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The Golden Fool is the second book in the Tawny Man trilogy by fantasy writer Robin Hobb. It follows on from Fools Errand, a copy of my review of that can be found by looking on my profile.
The review also contains some background information to the story as this isn't the first time we've seen the main characters here, the Fool and Fitz, this book is kind of 8th in a series of 9 (3 trilogies) although the three stories don't follow on directly from each other there are some rather big things you would be missing out on if you jumped straight into the Tawny Man trilogy without reading the first two.
Fitz and the Fool, who are currently known in Buckkeep as Tome Badgerlock and Lord Golden, have just got back from rescuing the young Prince Dutiful from the Piebalds, a group who have the power to communicate and bond with animals, a power which is despised in most of the Six Duchies. Prince Dutiful is still grieving over a cat he had recently bonded too and Fitz is devastated about the death of his wolf Nighteyes. However, life must go on. The Narcheska of the Outislands, who the Six Duchies have just finished being at war with, has arrived at Buckkeep with her father, Akron Bloodblade, her uncle and a number of Lords, to promise herself to Prince Dutiful, under the assumption that this will end all animosity between the two countries and will reopen trade routes. In the meantime Fitz has begun a 'coterie' a group of people who can use the skill to aide the Prince in his need. However, the member are in a sorry state, with just Fitz, the ageing old assassin Chade, Dutiful and a simpleton named Thick, who takes an instant dislike to Fitz. Whilst Queen Ketricken and Prince Dutiful must give all their attention to their guests they have more problems with the Piebalds, and they extend an invitation to any Witted folk who wish to, to come to the caste to discuss who they can be stopped. And a deligation from Bingtown arrives asking the Queen to help them in their war against Chalced so that their dragon can help new hatchlings develop. On hearing of dragons the Narcheska sets Dutiful a condition of their forthcoming marriage, that he travel to the Outislands and cut of the head of the frozen dragon Icefire, or she will not have him. With so much going on at once, and with such a demand made from his potential bride, Prince Dutiful is faced with many problems and decisions. Can the Fool and Fitz help him before it's too late?
If you've read the plot then you can see that this is a very complicated book, in the middle of a very complicated trilogy! There is so much going on in this book and so many characters and storylines to follow, but not once does it get confusing. This is a long book, and although I read fast it did take me absolutely ages to get through, even though I read it as much as a possibly could. The length is worth it though, it is intriguing throughout, there is an amazing amount of detail and explanation, and the complex storyline is interesting and absorbing. However, at some points it did seem that certain things were concentrated on more than others, which left some things feeling a bit pointless. The delegation from Bingtown, for example, didn't seem to achieve much apart from just be there for a reason for the Narcheska to demand Icefires head. For fans of the Liveship Traders trilogy however, I am sure that the Bingtowns would have been welcome guests here and one or two characters from the trilogy make a brief appearance.
The two main points of this book are the visit from the Narcheska, which seems suspicious from the start, especially as Fitz starts to use the castles old secret passageways to spy on her, and the Piebalds, who have been causing trouble for the Six Duchies for a while now. The Narcheskas visit has a lot to do with the politics of the two countries, which you may think will be a bit boring, but all books do go into what is happening politically at the time the story is happening, which is always interesting and also affects the storyline greatly. In the first trilogy, Fitz gave his all to stop the Red Ships, ie the Outislanders from attacking and raiding the coasts of the Six Duchies. However, as time has passed the Queen feels that now is the time to form new friendships and re open trade routes, and what better way to do this and bringing in the Outisland equivalent of a Princess in waiting. In this different characters express their thoughts and whether this will or wont work, and whether it's a good idea. In this way the reader and gain an unbiased opinion and make up their own mind about what they think should be done. It also gives greater depth to the characters, as such a major event is happenings you can tell a lot about each person from how they react.
With both Fitz and the Prince being witted, the Piebalds are also an important factor to this book. You feel that it is a problem that must be solved as soon as possible and is also a part of the book that you wish was delved into deeper, as most people who admit being witted are hung, quartered and burnt. So, with the only character you know with this magic being Fitz, that gives the reader a quite narrow view of what it's all about. In this book, this aspect is explored much more and in this way more characters are introduced as some witted folk come to visit Buckkeep.
Whilst reading this it did at times seem as though each story line was fighting to be the main one, it does kind of seem as though there are two stories in the book, although there is more than enough space for both of them, with one of them having slightly more room than the other, which role reverses in the next book.
All in all there is not much bad I can say about these books. The characters are amazing, it's great to see Fitz back at Buckkeep as in the previous book it seemed as though he would never want to go back. And it's great to see more of the Fool, one of the best and most interesting characters that I think has ever been written. Although these are the two main characters here the other characters are not left out, there is more characterisation to a minor character in Hobbs books than I have seen to a main character in others. This leaves the book very rich and un-put-down-able. You just want to know more and more about everyone and everything that is going on.
I'd recommend these books to anyone who likes fantasy writers, in my opinion they are the best of the best. My only suggestion would be to buy all three books at once, I made the mistake of waiting to buy the next one, and when I realised they didn't have it in town there was a very long a painful wait until it arrived from amazon!
Golden Fool is the second book in the Tawny Man trilogy by fantasy writer Robin Hobb. This book was released back in 2003 and was another big seller for Hobb. She had been writing for a while now and her fans were eager to get their hands on her new book. Plus with it being part of a trilogy, fans of the first book were looking forward to finding out what happens to their heros.
I really enjoy the first book in this series, Fools Errand. So was looking forward to reading this one. Robin Hobb was by this stage one of my favorite writers and was expecting big things from her!
So the story continues from where we left it in the first book. Fitz has rescued price Dutiful but at great personnal cost. His beloved friend Nighteyes is dead, Fitz must get over this one move on. Dutiful is like a son to Fitz and has the same magic running through his veins. Fitz must teach the young prince how to control his magic and use it for good.
Along the way Fitz hunts for others with any potential with the magic that Fitz himself has. We meet lots of new characters and Fitz has some interesting adventures.
Meanwhile the Six Dutchies is in talk with people from a distant land. Dutiful is possibly going to be wed to Outislander Princess Elliana. But as you would expect this does not run smoothly and causes all kinds of problems and creates a whole new exciting story.
Again I really enjoyed this book. Did not quite have the punch of the first book, but even so I was not disapointed. Robin Hobb has a unique style about her writing. She really takes the reader deep into the story, and there is so much going on, not just the obvious but also all kinds of subtle undertones that run parallel to the story.
Hobb is not one for huge amount of action in her books, but when she needs to she is excellent at putting you there right in the middle of the action so you feel as you are actually there witnessing the events as they unfold.
There are some really good new characters in this book. My favorite has to be Thick, he is a really loveable little guy who you really feel sorry for. The way Hobb develops his character and others to, is excellent. We almost become friends with these imaginary people and there experiences have an effect on our emotions.
If you read the first book am sure you will be eager to make a start on this one. If you have not read the first book, you really need to so you can understand what is going on in this one. This is not really a book you can read on its own.
If your a fan of fantasy books I know you will enjoy reading anything by Robin Hobb. But for me this series is the best one she has done, I really enjoyed it, and although this book is probably the weakest of the three, its still excellent!
The Golden Fool is the continuation of a story begun way back with Robin Hobb's debut novel, Assassin's Apprentice, and a direct sequel to the bok Fool's Errand; the first of three novels in The Tawny Man trilogy. Fitz Chivalry, in his guise of Tom Badgerlock, has returned to court life at Buckkeep in the servitude of the mysterious Lord Golden who himself is merely a facade behind which hides Fitz's long-time ally and companion, The Fool.
A time of change is coming to the Six Duchies and in paticular the ruling line of the Farseers'. Prince Dutiful, heir to the throne, is soon to become betrothed to the Outislanders' Narcheska in a bid to promote peace between the two continents. But it soon becomes apparent that all is not as straight forward as it seems and that The Fool's nemesis known only as The Pale Woman, a woman largely reponsible for The Red Ship Wars, has not only her own agenda but also her own reasons for seeing Dutiful wed his bride. It is up to Fitz, The Fool and Queen's advisor, Chade, to fathom out her plans and set Fate back in the direction they want it to go but their efforts are still being thwarted by the group of Witted folk known as The Piebalds who threaten to expose Dutiful himself as possessing the Wit; a magic long-feared and resented by the people of the Six Duchies that allows a person to bond with an animal and communicate with them as an equal. If it should become known publically that the Farseer line carries the Wit, it could have many and far-reaching repercussions....
Meanwhile Fitz is also coereced into forming a coterie of Skilled folk to aid the Prince; this despite the fact that both Chade and Fitz's knowledge of the Skill, an ancient Farseer magic that much resembles and yet is different to the Wit, is patchy and incomplete. This in turn leads to the formation of one of the most bizarre coteries' in recorded history.
Once again Hobb has managed to craft a magical and truly wonderful tale that all her fans and newcomers' to her writing are bound to enjoy. There are few writers who can cast such a spell over their readers' as Hobb and fewer still who can do it as consistently. With her remarkably strong characterisation, you can really feel for Fitz as his loyalty to both his two bestest friends is stretched to the limit and if one thing is certain by the close of curtain, it is that his relationship with either will never be the same again. Every word flows across the page and Hobb manages to pack so much in that you are left reeling by the end but eagerly awaiting the last installment. This trilogy is a classic tale as worthy of reading as anything by Tolkien and it is true beyond doubt that fantasy really doesn't get a hell of a lot better than this!! Hobb provokes a real sense of empathy with her characters and it is just a shame that more writers cannot write as passionately as her.
Newcomers to the series would do better to read Fool's Errand before embarking on this but although previous knowledge of her world is useful, you don't need to read the prior two trilogies to enjoy this. To get the full effect however, I would reccommend picking up the Assassin's series and the Liveship trilogy.