The penultimate chapter, “Regal,” opens with “The Catalyst comes to change all things” before moving to Fitz and Nighteyes wearily surveying the aftermath of the dragons’ battle. As they consider what to do next, they find Will, still alive though near to death. Fitz delves into him through the Skill, seeking his connection to Regal so he can make one final attempt on the man.
Fitz finds Regal numbed by drugs against pain and tremors and raging in jealousy at Verity. Fitz Skills into Regal, then returns to his own body. There, he keeps vigil over Will until the other man dies. And after, Fitz and Nighteyes begin to wander.
He reports what he perceives of the efforts Verity and the other dragons undertake against the Red-Ship Raiders and the islands of their homes. Kettricken and Starling are delivered safely to Buckkeep, where Patience greets them. Then Verity goes out to face his foes in person, devastating them with the fury of his attacks before the other wakened dragons join him in an orgy of destruction that continues into the fall.
Regal, notably, lends his full aid and support to Kettricken, enacting many favorable changes as he steps aside in favor of her and Verity’s heir whom she carries. And he dies from an attack by a large rat soon after.
Honestly, the present chapter seems a good enough place to end the book. The major plot-lines are completed, the peace of the Six Duchies appears to be restored, and a time of rebuilding is promised. Were it a more “normal” fantasy novel, that might well be the end of it–but Fitz is not a “normal” fantasy protagonist, as I have argued in more than one place, and so it makes sense that another ending might be in order.
If I look at the novel as belonging to the Tolkienian tradition, though, I find that Fitz overlaps a bit with Frodo in the chapter. He appears to renounce (specific forms of) violence, and he steps aside from acclaim rather than seeking what could well be called his due. It is not an exact parallel, of course; it could hardly be expected to be so. But it does offer a nice little touchstone back to the prevailing fantasy tradition in which Hobb writes (with differences, certainly). And that is not the least helpful of things.