A chapter titled “The Hunt” comes next, opening with a selection from Badgerlock’s Old Blood Tales before pivoting into a dream shared between Fitz and Dutiful. In the dream, the two–and others, a woman and a cat–realize that they are pursued and attempt to evade that pursuit, only to be found out in a way that leaves Fitz in pain and craving elfbark. Through the burgeoning pain, Fitz tries to press for Dutiful’s recovery; the Fool dissuades him and tends as he can in the absence of elfbark to his spreading pain.
There is little rest for him; Fitz-as-Badgerlock and the Fool-as-Golden take part in a hunt the next day, with their preparations and setting-out detailed. The hunt proceeds, and an excuse for Badgerlock to part from the rest of the hunters is made; he seizes upon it, and makes for Nighteyes, who has been attacked by Dutiful and the cat. Fitz attends to his long-time companion as he can and receives such report as the wolf can make; Fitz reluctantly returns to the hunt in time to see it end, and the two plot to head out to pursue Dutiful as soon as possible. Fitz makes shift to prepare for their departure but is informed that they will not be able to leave easily; still, an excuse for Badgerlock to be away from festivities is concocted, and Fitz begins the search for Dutiful anew.
I’ve noted before my appreciation for the Asimovian device with which Hobb opens the chapters of the Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies, the citation of in-milieu reference works. It’s not only because I retain some nostalgic fondness for Asimov (I am aware of how…problematic a figure he is, but the books read in youth tend to stick in the mind far past it.) There is a certain humor in a work narrated by a character featuring work by that same character in such references–but then, I cite myself often enough that I have to regard myself as the butt of such a joke in my turn. It’s fortunate, then, that I’ve long since learned to laugh at myself, if perhaps not to do so kindly. But then, I have it coming.
Aside from that, I’m not sure I have any comments about the present chapter. There’s probably something to mine in the contemplation of mortality that marks it, but I’m not really in a place where I can do that kind of work. At least, not at the moment…