A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 265: Golden Fool, Chapter 15

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

The next chapter, “Quarrel,” opens with an in-milieu commentary on what might be called tourist attractions in the Out Islands. The text pivots thence to Fitz ruminating on Thick and on his own comments to Chade not long before. At length, he recalls having received intelligence, which he begins to review. As he does, he finds confirmation that his true identity is known, and by those he can least afford to have know it; he mulls over the implications of it and of the ensuing events.

It doesn’t go well for either of them, no.
Katrin Sapranova’s The Quarrel, used for commentary.

Fitz determines to discuss matters openly with Chade and with the Fool, and he goes off to sleep–poorly, against Nettle’s dream-driven Skill-work. The next morning, he rises and collects Lord Golden’s breakfast in his guise as Badgerlock, and is bidden take a small flower arrangement along with the tray. Returning to the chamber, he asks the Fool for a whistle for Thick before confronting him about the performance of Amber with Jek. It does not go well for either of them, leaving each of them emotionally wounded by the other. The problem is exacerbated by the Fool’s illness, and Fitz chews sullenly over his old words and older recriminations for the next several days as the Fool keeps to himself and the Bingtown delegation departs.

Kettricken occasions comment by riding out to interrupt an execution, redeeming the accused and imposing a stiff injunction against the offending community. Controversy surrounding treatment of the Witted emerges as she issues a call for a Witted delegation to attend to her. And, after an exchange with Chade, Fitz is admitted to attend upon her, as well. They confer about Nettle, their conversation prickly but ending in amity.

I note with some satisfaction that the concern I voice in commenting on the previous chapter, that promises made to Fitz seem to be up for renegotiation, is addressed in the present chapter. I note, too, that the tensions among characters are not brought up and dismissed, even as Fitz makes changes to his behavior (or starts to do so). It’s not so easy to set aside years of practice, particularly when those years are angry ones full of impetuous decisions that end up causing no small harm. It’s something that, like Fitz, I learned (insofar as I have learned it; I’m not a good student in all subjects) far later than ought to have been the case.

There’s a reason “to teach and to delight” have long been called the ends of literature…

I should note, too, before I forget, that many of the works treated in the Fedwren Project speak explicitly to the Fool’s performance across gender roles, the very thing for which Fitz unsuccessfully tries to upbraid the other. That the attempt is unsuccessful says something worth considering, I think…

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


I have not been followed by
Anything that could flee from me
Driven by my backward glance
Instead, when I follow Orpheus
Approach the threshold of the living world
What I see clings more tightly to me
Swallows me more greedily than any who
Have drunk the broth that I prepare
Few as they have been

So inviting…
Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

They occasion no worry
Being no maenads
And I not mourning my wife
She lives yet, and well
And my hand-plucking is nothing eagerly sought
But they may be dryads
Their trees growing stuntedly twisted
Gnarled in bark and bough from infertile soil
And being watered but little
And that of salty waters

No branch grows straight if tended thus
No bole proud and sturdy
No spirit succored from such sure
And what can wizened whispers thus created do
Save sing discordant hymns in despite of the gardener
No more harmonious than the awkward and halting chords
Fingers find upon the fretless boards
Quiet voices ringing in the silence only
Because they hold so closely to the ear
Clinging desperately where they have held purchase
Drawing darkness after them and with themselves
Underworld brought over and unreleased

The threshold might as well be a wall
Founded so deeply and built so high
It cannot be crossed

I’d still 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 264: Golden Fool, Chapter 14

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

The succeeding chapter, “Scrolls,” begins with part of an in-milieu folk tale before marking the departure of the Outislanders from Buckkeep. Fitz rehearses some of the fallout from the challenges Elliania and Dutiful had put to one another, as well as arrangements for Dutiful’s coming trip to the Outislands and his itinerary therein. He notes that many Six Duchies nobles also began to depart, but that the Bingtown delegation did not. This includes Jek, around whom Fitz continues to be markedly uncomfortable.

We’re getting here…
Pink sugar cakes by Katrin Sapranova, here, used for commentary.

Fitz also notes that Laurel is gone. Chade has precious little information to offer, only noting that the Queen gave her permission to go out and agreed to keep the nature of the errand a secret. Rumor reports that Laudwine is returning to power among the Pieblads, and Fitz mulls over developments with Dutiful and Thick, both. He also notes his certainty of a Wit-using spy in Buckkeep (other than himself), one that had possibly compromised Chade’s hidden chambers. When Chade and Thick arrive in those chambers, Fitz is distracted from his intent to discuss that concern by Chade’s own worries. And Kettricken’s command that a dedicated search for Skill-users be conducted, which includes Nettle.

Fitz balks at the idea and muses on his insufficiencies. He manages to get Chade to agree to request of Kettricken that she leave Nettle out of things, albeit begrudgingly. And he does report his suspicion of the Wit-using spy, providing evidence to support the conjecture. Chade notes worsening affairs among the Bresingas at Galekeep, positing that the Piebalds are using the estate to regroup and reorganize. The old assassin provides some additional documents to Fitz and leaves Thick in his care. Fitz finds himself comparing his attitude towards Thick to Galen‘s toward himself, and he begins to soften towards him. He finds himself empathizing with Thick more and more, seeing himself in the other.

A couple of things stand out to me as I reread the chapter this time. One is that Nettle is strangely back in play as a bargaining item among the Farseers. If memory serves, Fitz had already successfully secured agreement, and more than once, that Nettle would not be roped into service to the Farseer throne, particularly with the Skill; that matters have shifted to require another negotiation…I’m not sure if it was an authorial / editorial nodding-off (quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus–aut Robin) or a retraction from Kettricken or what. Still, it invites attention, and not necessarily good attention, either.

The other is the strange position Fitz takes with Thick. It is not until he begins to see himself in Thick that he begins to treat him kindly, really. I know that much of the appeal of the Fitz-centric novels–of the Elderlings novels, generally–is that their protagonists are flawed, and Fitz does have reason to dislike Thick; he is something of an ass to him. But it still smacks of…problems that Fitz does not react well until he can begin to equate Thick to himself. After all, a person shouldn’t need to experience mistreatment to believe it happens, or to know that it’s wrong…

Let’s start out the new year right!