A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 303: Fool’s Fate, Chapter 26

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

The next chapter, “Healings,” begins with in-milieu commentary by Fedwren regarding Chalcedean slave tattooing and manumission. It pivots to Fitz musing on what the battle recently ended has left behind it as the combatants attend to themselves and he, himself, begins to take in the death of the Fool as he makes his way to Burrich. As Fitz reaches the man who raised him, Burrich dismisses the rest–including Swift–and lays out his final intent to Fitz; he bids his erstwhile ward take care of his family and wed Molly at long last. Swift is summoned back, and the rest move to comfort Burrich in his final pains as best they can as they strike camp and return to the shore of Aslevjal.

You’ve come a long way, baby…
Image is from Tess Fowler on Tumblr and is used for commentary.

Fitz assesses the losses and confers with the guard captain that had accompanied Dutiful. They laugh bitterly together, and Fitz sees to Thick, who has been billeted with the captain. More conference follows, and, in the morning, Fitz asks if the Skill coterie can attempt to heal Burrich. The attempt is made, and it does not succeed, but the energies that are marshaled to that effect are directed by Thick into the other injured. Those efforts succeed, and Thick is acclaimed by all who witness.

Reports are exchanged afterward, Fitz learning much of what had transpired on the island under the tyranny of the Pale Woman. Fitz and Swift also confer at length, largely about Burrich, as their descent to the shore proceeds. More reports follow, chiefly from Riddle, and the party reaches the shore to await retrieval. And on the shore, Fitz guides a slow healing of the Narcheska, directing the Skill of others to remove the tattoos that had been inflicted upon her by the Pale Woman, completing it just as the ships arrive to bear the party away.

It strikes me as of interest that the chapter leads in with tattooing as a marker of enforced servitude. That the Fool and Elliania are both tattooed and compelled does not escape me; that they are both tattooed with the forms of dragons to mark their compulsion–as is Wintrow, even if it was not widely known at the time–does not, either. (Admittedly, the motif is somewhat frustrated in the milieu by Patience’s tattooing, although that case might well be understood as a divergence of cultural practice and Patience’s own repeatedly attested eccentricities.) The practice and its emergence in several places within the milieu would seem to link that milieu more firmly to itself, which is a good thing from a worldbuilding standpoint; one of the things that mars a text is when the world it depicts does not work the same way consistently, while seeing things kept in place serves to bolster the narrative quality of a fantasy world.

Help me move into the summer in style!

3 thoughts on “A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 303: Fool’s Fate, Chapter 26

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