A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 272: Golden Fool, Chapter 22

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

The next chapter, “Connections,” opens with an extended complaint from one of Chade’s agents on Aslevjal before the narrative returns again to Fitz convalescing. The shape of Fitz’s days is glossed, as are events at large in Buckkeep’s court, including garbled reports from Bingtown and further south. Fitz also considers the feathers he found on the beach while fleeing with Dutiful and again contemplates placing them in the Fool’s Rooster Crown.

You know it’ll come to this…
Winterkeep’s Aslevjal on DeviantArt is used for commentary.

One night, as he convalesces, Fitz is visited in his dreams by Nettle. She weeps over the strain between Burrich and Swift, not knowing its cause, as neither of them will speak of it. Fitz offers little comfort, and he finds little as he contemplates what Burrich might do to avoid repeating his “mistakes” with Fitz with his own son. After he wakes, he returns to Lord Golden’s suite, where he finds Hap pleading for access. Golden gives it and departs, leaving Hap to fret over Tom Badgerlock and report his folly with Svanja. Tom again offers little comfort, and he and Hap part amicably.

With Hap returning to his apprenticeship, Tom discusses the feathers with Golden, meeting with little interest or engagement. Shaken by the realization of how badly he has harmed their relationship, Fitz withdraws to Chade’s chambers and falls into a sleep from which he is wakened roughly by Dutiful, who has been guided to Chade’s hidden room by Thick. They confer, and Dutiful sends Thick off to fetch more food. While Thick is about the errand, Dutiful confronts Fitz with knowledge of his true identity, relating how he came by the knowledge. Fitz warns Dutiful of the implications and ramifications of the knowledge, the two reaching an accord as Thick returns with a large pie the three gleefully devour.

In the present chapter, Fitz opines on secrets that become so not because they are deliberately hidden, but because they are the answers to questions never asked, the results of assumptions made and never examined. I find myself reading affectively once again, wondering what I do not know because it never occurred to me that I ought to ask, contemplating what I will not tell my daughter for the same reasons. Part of why I keep a journal is so that she will have at least some of the answers in time to come, although I am aware that no words can bring in the whole of a thing.

Still, what I can leave, I do. It will never be enough, but nothing will be. And it will be something, at least.

And, as ever, I’m happy to accept your patronage!

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 271: Golden Fool, Chapter 21

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

The succeeding chapter, “Convalescence,” opens with an in-milieu note about the Witness Stones before turning to Fitz’s continued recovery from his assault and Skill-healing. Lord Golden continues to be concerned for his servant, and Tom Badgerlock accepts the ministrations grudgingly. Chade calls on him at length, and Fitz rails weakly as he presses for information about what had happened. Chade reluctantly reports how matters had led to Fitz’s release from prison, if circuitously, and Fitz accepts the necessity of having handled the situation he had occasioned thus.

It’s a fair likeness of the man…
Croaker by Pti-SPB on DeviantArt is used for commentary.

During the course of their conversation, Fitz realizes Chade has used the Skill to heal himself, as well, and he cautions Chade against its misuse. The rebuke is not gentle, but Fitz does persuade Chade to avoid relying on Thick for strength in the Skill magic–though he does note agree to halt his own forays, and departs before conversation can continue further.

The next several days pass with Fitz continuing to recover his strength and bodily reserves, slowly. When, at length, he makes to shave, he finds that the marks of old injuries are reduced or gone. The Fool opines that Chade had thought Fitz knew such Skill use and withheld the knowledge from him, and Fitz takes himself off to Chade’s hidden chambers. After sleeping heavily therein, he eats and studies materials left for him that confirm some of what he has suspected about Skill-healing, among others.

Fitz muses on Chade’s Skill-study within the social context of the Six Duchies. He determines again to shave, and Chade joins him after he does so. The two confer, and they work haltingly together to restore the appearance, at least, of some of Fitz’s injuries. They confer about them, as well, and about bodies more generally. Talk turns to Thick, and Fitz again urges Chade not to draw upon the younger man for strength. Chade agrees to study under Fitz’s tutelage, though his own studies will continue.

Consideration of Thick in the present chapter attracts my attention as I read it this time. I note that Chade, of all people, regards Thick as not so much broken as different:

Chade shook his head slowly. “‘Different’ is not ‘wrong,’ Fitz. Thick’s body recognizes itself as correct. His differences are no more to him than…well, here I am guessing, but I suspect that just as one man is tall and another is short, so it is with Thick. His body grew to some plan of its own. Thick is what he is. Perhaps we should just be grateful that we have him, even if he is different.”

Admittedly, Chade has tended to take a more pragmatic view throughout the series, adopting an almost Machiavellian attitude regarding the stability of the Six Duchies. Fitz’s Wit in the Farseer trilogy gives him much less pause than it does most others–even some who share facility with that magic. Even so, there are many ways in which he remains what might well be termed socially conservative within the milieu. And he is guilty of treating Thick as…less than earlier in the present series, with Fitz being the one to voice objection to his attitude. Yet here, Fitz takes the more ableist view, regarding Thick as deficient and needing correction.

But then, nobody gets everything right, certainly not on the first try, and the characters do seem to be learning, which is a good sign.

As always, your kind gift is greatly appreciated!

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I’m easy to work with, I promise.
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Further, I’ve written ad copy; infographics and information summaries; social media materials; grants; research proposals; formal literary research at various lengths; less formal essays on teaching, writing, and media works; book reviews; and various creative works. I’ve also drafted many lesson plans–including linked full-group, in-class individual, and independent-learning activities–as well as assessment materials–including multiple-choice questions and short-answer and essay prompts. And there’re other materials in this very webspace, free for review and consideration!

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A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 270: Golden Fool, Chapter 20

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

The following chapter, “Coterie,” begins with a comment from Fedwren about the political structure of the Six Duchies before turning to Fitz waking in captivity and in pain–again. Another prisoner attends to him, albeit roughly, and Fitz realizes he is one of Chade’s agents. He Skills with Dutiful, who reinforces the coded message Fitz’s fellow prisoner passes along. He is also briefed on his situation with local law enforcement–which is not good, as he is accused of multiple murders.

Looks about right…
Healing by Crooty on DeviantArt, used for commentary.

Fitz slips in and out of consciousness across the ensuing days, his condition worsening. The pretense for extricating Fitz from prison–he had killed in the course of defending himself and Lord Golden’s property–is rehearsed, as is Fitz’s relocation to Lord Golden’s chambers in Buckkeep Castle. Chade, the Fool, Dutiful, and Thick gather together to attempt to heal him via the Skill, failing initially but stumbling at length into an unexpected and extreme healing that addresses not only Fitz’s current injuries–which run to a punctured bowel and blood poisoning–but also a number of others he had incurred over the years.

In the wake of the healing, Fitz realizes that they have inadvertently formed a coterie–and a ragged, unbalanced one. He lapses into unconsciousness again, sleeping several days with few interruptions that he recalls. One is Kettricken tending to him, and they discuss the extent of his healing and her appreciation for his presence, who remembers what she has lost.

I’ll note that there is some deus ex machina at work in the present chapter, although some of it may well be foreshadowed by Kettle. And my comments about the device hold true now as then: it “is not a reason to take on a particular literary atheism.” Agnosticism, perhaps, but not straight-out atheism.

The healing, too, does seem to function as something of a literary climax, although the novel has already featured such. Admittedly, there are multiple narrative threads going on in the novel, in the series, and in the broader corpus; the restoration of the Skill to the Six Duchies could well be taken as such a thread, independent of the political entanglements of the nation-state or the coming-of-age narratives surrounding Dutiful and Elliania. I might someday perhaps work on a larger scholarly project that untangles and interprets such things, or I might only annotate the work someone else does in that line, but I think it might be a thing worth pursuing…

I offer writing and tutoring services at reasonable rates; get in touch!

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 269: Golden Fool, Chapter 19

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

The next chapter, “Laudwine,” opens with an in-milieu commentary about a former King of the Six Duchies, Shield, and the formation of his coterie. It turns to Fitz intercepted by Starling as he heads into Buckkeep Town. A difficult exchange follows that returns the two to friendship although not to intimacy–though Fitz intuits that Chade has been at work again.

Illustration series for the Golden Fool by Robin Hobb
You knew it was coming…
Katrin Sapranova’s Laudwine, used for commentary.

After Starling goes on her way–also into town, where she purposes to mend her relationship with Hap–Fitz proceeds, noting Civil Bresinga’s rapid overtaking of him along the way. In town, Fitz picks up some goods for Thick, and he manages to determine the location of the Piebalds in the town. As he does, he overhears Civil bracing up against the Piebalds, who have held his mother hostage, and he hears them begin to kill Civil as Dutiful Skills to him in a panic. Fitz charges in, and melee ensues. He slays Laudwine and the rest of the present Piebalds, rescuing Civil and bidding him flee, but he suffers substantial injury in the process. Local forces arrive and try to question Fitz as he collapses into unconsciousness.

I recall a comment made about Fitz, namely that “the most distinctive part of [his] fighting style is the incredible way [he has] of surviving it.” It rings true in the present chapter, certainly, with Fitz being stabbed low in the back and losing consciousness at the end of it. Admittedly, Fitz has endured several substantial injuries previously in Hobb’s narration, and that he has functioned as well as he has in their wake does, perhaps, strain credulity to some extent–but Hobb does work with standard fantasy tropes, and superhuman endurance is a commonplace in the genre. The tensions between verisimilitude and the fantastic are persistent in the Elderling corpus, and while I’ve spoken to them previously, there’s doubtlessly more that can be said on the matter–and more than I’m currently positioned to be able to say.

I am, after all, obliged to other work…

I’d appreciate your help in keeping going; if you’ve liked reading what I’ve written, send a little my way!

The Bus Will Come

I know the bed still calls to you
And you long for its embrace
But the shower has attractions, too
And not just a clean face

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Your mom and I have got to go
We have places to be
And so do you, my darling dear,
And, yes, some folks to see

No, we’d rather be with you
Or have you stay with us
But we both must work and earn our pay
And you oughtn’t miss your bus

Your teachers miss your smiling face
Your friends will want to see you, too
And there are things we cannot teach
That need teaching to you

So get up, bathe, dress well, and eat
Your glorious day awaits
Make sure you catch the yellow bus
It’s coming; don’t be late

Want more of my verse? Perhaps some tailored to you? Send me a message; we’ll work something out!

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 268: Golden Fool, Chapter 18

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

A chapter titled “Pink Sugar Cake” follows, beginning with part of an in-milieu treatise on teaching the Skill. It turns to Fitz, as Badgerlock, repairing to Verity’s tower, where Dutiful awaits him with the materials requested for Thick–and more, besides. Badgerlock commends the Prince’s generosity but notes some problems with the specifics, with which the Prince does not argue. They confer about the Piebald situation before parting, Badgerlock leaving an admonishment for Dutiful to go about his business as best he can before he himself takes the goods to Chade’s hidden chamber to await Thick.

Photo by Dayan Rodio on Pexels.com

Thick is waiting for him in the room and is surprised that Badgerlock has provided what was promised, if with noted help from Dutiful. Badgerlock gently plies Thick for more information, taking the opportunity provided by a bath and rough tailoring to do so. He finds himself on the receiving end of Thick’s Skill along the way, unintentionally but not the less powerfully, but he learns much as he tends to his student.

At length, Thick resolves to depart, and Fitz forebears to press further for fear of overplaying his hand. After Thick leaves, Fitz ruminates on what he has learned from him and considers what his course of action will be. His need to think becomes restlessness, and he finds his way to sword practice. In practice, his returned skill in a fight is noted, and determines to go into Buckkeep Town to see Hap, to buy more goods for Thick, and perhaps to scout around a bit.

As I reread the chapter, and as I sat down to write this part of my rereading noted, something happened to me again that used to happen quite often when I was writing more formal papers on Hobb’s novels but that has not happened in a while. I started reading, not plumbing the text for details to fuel insights, but reading for the joy of it. And I looked up to find that nearly an hour had passed, and I was several chapters ahead of where I thought I would be, refreshed despite the hour.

It’s the kind of thing that determined what my plan B would be when I fell back into it, the kind of thing that prompted me to pursue a career engaged with the written word. And it’s the kind of thing it’s good to be reminded of, from time to time.

I’d be happy to put my talents to work for you; let me know what all you need written, and we’ll talk!

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 267: Golden Fool, Chapter 17

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

The subsequent chapter, “Explosions,” begins with a spy’s report to Chade about the Outisland delegation’s return from Buckkeep before turning to Fitz’s sleepless review of information left available by his old mentor. Chade joins him not long after, singed and deafened by the result of one of his experiments gone awry. The two confer haltingly until the late hour compels both to rest.

Man servant.
Yeah, he’s happy…
ThereseOfTheNorth’s Man servant on DeviantArt, used for commentary.

Fitz resumes his role as Badgerlock and goes about morning chores before resuming Skill instruction for Dutiful and Thick. Before the latter enters, Dutiful spies the figurine the two had retrieved from the beach to which they had escaped from the Piebalds, identifying it as Elliania as she would become. They puzzle over events together before Thick joins them, and instruction begins. As it proceeds, some of Thick’s history emerges; he had been put to work as a cut-purse by his mother and her companions, the latter of whom abandoned Thick after his mother died. That Thick has been unwittingly employed as an informant by Piebalds in Buckkeep Town also emerges, as well as the specific targeting of Badgerlock and Golden.

Thick is dismissed, and Badgerlock and Dutiful confer about what they have learned–which includes the presence of Laudwine in Buckkeep Town. Badgerlock warns Dutiful against going out for the next few days, urging him to use a crass excuse for it: “A headache sounds like a ploy. A boil on your ass doesn’t.” Badgerlock urges Dutiful to aid in acquiring some things Thick had noted wanting, and they part to go about their needed tasks.

For Badgerlock, those tasks involve making a clandestine report to Chade. Along the way, he manages to confirm his suspicion that Rosemary is Chade’s present apprentice, as she seems to have suffered similar injuries to Chade’s own. Soon after, Badgerlock returns to Golden’s chambers with accoutrements for them to eat; Chade greets them there, rebuking them both for their folly in being at odds at the moments and receiving Fitz’s report. Chade notes that direct action is politically untenable, as Kettricken will be meeting with a secretive delegation of the Old Blood soon, and he advises Fitz to monitor things but to not intervene. The Fool offers Chade some assistance with his appearance and, as the meeting breaks up, Fitz muses ruefully on his strained relationships.

I note with some interest Fitz’s refusal to dose himself with elfbark early in the chapter. I’ve noted his addiction repeatedly in the rereading series already, so many times that it boots little to cite examples; I don’t think, however, I’ve noted the interaction of his addictions–to his magic and to more “normal” drugs–although my work in the substance use treatment center showed me that many who experience addiction to one thing also experience it with others. That is, few who have a chemical dependency have it with only one chemical, in my experience. More interesting, though, is that Fitz rejects the chemical not because of its health effects, but because of its interpersonal effects–and that does seem to mirror what I saw from many clients; the degradation of their own bodies did not push them to seek treatment so much as the degradation of their social connections, whether shown by running afoul of legal authorities (law enforcement or family protective services) or by the intervention of their families and friends. Just an observation, really, at this point.

I’d be happy to put my talents to work for you; let me know what all you need written, and we’ll talk!

Breathe Deep

Breathe deep, indeed…
Image from TPWD, which makes it public domain, I believe.

The limestone hills
Clad in their oak and cedar
Cypress at the riverside
And mesquite in many places
Put on bright clothing in the spring
Lady Bird’s old fashion line that
Took root in other places but
Is never worn so well as around her home

But the bouquet that greets the nose most times
Does not smell as a rose by any name
It is instead the musk of another flower
All too often pressed
Again and again
By those hurrying along their way
And though they do not stop to smell that rose
They do not need to as the miles go by

If you’d care to support my further literary efforts, I’d be grateful!

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 266: Golden Fool, Chapter 16

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

The following chapter, “Fathers,” begins with a brief in-milieu commentary about trans-oceanic trade to Jamaillia before taking up some days after Fitz’s meeting with Kettricken. Lord Golden resumes his social schedule, but the Fool remains absent from Fitz. Badgerlock begins to teach Dutiful and Thick the Skill, meeting some resistance from the Prince, who feels himself affronted. Thick is somewhat more tractable, but a tense exchange ensues, nonetheless. At the end of it, an accord is reached, Dutiful and Thick agreeing to Badgerlock’s tutelage.

I do so love her work.
Katrin Sapranova’s Swift and Burrich, used for commentary.

A summons from Chade calls Badgerlock away, and Fitz stalks through the hidden passages of Buckkeep to answer it. He finds a meeting in progress between Swift, a son of Burrich who has answered the summons Kettricken issued for the Witted, since Burrich’s antipathy towards the Wit is well known. Burrich arrives shortly after, and Swift is dismissed while he, Chade, and Kettricken confer. Burrich refuses permission for his son to enter the Queen’s service, preferring instead to do what he can to work him into enough discipline to resist use of the Wit; he cites Fitz, whom he believes long and ignominously dead due to having recovered his pin from Shrewd, as an example of what the Wit can do. As Burrich departs, Chade calls to Fitz to note the option to meet again with the man who had raised him.

Fitz declines, but goes out into Buckkeep Town, checking on Jinna–who is absent–and Hap–who is at work where he should be. He goes to the Stuck Pig again, and he is again confronted by Svanja’s father, Rorh Hartshorn. A melee ensues and is broken up by the City Guard–as Hap watches, sorrowing over the ruination of his prospects with Svanja. The youth berates his foster-father, and Fitz recognizes his own youthful impetuousness regarding Molly. Hap calms and apologizes, and Badgerlock sends him off warmly, returning to Buckkeep Castle–and passing Burrich and Swift along the way. He finds the Fool still enwrapped in his role as Lord Golden, and he retires for the evening.

Sleeping, he is again contacted by Nettle, whom he calms with news of Burrich’s return and Swift’s. Thick also reaches out to him, backhandedly thanking him for quieting Nettle’s upset. And another voice speaks to him strangely through the Skill, unsettling him utterly.

From the vantage of rereading, I know well what that last voice is, and it is one that has been encountered before in the rereading series. I’ll not offer more on the matter for the moment; I’ve been told that there are first-time readers who are looking at my summaries and commentaries, which flatters me (hi, folks!) and warns me against doing too much in the way of spoilers. I make no promises save that I’ll try not to make too many mistakes in that line. (And happy reading to you new folks!)

From that same vantage, as well as simply from narrative structures and patterns, it’s clear that Burrich and Swift will both be making other appearances in the text, as will Nettle. It’s a regular family reunion brewing, really…

I’d be happy to put my talents to work for you; let me know what all you need written, and we’ll talk!