A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 243: Fool’s Errand, Chapter 23

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

A chapter titled “The Beach” follows, opening with a brief statement regarding the Skill before noting Fitz and Dutiful’s emergence from a Skill-pillar into the surf. Disoriented, Fitz struggles to preserve the Prince and to bring them above the surface of the water; the task proves challenging but is accomplished. The enormity of their situation breaks upon Fitz, and he rages as he drags Dutiful along to higher ground, away from the incoming tide. Dutiful presses him with questions and accuses him of being a Farseer bastard as Fitz further assesses their situation.

Sea Skill Pillar
Illustration series for the Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb
All washed up…
Katrin Sapranova’s Sea Skill Pillar, used for commentary.

As Dutiful realizes their situation, Fitz grows disappointed in him, then shunts aside the feeling in favor of securing food and rudimentary shelter. He reaches out via his magics to Nighteyes and the Fool, finding neither, and gruffly tends to Dutiful. He finds that the Prince has slipped into a Skill trance and plunges into the magic after him, very nearly losing himself amid the magics and distracting thoughts of others. A strange being within the Skill reassembles him and Dutiful both, chiding them gently as they are reconstructed.

In the wake of it, Fitz wanders across the beach, finding a strangely carved wooden feather; he secures it as he further assesses his situation. With fatigue pressing him, and with nothing else to do, he sleeps.

It’s clearly a bad situation the pair are in in the present chapter, in an uncertain location, far from friends and support, and with no clear means of return to their accustomed locations. Once again, I find myself reading with affect, feeling for Fitz as he is confronted by Dutiful’s relative incapacity. I work with teenagers, and I know from that work they tend to think themselves apt to any task they fancy; I also know they are not so apt as they think themselves, and I know the vexation of seeing clearly what will befall them even as they fail to heed any semblance of warning about it. (Indeed, as I write this, I’ve not long since completed a round of grading, in which several students failed to heed the advice I gave them. It annoys.) So, yes, I find myself in sympathy with Fitz, who had to be far more capable at Dutiful’s age than Dutiful seems to be, and who confronts once again youth as youth, which is not easy for those who no longer have their own youth.

My birthday’s tomorrow; send a present?


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