As you may have seen from my reading roundup this week, I have set myself a significant reading challenge for the next three weeks. Before I set off on vacation on August 15th I hope to have reread part of Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings series. I hope to finish: Assassin’s Quest (848 pages/ 37 hrs and 39 mins audiobook) – I’m currently around a third of the way through this – Ship of Destiny (912 pages/33 hrs and 38 mins audiobook), Fool’s Errand (672 pages/24 hrs and 47 mins audiobook), Golden Fool (712 pages) and Fool’s Fate (936 pages). I will be mixing reading with listening to the audiobook, where one is available. I am attempting to read all this to be ready for the release of Fool’s Assassin.
This is a significant challenge, and in order to complete it I’m going to hold myself responsible to you, dear readers of my blog. Instead of my usual twice or three times weekly blog posts, I will attempt to do short, daily posts with an update on where I’m at and a few quick thoughts on what I’ve read that day. There will almost certainly be spoilers if you have not read the series. As I’ll be reading on my Kindle/listening to the Audible audiobook any progress will be noted in percentages.
The story so far
In the first two books of the we are introduced to our protagonist, FitzChivalry, the illegitimate son of Chivalry, deceased son of the King. We are also introduced to the world of the Farseers and the two magic systems of the Skill (telepathy and/or emotional manipulation, generally linked to the Farseer bloodline) and the Wit (an affinity with and an ability to form a strong mental link with animals). The Wit is considered a “dirty” magic, and those who practice it do not do so openly. Our hero has the innate ability to practice both forms of magic. We also get to know Fitz’s friends and allies – his uncle Verity, aunt Kettricken, royal assassin Chade, stable master Burrich, the king’s Fool and Fitz’s Wit bond partner, the wolf Nighteyes. He has a love interest in local candlemaker Molly. The antagonist of the series is his uncle Regal, who usurps the Kingship aided and abetted by the members of his Skill coterie.
The major threat of the series are the Red Raiders who harry the coast of the Six Duchies. They have the ability to “Forge” their victims, which amounts to removing all humanity from them. These victims are then released by the Raiders to pillage their own way across the Six Duchies.
We follow Fitz from his childhood where he is trained by the King’s Assassin Chade to take over his duty to dispense the King’s Justice. During his first assassination assignment in the Mountain Kingdom, he is constantly undermined by Prince Regal who has designs on the throne despite being behind Verity in the line of succession. He barely escapes this confrontation with his life. He supports Verity in his attempt to deflect the Red Raiders through his use of the Skill but is left at home in Buck when Verity leaves to seek the aid of the mythical Elderlings.
Regal uses Verity’s departure to seize the throne by assassinating King Shrewd and declaring Verity dead. Attempting to kill two birds with one stone, Regal has Fitz accused of regicide and also of practicing the Wit. Regal’s Skill coterie tortures Fitz mentally and his thugs beat him to the point of death. Fitz escapes by faking his own death, allowing his body to lie near to death while his spirit takes refuge with Nighteyes, his Wit companion.
The third book starts with Fitz’s struggle to regain his humanity after his torture and death and time spent with Nighteyes. Once recovered, he makes a failed attempt to kill Regal and his coterie. His attempt is spoiled by Verity who Skill imprints a command to “come to me” in Fitz’s mind. Fitz has no choice but to make the long trek to beyond the mountains to join Verity. Nighteyes has gone off to join a wolf pack and Fitz has joined up with minstrel Starling (who has realised who he is and is hoping to witness some epic events by following him.)
That is the point at which I have left our hero. He and Starling are currently negotiating with some smugglers to cross Blue Lake to continue their journey.
Join me for the continuation.