Fool's Fate: The Tawny Man Book Three by Robin Hobb
Harper Collins/Voyager (UK) HCVR: ISBN 0002247283 PubDate: 10/20/03
Review by Iain Emsley
816 pgs. List price $ 18.99
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Robin Hobb, quite simply, is one of the finest authors in the field of fantasy. Ever since she arrived on the scene with the Farseer trilogy with the central characters of Fitz and the Fool, she has delivered solid stories with believable characters. Above all, Hobb delivers a good, well told Story that obviously appeals to a wide spectrum of Fantasy readers.
With Fool's Fate, she concludes the Tawny Man trilogy and this marks the final adventures of Fitz and the Fool for the moment.
Fitz, still travelling as Tom Badgerlock, is sailing towards Aslevjal to fulfil his part in Dutiful's quest to capture Icefyre's head for his bride to be, thus sealing their union and peace between the countries. Fitz, however, has a secondary role; he must work with the White Prophet to prevent his fate taking place. The dreams of Thick, the servant, become darker as the voyage progresses, filled with terrible voices and dreams of beating wings, terrifying those around him.
Their arrival is not eagerly awaited, nor their terrible quest, and so they must adapt to circumstances that are far different from anything they imagine.
Hobb balances the machinations of power politics and courtly intrigue with the delicacies of human relationships. Fitz's relationships with the court develop in an intriguing fashion which satisfied tis reader on a number of levels. The characters are believable making choices through out the series in line with their expectations rather than having the plot dictate their actions.
What truly places this writer above other Fantasts is her ability to realise the role of Story in Fantasy. Hobb is aware of the archetypal nature of many fantasy characters and stories and she is able bring these revolving roles to the fore, at one point debating the nature of Story in th text itself. Rather than keeping these characters and merely recasting the roles as necessary, she actually brings an extra-dimension to her stories because they are able to knowingly adopt these roles and utilise them. There is no sense that they are going through the exercises but are actively pursuing their own fates, taking matters into their own hands. Hobb, in this fashion, is bringing back one of the maters of Fantasy – the adaptable nature of Story and the role of the Storyteller in repeating these Stories but adapting them in each telling. In this way, the wastes of Aslevjal are fertile breeding grounds for a quite literally epic confrontation.
This is a satisfying ending to this tale and, at time time of writing this review, we don't know what will come next – there have been hints but nothing concrete. Much has been made of watershed that Tolkien created in the 1950s and the lasting influence this has had on Fantasy but Hobb has taken his method and techniques, adapting them for her own purposes. She had admitted to using him as an influence but rather than producing a sub fantasy, she is able to cast her own long shadows.