The final chapter in the novel, “Buckkeep Town,” begins with in-milieu comments on fennel before turning to Fitz waking in his chamber after a long sleep. He and the Fool trade comments, and he resumes his guise as Badgerlock and makes his way out into Buckkeep Town. Badgerlock considers the townsfolk he passes as he moves through the bedecked city, musing on Dutiful’s circumscribed life along the way to Jinna’s. There, she greets him, welcoming him in from the weather and conversing with him about her concerns for Hap before inviting him to stay a while longer.
The brief epilogue, presented as a retrospection by Fitz, sees him muse on his efforts to compile a history of the Six Duchies and the overturning of those efforts by weather and passers-by. His comment near the end that “the past had broken free of my effort to define and understand it” is a telling one, I think. There is a tendency to view history as a fixed, immutable thing, and while it is the case that the events that happened in the past happened and cannot be changed, their presentation–which is what history is: the report and record and transmitted understandings of events and their importance–can and do shift and evolve over time. In part, this is and should be a reaction to the revelation of more and better information; new sources are found, new physical evidence emerges from the ground and from people’s holdings, and so knowledge changes, forcing interpretations to change along with it.
Of course, even so much gets opposed by a great many people, who want to think that history is what they were (badly) taught in their own histories, and that what their teachers told them (ineptly and in a rush, while they themselves listened far less than attentively) is Truth, immutable and Good; when new tools and rubrics for processing and assessing the information emerge, as they will as long as more people apply themselves to the study of the subject, they react even more strongly, perceiving the questions (rightly) asked about the narratives they imbibed not as critical questions aimed at generating better understandings, but instead as attacks on them, personally. Few of us are as important as that, truly–and Fitz, who is as important as that in his own milieu, seems to recognize it, offering a lesson many of us would do well to learn better than we have.