It took me over two months to prowl through it. I cannot recall the last time a book took me that long to finish. The Farseer trilogy is truly a wonderful collection of books, and I am glad I took their recommendation to heart. The same cannot be said of the Tawny Man trilogy.
The first two books were a bit slow and showed some of the cracks in Hobb’s approach to the story: because we only see things through Fitz’s eyes, she had to contrive a bunch of opportunities for him to be spying or hear second-hand info. Fact is, most of the action and plot politics don’t really involve him; he’s just a spectator. The biggest issue for me, however, is that what we know, Fitz knows. Therefore if I can figure out what the undercurrent is in regards to Prince Dutiful’s engagement and why the Fool desires to preserve the dragons in the world, why can’t Fitz?
It isn’t until the fifty percent mark in “Fool’s Fate” that Fitz or Chade finally get a clue. It should not have taken that long. It should not have taken that long for the concluding book to start moving towards a climax. The first half is spent in drudgery of watching Thick complain about sea sickness and Fitz moan about his lot in life. The man is almost forty: what one could excuse in a twenty year old is just plain annoying in a man whose children are on the verge of becoming parents themselves.
Powerful moments are ruined by the ending. Burrich’s saving of his son Swift was wonderfully written, but his sacrifice seemed only needed so that Fitz could finally get his Molly. Who, almost twenty years later, he still thinks of as “Molly with her red skirts”. My god, man, get over it! They didn’t even have a real relationship.
Oh yes and the Fool’s fate. Fitz reverses it, nullifying any impact it originally had on the reader, and ultimately his true fate is never known because Fitz is too concerned, once again, with Molly.
If Hobb had had the courage to actually make the Fool female, now that would have been a nice twist. If one could call it a twist with all the hints she dropped. But it felt like in the end she didn’t want to do anything to shake Fitz’s world too much. So make the Fool disappear, give him Molly back (but with Burrich out of the picture), and everyone live happily ever after. Except the Fool. Oh and Kettricken.
I find it a bit of double standard that Kettricken, whose six month marriage was arranged, and didn’t really have a true love with her husband until near the end, remains a devoted widow until the end of her days. But Molly, who was with her husband for sixteen years and raised seven (!) children with him is able to move on within a short frame of time. It’s actually quite disgusting how eager Fitz was when Burrich died.
Frankly, it was one of the most disappointing books (and by extension trilogies) I’ve ever read.