Fool's Errand - a triumphant return to the Six Duchies.
The Wit is both a blessing and a curse. This low magic enables a human to form such a close bond of kinship with an animal that the two share thoughts and even start to take on each other's personalities. Such an enriched life does come at a price though as the lifespan of most beasts is much shorter than that of their human companion and the death of the animal is a devastating loss. This magic becomes the focus of Robin Hobb's Tawny Man series as her story telling returns to the Six Duchies where it all started. Fifteen years have passed since the end of the Farseer Trilogy and it is time to catch up with our old friends Fitz and the Fool.
Where the Farseer Trilogy dealt with The Skill magic in detail this series explores The Wit and how it affects life in the Six Duchies. The Wit has become a stigma as Prince Regal's legacy lives on in the fact that the general population has grown to fear Witted folk. The Old Blood (those who possess the Wit magic) are being killed all across the Six Duchies and many have gone in to hiding just to survive. Others, particularly those known as the Piebalds, are fighting back and looking to end the reign of the Farseers in retaliation. It is within this powder keg of an environment that it starts to be rumored that the heir to the throne, Prince Dutiful, is Witted.
Fool's Errand starts a bit slowly with a trip down memory lane as the reader is brought up to speed on Fitz's life over the last 15 years but then it kicks into gear and keeps things interesting until the end. I enjoyed the Wit magic in the original trilogy and really liked this book's exploration into the various ways that it is both used and abused. The deep bond shared by human and animal can cause one or both of the individuals to take drastic and inappropriate actions and the consequences of those actions is at the heart of this story. Combine the interesting magic with the great characters from the first series and Robin Hobb starts the Tawny Man trilogy off on a strong footing. The series continues with book two, The Golden Fool.
For the audiobook James Langton narrates this series and does an excellent job. He is not the same narrator who read the Farseer Trilogy but he is just as good.