Review: Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb

Fool's ErrandThis book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Robin Hobb made her mark on fantasy, with the trilogies The Farseers and The Liveship Traders. Her world, populated by magic-users, dragons and living ships, incorporates all that makes fantasy great.

Now Hobb returns again to the Six Duchies and her memorable Farseer hero, Fitz, in Fool’s Errand, first in the new Tawny Man trilogy.

After nearly giving his life for king and country, Fitz has faded from sight and memory. Thought to be many years dead, he lives quietly under the name Tom Badgerlock. But one day, his past arrives at the door. Two old friends, his mentor Chade and the former king’s Fool (now known as Lord Golden), plead for his return. Prince Dutiful, the throne’s only heir, has vanished on the eve of his betrothal to an Outisland princess. Only Fitz has any hope of locating him.

Posing as the Fool’s servant, Fitz seeks clues to the Prince’s disappearance. All leads point to a chilling supposition: Dutiful carries the Wit, the abhorred beast magic, and has run off with his bond-mate, a hunting cat. With time growing short, Fitz, who also bears the Wit, sets out with his wolf Nighteyes. He hopes to find young Dutiful before the Wit claims him entirely, leaving behind nothing but an animal in a man’s body.

Hobb’s novels are about as close to perfection as is possible these days. Her plots have twists and turns, enticing readers but never losing them. Her stories seem plausible, realistic, if one can suspend disbelief in the fantastic and enter her world wholeheartedly. Don’t expect rough edges to be smoothed out; Hobb doesn’t shy away from life’s hard realities, and one scene made me cry.

Running through these engaging storylines are characters whose actions and emotions resonate with credibility and vibrancy. Although Fitz, the hero, comes across well, the novel is stolen by his wolf and the enigmatic Fool. One wishes for the opportunity to sit and talk with these characters. Hobb makes readers befriend them, understand them, and empathize with them. They’re about as real as one could hope.

If you’ve never read Hobb’s novels, what are you waiting for? Fool’s Errand holds readers to the last page.