The second part of Hobb’s new trilogy (Fool's Errand, 2001) continues the story of FitzChivalry Farseer, royal bastard and trained killer, as Hobb maneuvers her characters through a complex maze of intrigue and shaky relationships. Returning to Buckkeep Castle, where he spent his youth, Fitz now poses as bodyguard to the extravagant Lord Golden, formerly the King’s Fool. At the same time, he gathers intelligence for Chade, the royal assassin. Fitz faces the continued threat of the Piebalds, a rebel group who commune with animals. Plus, Prince Dutiful, heir to the throne, needs training in the Skill, the magical discipline by which the kings of the Farseer line protected their kingdom. The prince is supposed to marry a young princess from the Outislands, but both royals appear reluctant, and Fitz’s own son Hap, apprenticed to a local tradesman, is staying out late at night with a girl whose parents disapprove. Finally, Fitz’s relationship with the Golden/Fool is shaken by the revelation of his friend’s activities while he was traveling in a foreign country.
The narrative can bog down in the mundane at times, but, still, Hobbs generates a number of surprises and a cliff-hanging close: another solid fantasy with strong characters.