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From the Fitz and the Fool series, volume 1

by Robin Hobb

Pub Date: Aug. 12th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-553-39242-5
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

After a decade, Hobb (Fool’s Fate, 2004, etc.) again takes up the characters from the Farseer series.

In this world of magic, the high born despise the Wit, an ability to connect to the minds of animals, yet prize the Skill, a powerful magic possessed by most of the Farseer kings and their kin. FitzChivalry Farseer, royal bastard and former king’s assassin, has abandoned intrigue and, posing as Tom Badgerlock, holder of the Withywoods estate, lives the life bucolic. He’s married to his childhood sweetheart, Molly, upon whom he dotes. Indeed, at the time of the midwinter festivals, he ignores a possibly important messenger in favor of pleasing her, and when he finally remembers, the messenger has vanished—possibly abducted by a group of pale strangers. Tom, though, makes no serious effort to discover anything about these mysterious events, being wholly occupied by family matters. Hundreds of pages, literally and figuratively, dawdle by. In his more contemplative moments, Tom wonders why he’s received no messages from the Fool, his companion and ally through the first six books. Then 50-something Molly insists she’s pregnant. More than a year passes. Molly’s belly swells, slowly. Still nobody believes her, least of all Tom, though even the servants are careful to humor her. Finally, to general astonishment, she gives birth to a strange, tiny, pale girl she and Tom name Bee. The girl seems to be simple-minded and, although she feeds eagerly, grows as slowly as her gestation. Years pass. Tenacious readers eventually will be rewarded. With a cliffhanger.

Hobb is hardly the first to stumble in reviving a long-dormant series, nor will she be the last.