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Book Review

Book Cover

Fool's Quest (Hardback)


Author: Robin Hobb
Publisher: Harper Voyager
RRP: £20.00
ISBN: 978 1 00 744421 2
Publication Date: 13 August 2015

Since 1995, and the publication of Assassins Apprentice, Robin Hobb has continued to chronicle the tales of Fitz the witted bastard, from assassin to hero, from death to rebirth. The new Fitz and the Fool Trilogy continues the overall Realm of the Elderlings story arc, with the publication of the tenth book in the series.

Fool’s Quest (2015. 739 pages) continues directly after the events in Fool’s Assassin. Fitz’s long-time friend, the Fool, has returned, although Fitz believed him dead, so changed that it is Fitz who stabs him several times, fearing that he was a threat to his daughter Bee. Bee is an unusual child, small in stature and pale, her mother’s pregnancy was very much longer than the usual nine months and Fitz thought his wife quite mad, until the arrival of Bee.

When this part of the tale opens, Fitz is back in the city with the Fool, once again having to take up the role of assassin and sunken into the political morass of the court. Bee, meanwhile, has been kidnapped by a group of people who seem to think that she is both special and a boy.

Hobb’s was never particularly interested in copying the usual style and format of fantasy novels, the pace of this book is positively languid, as we can seemingly read a hundred pages without any real plot progression. What she is interested in is spending time in Fitz’s head, exploring his conflicting desires and loyalties.

The kidnapping of Bee is almost consigned to a lessor story line as we spend most of our time with Fitz and the Fool. In between this re-acquaintance Hobb interweaves much of the missing backstory about what happened to the Fool between when he disappears and his reappearance many years later as a broken man close to death. She also adds enough backstory to make the book almost a tolerably standalone novel, but the myths and lore of the world are such that you would be mad to really contemplate starting on book ten.

Eventually, in much the same way that Daenerys Targaryen will reclaim Westeros, very very slowly, the penny drops with Fitz that his daughter had been kidnapped. Hobb spends so much time on the Fool and Fitz bromance that it’s a wonder that ye olde social services hadn’t taken Bee away earlier, and off they travel.

The story does drop heavy hints about where the story is going. For a start the Fool has risked all to return to find a son he didn’t even know existed, one that would be able to see future events and have the power to change the world to his own liking. Bee is a strange child, not quite human who the kidnappers are desperate to keep safe and early on in the story there is much talk about how the Fool and Fitz had magically flowed into each other, possibly leaving a part of each behind. At this point, about fifty pages into the novel, I’m pretty sure I’d worked out the mystery of Bee.

Hobbs continues to create an impressive body of work, based not on spectacle, although the books do contain this, but a deeper voyage into the hearts of her characters, their loyalties, loves and conflicts. Time spent with Fitz and the Fool is never time wasted.


Charles Packer

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