The second chapter, “Sons,” opens with an in-milieu historical gloss of the foundation of Buckkeep by a settling Out Island raider named Taker. It pivots to Fitz’s continued preparations to accompany Dutiful to the Out Islands, including his tutoring in the Out Island language and his instruction of Swift. The latter grates on him somewhat, not least because the boy continues to be almost belligerent about his Wit, and Fitz seeks out Web. Getting to him alone takes some doing, but Fitz achieves it through indelicate means, and during their conversation, Web lets Fitz know that he knows his true identity. He also agrees to teach Swift–if Swift seeks him out–and extends the same offer to Fitz.
Unsettled, Fitz makes to mull over the matter and goes in to Buckkeep Town to distract himself. There, he meets with Hap, who admits to him that he is falling in with Svanja again, despite her clear perfidy. He notes the likelihood that he is being deceived, but also notes that he cannot help himself. The two talk together as amiably as might be expected, and they part in familial love. Afterward, Fitz walks through the town, considering changes, the prospects of unpleasant travel, and the looming confrontation with the Fool over his not going to Aslevjal.
Fitz notes that the reputation of the Fool as Lord Golden has grown obscene and prodigal. He puzzles over the changes to his friend, even in an already flamboyant persona, musing that some are merely covers for his intent to go to Aslevjal and to maintain information on Bingtown and points south. After witnessing an exchange that bears in on Lord Golden’s finances and being seen by the man himself, Fitz returns to Buckkeep alone.
A couple of points attract my interest in the present chapter. One is the encyclopedic entry at the beginning. I’ve commented on Hobb’s use of the device before, several times, and I note that the story is not dissimilar to that of the entry of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes into what is now England–or, indeed, the Danes centuries later. Indeed, it’s a point worth remembering that many, many peoples live now where others lived before, and they maintain kinship with those where they themselves came from. It’s not always easy or comfortable to remember, of course, and it does tend to run afoul of nationalist assumptions and assertions, but there it is.
The other, and this is eminently affective, is the exchange between Fitz and Hap over Svanja and Hap’s apprenticeship. I am not so far removed from the experience of being a teenager
as I should like to be as keeps me from recalling it–including the strength of hormone-driven infatuation and the equally hormone-driven anger at people not sharing adolescent certainty. Nor am I so far removed from Fitz’s experience of seeing one’s child doing something…inadvisable…and being unable to prevent it (at least without taking steps that are themselves…objectionable). Again, I feel for the characters involved–which is to the narrative’s credit. Readers are supposed to feel for the characters, after all…