The next chapter, “Feathers in a Fool’s Cap,” opens with an in-milieu folk-tale before turning to Fitz’s experience in a mental world created by his donning the Rooster Crown. Fitz is aware of other personae inhabiting him, performers much as the Fool had masqueraded as being, and he contemplates the experience amid his awareness of the Fool’s death and bodily decay. The nature of the personae–performers favored of dragons in the days of the Elderlings–is made clear to Fitz, and he hears the Fool’s own voice, coming from his blood in the Crown itself.
The performers in the feathers attempt to expel the Fool from the Crown, and Fitz recalls his experience being taken from Nighteyes’s body back into his own. The recollection gives him insight into what he can do now, and he plies his magics in tandem to bring the Fool back to life as himself. The exercise gives Fitz substantial insight into his long-time friend, and in the wake of the working, the two are exhausted. The Fool’s convalescence begins, Fitz nursing him along as gently as he can, contrasting the Fool’s experiences with his own. At length, the Fool is able to eat and drink, and he and Fitz confer about events, the Fool voicing some misgivings about how Fitz arranged matters. And Fitz continues to offer what comfort he can against what his friend has endured.
I remember, back when I was working on my master’s thesis, my advisor, Chris Healy, told me he had read the books about which I was writing–and that the present chapter had stood out to him as doing much to advance the idea of what might then have been and would certainly now be called a queer studies approach to the text. It’s far from the only thing that would, as the Fedwren Project attests and as I’ve commented on more than one occasion before. Somehow, I find myself in mind of the conversation again–perhaps because it has been a decade since my doctorate, now, and fifteen years since mastery.
I don’t have as much to show for either as might once have been hoped.