the six duchies

RotE feels spewage

Okay, so now that I’ve read everything currently written in the Realm of the Elderlings series (but boy howdy am I excited about the new short story coming out soon!), I’m gonna try and capture some of my overall thoughts and feels. This will be very long and undoubtedly spoilerific. 

For the record, I started the whole series about a year ago and have just raced through it all. The first thing I read was the short story Homecoming and it so fueled me with all of the mystery and magic that I started in on the first Farseer trilogy and then banged out through all of the other short stories and novels in order. 

I am happy to see there are lots of RotE fans on tumblr, but sad to see most of the posts go back months and years ago and there isn’t a lot of current discussion. Woe is the fangirl who finds a fandom later than everyone else. But I won’t let that stop me from sharing my thoughts. 

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Forgotten Facts: Royal Assassin

A list of pieces of information I either never noticed or forgot about, gathered during my reread. Posts for the other novels to follow as I get through them. 

(Previous: Assassin’s Apprentice)

1. Just how much Fitz dislikes fashion: "The new clothing that Mistress Hasty had inflicted on me" (RA p113)

2. Traditionally, "when a king or queen of Buckkeep wed, the royal spouse would bring an entourage of his or her own attendants" (RA p147) - this does not apply, of course, to Kettricken.

3. From his time in the Mountain Kingdom, Fitz brought back a present for Patience: Amber and silver earrings.

4. Ratsy isn’t technically a singular object - the Fool has at least two sceptres topped with a rat, one of which is dancing.

5. Black and red, in the Six Duchies, are the colours of grief and vengeance.

6. According to the Fool, Farseers are generally pretty shoddy at riddles (RA p221).

7. When Fitz is accidentally high from coming into contact with ash residue, he refers to Patience as his mother: "My mother needs me.“ (RA, p342).

8. “Faith and Celerity wore their hair cut short and sleek in the Northern style. The quick ways they turned their heads to observe everyone at the table reminded me of hawks on a wrist. These were not the gentled nobility of the Inland duchies that Regal was used to dealing with. Of all the Six Duchies, the folk of Bearns came closest to being warriors still.” (RA, p466)

9. “This night, Regal offered me a purse with five bits of gold in it, if I would make myself presentable and come down to entertain them. Oh, how he did go on after you had left, over how badly I was missed at the court below, and what a shame it was for me to waste my youth shut away up here. And when I said I found King Shrewd’s company more congenial than that of other fools, he flung a teapot at me.” (the Fool, RA, p548-549).

10. Prior to Galen’s, it was not uncommon for three-four coteries of six-eight members each to exist at once.

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I finished my re-read of the Farseer Trilogy, the Tawny Man Trilogy and the first two novels​ in the Fitz and the Fool Trilogy with time to spare before the release of AF, but I wanted to stay immersed, so I decided to see if I could cobble together a Farseer family tree.
Unfortunately, I found the pieces seem not to be meant to put together - I wasn’t able to make many connections between Farseers in the distant past, even using names of Skillmasters and coteries as ways to link them, beyond the names that are mentioned together in the novels.
Still, here’s what I ended up with, in case anyone can make improvements!
I didn’t order descendants according to age, and I wasn’t consistent with names (some have last names and/or titles, some don’t). And sadly, I didn’t pay much attention to making it pretty…

Something a little different than my usual style, but I’m fairly pleased with how it turned out considering how little I dabble in digital art! This piece inspired by Robin Hobb’s novels is called “Fitz, The Fool, and Nighteyes”. You can by it here on a range of products at Redbubble: http://www.redbubble.com/people/smalik/works/15335425-fitz-the-fool-and-nighteyes?ref=recent-owner

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Realm of the Elderlings by Robin Hobb

Sub-series: (pictured from top to bottom)

  1. The Farseer Trilogy
  2. The Liveship Traders Trilogy
  3. The Tawny Man Trilogy
  4. The Rain Wild Chronicles Quadrilogy
  5. The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy

Warnings

A lot of hard themes are touched upon throughout the series. Abuse, rape, homophobia, torture… these are not happy books, to say the least.  

Writing

Hobb’s writing has a way of gripping you and not letting you go. It is in part due to the story elements, but the words themselves play their part. Depending on the sub-series, it will either be written from a first person POV (maximum two different POV characters in this case), or from multiple third person POVs (for larger casts of characters). The first person is really intense, with a tight focus on what the character is experiencing and how it makes them feel. The third person narration is also centered around a single character at a time. Maybe the main difference is that the first person narration is what the characters are telling themselves, which sometimes means it’s unreliable.

World

The world of the Elderlings is incredibly rich. There are two main magic systems: the Wit and the Skill. Some other magics are brushed upon, scrying for example. Most magic seem to be transmitted through bloodlines, though there are some ways to increase or decrease their potential with external elements. I love the dichotomy between the Wit and the Skill. The first is tied to animals, and viewed as an evil magic, whereas the second deals with thoughts, and is the magic of Kings. There is also some form of superstition tied to naming. Most nobles of the Six duchies are named after a virtue their parents wished them to embody (Verity, Chivalry, Dutiful and so on). The world feels old, as there are traces of the Elderlings, a vanished civilization able to make artifacts of incredible power. The ruins of their cities are full of treasures and dangers. Their realm extended farther than the Six duchies and eventually we get to see more of it - and even farther shores - which means we see diverse civilizations and cultures.

Characters

There is in this series some of the best character development I’ve ever seen. Some characters started off as shallow and insufferable and grew up to be my faves. Some characters only got more despicable. Most of them feel incredibly real. The overall series spans over decades, so we get to follow some characters throughout their lives. There are also all kinds of POV characters, in terms of age, background, sexual identity, orientation… Did I mention dragons? And living ships?

Story

Like a lot of fantasy books, there is some prophecies in there. Unlike most fantasy books, the prophecies refers to the innumerable paths of the future, and all one can do is try to make one prophecy or another more likely. Overall, there are lots of story-lines in this series, some that are common from on sub-series to another, others that are wrapped within their own sub-series. Honestly, there’s everything one could ask for: political intrigue, mystery, some romantic plot-lines, strong friendships, murder, drama… Possibly the thing that’s missing the most from the series is peace and quiet, which are sparse.

Conclusion

This is probably the best series I’ve read. It stays interesting and intense all the way through 16 books, gives you calm breaks at the end of each sub-series, touches on so many themes… If you love adult high fantasy you should definitely give it a try. But it’s also the most depressing series I’ve read. It made me feel sad and angry on behalf of the characters (which is a testament to the quality of the writing, really) and in all honestly, kind of obsessed. The first time I read each series, I was sucked in and couldn’t really put them down until I was done. It’s an intense experience, and not everyone might enjoy that. Every time it affected my mood for days afterward. Still, it is one of my favorite series of all time.

SPECIAL PANDA MENTION

Forgotten Facts: Assassin’s Quest

A list of pieces of information I either never noticed or forgot about, gathered during my reread. Posts for the other novels to follow as I get through them.

(Previous: Assassin’s Apprentice : Royal Assassin)

1. One of the most famous of Lady Patience’s Ivy Runners was eleven years old.

2. The name of Queen Desire’s royal line is “Mountwell” (as opposed to “Farseer”).

3. In trying to break into Tradeford palace, Fitz did consider waylaying a nobleman and stealing his clothes but decided that they probably wouldn’t fit and they looked difficult to get on and off.

4. Rumour has it that Fitz is effectively a werewolf - and Starling goes out of her way to encourage inaccurate rumour, too. 

5. In Duchian puppet-shows, “the puppeteers dressed in the pure white drapings that signified their invisibility” (p246) - a lovely nod to colour symbolism when you think of White Prophets.

6. Burrich seriously considered taking Fitz to Chivalry once: “I should never have let them take him from me. When he was a boy. When they first wanted to move him up to the keep, if I’d put him on a horse behind me and gone to Chivalry, maybe they’d both still be alive. I thought of that. I nearly did it. He didn’t want to leave me, you know, and I made him. I nearly took him back to Chivalry instead. But I didn’t. I let them have him, and they used him” (p290).

7. There are (potentially) countries further inland, which are only very briefly mentioned/implied to exist: “Moonseye […] is a provisioning town and a traditional stopping-place for trade caravans using the Chelika trail to the Wide Vale pass and the lands beyond the Mountain Kingdom” (p386).

8. When Fitz collapses outside Fool’s home in Jhaampe, he believes for several lines that the approaching figure (the Fool, shrouded against the cold) is actually Death.

9. Jhaampe is older than Buckkeep (p423-424).,

10. In attempting (mostly out of curiosity I believe) to remove Fool’s silver fingerprints from his wrist, Fitz learns “a great deal about the life cycle of a horsetail fern” (p795).

Friendly Reminder that Dutiful Farseer ‘can crochet better than half the ladies of the court’ thanks to paging for Lady Patience.

Now consider:

- Dutiful crocheting during a quiet evening at an international diplomatic meeting. The Chalcedean delegates staring at him in horror like he’s affronting their masculinity. Dutiful, holding back a smirk, continues to crochet.

- Dutiful and some of the senior nobility getting stuck in a blizzard en route to something. Seeing as they’re stuck where they are for the time being, Dutiful gets out his crochet. By the time Fitz et al arrive to rescue them, there are six nobles and three soldiers attempting to crochet.

- Dutiful crocheting baby toys for Prosper and Integrity.

[  - Elliania, meanwhile, has already given their sons tiny wooden swords and is trying to teach them how to fight]

- All of the royal family end up with little crochet bobble hats.

- Including Fitz

- Beloved joins in and the two of them are crochet buddies forever.

What-if Wednesday: Sexism and the Apocalypse

I put it to you: In Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderling books, sexism is a sign of the apocalypse.

Now, that’s quite a bold statement - and I’d be really interested in knowing if you instantly agreed with it or not (and why?), because when I thought of it initially I thought it would have no real grounding in the books. I’ve been puzzling over it, however; and I think it’s correct. 

The reason it seems difficult to back up is that the one (sexism) is not directly linked to the other (the apocalypse). Instead, they form two ends of a little chain, where all the links are connected by metaphor and implication:

Sexism — Slavery — Forgings — Apocalypse

I look at that, and it makes perfect sense to me. But it needs a little unpacking. So the first thing to do is to work out how each link interlocks with the ones on either side of it. 

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art-is-blind  asked:

Hello, a few of us were curious. Are there calendars in the six duchies/elsewhere, how do they know the date? And are birthdays or name days celebrated in the duchies? We've been speculating all morning and can't come up with anything Thank you!

we all have our blindspots!  And I’ll freely admit that when I was creating the world, this was an area I didn’t give intense planning.  Mostly they refer to who was the ruler at the time, and how many years into the reign.  Birthdays and namedays aren’t really celebrated.  In Fitz’s case, he was never certain when his birthday was anyway! 

Thanks for a really interesting question.  I’m sorry that I haven’t been on Tumblr much lately!

The torches in the wall sconces outside his door annoyed me by spitting blue sparks as I passed. A little too dramatic, Chade.
—  FitzChivalry Farseer, who then a bit later proceeds to run through Buckkeep while laughing manically, only to then stab a coterie member to death in front of all the assembled nobles in the Six Duchies. But his great-uncle’s bit of blue fire is too dramatic.

I looked at her, in her simple, sombre-hued robe. Her hands were no longer smooth and slender; there were lines in her face that had not been there when she was mine. Her body had softened and rounded with the years. She was no longer the girl in the red skirts, running down the beach before me.

“I have never wanted anything so much in my life as I’ve always wanted you.”

“Fitz!” she exclaimed, glancing up at the loft, and I suddenly realized I had spoken the words aloud. Her cheeks glowed and she lifted both hands to cover her mouth with her fingertips.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I know it’s too soon. You’ve told me that. And I will wait. I’ll wait however long you want me to wait. I just want to be sure you know that I am waiting.”

It’s Molly! Nosebleed, Redskirts, Chandler or Badgerlock - I love her. Lover, mother, firecracker.

Three trilogies from FitzChivalry’s perspective, and in all 9 books he’s in love with her. She’s the one character he chooses for himself: he wants to know her, and wants her to know him, for no reason other than that. No politics, no prophecies, no saving the world. The only other character with as little to gain from loving him is Nighteyes (but who also pushed a Wit-bond before Fitz had fully consented..) Fitz spends his life being a tool for others - assassin, spy, sacrifice, catalyst. Molly asks for nothing a man shouldn’t already be willing to give the love of his life. She lets him have his secrets, respects his duty to his king, and cares much less about the fate of the Six Duchies or the world than she does about his health and happiness.

It’s very easy to ship FItz and the Fool. Tawny Man trilogy in particular is riddled with romantic tension. I have no idea why Hobb included all that if she had no intention of following it through - that’ll be a question I can ask if she ever comes to Berlin (or does an AMA on Reddit!) But despite all the many paragraphs, pages even, of deep and profound connection, souls touching, lives and beings becoming twisted together by fate and magic, being inside each other’s bodies and minds… I just can’t relate. I relate to Fitz’s love for Molly.

I think it’s often overlooked in this tiny tumblr random that it was the Fool himself who gives Molly back to Fitz. The Fool makes a deal with Girl on a Dragon to regain Fitz’s memories of Molly, and all the emotion that goes with them. It’s easy to be distracted by the fact those memories are given back through a kiss - but the scene is so heartbreaking and bittersweet when you realise that’s the moment the Fool gives up his own potential for happiness with Fitz (tbh it’s actually the only self-sacrificing gesture I can remember the Fool ever making for Fitz..) Because, yeah, up until this moment I kinda still thought they might “go there”. Honestly, how often does Fitz lose his temper about something and then later sheepishly admit he was wrong? The aggressive homophobia could definitely have been written off as a tantrum he’d later regret. But even til the very end the Fool is never fully open and honest with Fitz. In his relationship with Molly, it’s Fitz with the mysterious past and secrets, but there is a major difference between the way the Fool withholds information about himself, and the way Fitz let’s Molly ‘ignore’ the aspects of him she doesn’t understand. There’s trust between them. I know Fitz says a bunch of times how much he trusts the Fool, but tbh his actions rarely seem to belie that claim.

Anyway tl;dr - I love Molly! I also love the Fool and I love reading people’s headcanons, but if you could do it without disrespecting the author (she’s not incompetent for not writing what you want her to, jeez) or her other characters that’d be great! <3

beldaran  asked:

(I am just nerding out at you I am sorry) Another thing, I would argue that the culture of Buck Duchy in its isolationist period under King Shrewd and his predecessors functioned like many societies who saw children as genderless. I think the Fool's extended childhood in Buck was as much a type gender performance as any other he did later in life.

Nerding out is always welcome here! This is a really interesting point; it also meshes with Fool’s Assassin, as Fitz’s allowance of Bee dressing “like a boy” is put down to him being old-fashioned. Plus, at the beginning of Assassin’s Apprentice, you’ve got this when Fitz remeets Molly for the first time since they were little ragamuffins:

“I admired her skirts, and she calmly informed me that she had been wearing skirts for several months now and that she quite preferred them to trousers.” - Assassin’s Apprentice, p117-118

Fitz also describes this as “adult garments” (AA p117) just before this bit. I think you may well be correct! Thank you so much for bringing this up!

H

What do we know about Sa & the Priesthood of Sa

Spoilers for Liveship Traders

I also have posts on what we know about Chalced and what we know about Others


Basics of the Religion

  • Sa is both male and female, and so are the priests. 
  • The priests follow the precepts of Sa - which are basically philosphical focuses for meditation. The highest numbered precept we’ve seen is 33.
  • Other deities are deemed aspects of Sa - this allows other religions to be folded into the practice of Sa in the way the Romans folded Greek deities into their own. 
  • Believing their skin was created by Sa and not belonging to them, the priests of Sa don’t believe in tattooing, piercing, or otherwise decorating their skin. This might mean that they find Elderlings to be distasteful.
  • Sa frowns on the following magic: Magic that deprives something of life in order to give it to something else, magic that deprives something of life in order to enhance one’s own power, magic that bring misery to someone in order to enhance someone else’s life. It’s easy to see how this could become a religious ban against the use of the Skill completely, although the Skill in itself doesn’t have to adhere to these things to function.

Religion in Practice

  • The Comfort of Sa - Wintrow used this on a dying slave to allow her to choose to end her own life. Part of the action to do this has him placing his fingers on specific points along her neck and jaw. Something similar happens later Wintrow is doing pain management with Kennit. Even later, Lord Golden does something similar to Fitz when he’s about to have a seizure. Not sure if these three actions fall under the same umbrella or not.
  • The priests of Sa in Chalced are corrupt and allow slavery to flourish.

Priesthood of Sa, the Skill, the Wit and other magical things

  • Wintrow explores wounds in the same way that the skill-healer or Buckkeep does, so it’s possible that the worship of Sa is closely related to or involving the use of the skill. Wintrow radiated calmness in the same way the Burrich does when he’s using the Wit while fixing up someone.
  • Priests can apparently draw off grief with a touch - Wintrow as a younger man doesn’t seem particularly careful about things like consent when using this ability.
  • Priests in the trances of creativity have experiences similar to that for the Fool when he first gets skill on his fingers: a heightened awareness of the full origins and history in the item they are creating and the world around them.
  • Wintrow specifically seems to show some prescience while creating stained glass pieces.
  • It seems that Wintrow could choose to unravel into the skill river - which indicates maybe a religious dressing on the practice of the skill. This would explain why some kids are turned away from the monastery.
  • The dragon-healing tht Bolt puts Wintrow through is very similar to the skill-healings of Fitz, Thick, and the other Six Duchies skill users - but it’s nothing like anything Wintrow has experienced before. So even if there is a skill-link between the Priests of Sa and the Skill, it’s not used to the same extent.

Random

  • At one point, Kyle makes a snarky comment akin. The lines of “I don’t care if he sprouts sacred antlers.” It could just be standard Kyle dickery, but can you imagine if Sa’s animal symbolism was the same as that of the Farseers?