A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 244: Fool’s Errand, Chapter 24

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

The next chapter, “Confrontations,” opens with a story about the Others related in-milieu before pivoting to Fitz dreaming of Verity’s tower, Verity, and Jinna; it is an unpleasant dream. Fitz soon tumbles into communion with Nighteyes; the wolf offers a dire report of the circumstances in which he and the Fool have found themselves. Nighteyes also notes on the interpenetration of a deceased woman in the cat with which Dutiful is bonded. The Fool is assailed, and Fitz loses the connection to his wolf.

Something like this, perhaps?
Kristine W’s Rooster Crown Feather on ArtStation, used for commentary.

Fitz wakes and reassesses his situation and Dutiful’s. It has not improved, and he makes to wake the Prince. Dutiful responds harshly, and Fitz’s own anger rises in response. He stalks off to gather food, finding more wooden feathers as he does, and he makes to cook them as Dutiful returns. The Prince’s abductors work through him, and he attacks Fitz, only to be subdued swiftly and with ease–at first. The woman interpenetrated with the cat uses the boy recklessly, however, and Fitz is forced to fight more forcefully, inadvertently laying a Skill-command on the boy not unlike one Chivalry had laid on Galen before. He considers events in the wake of the command, forced to assess the situation again, and he makes to reconnoiter, securing the feathers as he does so and as he and Dutiful eat and wash.

Searching, Fitz comes across a number of alcoves filled with treasures; curious, he investigates further. The treasures defy him, and he scouts more, finding nothing. He notes as much to Dutiful, and the two confer about the Prince’s magic and how he has been trapped by it. Dutiful disbelieves to the extent he can, but Fitz has the right of it, and as the proceed, Dutiful stumbles upon a treasure showing a figurine of a woman on a fine chain. An Other soon confronts them, demanding the surrender of the treasures they have found; Fitz refuses, and they escape through the Skill-pillar, emerging in a ruined Elderling city. They transit again in haste, and Fitz wonders if Dutiful’s mind can endure it.

I appreciate the references back to earlier works in the Elderlings series, the attempt to harmonize the various series. It’s not necessarily an easy thing to do, of course, and fandom can be (often is) punitive about such things. I have not been immune to commenting on such things, of course, and some earlier comments I have made are not necessarily as I would have them be–although it is the case that narrative consistency from an author who asserts the importance of verisimilitude, whose work does much to foster a Tolkienian inner consistency of reality, is a subject of fair critique. Here, though, the connections are clear enough to readers who have been doing their reading, and they do not conflict of run into retcon–which makes things all the better, although retconning may not be the worst thing. We are supposed to revise ideas when new information emerges, after all…

Remember, remember, the fifth of November, and send me some cash for my pot?

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?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 242: Fool’s Errand, Chapter 22

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

The subsequent chapter, “Choices,” opens with a short piece about the White Prophet and Catalyst before resuming narration with the retrieval of Dutiful. The Prince queries Lord Golden about Badgerlock and avers his lack of desire to return to Buckkeep. He tries to act upon it, but Badgerlock restrains him swiftly and decisively; the Prince pleads to return to his beloved. Badgerlock denies him, and Golden plies him more gently. They learn of the Prince’s intentions; he knows himself to be possessed of the Wit and seeks to remove himself from leadership in the interest of preserving the Six Duchies. Badgerlock rebukes him, and Nighteyes’s arrival occasions an outburst from the Prince.

Illustration series for the Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb
Something like this, yes.
Escape by Katrin Sapranova, used for commentary.

Fitz and Nighteyes confer about the matter as Fitz makes to prepare camp, the strangeness of the woman Dutiful regards being seemingly absent coming up again. Fitz presses the matter with Dutiful, infuriating him with his crudeness and leaving openings for Golden to press more subtly. Nighteyes makes snide comments in the Wit as Dutiful shows himself to be an infatuated young man.

After, Fitz and the Fool tend their horses, conferring about Dutiful as they do and as Nighteyes watches over the youth. Fitz takes up watch, from which he is later summoned by Nighteyes; Dutiful is out of his body, and Fitz follows him through the Skill. With the combination of that and his Wit, he realizes that Dutiful is dangerously entwined with his bond-beast, a cat–and that the cat is interpenetrated with the psyche of a woman, one who approaches with companions in anger. Nighteyes realizes that the woman is in the cat, and Fitz breaks off the magical connections, pain blooming inside him. The party prepares to flee again, under extreme duress, and they proceed raggedly until they can flee no further. There, they make a stand as they can, their backs to a Skill-pillar upon the barrows they had passed before. Surrounded, they are assailed, and Fitz drags Dutiful through the Skill-pillar to an uncertain destination, leaving the Fool and Nighteyes behind.

I once again find I cannot help but read affectively, this time with more than my usual sympathy for Fitz. I’m not much older now than he is in the text; I also deal with teenagers on a regular basis, being a high school teacher, and I find myself confronted just as much by the naivete of their infatuations–and chagrined by my recollections of my own. Admittedly, I’m not in danger of my life that I am aware of at any given time, nor am I possessed of strange magics that blend uncomfortably within me, although I do have a predilection for stimulant use to accentuate what powers of mind I do possess. (They are not as many or as extensive as once they were; age works upon all who survive to see it.) Even so, I’m used to dealing with teenage shenanigans, and I find it trying at times; I can only guess how one less schooled to such things feels in having to deal with them.

It’s not a comforting thought.

My birthday yet approaches; send a give?