And happy Sousa Day!
The following chapter, “An Exchange of Weapons,” opens with a passage ostensibly written by Fedwren of Hod, Weaponsmaster at Buckkeep late in Shrewd’s reign. It turns to Fitz’s consideration of his possessions and work to secure them against his absence and his trip to the Outislands as part of Dutiful’s guard. He is interrupted in the work by Dutiful, to whom he gives the sword that Verity had wielded and given him just before entering his dragon. At the gift, Dutiful bids Fitz wait; he departs and returns with Chivalry’s sword, and Fitz considers the blades as he and Dutiful handle them. To Dutiful he remarks that he appreciates the gesture of being given his father’s sword, but he cannot bear it, noting the reasons why he cannot. Dutiful accepts the reasoning but makes a substantial gesture in reply that moves Fitz.
In the wake of the exchange, Fitz reaches for some connection to his late father, but finds none. Sleeping, he finds himself drawn to Nettle again in dream, and the two confer about a dilemma she has, having illicitly helped Swift come to court against his parents’ wishes. Tintaglia intrudes into the dream, assailing Fitz until dismissed by Nettle, and Fitz wakes.
In the morning, Fitz breakfasts in one of the castle gardens, where he is approached by Starling. She suspects that her husband is unfaithful, and the two commiserate for a time. After, Fitz heads to the Queen’s Garden, where Swift awaits him; he rebukes the boy for his deceit and sharply sends him home.
I am taken, as might be thought, by the titular exchange of weapons. Sentimental as I am, I cannot help but be moved by Dutiful’s assertion to Fitz that “when I take your father’s sword from you, I will return my father’s sword to you”; it is a boyish thing, perhaps, but it is one that bespeaks a shared experience of growing up cared for but without a parent (although, as in many things, Dutiful has a far easier time of it than Fitz–but then, he isn’t the protagonist, really). And it may be that I remain boy enough to appreciate such things boyishly, though that might come as a surprise to many.