Fool's Fate (Tawny Man Series #3)

Fool's Fate (Tawny Man Series #3)

by Robin Hobb

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reissue)

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“Fantasy as it ought to be written . . . Robin Hobb’s books are diamonds in a sea of zircons.”—George R. R. Martin 

FitzChivalry Farseer has become firmly ensconced in the queen’s court. Along with his mentor, Chade, and the simpleminded yet strongly Skilled Thick, Fitz strives to aid Prince Dutiful on a quest that could secure peace with the Outislands—and win Dutiful the hand of the Narcheska Elliania.
The Narcheska has set the prince an unfathomable task: to behead a dragon trapped in ice on the isle of Aslevjal. Yet not all the clans of the Outislands support their effort. Are there darker forces at work behind Elliania’s demand? Knowing that the Fool has foretold he will die on the island of ice, Fitz plots to leave his dearest friend behind. But fate cannot so easily be defied.
Praise for Robin Hobb and Fool’s Fate
“[Robin] Hobb’s rich, vibrant and unique world [is] filled with sentient ships, magical beasts, and fascinating characters. . . . Highly recommended.”Library Journal
“Rich, enchanting fantasy from one of today’s best practitioners . . . reminiscent of Ursula Le Guin’s The Other Wind [and] Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series.”BookPage

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553582468
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/23/2004
Series: Tawny Man Series , #3
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 928
Sales rank: 34,160
Product dimensions: 4.16(w) x 6.86(h) x 1.57(d)

About the Author

Robin Hobb is the author of the Farseer Trilogy, the Liveship Traders Trilogy, the Tawny Man Trilogy, the Soldier Son Trilogy, and the Rain Wilds Chronicles. She has also written as Megan Lindholm. She is a native of Washington State.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1


Sometimes it seems unfair that events so old can reach forward through the years, sinking claws into one's life and twisting all that follows it. Yet perhaps that is the ultimate justice: we are the sum of all we have done added to the sum of all that has been done to us. There is no escaping that, not for any of us.

So it was that everything that the Fool had ever said to me and all the things he'd left unsaid combined. And the sum was that I betrayed him. Yet I believed that I acted in his best interests, and mine. He had foretold that if we went to Aslevjal Island, he would die and Death might make another snap of his jaws at me. He promised to do all in his power to see that I survived, for his grand scheme to change the future required it. But with my latest brush with death still fresh in my memory, I found his promises more threatening than reassuring. He had also blithely informed me that once we were on the island, I would have to choose between our friendship and my loyalty to Prince Dutiful.

Perhaps I could have faced one of those things and stood strong before it, but I doubt it. Any one of those things was enough to unman me, and facing the sum of them was simply beyond my strength.

So I went to Chade. I told him what the Fool had said. And my old mentor arranged that when we sailed for the Out Islands, the Fool would not go with us.

Spring had come to Buckkeep Castle. The grim black stone edifice still crouched suspiciously on the steep cliffs above Buckkeep Town, but on the rolling hills behind the keep, new green grass was pushing optimistically up through the standing brown straw of last year's growth. The bare-limbed forests were hazed with tiny green leaves unfurling on every tree branch. The wintry mounds of dead kelp on the black beaches at the foot of the cliffs had been swept away by the tides. Migratory birds had returned, and their songs rang challenges in the forested hills and along the beaches where seabirds battled for choice nesting nooks in the cliffs. Spring had even invaded the dim halls and high-ceilinged chambers of the keep, for blossoming branches and early-blooming flowers graced every alcove and framed the entries of the gathering rooms.

The warmer winds seemed to sweep my gloom away. None of my problems and concerns had vanished, but spring can dismiss a multitude of worries. My physical state had improved; I felt more youthful than I had in my twenties. Not only was I building flesh and muscle again, but I suddenly possessed the body that a fit man of my years should have. The harsh healing I had undergone at the inexperienced hands of the coterie had inadvertently undone old damage as well. Abuse I had suffered at Galen's hands in the course of his teaching me the Skill, injuries I had taken as a warrior, and the deep scars from my torture in Regal's dungeons had been erased. My headaches had nearly ceased, my vision no longer blurred when I was weary, and I did not ache in the chill of early morning. I lived now in the body of a strong and healthy animal. Few things are so exhilarating as good health on a clear spring morning.

I stood on the top of a tower and looked out over the wrinkling sea. Behind me, tubs of earth, freshly manured, held small fruit trees arrayed in blossoms of white and pale pink. Smaller pots held vines with swelling leaf buds. The long green leaves of bulb flowers thrust up like scouts sent to test the air. In some pots, only bare brown stalks showed, but the promise was there, each plant awaiting the return of warmer days. Interspersed with the pots were artfully arranged statuary and beckoning benches. Shielded candles awaited mellow summer nights to send their glow into the darkness. Queen Kettricken had restored the Queen's Garden to its former glory. This high retreat was her private territory. Its present simplicity reflected her Mountain roots, but its existence was a much older Buckkeep tradition.

I paced a restless turn around its perimeter path, and then forced myself to stand still. The boy was not late. I was early. That the minutes dragged was not his fault. Anticipation warred with reluctance as I awaited my first private meeting with Swift, Burrich's son. My queen had given me responsibility for Swift's instruction in both letters and weaponry. I dreaded the task. Not only was the boy Witted, but he was undeniably headstrong. Those two things, coupled with his intelligence, could carry him into trouble. The Queen had decreed that the Witted must be treated with respect, but many still believed that the best cure for Beast Magic was a noose, a knife, and a fire.

I understood the Queen's motive in entrusting Swift to me. His father, Burrich, had turned him out of his home when the boy would not give up the Wit. Yet the same Burrich had devoted years to raising me when I was a lad and abandoned by my royal father as a bastard that he dared not claim. It was fitting that I now do the same for Burrich's son, even if I could never let the boy know that I had once been FitzChivalry and his father's ward. So it was that I awaited Swift, a skinny lad of ten summers, as nervously as if I faced the boy's father. I took a deep breath of the cool morning air. The scent of the fruit tree blossoms balmed it. I reminded myself that my task would not last long. Very soon, I would accompany the Prince on his quest to Aslevjal in the Out Islands. Surely I could endure being the lad's instructor until then.

The Wit Magic makes one aware of other life, and so I turned even before Swift pushed open the heavy door. He shut it quietly behind him. Despite his long climb up the steep stone stairs, he was not breathing hard. I remained partially concealed by screening blossoms and studied him. He was dressed in Buckkeep blue, in simple garments befitting a page. Chade was right. He would make a fine axeman. The boy was thin, in the way of active boys of that age, but the knobs of shoulders under his jerkin promised his father's brawn. I doubted he would be tall, but he would be wide enough to make up for it. Swift had his father's black eyes and dark curling hair, but there was something of Molly in the line of his jaw and the set of his eyes. Molly, my lost love and Burrich's wife. I took a long, deep breath. This might be more difficult than I had imagined.

I saw him become aware of me. I stood still, letting his eyes seek me out. For a time we both stood, unspeaking. Then he threaded his way through the meandering paths until he stood before me. His bow was too carefully practiced to be graceful.

"My lord, I am Swift Witted. I was told to report to you, and so I present myself."

I could see he had made an effort to learn his court courtesies. Yet his blatant inclusion of his Beast Magic in how he named himself seemed almost a rude challenge, as if he tested whether the Queen's protection of the Witted would hold here, alone with me. He met my gaze in a forthright way that most nobles would have found presumptuous. Then again, I reminded myself, I was not a noble. I told him so. "I am not 'my lord' to anyone, lad. I'm Tom Badgerlock, a man-at-arms in the Queen's Guard. You may call me Master Badgerlock, and I shall call you Swift. Is that agreed?"

He blinked twice and then nodded. Abruptly, he recalled that that was not correct. "It is, sir. Master Badgerlock."

"Very well. Swift, do you know why you were sent to me?"

He bit his upper lip twice, swift successive nibbles, then took a deep breath and spoke, eyes lowered. "I suppose I've displeased someone." Then he flashed his gaze up to mine again. "But I don't know what I did, or to whom." Almost defiantly, he added, "I cannot help what I am. If it is because I am Witted, well, then, it isn't fair. Our queen has said that my magic should not make any difference in how I am treated."

My breath caught in my throat. His father looked at me from those dark eyes. The uncompromising honesty and the determination to speak the truth was all Burrich's. And yet, in his intemperate haste, I heard Molly's quick temper. For a moment, I was at a loss for words.

The boy interpreted my silence as displeasure and lowered his eyes. But the set of his shoulders was still square; he did not know of any fault he had committed, and he would not show any repentance until he did.

"You did not displease anyone, Swift. And you will find that to some at Buckkeep, your Wit matters not at all. That is not why we separated you from the other children. Rather, this change is for your benefit. Your knowledge of letters surpasses the other children of your age. We did not wish to thrust you into a group of youths much older than you. It was also decided that you could benefit from instruction in the use of a battle-axe. That, I believe, is why I was chosen to mentor you."

His head jerked and he looked up at me in confusion and dismay. "A battle-axe?"

I nodded, both to him and to myself. Chade was up to his old tricks again. Plainly the boy had not been asked if he had any interest in learning to wield such a weapon. I put a smile on my face. "Certainly a battle-axe. Buckkeep's men-at-arms recall that your father fought excellently with the axe. As you inherit his build as well as his looks, it seems natural that his weapon of choice should be yours."

"I'm nothing like my father. Sir."

I nearly laughed aloud, not from joy, but because the boy had never looked more like Burrich than he did at that moment. It felt odd to look down at someone giving me his black scowl. But such an attitude was not appropriate to a boy of his years, so I coldly said, "You're like enough, in the Queen's and Councilor Chade's opinions. Do you dispute what they have decided for you?"

It all hovered in the balance. I saw the instant when he made his decision, and almost read the workings of his mind. He could refuse. Then he might be seen as ungrateful and sent back home to his father. Better to bow his head to a distasteful task and stay. And so he said, voice lowered, "No, sir. I accept what they have decided."

"That's good," I said with false heartiness.

But before I could continue, he informed me, "But I have a skill with a weapon already. The bow, sir. I had not spoken of it before, because I did not think it would be of interest to anyone. But if I'm to train as a fighter as well as a page, I already have a weapon of choice."

Interesting. I regarded him in silence for a moment. I'd seen enough of Burrich in him to suspect he would not idly boast of a skill he didn't possess. "Very well, then. You may show me your skills with a bow. But this time is set aside for other lessons. To that end, we've been given permission to use scrolls from the Buckkeep library. That's quite an honor for both of us." I waited for a response.

He bobbed a nod, and then recalling his manners, "Yes, sir."

"Good. Then meet me here tomorrow. We'll have an hour of scrolls and writing, and then we'll go down to the weapons court." Again I awaited his reply.

"Yes, sir. Sir?"

"What is it?"

"I'm a good horseman, sir. I'm a bit rusty now. My father refused to let me be around his horses for the last year. But I'm a good horseman, as well."

"That's good to know, Swift." I knew what he had hoped. I watched his face, and saw the light in it dim at my neutral response. I had reacted almost reflexively. A boy of his age shouldn't be considering bonding with an animal. Yet as he lowered his head in disappointment, I felt my old loneliness echo down the years. So too had Burrich done all he could to protect me from bonding with a beast. Knowing the wisdom of it now didn't still the memory of my thrumming isolation. I cleared my throat and tried to keep my voice smoothly assured when I spoke. "Very well, then, Swift. Report to me here tomorrow. Oh, and wear your old clothes tomorrow. We'll be getting dirty and sweaty."

He looked stricken.

"Well? What is it, lad?"

"I . . . sir, I can't. I, that is, I don't have my old clothes anymore. Only the two sets the Queen gave me."

"What happened to them?"

"I . . . I burned them, sir." He suddenly sounded defiant. He met my eyes, jaw jutting.

I thought of asking him why. I didn't need to. It was obvious from his stance. He had made a show for himself of destroying all things that bound him to his past. I wondered if I should make him admit that aloud, then decided that nothing would be gained by it. Surely such a waste of useful garments was something that should shame him. I wondered how bitterly his differences with his father had run. Suddenly the day seemed a little less brightly blue. I shrugged, dismissing the matter. "Wear what you have, then," I said abruptly, and hoped I did not sound too harsh.

He stood there, staring at me, and I realized that I hadn't dismissed him. "You may go now, Swift. I will see you tomorrow."

"Yes, sir. Thank you, Master Badgerlock." He bowed, jerkily correct, and then hesitated again. "Sir? May I ask you a last question?"


He looked all around us, almost suspiciously. "Why do we meet up here?"

"It's quiet. It's pleasant. When I was your age, I hated to be kept indoors on a spring day."

That brought a hesitant smile to his face. "So do I, sir. Nor do I like to be kept so isolated from animals. That is my magic calling me, I suppose."

I wished he had let it rest. "Perhaps it is. And perhaps you should think well before you answer it." This time I intended that he hear the rebuke in my voice.

He flinched, then looked indignant. "The Queen said that my magic was not to make a difference to anyone. That no one can treat me poorly because of it."

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Fool's Fate (Tawny Man Series #3) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 151 reviews.
epow50 More than 1 year ago
You must read The Farseer series first, but Fool's Fate is a rewarding ending.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A fitting end to a wonderful series. I cried with joy for Fitz to finally have peace. Don't read the series if you can't get emotionally attached to your characters. Robin Hobb outdoes herself with an ending which fulfills the thing all readers hope for in a series, 'Satisfactory Completion' although, the way the fool left...*wimpers* but it was to be expected, for nothing expected ever came from the fool...
Guest More than 1 year ago
having awaited this book for several anxious months, i thought my expectations were too high... i was mistaken! If you haven't read any of Hobbs previous works, i implore you to. I challenge anyone to read these and not become emotionally attatched to all the main characters... Without a doubt, the best series of books i've ever had the pleasure of reading.
GLTurner1 More than 1 year ago
This book in particular has left me a complete and utter emotional wreck, as if I myself just lost the love of my own life. The characters draw the reader in so completely that they become so SO much more than that. However, the ending left me completely know, the Fool deserves a happily-ever-after, too. So please Robin Hobb....please please PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEE I beg of you....even if it's just one more book, please please give us a happy ending for the Fool. If any of your characters ever deserved a happy ending, you KNOW he does. He's the most precious and real of them all. Don't abandon him please.
Dragonfriend More than 1 year ago
Just when you think you know what's going to happen, Robin slips in a new twist....hard to put down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Robin Hobb's series about FitzChivalry Farseer shows Fitz's growth from wide-eyed boy to foolish young man, to experienced adult. It was enjoyable to me for one reason because even though Fitz was the main character, it wasn't as though he was holy, or respected, or the ONE. He knew what he was in the world and never tried to be more. I got caught up in the story through his thoughts and emotions, and got through his most embarrassing moments to enjoy the ending.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Makes me sad, knowing this is the last book. It was excellent. Everyone should read it. Though, it might help if you read the other books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The heir to the throne of the Six Duchies, Prince Dutiful promises his fiancée, that he will present her with a dragon¿s head, which means an expedition to the remote tundra like Out Island. The former fool Lord Golden knows that he is going to die on this northern wasteland trek, but feels it is his duty to accompany the Prince. His friend, who is also an assassin, FitzChivalry Farseertries tries to persuade Golden into not going, but fails................................................ When they reach one of the independent Out Islands, the royal retinue meets the Hetgurd who disagree with the slaying. The teenage prince negotiates a deal with the Outislanders. He and a small party accompanied by Hetgurd warriors will set off on the trek to slice off the head of a dragon. However, Dutiful and company run into a new problem as the local dragon community refuse to cooperate. Will the two species war, cooperate with some sort of deal such as an exchange for one of the regal crew, or will Dutiful break his first promise to his future wife?.......................................... The third entry in the FitzChivalry Farseertries narrated fantasy series is a delightful tale that shows the complexities of groups trying to come together on an objective, but with each member bringing baggage and an agenda to the table (ship?). The story line is exciting, but it is the ensemble that makes Robin Hobb¿s realm seems so real. Fans will enjoy this deep look at those who must carry out the wishes of their leader although unlike real life whether it is World War One or Operation Iraqi where the decision makers stay away from the battlefield, Dutiful to his credit joins them on the front line..................................... Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Always leaves me scoured.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely amazing. This book was gripping from beginnin g to end. Tragedy, bittersweet moments, growth, healing, love... It was a wonderful end to a wonderful trilogy and I can't wait to read more of the Elderlings books.
willowcove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just as good as the original trilogy!
momarida on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
the fool. is most absolutely one of the best characters I have ever read . this book was stunning and is in my top 3, without shame or doubt....the complete series is beautifully build up to this stunning end.......I wish there were more fantasy books of this aliber.....
MorganGMac on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've been on a major Robin Hobb binge, and I don't think I can stop. She's just fabulous! This Tawny Man trilogy picks up the characters from the Farseer trilogy but has some very intriguing (and unexpected ties) with the Liveship trilogy. Fitz has exiled himself for the last 15 years, but he's dragged back into Buckkeep politics. Kettricken's son, Prince Dutiful, has been captured by Witted folk, and Fitz is called into duty. I've never met a more bedraggled, constantly beat up character, but regardless of the bitter chip on his shoulder, Fitz always seems to come back for more. The trilogy centers around Fitz helping Prince Dutiful return to the castle and complete a quest of killing a dragon, while teaching him the Skill and not revealing that he is Fitz's biological son. So many tense moments. Plus, it turns out that Fitz's daughter, who also doesn't know that he's her father, is highly Skilled and as stubborn as her father. Of course, our old favorite characters, the Fool, Kettricken, and Chade, are still in the mix. It's a fabulous story of a slightly angry yet talented man who is still growing up, and it does end more happily than the Farseer trilogy. I love it. Go read all of Robin Hobb's books right now.
plunkinberry on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great end to the trillogy (well, actually both the Farseer trillogy and the Tawney Man trillogy) !!! I couldn't put this down - stayed up LATE several nights in a row to finish. There were tedious parts - I tired of Thick much as Fitz must have at time - but overall, what a great story. I was so glad that the end of the adventure wasn't the end of the story and that all the personal threads were tied together (OK, most of them anyway). Moving and exciting! I gave it 5 stars - which is a rare occurrance in my rating of stories.
BlueYolanda on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow. This is a big call, and I might get into trouble for saying this coz it's 'just fantasy' but this is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read, and the Fool is one of the most beautiful characters I will ever meet. 'Nuff said.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ever changing. Branches in storyline keep popping up. Always fascinating. I keep wondering where it can go next. I just have to start the next book.
TerrapinJetta on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow, okay. This is an amazing series, and this is an amazing culmination of the series. It's a shame the very final epilogue end bit trails off and dies down and pulls us from flying high on our emotions to a dull middling ground, but ignoring the ending... This simply... It exacts emotion from me, I was crying so much at the end it was unbelievable. But yeah, very disappointing end for me, considering all the characters relationships and the rules in their personality were pointing to something else entirely... Deducted half a star for the ending, but the rest is unbelievable. Well rounded, deep, HUMAN characters - I mean really human characters. An unreliable narrator who is distrustful, controlling, oblivious and self-delusional, sometimes just plain stupid; he's human and he has many many faults but in spite of it all he pulls through and he does what he has to. It's beautiful, anybody who loves fantasy and is not afraid of weeping so much their tear ducts dry up should give this a go (starting of course with the Farseer Trilogy).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful end to the third of the trilogies set in this world. Going on to the next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pure gold... Wonderful as always. There are no words that can explain one of Robin Hobb's books. All I can say is I've never been more addicted more interested in any author. If you want a book that has charterers so real. Or situations so filled with the perfect amount of detail, action, and fantasy. This is your book. This is your author. Bravo one hundred times...
PollyBennett More than 1 year ago
This series is all reaching, a true epic fantasy. Each trilogy adds to the beauty of the world. Fools Fate is such a wonderful addition.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Held my attention, couldn't put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thankfully not the end of the story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago