Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Fool's Errand

by Robin Hobb


Set some 15 years after the conclusion of the Farseer trilogy, Fool's Errand returns to the character of FitzChivalry Farseer, now living in obscurity under the guise of Tom Badgerlock. His wolf companion is ageing, and Fitz has been away from the royal court long enough to be forgotten by many of its members.

When his former mentor Chade turns up and asks Fitz to return, he initially refuses. Yet his adopted son, Hap, is growing up and branching out, and the ex-assassin has itchy feet. In spite of the peacefulness of his surroundings, his Skill magic induces cravings that torment him. What's more, Fitz is perhaps the only person left who could instruct the young Prince Dutiful in the use of the Skill.

Meanwhile in the country a conflict is brewing between the Witted and those who despise and envy them. Persecution is on the rise, and those people believed to have the magical ability to read the minds of beasts face gruesome and painful executions if discovered.

It's the news that Prince Dutiful has gone missing that spurs Fitz on. The Prince is due to meet his future bride, and if he doesn't return before her party arrives it will be interpreted as a snub that could precipitate another war with the Outislanders.

Fool's Errand takes a long time to build up to the main crisis. That's not to say that it's stuck on recapping the events of previous books and on preparing Fitz for the journey ahead, although there is a little of that going on. The thing is, this novel is gripping even when the characters aren't in the midst of life-or-death struggles or trying to solve impenetrable mysteries. The relationship between Fitz and the Fool is a curious one, their friendship tinged with jealousy but made closer by shared secrets and an intertwined destiny.

Dutiful is a headstrong boy, and in him we see echoes of a younger Fitz, caught up in a vicious political game that he doesn't fully understand.

The Witted are prominent in this novel, which explores some of the ramifications of the Wit bond, highlighting its dangers as well as the powers it can bring. Magic in Robin Hobb's world is always a double-edged sword, with costs and perils for the wielder. It's more than just a source of wonder or a way to get characters out of trouble when things seem hopeless.

Although Fitz may fear he's losing his touch with the passage of time, Robin Hobb proves she's still got the old magic in Fool's Errand. The author weaves a tale as tantalising and compelling as the Skill magic she writes about. The next generation of Farseers are as fascinating and unpredictable as the previous one.

Book Details

Year: 2001

Categories: Books

    Male Protagonist  

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5 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
More about Robin Hobb