The succeeding chapter, “Chade’s Tower,” begins with comments from an in-milieu source regarding the formation of the Hetgurd, an alliance of Out Island holdings meant to unify them Out Islands against attack and to normalize trade relations. It turns to track Fitz’s return to Buckkeep at Chade’s summons, and to describe Buckkeep itself. Fitz notes the many changes that have occurred in his boyhood home as he returns in disguise to it.
When, under darkness, Fitz returns to Buckkeep Castle itself, the Fool greets him, assigning him a role as servant to Lord Golden, the latter his own role. The Fool rehearses some of the needed reasoning, emphasizing to Fitz the seriousness of the masquerade they must both perform, and takes him in. Fitz marvels at yet more changes and is afflicted by nostalgia as he progresses behind Lord Golden to the latter’s sumptuous quarters. Said quarters have a small room for Fitz’s use as Tom Badgerlock, one which offers passage to Chade’s secret chambers.
After being “dismissed” by Lord Golden and welcomed back by the Fool, Fitz proceeds to meet with Chade, once again taken by nostalgia as he moves along the network of hidden passages. After a brief exchange of pleasantries, and while Fitz eats, Chade notes the current dilemma: the heir to the Six Duchies, Prince Dutiful, is missing. He is also rumored to wield the Wit magic, with all the attendant problems thereupon. Chade also notes the activities of the Piebalds and their social campaigns. He further muses on the political instability at large in the Six Duchies, noting that Dutiful’s absence or transformation into the kind of being Fitz was after returning from death would end the kingdom.
Matters are further complicated by the impending marital alliance with the Out Islands via the Hetgurd, and Fitz realizes that his old mentor’s age is beginning to tell upon him as Chade relates more of the prevailing situation to him. Chade asserts that Fitz’s Skill can prevail in retrieving the prince, despite his protestations, and, after a few choice questions and comments, he accepts the charge to retrieve the prince, and he begins to be briefed on what he needs to know.
A couple of things prompt my attention. For one, I’ve often noted the parallels to addiction and what I’ve seen of others’ experience with it while I was working at the substance abuse treatment center; Hobb flatly links the two in Fitz’s musing that “A surge of exhilaration came with that thought [that he could Skill well]. It was probably, I told myself viciously, much the same as what a drunk felt on discovering a forgotten bottle beneath the bed.” So that puts that out there; those more adept in addiction studies than I–I administered, I did not provide treatment–could doubtlessly say more on the topic than I ought to attempt.
A second is the nostalgia that afflicts Fitz as he returns to Buckkeep. Again, I find myself reading affectively, if perhaps at some remove. I did not expect that I would ever live in Kerrville again after moving off to New York City late in my graduate studies; while I did not end things there as a dead man, I did not end them well, and I certainly felt some guilt at moving back to the city in 2016. Yet even with that, I found myself marveling at the changes to things no less than the ways in which things had remained as I had left them. It was a strange tension that has since subsided; years living in the place made it familiar again, and now, I no longer live there again. But I remember it all too well, and I find myself feeling for Fitz again–which is probably as I am meant to do, as far as purpose can be trusted.