The second novel of the Tawny Man trilogy begins with abortive in-milieu comments from Fitz about the loss of Nighteyes before pivoting to Fitz’s ruminations about his efforts to compile a history of the Six Duchies. He notes the repeated intrusion of the personal into what he had intended as the general. He also notes his utter bereavement in the wake of the wolf’s death and the strangeness of his choice of isolation thereafter.
Fitz then turns to reminisce about his time with the Lady Patience, noting remarks she’d shared with Lacey about the fixed attitudes of those unwed by their thirties; he notes that he falls under their rubric, having confessed as much to the Fool. He marks the Fool’s reply–respectful disagreement–and moves into ruminations on the bonds of family. Freedom, he notes, means a severing of ties; isolation is the price of self-determination, but the choices that lead to it can be amended.
As I noted before, I did not make the mistake of skipping the hardcover as the Tawny Man trilogy continued, but picked up Golden Fool as soon as I saw it on the shelves. At that time, I was an undergraduate at the University of Texas at San Antonio, commuting from Kerrville to San Antonio five days a week to go to school and delivering pizza evenings and weekends, so I had low expenses and cash in my pocket, as well as access to bookstores–so I saw it soon after it hit the shelves. If memory serves, I read it cover to cover in a night, a delirious experience that has stuck with me strangely; I miss having the luxury of giving so much time to something at a stretch and having the focus to sit and read for hours, immersing myself in the synthesis of written word and feel of page and smell of it. Even now, when I can sit at my desk at home–and I suppose I need to do another office piece–I have many concerns to command my attention; I have to take such chances as this to read what I like to read, as they are rare unless they are made to be present. But I think it’s doing some good that I do so; certainly, there’re people reading what I write about what I read, and I hope it’s helping.
As to the philosophical import of the prologue: it is present, certainly, and those who are more studied in such matters can well discuss the ideological tensions that are at work in it. To my eye, there is something to read into it of the US idealization of self-determination, of rugged individualism; being Texan, I am surrounded by the idea that a person ought to stand on their own, entirely, rather than prizing the community. At the same time, I am aware of my own isolation from a great many things; like many people who spend a fair amount of time online and/or writing, I am removed from events even as I am affected by them, and like many men in the United States, I find it difficult to make new connections. That so many of those I have had have fallen away over time–as they are wont to do if not actively maintained–leaves me in a small world.
Perhaps that is part of why I read; I get some sense of connection by seeing into the lives of even fictional others. And perhaps that is part of why I reread; by turning the pages again, I can maintain some sense of connection back to who and what I have been, and if not at my best, it’s better than none at all…