A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 283: Fool’s Fate, Chapter 6

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


The following chapter, “Voyage of Dreams,” begins with a translation of a scroll regarding the Wit before moving into Fitz’s travails attending on the vehemently seasick Thick. The ship’s crew mocks Thick relentlessly, but nothing can be done lest worse repercussions follow, and Fitz comes to realize that Thick’s outpouring of Skill is having unintended effects for all aboard.

Sadly true…
Cotton Vitellius A XV, f 200 v, at the British Library, used for commentary.

Fitz pleads through the Skill for aid, learning to his surprise that Swift had taken ship along with them, and Chade and Dutiful come at length to assist him with Thick and confer. Chade notes his work to hinder the Fool’s departure from Buckkeep, and Fitz muses over the machinations with some regret. And ministrations towards Thick progress to little effect.

Later, as Thick sleeps fitfully, Web joins Fitz in his vigil, the two conferring about theology for a bit before Fitz asks Web about Swift. The conversation prods Fitz, and Web withdraws, leaving Fitz to realize what he has done and finding some shame in it until he is joined by Riddle. The two confer, Riddle reporting news from the guard company; matters deteriorate among them as among the ship’s crew.

Fitz reaches out to Dutiful and Chade for assistance again, the three conferring and finding there is little they can do for their companion. Fitz grows increasingly concerned for Thick and the situation, and Web approaches him again. After a prickly exchange, Web offers to watch Thick; Fitz, authorized to do so, allows it, and he marvels at Web’s insights and fretfully considers the state of affairs aboard ship.

Settling in to sleep, Fitz finds himself again assailed by Thick’s Skilling. He is not the only one, Nettle having entered the dreamscape in which Thick has enmeshed them, and she rages against Fitz for her brother’s absence despite his promises to her. She agrees to assist with Thick, despite her anger at him, and accepts a message to convey to Burrich. Through her Skill in dream, Nettle calms Thick, dismissing Fitz’s assertion of her magical prowess.

I have noted before that Hobb makes much of verisimilitude in the mundanities of her setting, referencing her own comments to that effect. The introductory blurb on the present chapter is another instance of her doing so, and one that speaks to my medievalist self. One of the challenges that faces scholars of medieval literature is that relatively little survives. Little enough was produced, given the difficulties of making text happen. Materials fade over time, physical objects decaying with the passage of years–and then there is mischance such as the Cotton Library fire, which resulted in much loss (about which some information here). It’s not necessarily something that a general readership will consider, but it is something that many readers of fantasy literature–there’s a lot of overlap with medievalists–will have in mind. Seeing it in print adds to the authenticity of Hobb’s narrative world for me, something else I appreciate about her writing.

Can I count on your support?

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