The penultimate chapter of the novel, “Negotiations,” opens with an in-milieu proverb: “One man armed with the right word may do what an army of swordsmen cannot.” It proceeds thence to continued discussions between the Old Blood delegation and Kettricken’s court. Web suggests that much might be eased by Kettricken taking Old Blood people openly into her household, and he offers himself as one such–doing so with remarkable grace and to evident acceptance.
Fitz watches as the Old Blood delegation dines, sans Web, and continues watching afterward as negotiations begin to stall out. Boyo tries to bring up personal grievances and is shunted aside in favor of more global concerns. Silvereye voices historical grievances and calls for extensive retributive justice, only to be rebuffed. Matters degrade, only to be interrupted by one of the Old Blood needing to attend to her gravid Wit-bonded animal. Fitz continues to observe from hiding, joined by Chade; they watch as Silvereye reveals herself to be affiliated with the Piebalds. Civil Bresinga joins the meeting, confessing himself and pleading on the Farseers’ behalf; his testimony sways opinion, and the meeting with the Old Blood delegation ends with far better prospects than it began. Civil discloses his Wit to the court, and legal reforms are proclaimed. The delegates are returned to their people, Dutiful returned, and things seem very much improved.
I note Fitz’s assertion that Web “sounded more like a Jhaampe Wise-man settling a dispute than a spokesman for the Old Blood” early in the chapter, and I delight in having more parallels between the Old Blood and the Mountain Kingdom. It’s a pleasure to see more evidence to support an idea I have, of course–although, again, a targeted reading would be needed to see if the notion can be borne out.
For those reading along with my little series–thank you! I’m glad to know that folks are looking at what I write here, and I’m happier to know that it’s doing some folks some good (I’ve gotten a few messages to that end). It may not be much, but if I’ve made your day a little better, then it’s worth doing.