One of the books I was most anticipating this year was Robin Hobb’s Fool’s Quest, which was released on August 11th and it certainly didn’t disappoint. I found it impossible to review this book without mentioning some minor spoilers, so I will hide the spoiler part of the review.
To summarise though I loved this book. Fitz and the Fool are one of my favourite literary partnerships and I loved reading the continuation of the story. This is the second in the Fitz and the Fool trilogy, following on from Fool’s Assassin. The first book was a slow burner, if still very enjoyable, focussing more on character development than action. This followup is more action oriented and is a wonderful read.
I gave Fool’s Quest five stars out of five and would thoroughly recommend it to any Hobbs fan. For those new to Hobbs, start with Assassin’s Apprentice (but be aware it’s a slow starter but well worth it)
The rest of the review may contain spoilers and my speculation for book three, so click through only if you have read the book and/or want to be spoiled.
What I liked
More Fitz and the Fool together. The two friends were only reunited at the very end of Fool’s Assassin. I really loved seeing them together and adore their unconventional friendship.
Personal rather than epic. By this I mean that the enemies with which Fitz and the Fool are dealing are purely personal to them. At this point in the story at least, neither the Farseer dynasty nor the Six Duchies is in danger. The damage inflicted by the Servants of the Archive affects only Fitz and the Fool and their actions are driven by a purely personal desire for vengeance. This worked very well for me given how emotionally invested I am in these two characters – it added a real emotional connection to the plot.
The minor characters. One of Hobb’s chief skills as a writer is developing interesting characters and character development. I loved how previously unsympathetic characters such as Shun and Lant were given more depth and character development in this book. I look forward to seeing where Hobb takes them in book three. I believe that Shun, Lant and Perseverance will have a major part to play in the next book. My prediction is that Lant will die heroically, perhaps protecting Bee, earning Fitz’s respect as he dies.
Pacing. Where book one was rather slow in parts, Hobb has picked up the pace considerably for this second book. The plot and the action move along at a much quicker pace, although Hobb still leaves time and space for the wonderful character moments.
Questions answered. It’s always fun when your speculation turns out to be correct!
Audio narration. Once again Elliot Hill took on narration duties for this book and his narration really grew on me. I always enjoy when you can tell immediately which character is speaking by the voice. I particularly enjoyed Mr Hill’s “Fitz” voice.
What I didn’t like
Spoilerific chapter titles. I felt that some of the chapter titles were a little too revealing. Did we really need to know from the table of contents that we would visit Kelsingra and receive an Elderling welcome?
Too little of the Wit magic. I’ve always really enjoyed this part of Hobb’s worldbuilding – Fitz’s ability to bond with and connect to animals was great fun. I had half hoped Fitz would bond again, but I can understand why he wouldn’t want to do so after his strong connection with Nighteyes. I suspect the Wit may come into play more in book three.
Given that the book is written in a strictly first person point of view from Fitz and Bee’s perspective and that neither of them is likely to bond a Wit companion, it may have to be done in a roundabout way. My speculation is that the sharing of Fitz and the Fool’s essences which led to Bee’s conception will work both ways and that the Fool will develop the Wit. There seems to have been some foreshadowing of that. Moreover, I believe he will bond the crow Motley (great character!) as his Wit companion. Perhaps Motley will even serve as the Fool’s eyes if Fitz is unable to restore the Fool’s sight. In the way that the Fool, Fitz and Nighteyes were part of a whole, I believe that the Fool, Motley and Fitz will form a three-way bond.
I look forward to book three to see if my speculations are correct! if you’ve read it, how did you enjoy it?