Sunday, March 2, 2014

Fool's Assassin: What we can expect from the new Fitz and the Fool book (with GIFs)

I'm too old for this shit. I'm 26 and I actually hyperventilated when I saw the cover and the excerpt pop up online yesterday morning. (I have to say I'm not a huge fan of the cover. Fantasy book covers tend to be very generic. Can't wait for the Jackie Morris design, but anyway...) But these books are special. I've lent them to people who hate fantasy and never saw them again. My fantasy hating father read the Farseer trilogy twice. In one year. A GIF has not yet been invented that sufficiently communicates my feelings for these books. So here I go, making a big messy blog about what might happen when "Fool's Assassin" is released in August.

SPOILERS for Farseer, Liveship Traders and Tawny Man trilogies.

1. Chronology

"Fool's Assassin" will take place right after "The Rain Wild Chronicles" (and I'm not just saying that because Hobb confirmed it in a recent interview). All stories in the Elderlings books take place chronologically, so it's safe to assume "Fool's Assassin" will follow suit.

2. Location: Clerres

We've been everywhere in Six Duchies and beyond. Except this place. Clerres is the Fool's homeland. It is the place he supposedly returns to after "Fool's Fate". And I can't honestly see the Fool returning to Six Duchies, so it's a pretty safe bet the story will take place there. There are so many questions about Clerres. And there's just too much potential for an exciting new story there for Hobb to ignore it.

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3. Dual Fitz / Fool POV

Those of you wondering if they should read the recently published excerpt, go ahead and do it. I promise you, it spoils nothing. The excerpt makes it clear that "Fool's Fate" will open the same way every Fitz/Fool book opens - with Fitz's emo retrospective of his childhood. No spoilers / surprises there. It also establishes a POV. Again, Hobb has already confirmed that the story will be told from first person POV but she didn't specifically say it was exclusively Fitz's POV (even though she was asked). I think there is a real possibility we'll finally get to see the Fool's side of the story, and here's why:

a. "Fitz and the Fool" trilogy is about two characters who are currently at the opposite sides of the world. It may very well take a whole book or two before they are even on the same continent again, and Fitz's POV alone will not be enough to sustain the story.

b. Hobb has been revealing more and more about the Fool in every book. The next logical step would be to make him a POV character.

Fitz and the Fool are basically the same person (or they were before the Fool kissed their skill connection away at the end of "Fool's Fate"), so I envisage a hilarious Gollum-like narrative.

4. Subjects

The school for White Prophets is obviously a powerful institution. I wonder just how much power it wields in Clerres and the rest of the land. And exactly how high up are the Whites in that (I’m assuming) political food chain?

The Catalyst
a.k.a. Fitz. Both Shrewd and Chade - somewhat insensitively but very accurately – referred to Fitz as a weapon several times in the story. And he is a weapon, and a double-edged one at that. Even the Fool used him as a tool. And the thing about weapons is that you don’t leave them lying around. I really, really wonder just how dangerous a Prophet-less Catalyst is. Another interesting thing about Fitz is that as a Catalyst he was much more powerful than his Prophet.

Religion was first addressed by Hobb in a significant way in "Liveship Traders". What I found most interesting was the conflict between the religion of Sa and other minor branches of that religion (Wintrow almost got beaten to a pulp because of that at some point in the story). It was also mentioned in "Fool's Fate" that the priests of Sa ended up denouncing the White Prophet ‘religion’ as heresy and White Prophets as liars and freaks of nature. A religious war / conflict seems like the next logical step. I want to see the priests of Sa coming down on the remnants of the ‘White’ following like a ton of bricks. And I want them after the blood of the latest White Prophet.

5. It's the end of Fitz / Fool story

Let's be honest, this trilogy is almost certainly the last we're going to hear about these characters. No matter how Hobb wants to end their story, I can't help but feel she's ready to tie all the loose ends and end this ride. She made it very clear she was ready to do it at the end of "Fool's Fate".

To be perfectly honest, I'm absolutely terrified of this book. It took me years to come to terms with the ending of "Fool's Fate" - which I now view as a perfectly justified and the only logical conclusion to that story. And even though most people acme around and accepted the ending, I know that we were all completely gutted by it all those years ago. Hobb faced a massive backlash after "Fool's Fate" came out, and things were pretty heated for a couple of years. I just hope she isn't mad enough to actually kill off either Fitz or the Fool to put an end to the whole business. And she mentioned in an earlier interview that a lot of people will not like where this trilogy is headed... And the first book is called "Fool's Assassin"... And the publisher's reaction does't inspire much confidence...

You know what, I think the Fool is going to get killed in the first book and the rest of it will just be filled with Fitz angst. And while we wait for that particular cookie to crumble, here are a couple of links you can follow to pass the time:

Robin Hobb's Facebook - regularly updated thanks to Office Kat.
Jane Johnson Baker's Twitter - Hobb's Publisher.
Perplexingly @ Tumblr - I've been in this fandom for a long time, and I have never seen more perfect fan art. Ever. Period. Here, have a piece:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hopped over here from tumblr (anthaila).... Anyway.

I do wish we'll get some new locations, anything that relates to Fool's origins, or some more Elderling locations - it seems their old pillar system reaches all the way across the ocean to Clerres, so it is a plausible option at least for one of the books. Though, the new excerpt seems to deal largely with further upheaval in Fitz's family, so Farseers are bound to be quite involved at least in the first book. Frankly, I don't want any more special focus on Nettle & co. There's been quite a lot of focus on Fitz's relations and motivations through them, and it might get a bit repetitive if Fitz has to get involved again because of his kids, rather than... say, because he gets a Skill-dream about the Fool or dragons or something. At least the title would indicate that this time the force that starts the avalance is the Fool, rather than Farseer intrigue, but one never knows. Here's to hoping for some new world building, at least that's been very important in the Elderling books so far.

I just hope Fitz finally gets to play assassin specifically for the Fool. Assassins were about the Farseer business, the Tawnies seemed to split loyalties between Farseers and the Fool. Maybe now our duo will finally be on the same side 100%, with no split interests. Although, knowing Hobb, she'll torture us with the questions of loyalty and trust to the bitter, teary, book destroying end (my poor Fool's Fate faced a lot of salt water and throwing and banging about before I was done with the first reading....), no matter how resolved those issues seemed to be at the end of FF.

One thing I'm pretty sure about is that Hobb hasn't changed her mind about never writing from the Fool's POV. She's been quite adamant about that in many interviews. Says it'd ruin the rest of the mystery. But I do hope we'll get some more skill/wit interaction between Fool and Fitz.