A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 93: Assassin’s Quest, Chapter 34

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

The next chapter, “Girl on a Dragon,” begins with notes about the dearth of Skilled people to aid Verity before moving into an interruption of discussion. The Fool touched Verity’s Skill-overlain flesh, and Kettle tends to the Fool, directing Fitz to attend to Verity. Fitz does so, learning more from Verity about the work he has been doing to carve his dragon. When Kettricken enters and embraces her husband, Fitz is called away.

King Verity Farseer and Queen Kettricken by ElenaSilvagni on DeviantArt, here, and used for commentary

While Kettricken and Verity confer, the rest of the party and Fitz talk. The Fool is altered by his contact with Verity, his fingertips marked with the Skill that suffuses Verity’s hands and arms, and the implications of that marking are noted. Kettricken and Verity emerge from their tent, and Verity begins to eat in a way that shows it has been long since he did so. Kettle announces that they will remain on site to assist Verity, his success being the only hope the Six Duchies has in its current crisis.

As the evening draws on, the Fool relates to Fitz what he learned from his contact with Verity. The idea is that Verity will carve and waken his dragon, going thence to fight the Red-Ship Raiders alone. The dragons themselves, the Fool understands to be the Elderlings of Six Duchies legend.

That night, Fitz wakes early at Nighteyes’s insistence; Kettricken has been gone longer than she ought. They find her with ease, and Kettricken confides in Fitz the sadness she feels at the current situation. She does so near the carved image of a girl on a dragon, and Fitz feels something taken from himself suddenly.

After, Fitz speaks with the Fool again, who is testing the limits of his new abilities. They confer about their situation and the Fool’s plan to visit the girl on a dragon. The Fool also reports to Fitz much of what had led to Regal’s efforts to gain the quarry and the power dormant therein.

There is an interesting bit in the present chapter: the comments that dragons are Elderlings. It is an issue that will come up in later novels in the corpus, and it is the case that some of the ideas established in Assassin’s Quest come up for reinterpretaion. That is to be expected as narrative milieus evolve under their authors’ pens; Tolkien’s own work was hardly immune to it, as his son’s editorial comments make clear, and the successive editions of rules-sets for the tabletop roleplaying games that account for so much engagement with fantasy and medieval/ist ideas are also indications of change in progress. Still, one of the pleasures of doing a rereading is that things remembered from earlier readings are reconfirmed, and writing about them in such wise as this helps to fix them in memory, allowing for more work later on.

Things are tight here as in many places. If you can throw a little bit my way, I’d be obliged.

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