Title: Golden Fool
Author: Robin Hobb
Length: 709 pages
Banter Points: It's a little hard to kick this off with the second book in a trilogy and even harder when it's the second book in the third trilogy of a big story that's now all connected. I shall not be daunted, however.
Golden Fool's high point is that Hobb is continuing the story of FitzChivalry Farseer that she began in Assassin's Apprentice, the first book in the Farseer Trilogy. And like the Assassin Farseer trilogy, the story is again narrated in Fitz's own voice, giving him a credibility that is often lacking in fantasy characters. His first-person point of view lets the reader get swept up in only his perspective of events so that when Fitz's world is shaken, so is the reader. After five books with this same character, he is wonderfully developed but still brimming with potential.
At the heart of Golden Fool is changes in the relationship between Fitz and the Fool, who now masquerade around as Lord Golden (the Fool) and Tom Badgerlock, his servant, for fear of betraying Fitz's true identity to those who believe him dead, or would wish him to be so. These two characters are inexorably linked, despite how they might wish it otherwise. But when a person from the Fool's past shows up, Fitz's perceptions of the Fool change, setting Fitz again on a path that he does not want to be on.
Bummer points: This is Fitz's story as was started in the Farseer Trilogy. Unfortunately, Hobb decided to link the events of those three books with the events of her Liveship Trader trilogy. The Liveship books are not nearly as good (likely, I suspect, because it's not Fitz's voice telling the story but rather a very wide, almost omniscient third-person POV). To make this series make sense though, you have to slog through the three in the middle.
Word Nerd recommendation: Thumbs up for sure. Fantasy books are a dime a dozen, good fantasy books are harder to come by. Hobb is a master of her genre, creating a world that is not so far flung that it lacks believability. FitzChivalry should take his place as one of the long-standing and almost iconic characters in the genre.
If you want to get caught up on the story here, the books are, in order, as follows: Assassin's Apprentice, Royal Assassin, Assassin's Quest, Ship of Magic, Mad Ship, Ship of Destiny, Fool's Errand, Golden Fool, (Fool's Fate... I haven't read this one yet...)