This post is the first in a series, reading through the Farseer Trilogy and the Tawny Man Trilogy. Expect spoilers, and probably a lot of waffle.
One – The Earliest History
So we start with tradition, on the importance of names and how they are sealed to the child that bears them – and yet the narrator does not name himself. That must’ve been hard work getting that down, considering by the end of the first page he has given up on his history of the Six Duchies and launches into his own instead. We get Fedwren, and Patience, and the Skill, and Chivalry, and Verity, and Burrich, and Jason (feeling a little out of place, not that he would let it show on his face), and Regal, and Vixen, and Nosey…but the narrator remains nameless.
It’s established early doors that the Skill (it might be the Skill, he isn’t sure) has given him perfect recall, which – if true – tees the narrator up as that oddest of things: a reliable one. That said, he is telling a story entirely based on his own point of view and experience and the subjective truth of his account can’t necessarily be held as the objective truth. Certainly, he holds plenty back for chronology’s sake and – as we quickly discover – loves a good mopey wallow.
I like Verity. He says “damn” a lot.
Two – Newboy
We learn a bit about the Skill here – I love the idea that it comes from mixing the bloodlines between the mainland and the Islands – but more to the point we learn a lot more about the Wit. Fitz (still not officially named, but Burrich has dropped it a few times) has power enough at six to knock a grown man off his feet, although he doesn’t know how it works. He shares the memories and senses of his dog, and after a brief period spent running with street urchins down ‘t town (during which we meet Molly, who gets enough pages and backstory to label her “Gun” and stick her up on the mantelpiece for later) we discover that the Wit is an abomination. We learn this from Burrich, master of all things hawk, hound, and horse, who has an uncanny knack with animals and appears to be immune to Fitz’s power to repel. We’ll pop a pin in that one too, shall we?
Aside from his Aladdin montage in the town, Fitz doesn’t really do that much in the opening of the book. He is basically the wide-eyed conduit for all the stuff that’s going on and will presumably be important later. It’s saved from being dull as ditchwater by being really well written – lots of little bits of detail and flavour throughout but none of it really being slammed down on the page. Oh, and obviously Fitz feels horrible about everything. EVERYTHING. Just take it for granted that at every point so far Fitz has been desperately unhappy both at the time and in hindsight. He’s super psyched about running around sharing minds with a dog, but even that ends with his mental link vanishing in a “red flash of pain” and a well of depression so deep that the next two years pass in another montage.
I know, I know. Only two chapters. In my defence, they are very long, and I could easily have used up 600 words talking about just the first one.