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Fool's Errand (The Tawny Man, Book 1) Hardcover – January 2, 2002

4.7 out of 5 stars 1,673 ratings

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Editorial Reviews Review

This first volume of a new trilogy from one of fantasy's most popular and skilled authors will delight longtime Hobb fans as well as first-time readers of her work.

FitzChivalry, the hero of The Farseer trilogy, now lives an isolated and quiet life with his foster son Hap and his Wit partner wolf, Nighteyes, until he is sought out by his old mentor Chade and the enigmatic, charming Fool. Once again, duty calls: Fitz must find a missing prince and prevent political chaos in the Six Duchies. The mission will test his conflicting loyalty to country and family, his uneasy compromise with his own magic, and all the relationships he values most.

If you're a fantasy fan who hasn't yet explored the Farseer world, this is a fine place to start: Hobb deftly provides new readers with all the needed information. The finely detailed world building and intensive character development rarely slow down the action of the story. Fool's Errand is a complex, beautifully written and sometimes heart-rending examination of the consequences of duty and love. --Roz Genessee

From Publishers Weekly

In this hard-to-put-down follow-up to the Farseer Trilogy, Hobb maintains the high standards of her earlier fantasy series. The Fool and FitzChivalry Farseer band together once more to ride against the foes of the Farseer royal family in the kingdom of the Six Duchies. Last seen in Assassin's Quest, FitzChivalry (aka Tom Badgerlock due to the shock of white in his dark hair) has matured beyond the youth blindly following orders. For the past 15 years, Fitz has quietly led the life of a semi-recluse, trying his hardest to disappear. Believing that his glory days are over, he's surprised when fate (in the form of the Fool) pulls him back into the political intrigues that plague the Six Duchies. Endowed with both royal Skill magic and beast magic, Fitz assumes the task of returning the wayward heir to the throne, Prince Dutiful, to his home before his betrothal ceremony something that should be an easy task. In the event, the easy task proves extremely difficult, both physically and mentally for Fitz. The first half of the novel mostly focuses on Fitz's angst-ridden past. The heart-thumping, sword-clashing action that Hobb is known for emerges only during the second half, bringing Fitz fully to life. This is not to say that the first half is by any means dull. It's not. But the full range of Fitz's capabilities doesn't come to the forefront until later. When the action sequences finally kick in, they're non-stop. What starts as a very good read shifts into a stay-up-until-2:00 a.m.-to-finish type of book. (Jan. 9)Forecast: Stephen Youll's quiet jacket art gives no hint of the novel's intensity, but Hobb fans will know better and not be deterred.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Spectra; First Edition (January 2, 2002)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 486 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0553801481
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0553801484
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.4 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.43 x 1.6 x 9.52 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 1,673 ratings

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Robin Hobb is a New York Times best-selling fantasy author. She is published in English in the US, UK and Australia, and her works have been widely translated. Her short stories have been finalists for both the Hugo and the Nebula awards, as well as winning the Asimov's Readers Award. Her best known series is The Farseer Trilogy (Assassin's Apprentice, Royal Assassin, and Assassin's Quest.)

Robin Hobb was born in Oakland California, but grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska. She has spent her life mostly in the Pacific Nortwest region of the US, and currently resides in Tacoma, Washington State, with her husband Fred. They have four grown offspring, and six grandchildren.

Robin Hobb is a pen name for Margaret Ogden. She has also written under the name Megan Lindholm.

She published her first short story for children when she was 18,and for some years wrote as a journalist and children's writer. Her stories for children were published in magazines such as Humpty Dumpty's Magazine for Little Children, Jack & Jill and Highlights for Children. She also created educational reading material for children for a programmed reading series by SRA (Science Research Associates.) She received a grant award from the Alaska State Council on the arts for her short story "The Poaching", published in Finding Our Boundaries in 1980.

Fantasy and Science Fiction had always been her two favorite genres, and in the late 70's she began to write in them. Her initial works were published in small press 'fanzines' such as Space and Time (editor Gordon Linzner). Her first professionally published story was "Bones for Dulath" that appeared in the Ace anthology AMAZONS!, edited by Jessica Amanda Salmonson in 1979. A short time later, a second Ki and Vandien story entitled The Small One was published in FANTASTIC in 1980.

During that time period, she and her family had moved from Alaska to Hawaii, and subsequently to Washington State, where they settled. She had various money making occupations (waitress, salesperson, etc.) while striving with her writing. Her husband Fred continued to fish Alaskan waters and was home only about 3 months out of every year. The family lived on a small farm in rural Roy where they raised lots of vegetables, chickens, ducks, geese and other small livestock.

In 1983, her first novel, Harpy's Flight, was published by Ace under the pen name Megan Lindholm. Her later titles under that name included Wizard of the Pigeons, Alien Earth, Luck of the Wheels, and Cloven Hooves.

In 1995, she launched her best selling series of books set in the Realm of the Elderlings. At that time, she began writing as Robin Hobb. Her first trilogy of books were about her popular characters, FitzChivalry Farseer and the Fool. The Farseer Trilogy is comprised of Assassin's Apprentice, Royal Assassin and Assassin's Quest. These books were followed by The Liveship Traders trilogy, set in the same world. The Tawny Man trilogy returned to the tale of Fitz and the Fool. Most recently, the four volumes of the Rain Wilds Chronicles were published: Dragon Keeper, Dragon Haven, City of Dragons and Blood of Dragons.

In 2013, it was announced that she would return to her best-loved characters with a new trilogy, The Fitz and the Fool trilogy. The first volume, Fool's Assassin, will be published in August of 2014.

Other works as Robin Hobb include The Soldier Son trilogy and short stories published in various anthologies. A collection of her shorter works as both Lindholm and Hobb is available in The Inheritance.

She continues to reside in Tacoma, Washington, with frequent visits to the pocket farm in Roy.

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
1,673 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on December 4, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on March 14, 2019
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Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 10, 2020
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A. Whitehead
4.0 out of 5 stars A mixture of fantasy adventure and melancholic introspection
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 30, 2018
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4.0 out of 5 stars A mixture of fantasy adventure and melancholic introspection
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 30, 2018
Fifteen years have passed since the end of the Red Ship War. FitzChivalry Farseer is believed dead, with only a few knowing the truth that he survived and helped end the war and the threat of the cruel King Regal. Living a comfortable life as a smallholder with his wolf Nighteyes and an adopted son, Hap, Fitz occasionally has strange dreams. He dismisses these, until his old friend the Fool visits with news: Prince Dutiful, the son of Queen Kettricken and the late King Verity, has vanished in a very strange manner. Reluctantly, Fitz returns to Buckkeep and a life he thought he'd left behind.

Fool's Errand is the fourth novel featuring the adventures of FitzChivalry Farseer, picking up after the events of the original Farseer Trilogy. It's also the seventh novel overall in the Realm of the Elderlings setting, which now extends across sixteen books. It's a bit of a fresh start in the series, as although it follows up on events in the Farseer books (and a brief mention is made of the Liveship Traders trilogy), it also introduces new characters and new storylines.

Fool's Errand is a slow book, at least to start with. The first 200 pages - more than a third of the novel - are taken up by Fitz's home life and routine, with lengthy ruminations on chicken-farming. Fitz's main concern isn't war, death or assassinations, but instead raising enough coin to find his adopted son a good apprenticeship. Some may find this sequence interminable, but Hobb uses this sequence to establish Fitz's good, comfortable and quiet life away from the mayhem of the court, and what it means when it is taken away when a new crisis erupts.

The rest of the novel is more familiar: a prince has gone missing, the Witted people of the Six Duchies are rebelling against the persecution and murder of their kind by forming an armed resistance and a new peace treaty between the Duchies and the Outislands is in jeopardy. Keen for people to not realise he's survived, Fitz adopts a new identity (the uncouth Tom Badgerlock) and undertakes clandestine mission for the crown. This results in some splendid, classic epic fantasy elements such as an awkward cliffside sword fight against superior enemy numbers, the experimental use of magic and the gradual teasing and unravelling of a labyrinthine conspiracy.

This doesn't mean that Hobb's straying too far from her established tropes. When in doubt about what to do next, she just makes Fitz's life more miserable and horrible than ever before, killing off loved ones and finding ways to put him in as awkward and painful a situation as possible. It's all vaguely depressing, which is an odd juxtaposition given that the second half of the novel is as lively and swashbuckling as Hobb has ever gotten.

Still, if you're in the mood for a beautifully-written, somewhat melancholy fantasy where the focus is firmly on the characters rather than magic or battles, Fool's Errand (****) is a very fine novel. It's also surprisingly stand-alone: you'd definitely miss a fair amount if you hadn't read the Farseer trilogy, but the plot is focused on a new story and situation. Also, whilst the story clearly is set to continue after the final page, there's no major cliffhanger ending. The novel is available now in the UK and USA.
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Swords and Spectres
5.0 out of 5 stars The start of a great trilogy
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 9, 2014
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5.0 out of 5 stars skill -tug
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 5, 2016
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good to be back
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 19, 2013
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