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.
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.