A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 78: Assassin’s Quest, Chapter 19

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


The chapter treated for this post, “Pursuit,” opens with a passage glossing the military situation between the Six Duchies and the Mountain Kingdom as Fitz made his way towards Verity. It moves thence to Fitz conferring with Starling and Kettle as they flee from the burned ruins of Moonseye. Fitz sends the women ahead of himself, which Kettle recognizes as him drawing away pursuit from them to him. Starling is not so sanguine about the matter as they part.

A pivotal scene in the present chapter…
Bastard Hunt
by ThereseOfTheNorth on DeviantArt, here, and used for commentary

Fitz and Nighteyes move away, and Fitz ensures that he will be Regal’s sole focus for some time by Skilling openly and brazenly in the night. As he does, he finds Burl in the Skill, being tortured therewith through the efforts of Will and Carrod–while Regal observes with glee. Fitz opines about the depravity of his uncle, then lashes out brutally through the Skill. When he is next aware, Nighteyes is near frantic with fear at what Fitz has done, and the two make a slow pace as they flee for Jhaampe.

As they go, Fitz considers his situation again and the likely welcome he will receive from Kettricken, whom he believes to be in Jhaampe. Implications of news of his survival are unpleasant, and he considers bypassing the Mountain Kingdom’s capital–but rejects the idea as untenable for several reasons. His ruminations are interrupted by an encounter with a party of Regal’s soldiers that spots and pursues him–aided by one of the Old Blood. Fitz and Nighteyes flee, with the wolf working to distract the hunters from the slower-moving Fitz. It is not successful; the Old Blood hunter is wise to the deception, cornering Fitz and shooting him in the back with an arrow as Fitz tries to climb to safety.

Nighteyes pulls Fitz up the last bit of his climb, and their flight continues–slower now that Fitz has been shot. He begins, almost reflexively, to transfer his consciousness back into the wolf, but Nighteyes rejects him, and Fitz starts at what he had tried to do. When they achieve some distance from pursuit, Fitz tries to treat his injury. It is difficult, painful work, ultimately unsuccessful; Nighteyes ultimately snaps off the shaft of the arrow, leaving the head in Fitz. And still they must move on.

The thing that stands out to me as I read the chapter again is the juxtaposition of the shock at one of the Old Blood turning on Fitz and the relatively little attention the Old Blood receives in the pursuit. Yes, he is the one to wound Fitz, but he remains largely faceless and utterly nameless in the chapter despite his key role in inflicting yet another wound on the protagonist. Are readers to take it as passe that a member of an oppressed group would turn that group’s talents to the oppressor’s ends? If so, it is a subtle bit of commentary that seems all the more biting for being presented as off-handedly as seems to be the case here.

Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!

Remember your writer?

 

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