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When Did the Six Duchies Start to Feel Like Home? [Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb]

August 31, 2014

Some books just feel like coming home, and Fool’s Assassin is one of those.

Which was kind of surprising to me, since I don’t tend to think of the Six Duchies as one of those fictional worlds that feel like home to me, not like Osten Ard or Hogwarts. Especially when I think about how long it took me to even read the first Fitz book. I’d read (and reread and rereread) the Liveship Traders trilogy, but the preview chapter of Fool’s Errand at the end of Ship of Destiny didn’t click with me at all. It took me a long time to fall in love with Fitz (which you can read about here, I don’t want to tell the whole thing again.)

But now? From the moment I first opened Fool’s Assassin, I felt like I was home again, even though most of the book doesn’t even take place in Buckkeep, but in a new location. The fact that I’d recently reread the Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies probably contributed to that feeling, but I’m pretty sure that the feeling will stay, that the Six Duchies will be one of my fictional homes for the rest of my life.

I wanted to add a picture of the book...

I wanted to add a picture of the book… and then realized that I had taken off the dust cover, as I always do, and thrown it out as I usually do with the books I want to keep. (Maybe I’m odd, but in most cases I prefer the way the books look without their dust covers.) So instead you get a picture of a bookshelf in dire need of reorganisation – Fool’s Assassin doesn’t fit any more, and neither does Fool’s Fate. And the one below it, the Tad Williams shelf, is just as bad. In fact, the entire Fantasy bookcase is too full.

And once I had started, I could not stop reading. Working was torture, the need for sleep was such a bother, the internet – such an evil distraction for so long – suddenly utterly uninteresting, and food? Who needs healthy, home-cooked food when there is a good book to read? And so I rushed through the 667 pages in less than three days, because I didn’t want to be away from these characters that I loved.

Even though you could say that most of it isn’t even that exciting. You could say it starts slowly. But that’s never been something I’ve minded, not when it means spending time with characters I’ve fallen in love with.

You could also say it is frustrating. It is.

Because Fitz can be so, so blind to the things that are so obvious to a reader. One thing in particular, and that is the one thing I did not like about the book, because while Fitz has often been slow to realize things, I just can’t believe that he wouldn’t at least consider this one thing (I don’t want to say more, because I want this post to be spoiler-free).

And because so much of it is hoping that “I have never been wise” means what I hoped it did. Hoping that the book will fulfil the title’s promise. Waiting, hoping for the Fool to show up.

And because Fool’s Assassin has one of the most irritating characters I’ve ever encountered in fiction – possibly the most irritating character. Not irritating as in badly written, but irritating as in written to be irritating, and also exactly the sort of person I can’t stand in real life. And yet I won’t mind reading about that character again, when the next book comes out, because I also want to know more about her.

What was jarring to me was getting a second point-of-view character, after six books solely from Fitz’ perspective. Much like it took me a long time to warm up to Fitz, it took me a while to warm up to this second voice, but I ended up loving it just as much. And now I miss it just as much. (How much longer until book two?)

So much of the book went by slowly, calmly, lulling me into a false sense of security. I should know better. I know how hard I cried over Fool’s Fate (but I didn’t during the Rain Wild Chronicles, so that probably contributed to that false sense of security.) I should know better than to read really good books in public. (I should have planned better and taken a few days off work.) I should not have been reading it on the train on the way home. Because what happened was that I slammed the book shut very dramatically, crammed it into my bag with shaking hands and blinked very rapidly, and then nearly ran someone over with my bicycle, dropped all my money while buying another frozen meal, and yelled at the people blocking the front door to my building with their moving truck, so my new neighbours now they probably think I’m a really rude person, which I’m not – I was just a desperate reader who didn’t want to risk crying in public.

And then, after all that, it ended on a cliffhanger. On a double cliffhanger, even, one for each point-of-view character. How. Much. Longer?

Writing this post wasn’t really a good idea, now I feel even more desperate for the next book…

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