Its predecessor having set the bar rather high, it was with great expectations that I began to read the second volume of The Tawny Man trilogy. I should have known by now not to doubt Robin Hobb, but I guess I had not yet learned my lesson. Well, I need not have feared because Golden Fool is simply brilliant. The novel delivers on every level, elevating the tale to new heights.
It truly amazes me how Mrs. Hobb manages to push the envelope a little more with each new book she writes. Understandably, I just can't wait to sit down and the conclusion of his fantastic series.
Once again, the characterizations are superb. How the author manages to surpass herself, over and over again, is a mystery. Indeed, Hobb's characterizations are on a far higher plane than that of her fellow fantasy writers. And this is the aspect of the book which makes Golden Fool such a terrific read: great characters populating a richly detailed universe. In my opinion, it's the relationships between those characters, as well as Fitz's feelings (revealed throughout the easy-flowing narrative) which makes Golden Fool such a treat.
Although the main plotlines continue to progress (the persecution of the Witted and the events surrounding Prince Dutiful's betrothal to the Outislander Narcheska), the bulk of the story surrounds Fitz and the way his return to Buckkeep influences the lives of those who count on him.
Everyone seems to agree that Robin Hobb has created a number of great and believable characters if The Farseer trilogy. Many of us, the world over, have enjoyed that cast of memorable characters: Fitz, Chade, Nighteyes, Burrich, Verity, Patience, the Fool, Kettricken, and many others. And in this series, Mrs. Hobb adds new dimensions to several of them, allowing us to see each character with a new perspective.To call this process "character growth" somehow feels like an understatement.:-) Hence, it was with immense pleasure that I witnessed the evolution of FitzChivalry's relationships with the Fool, the Queen, the Prince, Chade, as well as with his own son, Hap. His new role as a Skillmaster lets us discover another facet of Fitz, as he attempts to teach the rudiments of the Skill to Prince Dutiful and a number of other people.
And as wonderful as the characterizations are, the intrigue keeps building up. Secrets pertaining to the Fool's past are revealed, and I was surprised and pleased to learn of them. We also learn that not all is as it seems within the embassy from the Out Islands, and the Narcheska Elliania herself hides much. Tidings from Bingtown tie up this series with that of The Liveship Traders. And dragons will most probably play a role in the final volume. All that and more!;-) An ominous prophecy proclaimed by the Fool will force Fitz to make a very difficult decision. . .
All in all, a very satisfying, multi-layered epic fantasy tale. Hard to put down.
The final verdict: 9/10