Friday, May 6, 2016

Golden Fool Book Review

by The Wanderer

Author: Robin Hobb
Publisher: Bantam
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Series: Tawny Man Trilogy Book Two
Pages: 710

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People have to attempt to do right, even if they believe they cannot succeed

(Spoilers for the Farseer Trilogy, Liveship Trader's Trilogy, and Fool's Errand are below).

After thwarting the Piebald's scheme for abducting Prince Dutiful, Fitz has now fully returned into his role as secret assassin for the Farseer's. Amongst his first tasks is teaching the Skill to Dutiful, and trying to put together a coterie for him, all while maintaining the safety of the threatened Farseer reign. While the Piebald's threat still remains at large, Dutiful has other concerns, mainly the arrival of his betrothed, the Narcheska Elliania, and securing an alliance with the Six Duchies greatest enemy from years past.  

I have to believe this book could easily divide fans of Robin Hobb's. This is a story with no real major climax. There are some resolutions at the end, but those resolutions feel like the resolutions to some longstanding subplots in the Six Duchies. The point is Golden Fool has a very anti-climactic feel to it. So if you're looking for something bigger, this really doesn't do it. Instead, most of the novel focuses on developing new subplots, connecting events from The Liveship Traders, touching up some loose ends from Fool's Errand, and most importantly setting up the major plot arc for the third book in the trilogy.

But those subplots ... are excellent. There are smaller tasks that keep the story grounded in realism. Fitz has plenty of day to day drama like taking care of his adopted son Hap, who is struggling with his apprenticeship. His relationship with Jinna begins to grow complicated, as well as his relationship with the Fool. The mysterious motivations of the Outislanders and the whereabouts of the Piebalds provide plenty of intrigue, and allows Hobb to shift quickly from one conflict to the next.

The two best subplots are the one's that incorporate elements from the previous two trilogies. The arrival of the Bingtown Traders is one of these. It was at this junction that I felt real good about reading The Liveship Traders beforehand. Well it's possible to gloss over these interactions if you haven't read those books, the information learned about all that's been going on in Bingtown since, is one of my absolute favorite parts of this whole trilogy.

The other recurring subplot is of course Fitz's concern for Burrich, Molly, and Nettle. He wants to keep this part of his life shrouded in secrecy, but due to Nettle's ties to the throne, this may not always be so. The constant threat of Fitz having to admit he's still alive to the people he's cared most about is where most of Golden Fool's emotion lies.

The setup for book three is excellent, although it looks like it will bare a lot of similarity to Assassin's Quest. At this point I feel more invested in the subplots than I do the main one, and that makes for a strange reading experience indeed.

Score: 8.5

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