The war has spread and it now consumes the entire solar system. Blood and violence are pervasive as the fledgling Republic tries to hang against those who oppose it. Many want to return to the old color based society while others view this conflict as an opportunity to rise to power, so there is no shortage of combatants available. Like the last book, Iron Gold, this story is told from the perspectives of the same PoV characters (plus Mustang this time) and each of them experiences this conflict from a different location within the solar system. With such a complicated set of battles it will take you some time to get your bearings, especially if it has been a while since you read the last book, but once you get everything sorted out this is another wild ride in a series that remains surprisingly compelling.
The Prince must slay a dragon to win the hand of the Narcheska in marriage which will bring together two kingdoms that were recently at war. That is pretty cliché for a fantasy book but Robin Hobb finds a way to rise above the ordinary and shows how it should be done. Two factions have formed as the dragon-slaying quest builds to a conclusion and many members of the expedition now openly oppose the Prince's goal to slay Icefyre. Many additional mysteries remain as well but none more important than the true motivation behind the Narcheska's original challenge to Prince Dutiful. All of this keeps the reader engaged and eagerly awaiting the outcome which surprisingly comes well before the end of the book leaving plenty of time to explore the consequences of everyone's actions.
Book two of the Tawny Man series finally ties the events happening in the Six Duchies to those that occurred in the earlier Liveship Traders series. Now that Prince Dutiful has been rescued from the Piebalds he must face the fact that his life is not his own. He has been promised in marriage to the Narcheska Elliania of the Out Islands in the hope that such a marriage might heal the wounds between their kingdoms after the recent war. The two of them do not hit it off when they finally meet and neither of them wants to follow through on the arrangement. This angst leads to Dutiful carelessly offending the Narcheska and in return she publicly challenges him to prove he is worthy of her. She demands that Dutiful slay the Dragon Icefyre that legends say sleeps beneath the ice back in her lands. Before anyone can stop Dutiful he agrees to the challenge to show that he is worthy of this bride that he doesn't even want. Kids.
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.