by Robin Hobb
Del Rey, $28.00, 754 pp
Published: August 2015
FitzChivalry and the Fool once known as Lord Golden have a very long path to recovery. Fitz lost his precious daughter, Bee, to the people who were once the servants of the Fool’s long-forgotten people. These servants became corrupted over the years and enslaved the White Prophets for their own gain. No longer did the Prophets guide the whole world to the best path; few Prophets even still exist. But the Fool still exists and the Servants thought to control him. By the time he finally managed to escape, his body and health were severely broken. He fled, of course, to his best friend in the world: Fitz. But the moment they met again was a defining moment for them both. And the depth of Fitz’s relationship with the Fool is revealed when he leaves his daughter in the care of others while he uses all his resources to save the Fool. This was a decision that would haunt them both as neither was there to defend and protect her when she needed it.
Fitz is always torn between his heart and his assassin’s training. His training denies the needs of his heart and requires him to make the most logical and pragmatic decisions. When he allows his heart to rule, he feels out of control and agonizes over each decision. So, feeling safer falling back on his training, he ignores signs that his heart should have seen. He spends most of the book fighting on two fronts: using all his Skill to save the dying Fool who insists they embark on a mission to destroy every single Servant in the world and finding his daughter, a prisoner of the same Servants.
Little Bee was always a peculiar child both to herself and her doting father. Only the Fool recognized her for what she really was. But now she is a hostage to the Servants who don’t know exactly what they have in her but know she will be useful to their ultimate aims. They just have to find a way to get her back safely to their faraway island. Bee and her companion, Shun, look constantly for a means to escape but the only chance they had was only for one of them. And that was when Bee disappeared from the world without a trace…or did she?
The worldbuilding is just superb and the characters are so well-developed. Another wonderfully complex and layered tale of two of the most interesting characters I’ve ever met on paper. With seven previous books of FitzChivalry, I cannot recommend starting the series with this one. Ms. Hobb has declared that the next book will be the end of his story. But I strongly encourage you to start at the beginning, this has been a most rewarding series. In addition to the Fitz and Fool stories, there are two other sets, another seven books that inter-relate within this world. I’ll be reviewing the last Fitz book next month. Catherine Book
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