Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fools Fate


I'm not really sure to begin.  I was sure that the build up to this book was going to be worth it.  And for a while there I was sure it was turning out that way.  But then...  This has to be one of the worst endings to a book that I can remember.  The climax of the book was at about the halfway point and long past when the story should have wrapped up, the story is still going on.  And on.  And ON!  End it already!!!  It was almost like Robin Hobb couldn't let the characters go and she kept writing until she could find some "happy ending" for them, which seemed very contrived to me.  Ok, let me get to the review and then I'll come back to the critique.

"Fools Fate" picks up where "Golden Fool" left off with Dutiful and company heading off to the home of his future bride to slay the dragon.  The Fool informs Fitz that killing the dragon is another one of the points in the future that he has to change and begs Fitz to spare the dragon as ultimately the choice will be his, not Dutiful's.  Chade sees this as an affront to the Prince, since Dutiful had given his word that he would lay the head of the dragon on the threshold of the Narcheska's Motherhouse (and if you truly want to know what these terms mean then by all means read the book, I'm not going to waste my time trying to explain it).  Through much conspiring the Fool is left behind, to keep him from influencing Fitz and also because he told Fitz that his death is on the island where the dragon is.  Eventually, they get to the island and find the dragon encased in ice.  The Fool is waiting for them when they arrive and him an Fitz get separated from the rest and they are eventually captured by the White Prophet.  I've not mentioned her before because I wasn't certain how important to the story she was (another oversight from the author as this really should have been the bulk of the story).  According to the Fool there is only one White Prophet per age, but he considered himself the true White Prophet in the Assassin series.  However, he was now Gold and not White whereas the other Profit had retained her White color.  Regardless, she tortures the Fool and promises Fitz that if he doesn't kill the dragon that the Fool will be "forged" and given to her memory stone dragon.  Fitz being the Catalyst choses to save the Dragon, knowing that its the Fools life.  As they free the dragon from the Ice, Tintaglia the dragon from Bingtown arrives for her mate.  The White Prophet manages to quicken her dragon and suddenly there is a fight.  The White Prophet doesn't care which dragon dies so long as they are never able to mate and bring dragons back to the world.  What follows is spectacular and makes it worth reading just for that.  In the end the stone dragon of the White Prophet attacks Tintaglia and only Burrich and his son Swift stand in the way.  Burrich is gravely injured which eventually leads to his death and his son Swift manages to kill the stone dragon with a magic arrow to the eye (ok, so it kind of falls apart with that, but it was still a decent story at that point).

So time to wrap it up right?  Wrong!  The story continues and we find that the Black Man on the island was a previous White Prophet.  It seems that when a profit makes a positive change for the future that they become darker and darker.  Thus the Fool was gold and beginning to darken whereas the White Prophet was still white.  But the Fool is dead and Fitz brings him back to life, etc., etc.  Fitz goes home, finds his ex love, marries her, etc. etc.  The last half of the book is wrapping up all of the loose ends.  This really pissed me off.  The previous book had nothing that really moved the story along, a wasted tree.  And then in this book, Robin Hobb can't seem to finish the story.  Help, I'm writing and I can't shut up!  If there was that much more that needed to be said, extend to another book (I can't believe I just said that after my rant from yesterday, but I'd rather have that than have the story ruined).  Regardless, it was too much.  It made the climax seem unimportant.  Robin Hobb put way too much stock in the reader wanting Fitz to finally be happy than to actually focusing on the story.  I like it when authors create worlds that are their playgrounds.  Raymond Fiest, Anne McCaffery, and Roger Zelazny were perhaps some of the best at doing that.  Each of them have written dozen of books for their worlds, but they rarely (it does happen) seem like the same ole same ole.  I'm going to let Robin in on a secret here.  The real story is the Elderlings and what happened to them and how their civilization began and ended.  How does that tie into dragons and magic?  How do the White Prophets and Catalyst fit into all this?  Honestly, the story of Fitz and the Fool should only be a footnote to the story, an introduction if you will.  Yet, what we got was Fitz's happy ending.  Honestly, it would have been a better story if he had perished. 

I'm curious if she figured that out.  A search on Google informs me that she has two additional books after this concerning a group from around Bingtown and called teh Rain Wild Chronicles (Dragon Keeper [2009] and Dragon Haven [2010]).  Sigh.  I guess I need to read those to find out if I should stay pissed off or find out if she redeems herself.  For the record there is no Robin Hobb.  Her real name is Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden (I guess she has as much trouble finishing her name as her books).  She writes under several pen names (I guess that keeps the mobs at bay better).  I'm hesitant to pick up more of her work for fear it will leave me as unsatisfied as this did.  Such a good start with Assassin totally F'ed up with Tawny Man. 

I give the first half of the book 4 out of 5 stars and the second half 1 out of 5.  Thus I give the overall book 2 out of 5.