Title: Fool's Quest
Author: Robin Hobb
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
After nearly killing his oldest friend, the Fool, and finding his daughter stolen away by those who were once targeting the Fool, FitzChivarly Farseer is out for blood. And who better to wreak havoc than a highly trained and deadly former royal assassin? Fitz might have let his skills go fallow over his years of peace, but such things, once learned, are not so easily forgotten. And nothing is more dangerous than a man who has nothing left to lose…
This was a lot more enjoyable than the first book in the series! It's probably because I finally read a few older books and know what's happening and because a lot more stuff happened in book 2 while book 1 was just set-up.
Fool's Quest picks up immediately after the events of Fool's Assassin. The Fool is deathly ill after Fitz' overreaction and Bee faces dangers she could never have imagined. This book is so emotional, and it really makes up for the lack of plot in book one. The first book was all about getting to know all the characters, and now that crazy things are happening to them, it's twice as emotional because you are invested in all of them. Even Shun and Lant, who I really didn't like in book 1, tugged at my heartstrings as they had to deal with the insanity that life threw their way. There were even a few new characters that I suddenly became very invested in, and I cannot wait to see how Ash's story in particular plays out. Every character grows up tremendously in this book and takes on unexpected roles, Fitz most of all.
I don't want to spoil things, but I will say that the one scene that actually moved me to tears was a happy scene and not a sad one. Although this book is dark and terrifying at times, there are plenty of warm fuzzies to get you through it as well.
I also really like how Robin Hobb blends the lines between gender and identity. We have the ambiguous Fool, a prophecied Son who is not necessarily a boy at all, more than one cross-dressing character, and a lot of men and women in non-traditional roles. No one is limited in their personality or identity because of traditional gender roles or stereotypes. If anything Robin Hobb just creates strong characters without any real emphasis on gendered behavior. Unlike most fantasy narratives, which say something along the lines of "This one is a man. A manly man. A manly man with muscles who all the ladies fawn over", Hobb just says "This is Fitz. Here is his story." and lets you fill in his personality through his actions instead of through preconceived expectations and stereotypes.
Robin Hobb is a master storyteller and I am so glad I have over a dozen more of her books to get through as I make my way through the past trilogies. I never want this series to end!
*A free e-copy was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*