A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 235: Fool’s Errand, Chapter 15

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

The succeeding chapter, “Galeton,” opens with an in-milieu discussion of the Piebalds before pivoting to Fitz as Badgerlock, the Fool as Golden, and Laurel arriving at the ferry to Galeton, where they are forced to wait; they converse to pass the time. Talk turns to potentially dangerous places as Fitz attempts to sound Laurel out, interrupted by the appearance, however fleeting, of Nighteyes. Golden arrives shortly after, escorting Laurel off and leaving Fitz to ruminate. NIghteyes rejoins him, and the two confer through the Wit.

The three riders.
Rescue Team from Katrin Sapranova’s Tumblr, used for commentary.

Golden and Laurel summon Badgerlock back in time to board the ferry and cross the river it spans, and they proceed to Galeton in the night. Lady Bresinga and her son, Civil, welcome the party with their household, and Fitz determines that Old Blood are present among the entourage. Golden and Laurel are taken off to formal greetings, while Badgerlock is left to unpack and see to Golden’s quartering. The multiplicity of the Fool’s lives breaks upon him while he does so, and Nighteyes reports initial scouting efforts as Badgerlock is bidden attend on Golden at dinner that evening. After he prepares for the duty, he is taken aside and confronted with his own appearance; when he takes the time to present well, he presents well. After a brief exchange with the Fool as Fool, Fitz as Badgerlock accompanies Lord Golden to the meal.

Some of what gives the lie to the idea of the Wit as metaphor for homosexuality emerges in the present chapter; there are decidedly homoerotic overtones in the text at this point. Admittedly, sources I’ve annotated do a better job of explicating such things than I am equipped to do; while I am back in the classroom, I am not back into my scholarship in earnest, although I am striving to be so. In some ways, the energy fairly crackles toward the end of the present chapter; from the vantage of rereading, I can attest that it moves further as the Tawny Man novels continue. How much so, though, will have to wait for later chapters’ discussions.

Any chance you can send some help my way?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 234: Fool’s Errand, Chapter 14

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

The next chapter, “Laurel,” begins with a musing on the stone with which the Elderlings built before turning to Fitz waking in the bed in Chade’s hidden chambers, still fully clothed. He assesses his situation as Chade arrives, noting a coming breakfast with Lord Golden and a coming expedition to Galeton. The two exchange information, Fitz reporting his Skill-sharing and Chade noting the lack of romantic entanglements for Prince Dutiful. Chade also notes that matters are being prepared for Hap to have a chance to succeed.

The titular vision…
Image from Talking about the Weather, here, used for commentary

Fitz begins to attend to his errands in his guise as Badgerlock, including making arrangements for Hap. Despite worries, he notes being eager to get underway, and he is comforted by a brief touch of the Wit from the approaching Nighteyes. He reports being called to an errand before the wolf breaks contact, and when he returns to Buckkeep proper, he is bidden report to Lord Golden at once. There, he is informed that the Queen has bidden her Huntswoman, Laurel, join the pair, and they pack to depart.

Laurel meets Golden and Badgerlock as they make to depart, and they go out together, exchanging backgrounds as they do. After they are clear of Buckkeep Town, Golden urges haste, and the horses all leap into gallops, Badgerlock’s fractious mount outstripping the other two as they proceed.

The musing early in the chapter on the tensions between love and duty as they applied to Fitz in his youth, and how Chade and Kettricken have steered Dutiful away from encountering such entanglements, resonates strangely with me as I read the chapter once again. I’m fortunate enough not to have experienced such a thing; my loyalties are neatly ordered and not in conflict, and I met my wife when we were both in graduate school–neither of us were children at that point. But I cannot help but feel for the as-yet unmet Prince Dutiful, bearing an emblematic name as is so often the case among the Six Duchies nobility and royalty, and one that constrains him mightily despite his youth–no less than his position as the sole heir to an uncertain throne must.

Help me get ready for Halloween?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 233: Fool’s Errand, Chapter 13

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

A chapter titled “Bargains” follows, opening with a brief in-milieu commentary on hunting cats before turning to Fitz receiving a clandestine evening summons to the Queen. As he answers it, he rehearses his progress through the day, including an extended musing on weapons practice with Prince Dutiful’s training partner and his assessment of the boy as a solitary figure. He also notes having infiltrated and inspected Dutiful’s suite, as well as his old castle room–which is largely unchanged and untended. When he returns to Lord Golden’s chambers, he accidentally stumbles into a magical experiment the Fool had been conducting, which unsettles him badly, and the Fool passes along the message that Chade wants to see him.

Queen Kettricken
Illustration series for the Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb
She is our queen!
Queen Kettricken by Katrin Sapranova, image used for commentary.

Chade conducts Fitz to the Queen through hidden passages, commenting on their construction along the way. She welcomes Fitz warmly, and after a remarkably friendly exchange, their talk turns to the recovery of Dutiful. Fitz reports that he has no information to offer, and Kettricken affords him two more days to make progress before she will make public the prince’s disappearance. She also grants him full access to the spy tunnels, Fitz musing on what that access will cost him and what it has likely cost Chade. And he agrees to ply his Skill to the extent of his ability, despite knowing what will come afterwards.

Afterward, Chade conducts Fitz back to his hidden chambers, and they confer. The source of the gift of a hunting cat to Dutiful is noted: the Bresingas of Galeton. Fitz advances the idea that a Wit-bond has been offered to the prince without his knowledge or understanding, used to lure him in. At length, Fitz begins to ply his Skill again, and though he does not find Dutiful, he does suffer the deleterious effects of working that magic. Chade eases him as best he can without elfbark, and Fitz suffers the pain poorly. Amid it and Chade’s questions, he notes needing to gather coin for Hap’s apprenticeship; Chade is offended that Fitz thought he must bargain himself so, that he has trusted so few. He sets aside his offense, however, and sends Fitz off to rest as best he can. And as Fitz’s mind slips between wakefulness and sleep, he becomes aware of Dutiful and his location: Galeton.

Fitz’s experience in Skilling rings true for me, not because I have such powers, and not because I am an addict as he is depicted as being, but because I worked with addicts for some time. His rage at having been robbed of his elfbark and his carryme–something of a narcotic, as described–read to me very much like the reactions of addicts to the loss of their preferred substance. So is his swift repentance; I’ve seen no few snap and apologize immediately, and while some might follow Chade and note that “sorry” only works so many times, others might recognize the changes to brain structures and chemistries that chemical dependencies cause. I, at least, tend to be more sympathetic–but that’s me; again, I’ve not been an addict or suffered at the hands of one, so I know my opinions come from places of privilege. Others’ experiences differ; so, too, will their readings.

Any way you could help would be welcomed!

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 232: Fool’s Errand, Chapter 12

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

The next chapter, “Charms,” begins with an in-milieu commentary about Kettricken’s tenure as Queen of the Six Duchies. It pivots to Fitz returning to his assigned quarters, assessing them and weighing options. He frets over Hap and Nighteyes and rehearses some of what Chade told him and showed him of the remaining available Skill scrolls before waxing eloquent about once-Skillmaster Galen‘s deficiencies. His thoughts turn to the problem of Prince Dutiful, and he reaches out to Nighteyes through the Wit. Reassured by the psychic contact, he falls asleep at last.

Getting to work…
Image from Faceless Frey’s Tumblr, here, used for commentary.

Fitz wakes the next morning to the aspersive words of the Fool as Lord Golden; the pretense drops swiftly as the Fool reminds Fitz of the roles they must play together in the present circumstances. Fitz has some pangs at his preparation for the role of Tom Badgerlock, servingman, and he goes about expected tasks. Once again, he finds himself nostalgic and marking differences between the Buckkeep of his youth and that of his present–though he notes some things remain in place. He happens to see the Queen and marvels at her until he is rebuked by a passing petty noble, and he forces himself into his role despite his anger. That anger inspires him to make some adjustments to the basic role he plays for the Fool-as-Lord-Golden; the adjustments are approved, the two converse, and Golden sends Badgerlock out on some morning errands.

When Badgerlock goes about the errands, Fitz muses on his relative invisibility as a servingman. He also takes in as much gossip and information as he can while he is fitted for new clothes and seeks out a working weapon. He also seeks out Jinna, asking her to relay a message to Hap; she offers instead to host the young man for a time, and Fitz has the strange experience of being Wit-addressed by Jinna’s cat. Jinna also offers Badgerlock some warning about recent animus against Old Blood, noting that his demeanor is not one that normally sets people at ease; she offers him a hedge-magic charm to assist with that, one that works even on her, and they start to act on it when Jinna’s niece, Miskya, arrives. Introductions are made, and Badgerlock returns to Buckkeep proper, seeking the weaponsmaster.

There is much to note about the performance of social roles and concerns of social strata in the present chapter. Fitz lampshades no small amount of it, noting his own contrasting statuses as a servingman presently and formerly as a (bastard) prince of the realm; others, notably Jinna, comment on the lower social status that comes with employment, even if it affords Badgerlock more material wealth than he was able to command in his small, independent holding near Forge. As ever, it is perilous to read with affect, but, as ever, I cannot help but do so, and with my recent relocation and shift in employment, I have had both an elevation and a reduction in social status, even as I am making more money in the classroom than at the treatment facility. The chapter, as well as experience, remind me that social status is a complex, nuanced thing, not the simple system many want to assume it is; it’s a reminder, among many others, that many would do well to take.

New month, new plea for aid…

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 231: Fool’s Errand, Chapter 11

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

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.

It’s good to be home…
Image from the Elderling Magic Tumblr, here, used for commentary.

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.

Any chance I can count on your support?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 230: Fool’s Errand, Chapter 10

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

The next chapter, “A Sword and a Summons,” starts with FitzChivalry’s written musings on the myth that spurred Verity to head into the mountains and carve his dragon. It turns thence to gloss over the next days, with Fitz musing on the changes in his outlook and perspective. The Fool continues to carve on the wooden features of Fitz’s cottage, and Nighteyes continues to be largely quiet and still, his age clearer than previously. They continue together for a time, until the Fool declares one evening that he must leave on the morrow. Fitz protests, but the Fool notes the need–and his desire to remain.

charging deer | Image, Deer, Google images
A compelling symbol
Image from Pinterest, used for commentary

At an off-hand comment from Fitz, the Fool is startled and reveals more of his own background and experience–something he does not do often. He notes that another had been thought to be the White Prophet that he knows himself to be, and that that other, the Pale Woman, had been part of the driving impetus behind the Red Ship War.

When, on the next day, the Fool makes to depart, Nighteyes notes that they should accompany him; Fitz demurs in favor of waiting for Hap, although he chafes at it. The Fool leaves in peace and friendship, and Fitz turns reluctantly to the chores of the day. Days pass, and weeks, and Hap returns, having fared poorly in his attempt to earn his own apprentice fee; he frets about prospects as he hears the news Fitz shares of Jinna’s visit and the Fool’s. Fitz offers to borrow the money, which surprises and elates Hap; Nighteyes puts in archly, and Hap notes that the sooner they go to Buckkeep, the better off they’ll be.

Fitz reluctantly agrees and makes preparations for the return to Buckkeep. His clothes are hardly fit, and the same is true of his fighting instincts, but he still possesses both, as well as a sword given him by Verity. He is about to depart for Buckkeep when a messenger arrives, bearing a scroll emblazoned with Fitz’s old emblem. It is a summons from Chade, and Fitz gives directions for a departure in haste rather than the leisurely trip he had planned.

I note with some happiness the commentary at the beginning of the chapter, in which Fitz waxes poetic about cultures having myths of returning heroes from days past. As a scholar of Arthurian literature, still, and of Malory, still, I am attuned to such references, as I’ve demonstrated. I note, though, on this rereading that Fitz himself seems to fit the criteria, if only as loosely as he fits being a hero. Coming out of a quiet, clandestine retirement after years away may not be a return from Avalon, but it is a figure from a generation ago returning to activity–and quite a bit of it, as will become clear.

Care to send a bit of help my way?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 228: Fool’s Errand, Chapter 8

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

The next chapter, “Old Blood,” begins with a letter from Burrich to his counterpart in a lesser court, reporting on a particular charge of his. It pivots thence to Fitz, the Fool, and Nighteyes reaching Fitz’s cabin, exhausted by their efforts and wracked by the pain of Skilling. Nighteyes falls swiftly asleep; Fitz prepares doses of elfbark, availing himself of it before the preparations begin. As the two dose themselves with the plant, Fitz resumes his account of his and Nighteyes’s travels after the Mountain Kingdom, relating their experience with Black Rolf and Holly among the Old Blood community they had encountered previously.

Not quite so cheery at this point, no…
Image is facelessfrey’s Tumblr, here, used for commentary.

The community is glossed, and Fitz emphasizes his difficulties in keeping hidden among them what he needed–still needs–to keep hidden about himself and his past. That Black Rolf and Holly know his identity, he realizes, but he also notes that they helped maintain his ruse with the others. Fitz and the Fool eat as the former continues to talk about his experiences. He notes that his utter ignorance of Old Blood ways and customs grated on Rolf, as well as disturbing many others in the community; Fitz also muses on Burrich’s passive use of the Wit to oversee his own use of it in his childhood. He continues relating his difficult acculturation to Old Blood ways as he rehearses what he learned from the experience.

Among the things he sees is a joined pair, Delayna and Parela, a Wit-bonded woman and deer. The woman had died and had attached herself to the deer, denying either of them a full life in an attempt to preserve herself. Fitz notes his unease with seeing such a thing and with having done such a thing himself, although he notes that he does not fully understand the choice to do such a thing. And he returns to his narration around the discomfort of that consideration.

Fitz notes that the Old Blood community knowing his identity, as seemed certain, was a threat to him, and he and Nighteyes moved on when they could. The depressing effects of the elfbark begin to be felt, and conversation continues into the night, with the Fool turning to self-doubt and lamentation.

Given the continuing reading of the Wit as metaphor for homosexuality, I have to wonder at parallels with gay culture, though I am far from an expert in that culture; I wonder only, knowing I do not know enough to be able to make any meaningful comment about those parallels. Given the specifically communicative nature of the Wit, I also find myself wondering at parallels with interactions with and among Deaf communities–although I know with them, too, I do not know enough to make any meaningful comments. I can only hope that those among my friends and readers who are members of or more closely aligned with those communities than I will help redeem my ignorance in such things.

I do know, though, that the addictive perils of the elfbark come up once again, and that matters do not seem to be eased with the addition of alcohol to the night’s libations. It’s the kind of thing I saw no few times while I was working at the substance abuse treatment center, people trying to use one drug to blunt the effects of another, itself taken despite its known peril and effects because it works to address pain endured in the process of keeping body and soul together. I recall feeling pity for Fitz before; knowing what I know now, I feel it more.

I can always use more support.

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 227: Fool’s Errand, Chapter 7

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

The next chapter, “Heart of a Wolf,” begins with an in-milieu discussion of the Old Blood from Badgerlock’s “Old Blood Tales” before moving on to Fitz relating waking the next morning, taking in what seems to him a more vivid world. He regards himself, realizing he has been disguising himself from the world, and he and Nighteyes decide to discuss more of their past travels and experiences with the Fool. The wolf runs off, and Fitz returns to his cottage, its chores, and breakfast with the Fool.

Something like this, perhaps?
Photo by stein egil liland on Pexels.com

Fitz and the Fool confer about the former’s arrival at the cottage and the nearby ruined town of Forge. Talk turns to the work of Queen Kettricken to secure peace with the Outislands who had raided and ravaged the Six Duchies years before via a marriage of her son, Prince Dutiful, to a narcheska–“A sort of princess,” as the Fool relates, or “At the very least, a daughter of some powerful noble”–from that region. As they go on, Fitz feels pain from Nighteyes and rushes off to aid him, the Fool following. Fitz finds the wolf choking on fish and frees the obstruction, only to feel pain emerging in the wolf’s body from another source. Failing to reach the wolf with the Wit, he Skills into him, becoming suddenly and strangely aware of the wolf and compelling the old animal’s body to work. The wolf protests, and Fitz has trouble returning to his body again, struggling to do so and eventually succeeding with some help from the Fool. The experience upsets all three, and it takes some time for them all to begin recovering from the inadvertent hurts inflicted upon one another. Raggedly, slowly, they three return to Fitz’s cabin.

The present chapter raises an important point regarding consent for medical attention–even lifesaving medical attention. Both Fitz and the Fool plunge recklessly into another to save their life; Fitz delves into Nighteyes, and the Fool into Fitz. Both who receive the treatment resent it, even as they recognize it saved them to receive it. The Fool claims a higher purpose, needing Fitz to effect positive change in the world; Fitz is, frankly, selfish, although a kind of selfish that evokes some sympathy. After all, even a beloved pet commands no small devotion, and Nighteyes is more than a pet to Fitz; the two are more a hybrid being than two separate entities, and it makes sense for people to try to save parts of themselves as well as those whom they love. Even so, the acts do deprive those who receive them of some of their agency, making for some complicated ethical implications and calling for some deeper thinking. As good reading should.

Care to send me some support?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 226: Fool’s Errand, Chapter 6

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

A chapter titled “The Quiet Years” follows, opening with a reminiscence from Fitz about his birth and upbringing, his efforts at creating a coherent history of his nation. He follows by glossing over the next days with the Fool, who seems to seamlessly reintegrate himself into Fitz’s and Nighteyes’s lives. At length, they exchange more reports of their time apart, Fitz relating his life since the Fool left him at the dragon garden in bits and pieces, keeping himself from relating some of his deeds and losses. He does, however, dwell upon having visited Verity-as-Dragon, as well as a place where he saw a vision surrounding the Fool.

The Rooster Crown
This came up again
The Rooster Crown by AreyMA on DeviantArthere, used for commentary

The Fool presents the crown worn in the vision and places it upon his head. Nothing happens, surprising both of them. Fatigue and drink overtake them, and Fitz retires for the evening.

I am taken by the reminiscence with which the chapter opens. I’ve noted before the Asimovian move of grounding chapters in in-milieu reference materials, something I appreciate, being a scholar prone to grounding my own work in reference materials from my own milieu no less than a long-time reader of the Good Doctor. Accordingly, the device attracts my attention readily, and I am all too happy to pay that coin. And in the present case, the opening passage is particularly compelling, the piecing-together of disparate and not always complete sources being something with which, as a medievalist, I am familiar. Similarly the concern about possibly perpetuating the errors of others–intended or inadvertent–is one with which I struggle; I work from sources, cited and remembered and internalized to the extent that I do not always know where they end and I begin anymore, and like all things human, they are subject to error and to being superseded, to having their mistakes and failings pushed forward by my work and made, in part, my own.

Too, there is the metaphor at the end: “A child sees the acorn of his daily life, but a man looks back on the oak.” Aside from the somewhat problematic nature of gendering–Hobb is on record as affirming her continued use of the masculine as the default neutral, a practice with which I disagree, and I am far from alone in it–there is a lot to unpack. It is, of course, inexact; a child and an acorn are not at the same stages in their respective developments, for one thing. And, as a Texan, I am aware of many uses of good oak wood; it makes for tasty smoked foods, among others. Too, an oak is more prone to break than to bend, even if it can endure a damned lot before it does; I have to wonder, as I think on it some more to write this, if that doesn’t actually justify the masculine pronoun, an unwillingness to adapt being often taken as a hallmark of toxic masculinity. It’ll bear more consideration, I think.

And, yes, this ties in. It’s the same crown.

I can always use your help!

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 225: Fool’s Errand, Chapter 5

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

The next chapter, “The Tawny Man,” opens with what seem to be Fitz’s later recorded musings on the Old Blood and its presence in the lands claimed by the Six Duchies. It turns to Fitz rehearsing the passage of time while Hap is away, things going generally well despite Fitz longing for something else, for which Nighteyes chides him.

Illustration series for the Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb
Always good to pull from here…
Image is Reunion on Katrin Sapranova’s Tumblr, here, used for commentary

They are interrupted by the sudden arrival of a mounted visitor, whom they are surprised and elated to see is the Fool, almost unrecognizable for his golden hue. They begin reconnecting almost immediately, returning swiftly to their old friendship, and the Fool makes a brief loan of his fine horse, Malta, to Fitz, who delights in the brief ride he takes upon her and returns to his home to find the Fool preparing dinner. They sit to eat and confer, the Fool noting that he has returned to Fitz to employ him again towards creating a better future. The Fool also notes being exceedingly wealthy from adventures near Bingtown amid their conversations, and they give each other broad information about their years apart. The Fool presses for more, noting that he will be staying, and they go to bed, the Fool offering his old teasing once again as they do.

I do note with some amusement that the Fool named his horse Malta. It’s another clue about something that emerges, as memory serves, more fully and explicitly in the text of the present novel; the book’s old enough that spoiler warnings don’t really apply, but I’ll still hold off on the discussion–even if it should be pretty obvious at this point.

I’m taken more by the depiction of the friendship between Fitz and the Fool that presents itself in the present chapter. It seems to me an enviable thing, even if I am not entirely sure how I ought to read it. After all, it is a work of fiction, and fiction focuses and accentuates by its very nature; done well, it gives the appearance of truth without pretending to be the truth, denying that it is the truth in its very name, but that does force the question of whether any or all of what it depicts is, in fact, a lie. Can such friendships only exist between such as the Fool and Fitz, neither of them beings that could exist in the readers’ world? Or is the friendship one of the most human things about them, the impossible characters made to seem more true because they have something which some share and to which others aspire? It goes to the very value of fiction as a practice; it is a question with which I grappled and will soon help others to grapple with as I continue to ponder what focus my classes will have, generally and in this instructional year…

My teaching starts again next week; kick in to help?