I finished reading Assassin’s Fate yesterday. So beware spoilers for every book in the Realm of the Elderlings.
I started reading the Farseer trilogy quite late. A couple of years ago I picked it up on my Kindle when it was discounted down to 99p. I fell in love with Fitz and the Fool. I bought the other two books in the trilogy and lost myself in the Six Duchies for a few days.
I can’t describe how deeply Fitz and the Fool matter to me. I’ve never read a book that has had as much of an effect on me as Assassin’s Quest. The whole section of the book on the Skill road, in the garden with the stone dragons, and in the quarry with Verity carving his own dragon really touched me. I teared up a few times reading those parts of the book. These people mattered to me. They mattered so much. I thought about them when I wasn’t reading. I dreamed about Fitz and Nighteyes hunting Forged and rabbits. Whenever I closed my eyes I saw the Fool smirking at Fitz.
Because of Robin Hobb, I found my best friends, from Assassin’s Apprentice to Assassin’s Fate: the Farseer Trilogy, the Tawny Man trilogy, and the Fitz and the Fool trilogy. I’ve never cheered while reading a book until I read Fitz’s story. I never cried as much over any other characters.
When Fitz suffered, I felt the pain. When he lost his love, it felt like I had lost something too. When his King was killed, I felt the same anger he felt. I ground my teeth, and then I celebrated when he took his vengeance. I grieved when he lost his kings, Verity and Shrewd. I cried when Verity put himself into his dragon. I felt all of this because Hobb has a unique gift of evoking empathy in her readers. The way she writes draws you in like no other writer can. This was the first trilogy alone.
Robin Hobb is the only author who has ever made me cry with happiness, too. When I read Fool’s Quest I cried in quick succession. I cried when Fitz read the letter from Verity and was given his steel crown, and I really started sobbing when Fitz was finally recognised as FitzChivalry Farseer, Prince of the Six Duchies in front of the court. He was finally vindicated for the sacrifices he made for his family. When Starling sang her magnum opus, I just continued sobbing. Her story of Fitz, as told by someone other than himself, was a beautiful retelling of the events of his life. Fitz was always overly critical of himself, and so hearing someone else portray him was rewarding. He got to hear about himself the same way that the reader experiences Fitz’s life. It was like when he suffered, except he had finally triumphed, and I couldn’t stop grinning. I fist pumped and gleefully laughed with joy that he was finally rewarded for his sacrifices. I physically kicked my legs like an excited child more than once. Especially when I read the lines “Dying is boring,” from our long missed Nighteyes.
I started writing this some time ago. I wrote it shortly after the release of Assassin’s Fate. I took a break from writing, and when the urge returned, so did my wish to finish saying how much Fitz, Nighteyes, and the Fool meant to me.
I think it took me some time to come to terms with the loss of these three. Sure, I had time to grieve for Nighteyes as Fitz did. But in truth … We knew Nighteyes and Fitz more intimately than we likely know many, even those closest to use. And I believe, like Fitz, we never let go. We never moved on from the loss of those we loved. And we did love them. I defy any reader of these books to tell me they did not love these characters.
I took time to grieve Fitz, Nighteyes, and Fool. They were fiction, but they were my friends. I grieved their loss because I loved them.
I remember our return to the quarry where we lost Verity, but now it was Fitz’s turn. I wept. I cried in public. I laugh at myself now, but it cut me close reading those final chapters. Robin Hobb gave us something perfect, some beautiful. She gave us a part of herself in the form of Fitz and his family. He became all of our Beloved. When Fitz finally put himself into the dragon, with Fool and Nighteyes, I smiled as I cried. The Wolf of the West was the culmination of a story some people had been invested in for over twenty years. I cannot fathom the journey they had with these characters, but I know that my journey with them will stay with me forever.
I hope to meet Robin Hobb come Dublin 2019 when Ireland hosts the World Fantasy Convention. I want to thank her for what she gave us before she takes the deserved rest from travel that she has since stated she will take.
So this is my goodbye; goodbye FitzChivalry Farseer, the shadow king of the Six Duchies; goodbye Nighteyes, brother; goodbye Fool, you were Beloved to us, and gave us Beloved.
Thank you, Robin.