(Original Review, 2017)
Fitz and the Fool - well, I still remain unconvinced that it was necessary - I was quite happy leaving Fitz to his happy ending, and the Fool going home vindicated. It isn't really a story that needed to be told - there's been quite a bit of retconning, particularly of the Fool's history and his people (despite them tattooing him, he seemed altogether more positive about his upbringing with them in the previous books; his decision to return to them really makes no sense knowing what we know now; and the Pale Woman has been downgraded from the Fool's Counterpart to a mere pawn in a larger game). Bee is a tiresome character, to the extent that I had to will myself to get through her chapters. The first book is almost entirely padding - a more economical approach could have dealt with it all in four chapters. Everyone behaves like idiots for no discernable reason (Chade is cagey about the paternity of Shun, despite his absolute trust in Fitz; Fitz, meanwhile, fails to twig the blatantly obvious answer to the paternity question, even when he's spelt out how few fathers there could be). Everything of interest is still happening in Buckkeep, and we're stuck out in the sticks. It's a frustrating novel. What makes this all the more odd is that there's then an abrupt plot lurch in book 2 (surprise surprise), because we're back at Buckkeep and inexplicably taking part in the life and intrigue of the court, despite the obvious reasons to now be elsewhere. And that scene in the middle of book 2 (avoiding spoilers), felt totally misplaced - again, it felt like Hobb was trying to retcon the ending of the Tawny Man, having decided to go in a different direction, but the middle of book 2 just unbalanced the plot at that point!