Book Description from Penguin Random House (CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR FOOL’S ASSASSIN):

Ranking alongside George R. R. Martin as a groundbreaking master of fantasy, New York Times bestselling author Robin Hobb delivers the second book in her long-awaited Fitz and the Fool trilogy.

The harrowing adventures of FitzChivalry Farseer and his enigmatic friend the Fool continue in Robin Hobb’s triumphant follow-up to Fool’s Assassin. But Fool’s Quest is more than just a sequel. With the artistry and imagination her fans have come to expect, Hobb builds masterfully on all that has gone before, revealing devastating secrets and shocking conspiracies that cast a dark shadow over the history of Fitz and his world—a shadow that now stretches to darken all future hope.

Long ago, Fitz and the Fool changed the world, bringing back the magic of dragons and securing both the Farseer succession and the stability of the kingdom. Or so they thought. But now the Fool is near death, maimed by mysterious pale-skinned figures whose plans for world domination hinge upon the powers the Fool may share with Fitz’s own daughter.

Distracted by the Fool’s perilous health, and swept up against his will in the intrigues of the royal court, Fitz lets down his guard . . . and in a horrible instant, his world is undone and his beloved daughter stolen away by those who would use her as they had once sought to use the Fool—as a weapon.

But FitzChivalry Farseer is not without weapons of his own. An ancient magic still lives in his veins. And though he may have let his skills as royal assassin diminish over the years, such things, once learned, are not so easily forgotten.

Now enemies and friends alike are about to learn that nothing is more dangerous than a man who has nothing left to lose.

Fool’s Quest, the second book in Robin Hobb’s Fitz and the Fool trilogy, is out in the US today! As mentioned in my recent review of the previous book, Fool’s Assassin, this trilogy is related to other series about the same characters and is not the place to begin reading, as wonderful as it is. Fortunately, the series leading up to this one are also excellent as well, and having read them is part of what made this book absolutely fantastic—as a long-time fan of these books and characters, there are parts that are immensely satisfying. Because I do not want to spoil any of these incredible moments for anyone, this review may be rather vague but suffice to say that it’s been awhile since I read a book I loved so very much. (I realize that I just said that about about a book a couple of months ago, but I actually enjoyed Fool’s Quest even more than Uprooted!)

While Fool’s Assassin was delightful, it was a slower book until toward the end. Fool’s Quest continues after these exciting developments and starts to pull in more of the epic while remaining character-centric. Less time is spent focused on everyday life, and Fitz spends more time with the other characters than in the first book, some of whom share the spotlight as well. Robin Hobb is superb at writing characters and poignant moments between them, and while some of the best parts of the book involve Fitz spending time with characters we’ve come to know in previous books, she also introduces some wonderful new characters in this installment. Even the animals often steal the stage, and I was particularly impressed with the crow Motley. While many animals convey more complex thoughts through the Wit, Motley does not, yet she still has her own mannerisms and quirks that make her memorable even without this. Like many of the characters in these books, she faces difficulty because she is different—the other crows will not accept her since she has some white feathers—but even aside from being immediately sympathetic due to this, she’s incredibly drawn due to the intelligence and personality shown in her scenes.

I also appreciated that Shun, a new character introduced in the previous book in this trilogy, was given more depth. Shun was spoiled and demanding and did not seem to have a single redeeming quality in the first novel. In this book, she’s still far from perfect, but I found myself admiring her bravery and even liking her at times. This reminded me a little of Malta in Liveship Traders, who was irritating in the beginning though she grew by the end of the trilogy, but it didn’t seem like the same situation. Perhaps Shun will also transform as a character, but I rather suspect the difficulties she faced just allowed us to see a different side of her since she still had some of the same qualities.

The writing is a rarity—dense without seeming so. There are often lengthy paragraphs and each chapter begins with a piece of writing that is often verbose yet it’s so immersive that I didn’t notice this while reading. While it’s a huge book, it never felt overlong, nor were there parts I wished to rush through to get to better parts since all of it was worth reading. At first, it did bother me that it seemed like the characters were interrupted every time they began to discuss their situation enough to begin piecing it together. While the timing was perhaps too convenient and even seemed to be taunting me at times, I ended up being glad that this was delayed. If it hadn’t been, it may have propelled some events forward quickly enough that some of the unforgettable, gratifying scenes in this book could not have taken place.

By the end, more of the wider world is involved and it’s moving toward becoming a more epic story (and I also now wonder if it would be helpful to read the four books in the Rain Wilds Chronicles before this trilogy, but I didn’t feel lost even without having read them). Like the last book, this one does end on a horrible cliffhanger and the wait for the next book is excruciating.

Fool’s Quest is not only even more excellent than the first book in the trilogy but is also the most satisfying novel about FitzChivalry Farseer of all. Though the world is an amazing place to explore, the deft characterization and smooth writing truly bring this book to life, especially the poignant scenes between some of the characters I’ve long enjoyed reading about. Robin Hobb is a phenomenal writer who has written many of the best fantasy books I’ve had the pleasure of reading—and while I’m not sure I could select a single favorite from her many beloved novels, Fool’s Quest is the one I’d pick if I must.

My Rating: 10/10

Where I got my reading copy: ARC/finished copy from the publisher. (I mostly read the ARC but I read later parts of the book in the hardcover version).

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