The following chapter, “Claws,” begins with an in-milieu gloss of the recent history of the Bresingas before turning to Fitz-as-Badgerlock following the Fool-as-Golden to the appointed feast hall; Fitz marks the appearances of those in attendance as the two of them proceed. Reactions are noted, as well, and Badgerlock takes up his position as bodyguard. is difficulty standing watch is noted, as is the information he takes in from his unaccustomed position.
Golden steers conversation so as to encourage a fair amount of exposition about hunting cats, their rearing, and their practice. As Golden turns the talk to Prince’s hunting cat, Badgerlock finds himself subjected to the attentions of an insistent kitten; it occasions some comment, innocuously enough, and dinner proceeds. Golden turns conversation to the Prince’s cat again as Fitz confirms that the Bresingas are Witted, and Golden tries to draw out information from them. The meal is shortly thereafter called to a close, and Golden and Badgerlock retire to their chambers.
Fitz makes a search of the rooms and asks after the Fool’s condition, finding the latter exulting in having given a good performance. Fitz, as Badgerlock, ventures to the kitchens to get his own meal and to take in such gossip and rumor as can be heard. He hears a few things and puzzles out some more before having another encounter with a cat, one that gives him cause for concern; he begins to think his own Wit-bond will be known.
When he reports back to his chambers, he finds Laurel in attendance on Lord Golden. They confer about findings; Laurel has learned that Dutiful has been present. Fitz awkwardly retires for the night, comforted by the bare touch of Nighteyes’s mind on his own.
Interestingly, as I am rereading the chapter, my wife and I are adopting a kitten, Stormy; our daughter has wanted a new one for some time, and we are in a position to take on the additional responsibility. Now, ours is hardly hunting stock; she’s a rescue kitty, adopted from a nearby nonprofit. Still, though, it’ll be interesting to see if our Ms. 8 bonds with Stormy the way her mother did with other cats we’ve had.
Myself, I’m more a dog person. I’m sure there’s some joke to be found in that, somehow.
I note that the present chapter makes much of performativity. I’m not the only one to note the phenomenon in Hobb, of course; both Räsänen and Sanderson speak to it, for example. The Fool is overt about it in the present chapter, however, citing his conduct with the Bresingas as a performance and noting that Fitz is the only real audience for that performance–and since Fitz is the reader’s access to the milieu, the reader becomes part of the audience at both the usual readerly level and alone with Fitz within the milieu. It seems to me, as I read the chapter again, a strange blurring of narrative perspective; it remains first-person due to the narratorial style, of course, but it also seems almost to become metanarrative, raising a number of questions in me that I’m not sure how to articulate well, let alone answer.
The only solution is to read more and think on it. Fortunately, I’m inclined toward both.