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As it happens, I’m working primarily as a freelance writer and tutor at this point, other work not being what I’d thought it would be. Now, those of you who’re looking at this know how I write and what I tend to write about, and those of you who keep coming back seem to like what I do, so I’ll put it to you this way: If you’ve got some writing that needs doing, some writing that needs reviewing, or some literary or writerly thing that seems to be messing with you, or somebody you know does, reach out. My rates are reasonable, and my results speak for themselves.

How can you say “no” to this?
Image is mine, multiple ways.

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  • Creative writing (especially poetry)
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A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 256: Golden Fool, Chapter 6

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

The following chapter, “Obliteration,” opens with a selection from an account of the battle in Bingtown Harbor before turning to Fitz returning to his room in Lord Golden’s suite to find an argument between Golden and Laurel in progress. He halts rather than intruding, overhears the message Laurel has for him, and enters to confer with the Fool after Laurel stalks off. He also notes a need to go into town to offer a series of apologies, and the Fool notes such arrangements as he has made as they confer about Fitz’s meeting with Kettricken. He also stalks off to his own private room, leaving Fitz-as-Badgerlock to go about his day.

Yes! YES!
Image from one of many internet forums, used for commentary.

When Badgerlock meets Laurel in the stables, she takes him to what had been Burrich’s residence in them–and Fitz’s, early on–to confer privately about news she has received from her Old Blood kin of Piebald machinations at work in Buckkeep. The remaining Piebalds, following the maimed and convalescing Laudwine, thirst for power and revenge; Badgerlock glosses his own recent local encounter with the group, and he wonders if Chade can be of any help to Laurel and her kin. They part amicably, understanding one another in that regard.

After, Badgerlock takes his time getting to Jinna’s, purchasing gifts for her and waiting as she conducts her business before being taken inside. And in the wake of his going in, Fitz thinks of Molly, as he had not in some time, noting his lack of connections that had been highlighted by the conference with Kettricken. The two talk about Jinna’s magic and what it shows her of Badgerlock, and her cat interrupts rudely as talk turns to Hap and his dissolution. Badgerlock’s lack of knowledge becomes evident, and he makes off awkwardly to see to his foster-son.

Hap complains of the apprentice-work to which he is put, Badgerlock reminding him that such work is only to be expected. It falls on deaf ears, as do Badgerlock’s concerns about Hap’s infatuation with Svanja, a local girl.

After, Badgerlock returns to Buckkeep Castle, where a summons to Chade awaits. It gives him cover to return to his hut near Forge, and he speeds thence as best he may. He finds that it has been visited, likely by a neighbor, and he notes the thefts as he culls his work. Some things, he retains; most go into a fire. Taking with him pots of preserved herbs, he leaves the rest to burn, uncertain of what might have escaped him.

I will say that Fitz is not the only one who looks back over the writing they’ve done and has thoughts of burning it all. I feel the temptation myself, even now, even about the things I’ve managed to shepherd into publication and which I know have received some approval. (I’ve been cited a few times. It’s nice.) And there have been times, indeed, when I’ve succumbed to the temptation, purging papers and files and things that I have had–and there have been times I’ve regretted doing so, largely because events occurred afterward that would’ve been easier for me to address had I had what I had thrown away.

At the same time, there is only so much baggage from the past a person can carry around. I know that from experience, too. So I can’t say that Fitz has the wrong of it to burn it away…

I continue to appreciate your help!

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 255: Golden Fool, Chapter 5

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

The next chapter, “Shared Sorrows,” begins with verses from Starling Birdsong before turning to Fitz waking where he had dozed off while awaiting Dutiful. The Prince has not attended his scheduled meeting, occasioning rueful disappointment from Fitz. He leaves a message for the wayward royal and returns to Chade’s hidden rooms, where he is again confronted by the power of Thick’s Skill. He steels himself against it and, when Chade addresses him as though he were a young child, intercedes, noting Thick’s different intellect and Dutiful’s neglect.

Mourning Nighteyes
Illustration series for the Golden Fool by Robin Hobb
I still love this artist’s work.
Katrin Sapranova’s Mourning Nighteyes, used for commentary.

Chade swiftly conducts Fitz to a meeting with Kettricken, who mourns for the lost Nighteyes. Her mourning triggers Fitz’s, and the two weep together for a time. Kettricken then brings up the topic of Dutiful’s Wit, noting its source in her, and she speaks with Fitz regarding his comfort and care. She also repeats something of Shrewd’s old gesture to Fitz, and Fitz asks her about Rosemary. She notes the disposition of her former adversary, as well as others, and Fitz begrudgingly accepts the reasoning involved.

Their talk turns to the Piebald threat, both as it directs itself toward Fitz in particular and as it menaces the Six Duchies more generally. And it takes in some of the Outislanders’ concerns, as well, before Fitz excuses himself with Kettricken’s welcome wishes for healing.

The return to Thick in the present chapter would seem to be a motion towards consideration of neurodivergence and disability. As is the case with many things, my scholarship and background is deficient in terms of treating those concerns, although I’d imagine that such scholars as Kisha Tracy would have more to say about it. (At least I can point to other scholars this time!) From the vantage of re-reading, I can say that it’ll be something of a theme, moving forward; Hobb gets into many kinds of difference in her novels, treating them openly (if perhaps not always ideally) in a way that too many other authors elide, especially in fantasy fiction. (Problems with similar concerns have been noted.) I’m glad to (again) see it happen with Thick; at least the conversation is happening.

The present chapter also reinforces something I’ve noted as being an issue throughout the Six Duchies novels. Throughout, there is a clear message that upright conduct is, ultimately, untenable on its own; the exalted courtly structures so frequently depicted in fantasy literatures and held up as aspirational examples flatly cannot exist on their own. No, they consume and cast out, making use of “necessary evils” such as Fitz is trained to be and setting them aside–and if it is the case that Fitz accepts effective exile, it is also the case that he has little choice in the matter. And that says something worth attention.

Help me give my girl a happy holiday season?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 254: Golden Fool, Chapter 4

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

The succeeding chapter, “The Betrothal,” opens with a brief in-milieu commentary on the use of herbs and intoxicants in Skill training before pivoting to Fitz and the Fool altering Badgerlock’s clothing to permit him to carry some assassin’s equipment. They confer about their situation and reminisce about Buckkeep as it had been in their shared youth, and they make their way to the feast hall where Dutiful’s betrothal to Elliania will be celebrated.

In all their glory…
Image from Faceless Frey’s Tumblr, used for commentary.

Arriving, Badgerlock takes stock of the current situation of the Great Hall, marking entrances and behaviors as minor nobles flock to Lord Golden and some of the Outisland delegation arrives; he also glosses more of the Outisland sociopolitical system. He also assesses the nobles who cluster around Lord Golden, marking how the latter handles them–until Kettricken and Dutiful make their entrance, and all attention turns to them. The Queen and Prince are followed by the Narcheska and her party, all described along the way. Several of the Dukes follow in turn, then Outislander and other Six Duchies nobles–including Starling and her husband, Lord Fisher.

Badgerlock continues his survey and assessment of the guests, marking Civil Bresinga’s location and starting as Lady Patience arrives and is seated. He is also startled as Dutiful reaches out to him via magic, blending Skill and Wit, and again as he notes the presence of Rosemary, who had occasioned harm in years past. He marks how conversations flow as dinner begins and proceeds, and he attends carefully to the reactions of the assembled nobles as the Prince and Narcheska are betrothed–and as the Outislanders ply their own customs.

Festivities continue, as do the assessments, and Dutiful and Elliania acquit themselves well. Lord Golden plies his hangers-on, and intoxicants emerge through the proceedings. At length, Golden begs leave to depart, and he and Badgerlock make their exit. In their chambers, they exchange news, thinking fondly of Patience as they discuss her. Fitz retires, mulling over what he has to do–and there is much he has to do–and, in his dreams, he communes with his daughter through the Skill.

A couple things stand out to me as I reread the chapter again. One of them is Fitz’s comment about resenting the changes to Buckkeep from the days of his youth; he notes that his resentment comes in part from the erasure of his own history–and in part because the changes, which have largely left him behind, prompt him to “feel stodgy and old.” It’s something with which I have some familiarity, affectively reading as I do; I’ve had occasion to go back to places where I’d been before in years longer ago than I care to consider closely, and the differences between then and before, good as they in most cases are, remind me of the passed years and the missed opportunities in the long-ago thens I once had. I know what I have been, what I am still, and so I read as I read.

Another thing that stands out is the overt sexual attention Badgerlock receives from one of the lords flocking to Golden. Again, with earlier Elderlings novels, the case could be made that the Wit stands as a metaphor for homosexuality; again, the present series makes the homosexuality explicit, and I find it…difficult to accept as a metaphor what is openly stated. Perhaps the issue is that the concept has grown past the metaphor, with the homosexuality needing no more obfuscation and the Wit itself having moved beyond the need to be a stand-in for some other thing, taking on its own narrative force rather than serving as an allegory for something else. How much that might parallel other allegorical readings, I am not sure, but I find it a matter of some interest; perhaps I will remember the passing fancy long enough to actually look into it, now and again.

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