Fool’s Fate: Meets very high expectations

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsFool’s Fate by Robin Hobb epic fantasy book reviewsFool’s Fate by Robin Hobb

I shouldn’t even have to write this review. Fool’s Fate is the last book in Robin Hobb’s TAWNY MAN trilogy, following Fool’s Errand and Golden Fool. If you haven’t read those (and preferably also the earlier FARSEER trilogy), you have no business reading this review. If you have read those books, there is about a 0.00416% chance that you’re not going to pick up Fool’s Fate, so it doesn’t matter what I say here.

But, since you are here, for whatever reason, I’ll make it short and just let you know that Fool’s Fate met, and maybe even exceeded, my very high expectations… which I knew it would because I read it ten years ago and have thought about it longingly in all the years since. This time I listened to Brilliance Audio’s recently released audio version which was superbly narrated by James Langton who is now, for me, the official voice of FitzChivalry Farseer. I absolutely adored his performance.

The story begins just where it left off in Golden Fool. Fitz is back at court, acting as Skillmaster and somewhat of a father figure for Prince Dutiful. The prince has gotten himself in a sticky situation — he impulsively accepted his fiancée’s challenge to behead a giant dragon entrapped in a glacier. Not quite believing that such a thing actually exists, he sets off with his retinue (including Fitz) to do the deed. Fitz is concerned about what they’ll find when they arrive because the Fool seems to think that this event is the culmination of his life’s work and that his death is imminent.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThat plot summary (and even the title of the book) makes it sound like Fool’s Fate is just another silly fantasy quest, but the quest, though it is integrally tied in with Hobb’s other work in LIVESHIP TRADERS and THE RAIN WILD CHRONICLES is mostly a vehicle for Hobb to give us both an epic tragedy and an epic love story. That’s what she’s so good at — giving us characters who we care deeply about. These people feel almost like family and we’re with them as they navigate the entire spectrum of human experiences. Each of Hobb’s protagonists goes through much pain, sorrow, and defeat, but each of them loves deeply and the pain makes that love even more beautiful. The story is powerfully emotional and few readers will come away with dry eyes.

As I’ve said in previous reviews, the FARSEER and TAWNY MAN trilogies are, in my opinion, the best that fantasy literature has to offer and my first recommendation for friends who ask me what they should read. Though I’ve read thousands of fantasy novels, these remain my favorites.

It surprised me this year when Robin Hobb gave us Fool’s Assassin, the first in a new trilogy about Fitz and the Fool. I didn’t need it — I thought that Fool’s Fate was a perfect stopping place — but I’ll be happy to see my old friends again.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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  1. Wow, Kat. That is a HIGH recommendation. I’ll be checking these out post-haste.

    • You’re not allowed to, Kate. If you get sucked into Fitz’s life, we might not hear from you for weeks, and that would never do.


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