It’s all done — the Tawney Man trilogy; and what a ride it was! I enjoyed every minute of it and am glad that I was able to share the journey with Emily from Embuhlee liest, who helped to make it even more enjoyable. It’s always fun to read a great book with someone who enjoys it as much as you do and such was the case with this trilogy. We raved about it the entire time and, when done, struggled to find words to express how much we enjoyed it all.
Fool’s Fate wraps up the Tawney Man trilogy, but the story does not end here. Despite how the end made me feel, it does continue in another series — the Rain Wild Chronicles, which Emily and I plan to start soonish. But first, my thoughts on Fool’s Fate.
The thrilling conclusion to Robin Hobb’s Tawny Man trilogy.
Kingdoms will stand or fall on the beat of a dragon’s wings, or a Fool’s heart.
Prince Dutiful has been charged with a quest to the Outisland to take the head of the black dragon Icefyre. Only then will his betrothed marry him and cement the alliance between their warring kingdoms.
But is Icefyre just a legend? Or does he truly slumber beneath the glaciers? Fitz has prevented his friend the Fool from accompanying them the Fool has foreseen his own death if he ever sets foot on the isle of the black dragon. But as their ship draws in towards Aslevjal a lone figure awaits them… (Goodreads)
I didn’t even consider drafting my own summary this time because I would totally spoil the book. With this finale, it’s best to jump into it fairly soon upon completing The Golden Fool because the story picks up immediately after the events in The Golden Fool.
I think Emily and I were both on edge as we read this installment. We were so filled with excitement and anticipation of what would happen, how it would end, will the characters find and kill Icefyre, how will Tintaglia feel about all that and what will she do, what happened to the Fool and how was his quest affected, and is Icefyre even real. Because of this, we blazed through this book; our curiosity and excitement egged us on to consume more and more of the story as quickly as possible to uncover what exactly is going on. And gosh, what a payoff!
Not only were our questions answered (and others popped up quickly in their place), but the story kept us gripped in its hooks the entire time no matter its pace. The characters and the possibilities of what might happen kept me reading and made it hard to part with the story for long. I liked how certain plot threads slowly unfolded and I liked that the end was neat with an answer provided for everything, but I disliked that the end also felt like a summary and that we were basically told what became of some characters (like Hap) instead of seeing how their plot line was resolved.
I guess this bothered me because I’d started to care for such characters (Hap and Starling) and wanted a bit more than just a summary of what eventually became of them. Also, the end says nothing of what becomes of Thick. It’s as if he used his Skill against Hobb, urging her to forget him so the reader is left to assume that he is happy, or at least content, living at Buckeep in service to Dutiful. And, as I expressed in this Weekend Reads post, the conclusion of Fitz’s story was bittersweet for me. I already miss him.
I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m trying really hard here not to spoil anything or write in all caps about all the stuff I loved. So, I’m gonna drop the civilized paragraph structure here and jump into bullets about all the things I enjoyed. Just know that the end to this trilogy was amazing, shit happened that I didn’t expect, none of my predictions came to past, and it’s a wonderful story to read. If you don’t like winter, then I suggest you read this book in spring/summer. I’m glad I did.
All the things I loved 😀
Oh, and SPOILERS!!!
- Dutiful’s coterie: I love that they’re inexperienced and all bring a different quality to the group. I love that the curious, eager, incautious one is the person we least expect and so too for the strongest person in the Skill. I love that the grope blindly ahead to learn and that Fitz learns as much as he teaches the group. Also love that there are 2 coteries 😉 that was a nice surprise.
- Thick: He grew on me. I don’t think it was the author’s intention for us to immediately like him. I certainly didn’t and when he was introduced; I didn’t expect him to remain in the story for as long as he did. I think I started to like him when he began to struggle with “seasickness.” My liking grew out of pity and sympathy for his condition because Thick believed he had seasickness because the lady who cares for him at the castle (I forgot her name) told him that he’d suffer from it. I also empathized with him because he was so cold and wet and miserable. Ugh! Horrible conditions.
- Chade: I’m both happy and upset that Chade is not a villain as I predicted he would be (I think I only shared that prediction with Emily). Fitz’s suspicions about Chade’s experiments with the Skill and frustration at being weak in the ability made me suspect that Chade would later become a power-hungry antagonist. Chade loves to know what is happening and loves power and control, but it seems that he indeed puts the wellbeing of Buckeep ahead of all his desires. I thought it was his motivation (the wellbeing of Buckeep) that would make him misuse his resources (political influence and the Skill) to become a villain. I’m glad that didn’t happen but I can’t help wondering what if it did.
- Fitz & the Fool: OMG!! These two had me on the edge of my seat the whole book. I’m still convinced that they are each other’s true love and was so heartbroken that they’d parted ways. I wonder if I’ll ever see the Fool again and if I’ll ever again read from Fitz’s perspective. Emily has assured me that I probably might, but, gosh, that ending made me so sad. I immediately missed both characters when I completed the story.
- Fitz: Man! All the stuff that happened! I love Fitz’s journey and am glad that I discovered these books through booktube and was able to read these stories. Fitz is not always a great guy. He makes mistakes and sometimes says the wrong thing, but he’s one of my favorite characters ever and I love his narrative voice. I love reading from his perspective and I just wish all these stories were from his perspective, though I understand why they aren’t.
- Still on Fitz: I love that he connected with his daughter Nettle and that they seem to have developed a positive relationship. I’m not so enthused that he went back to Molly. (That’s not his true love! But, as I think the Fool hinted at in one of these books, true love doesn’t always mean romantic love since love manifests in many ways.) I’m not a fan of Molly, but I’m glad that they are happy and there is some essence of hopeful romantic stories in the fact that Fitz still loves and cherishes Molly after all these years and they are finally able to truly be together and live as a family.
- I’m not done with Fitz yet: Because of that part where he takes up the mantle as king (until Dutiful comes of age) and is acknowledged as such by both Chade and Queen Kettricken. I LOVED THAT PART!!! My chest swelled with as much pride as did Chade’s. I also loved it when the Witted coterie and some Buckeep dudes learned that Fitz is the Witted Bastard. Ha! That shook Civil a bit. And I love that he reconnects with Lady Patience. Those were some sweet moments spent with her.
- Now the Fool: When he popped up on Aslevjal 😮 !! Okay, I should have seen that coming, but I was still surprised. I was liked “Dude!! Where the hell you came from?!” As always, I loved his interactions with Fitz and was so afraid for him when he and Fitz were taken prisoner by the Pale Woman. I hated what she did to the Fool, but I was happy that Fitz was able to pull him back from the brinks of death using magic mentioned in the first trilogy. It connected the trilogies even more.
- More of the Fool: My suspicions of the Black Man were all over the place. I thought he was a minion of the Pale Woman, the Fool’s detached shadow, a previous Catalyst, or a previous Fool. Turns out he was the latter and I was glad to learn that too. I thought Thick might be like the Fool, but I was wrong there. I still suspect Thick of being an Elderling, though that’s probably wrong too. I like that the Fool and the Black Man will go off on adventures now, and I hope I’ll be able to read of them. I feel bad for the Fool though because he probably thinks Fitz is dead or lost or something. Darn.
- The Witted Coterie: That was such a surprise and I think such a coterie is needed. I love that they were essential to locating the dragon. Web is another favorite character. To me, he seems to have taken the place of Nighteyes as a wise guide for Fitz.
- Dragons!!!: I thought Icefyre would die in that ice and Tintaglia would kill everyone. Then, when Icefyre was free, I thought he’d eat everyone because he was famished.
- OMG! That part where Burrich and Swift took down the stone dragon. Aww man! Burrich is the dude! So sad he died though, but I loved how he stood up for his son and showed how powerful he is in the Wit (though I do think that part was kinda weak; I guess it’s because I was expecting something else) and that Swift and his arrow helped too. I was so happy when I read that part. (Another of my failed predictions: I thought Swift would shoot an arrow at the Fool and kill him because of how split the group was on whether or not to save the dragon…and other things.) Anyway, this was another of my favorite parts.
- Loved that the dragons have sex in the sky and give zero fucks about who’s watching. I wonder if the world is ready for baby dragons.
- The Pale Woman: She was a weak part of the story for me. Though she tried to thwart the Fool’s plans over the years and had subjugated many people to her cruelty, I expected more from her as a villain when we meet her. I was disappointed that despite having all those Skill scrolls and other advantages, she was unable to make a decent Skill dragon. It just seems that how this part was resolved — the Pale Woman’s demise — was highly convenient and almost easy. I just expected, wanted, more, I guess. But it was still good and entertaining to read, and I’m glad that at least this one of my predictions came true — that the Pale Woman is like the Fool. (I suspected that since my Farseer trilogy days…I think.) I also thought the Rooster Crown the Fool found would be essential to defeating the Pale Woman. Now I wonder if the crown was pointless. (It’s not, but I can’t help thinking so.) ☹
- The Wit & the Skill: I still think they’re best used together. I predicted that must be the case in order to communicate with dragons and I think I’m right, though it seems that the dragons’ way of communicating with humans is unique from the Skill or the Wit.
- Did Fitz talk to the god(s) when he was lost in space and time?? Because that’s what seems to have happened. I’m talking about when he went through the Skill columns one time too many and an amorphous, unfathomable, seemingly omnipresent being who can’t be bothered with the speck of human lives saved him and sent him back to life. It’s the same being who saved him when he and Dutiful unwound when they went through the Skill column in the first book — Fool’s Errand. Back then, I thought the being was Tintaglia, but now I know it’s a female being (that’s the impression I got from Fitz) and that it wasn’t Tintaglia because she was too busy getting her freak on with Icefyre so it must have been a god (…Eda or El??).
- I’m outta steam now. I’ll only say that I think Eda and El (the gods) are huge serpent-god things (because of the saying, “Eda and El in a tangle,” and because the ouroboros is a symbol that pops up on the Outislands, which seems more connected to the older world, and because this fantasy world seems very matriarchal, hence the ouroboros symbol of fertility and rebirth, and the patriarchy is often an antagonist) and I’m sad that I didn’t see Fennel (the cat) one more time before the story ends. Also, I like that Hap turns out okay, but I don’t like that his story line seems almost pointless by this book because it was no longer essential to Fitz’s and to me Fitz’s parenting in this book isn’t as strong. Same with Starling. By this book, I started to wonder why she was still being mentioned. Her story line no longer seemed essential. Bits and pieces were added to make us readers care for her, which I sort of did, but not enough time was spent with her to flesh that stuff out I think.
- Oh! Totally love Dutiful and the Narcheska together. She’ll keep him on his toes. I like that.
Oh gawd, that’s long!
A thrilling, entertaining end to the trilogy that’s worth the read.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
Oh yes! Buy it and read it.
My overall rating for this trilogy: ★★★★★
It’s great. If you missed Fitz as much as I did after completing the Liveship Traders trilogy, then definitely read the Tawney Man books asap!