The following chapter, “Resumption,” opens with a brief verse before turning to Fitz’s return to Buckkeep–with difficulty. Fitz makes to transit through the Skill-pillars and finds himself adrift amid the void, where a comforting voice recognizes him and helps him to reintegrate himself with himself. The voice offers a warning and ejects him out into the world, where he slumbers until dawn.
Waking, Fitz finds himself ill and reaches out through the Skill to Thick, Dutiful, and Chade, who Skill out a series of questions to him and retrieve him back to Buckkeep with some aspersion. Fitz is treated for his seeming infirmities, and he slowly returns to life in Buckkeep. Amid that, he is summoned to a meeting of Dutiful’s Skill coterie, in which Nettle is markedly displeased with him, having been made aware of his true identity and relationship to her. Fitz reports his experiences to the coterie, which does not ease matters; afterward, Dutiful and he confer, Dutiful remarking on events with Nettle.
Following Dutiful’s remarks, Chade takes his turn with Fitz, reporting on the Fool’s arrival and departure during the time Fitz spent trapped between the Skill-pillars. He also notes Hap’s circumstances; Fitz’s foster-son has lost his apprenticeship and is spending time among performing folk. Chade additionally comments on the largely stabilized political situation in the Six Duchies that has resulted from Fitz’s decisions and the actions taken based upon them. Dealings with and among the Old Blood also receive attention.
Chade leaves Fitz, and Fitz considers the gifts the Fool has left for him. One is the poem with which the chapter begins. Another is a carved Skill-stone that contains memories of Fitz, the Fool, and Nighteyes together.
Nostalgic, Fitz stalks out through Buckkeep, where he encounters Starling. She notes Hap’s likely whereabouts and her own situation–happily pregnant despite earlier beliefs. They part amiably, and Fitz makes his way to the tavern Starling noted Hap frequents. The two confer about their deeds and doings, Hap noting that he is becoming a minstrel, endorsed by Starling and apprenticing to an older minstrel to learn the ways of that profession in detail. They talk, too, about Hap’s lapsed romantic interest, and they part again, Fitz returning to Buckkeep to call on Patience and Lacey. The three talk together for a time, and Lacey notes where Fitz can find Molly at last.
I note, among other things, the mention of Pecksies in the current chapter. It escapes me at the moment if they have been mentioned previously–but they are real within the Six Duchies, and I’ve written somewhat about them previously, in addition to other mention. At the appropriate time, I will return to them–clearly, since the rereading series will not only treat the Elderlings novels.
The current chapter does seem to display to me some of the problem I’ve noted in Hobb’s writing at other times: the tendency to rush at the end. Admittedly, the novel is in a denouement, with the major conflict resolved; the sweep of the epic within which the novel takes place is more or less done at this point in the text. (And, yes, I am using somewhat formal definition of an epic, here; there is an underlying grand heroic conflict that determines the fates of peoples rather than of people, which was also true in both the Farseer and Liveship Traders novels. Here, though, the focus is not on the epic hero so much as what would be a foil in a more traditional epic–not quite the Wiglaf to Dutiful’s Beowulf or the Merlin to his Arthur, but still…) It makes sense that things to be wrapped up would be wrapped up, and narrative constraints do tend to call for things to be wrapped up, unlike in life where many things simply end rather than resolving. Still, I feel…hurried along, and I’m not sure I like it.
Whether because of narrative sensibilities or once-again-over-affect, I want it to last a little longer.