opened the PowerPoint template I have prepared against use for this webspace and saved it as a working document for ease of finding it again at need. (I should emphasize here the utility of saving self-generated templates; it makes much easier later on if there is going to be continuation of a project.) After I had, I stubbed out the slides I expected to need, leaving myself an additional blank one ready to use at need. I also set up the overall introduction on the title slide, as well as inserting the references list where it needed to go. (Again, I do that early so as to prevent forgetting to do it later.)

Having set up my basic slideshow, I knew I would need to introduce explanatory images; as I’ve noted elsewhere, such media as students are asked to produce for the assignment rely on graphics for their effect, but merely decorative pieces distract and annoy. Fortunately, an early slide appeared to admit of some illustration for context, as did at least one of the more argumentative slides later on in the presentation. I pulled down images for those slides, putting them into place and citing them both at their inclusion and in the references slide. It did introduce more material into the last, not enough to prompt an additional slide, but enough to occasion reformatting. As with earlier presentations, however, the fact that the references slide could be examined in isolation allowed me to feel comfortable with the changes.

Figures in place, I began to put text into the slides. A commonplace of presentations is that the text on the slides is not a script but a guide for the audience and the presenter; it is neither necessary nor advisable that the presenter read straight from slides (save for quotations). Instead, the text on the slide should help orient both presenter and audience to the information being delivered verbally. Consequently, while I did find myself once again making some notes that came out as complete sentences, I worked to avoid such in stubbing out text on my slides, and I produced versions of my earlier writing of much less formality, given the demands of the medium.

Text laid out, the time came to insert audio into the presentation. Following my previous practice, I worked slide by slide, recording short stretches of audio through the embedded recorder in PowerPoint. (The convenience of having such is part of what keeps me using the program.) I also once again made sure to save after each slide, still having no desire to suffer data loss if it can be avoided. And, following previous practice, I made sure to keep my audio cues in the same place on each slide, the consistency serving to make my slides easier to navigate.

Getting that done, I gave the presentation a final review to check it against assignment requirements (and, hopefully, to eliminate any typographical errors in the current version). Afterwards, I put it where my students and others can see it, where I hope it will be of some help–here: G. Elliott Sample Presentation. As noted, it is a PowerPoint, so it requires such a program to view it.

I shall continue to thank you for your support as the holidays approach.

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 51: Royal Assassin, Chapter 26

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

The next chapter, “Skilling,” opens with a rumination by Chade about the dichotomy between the Forged Ones and the Skilled. It moves to Fitz and Burrich forcing their way into Shrewd’s chambers, where Kettricken and the Fool attend the elderly king. The Fool tries to dissuade them, unsuccessfully; Shrewd rouses himself and bids Fitz make himself available to Skill through to reach Verity.

It does seem the kind of thing that could be used to hide another…
Image from Paleotechnics, here, used for commentary

In the event, Fitz uses Shrewd to Skill, rather than the intended other way around, and they reach Verity briefly before Shrewd falters and Regal interrupts them. The Fool manages to calm matters, and Burrich manages to extricate Fitz from the room before Regal can vent his anger upon him. And after, Burrich chides Fitz for his austerity and self-destructive tendencies–and notes that Regal is soon to be named King-in-Waiting. He also reports that Molly has visited, and that he has relayed Fitz’s words.

After Burrich leaves, Fitz thinks to call on Molly. He is dissuaded after Nighteyes makes him aware that Will is trailing him; Fitz returns to his rooms, from whence Chade summons him. Chade rebukes Fitz’s rashness of the evening. He also intimates that his regular hiding place may be compromised and reiterates to Fitz that Regal must think himself secure. Fitz makes to engage in the formal mourning expected of him after the (false) report of Verity’s death.

The following days are troublesome for Fitz, full of tumult with Regal’s impending elevation. The Skilled ones with whom Fitz had trained and who came to hate him hound him. Patience and Lacey find themselves largely despoiled, as well, and confused that Shrewd has not stopped the egress of goods and supplies. They also let slip that Kettricken took a fall; Fitz speeds off to tend to her, but is assured by her ladies that there has not been a miscarriage. Fitz follows up and finds the trap that had been set for Kettricken, a greased step.

The Fool meets Fitz there, having been beaten again. He reports on Regal’s most recent machinations with Shrewd. He also implores to be taken with Shrewd if and when the king is spirited away.

A lot seems to be happening in the chapter–fittingly enough, since it is near the end of the novel, and things have to be wrapped up for the novel to stand alone. It might be argued, of course, that as a member of a series, Royal Assassin need not be a complete narrative in itself; it emerges from and feeds into other works, so not all of its narrative threads need be tied off. And even were it a stand-alone project, it need not tie off every loose end; leaving some things unresolved helps to create the “inner consistency of reality” about which Tolkien writes, the correspondence to the observed world of the reader–and we never know the whole of another’s story.

Even so, for a given work to be satisfying, it does have to offer some closure. The present chapter points toward that closure, certainly, and ominously. For cause, as will soon become clear.

Told you I’d be back. Send a little help my way?