Book Review

The Golden Fool by Robin Hobb – Book Chat

“The loss of a bond-beast is a difficult event to explain to the non-Witted.”

First line in The Golden Fool by Robin Hobb

Author: Robin Hobb

Series: The Tawny Man #2, Realm of the Elderlings #8

Published: October 21, 2002

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The Golden Fool is (currently) my lowest-rated book by Robin Hobb, and I went into it thinking it was going to be my new number one. I thought it was meandering, especially in the first 40% where I felt I was reading the same three scenes over and over again with only minor differences each time. Was there a plot? Not really, so the book depended on me caring about the characters. The problem is that I care about two characters and two characters only, and this book wasn’t about them. The scenes they did have were 5-star worthy but there were so few of them that I ended on 3.5 as the overall rating.

I don’t really want to spend more time trying to review the eighth book in a series without spoilers, so if you’ve already read this book, I wrote down all my thoughts as I was reading it to give you a very clear picture of what I think of this book. So beware of SPOILERS in the rest of the post!

(I usually include my favorite quotes but I didn’t have any that weren’t big spoilers and I’ve put most of them in my comments below anyway)

🧁 That conversation Fitz listened in on through the wall was very confusing. None of it sounded good but what’s the deal with that servant?

🧁 A half-witted person and he’s named Thick? Really? But I guess he’s important because future-Fitz mentioned him in the prologue.

🧁 Theories on who Chade’s new apprentice is (because I’m just as curious as Fitz): We know we’ve met them and we haven’t actually met that many characters so it shouldn’t be that hard to figure out. My theory is that it’s a girl. Fitz keeps assuming it’s a ‘he’ but Chade has never given any indication of gender, so I’m thinking Fitz’s assumption is meant to throw me off. In the first book, I was thinking it might be Nettle in some way but I doubt that now because it sounds like the person is at Buckkeep. And since there aren’t that many girls/young women, my guess is now that it’s Jinna’s niece.

🧁 IT’S ROSEMARY! It’s not the niece who’s his apprentice but Rosemary who’s apparently still around. I knew it the second she appeared and it was basically confirmed when she danced with Chade and talked to him. I was right about it being a girl, though.

🧁 Also, Fitz’s reaction to that guy coming on to him 😂😂 It reminds me that I’ve noticed a couple of times now that there has been talk about some rumors concerning Lord Golden that Fitz is forever clueless about. But it sounds like people are thinking that Fitz is Golden’s “bodyguard” in more than one sense. Is Fool trying to dispel those rumors by being around so many women? Because I really don’t think that’s working.

🧁 Fitz slept with Jinna 😒 Fortunately, it could seem like it was a one-time thing, although that whole angle of Fitz sleeping with women to get a child made me feel weird. And then he also immediately left Buckkeep without saying goodbye to the Fool, so I’m not liking him all that much right now.

🧁 For a book titled “The Golden Fool”, there’s really not much of him in it so far…

🧁 Ooh, Dutiful just asked Fitz about the nature of his relationship with Lord Golden, and apparently, Fitz did know about the rumors. I think that’s quite interesting when we haven’t seen him acknowledge it before, not even in his own head. It makes me think that there are other things he knows but doesn’t see fit to share or to even think about. Based on some odd situations in Fool’s Errand, I have this theory that Fitz does know that the Fool is in love with him. He’s just refusing to let his thoughts go down that path if you know what I mean because if he does and it makes him realize he doesn’t feel the same, it could ruin their friendship. Maybe I’m just seeing things I want to see, but since I don’t see anything changing anytime soon, I had to make my guess.

🧁 Jesus Christ, Fitz!! You and your urges!! There’s no need for you to sleep with Jinna IF YOU DON’T WANT TO! This is Starling all over again. Please let Jinna seeing him with Laurel be the end of this.

🧁 Oh no, Bingtown-stuff… Can’t they stay in their own series?? If you’re not Wintrow, then go away.

🧁 The problem with reading on the bus on your way to work is that you have no control over when you have to stop reading, meaning you might have to stop at a very unfortunate place in the story. Such a place could, purely hypothetically, be right when the Fool enters a room with Jek and Fitz in it and Jek keeps calling him Amber, right in front of Fitz… I just had what felt like the longest workday in my life!! Anyway, I’ve finished the chapter now AND EVERYTHING HURTS!!! Fitz cannot hate the Fool! I AM IN PAIN! Please just talk to each other! Nothing has changed, Fitz!

🧁 Also, because of my theory from above, this little snippet caught my attention: Jek: “And he doesn’t even know you love him?” Fool: “I think he chooses not to. Perhaps he suspects… well, after chatting with you, I am certain he suspects now. But he leaves it alone. He is like that.
It’s not completely confirming my theory but at least I’m not imagining things because Fool has the same theory. I think it’s perfectly put, though, that he leaves it alone. Even after this scene, that is not where Fitz’s thoughts go. They are more hung up on the Fool being a different person, and not so much on the fact that the Fool loves him.

🧁 Hobb, I see you trying to squeeze the plot that almost put me to sleep in Liveship Traders into this, and if you’re trying to make this a Liveship Traders 2.0, my rage will know no bounds.

🧁 My thoughts got side-tracked here for the next bit: The story about the dragon Icefyre who was meant to wake and come save the Outislanders in their time of need had my thoughts turning to a very similar figure in Denmark. There is a statue called Holger Danske whose legend also says that when the country is threatened, he’s going to come alive and save us all. Just like with Icefyre, people are saying he doesn’t really “work” because why did he not wake up when the Germans invaded in 1940? So that’s how I ended up quietly laughing to myself imaging people wanting to chop his head off for not saving us, just like the Narcheska wants to punish Icefyre.

🧁 Fitz again looking at the Narcheska thinking she reminds him of something he can’t recall… WILL YOU LOOK AT THAT DAMN FIGURINE?!?

🧁 “Perhaps for a long time, the Farseers have presumed too much of me.” YES!! I feel like I’ve waited for Fitz to say that since Assassin’s Apprentice. He finally stood up for himself! Like, no, when the Queen makes an unreasonable demand of him, he doesn’t have to do it! He has done enough! Also, slightly biased because I really don’t want Nettle to be a part of this story. Fitz is already wasting too much time handling his two other children and I’m so bored with those scenes so I don’t need them to add a third. Also starting to wonder whether it would be that big a loss if Chade died…

🧁 Why would you title that chapter “Quarrel”? Why not call it “Reconciliation” or “We Argue a Bit and Then We Make Up”? Both are perfectly good titles for what should happen in that chapter… Anyway, so I read the chapter in which Fitz thought it was a good idea to twist the knife that was already firmly planted in my heart. I mean, at least my theory about both of them knowing what the other felt but neither of them acknowledging it got confirmed, but I’m in so much pain that I can’t even be happy about it. It was so right what the Fool said that both of them knew but they didn’t need to articulate it because that wouldn’t end well. Then we have Fitz, out loud, saying that he could never desire the Fool like that, and now I want to die.

🧁 Damn it, Kettricken, now I hate you too! I’ll admit, I didn’t like you all that much in the first place but manipulating Fitz in such a way that he isn’t even able to defend his opinion once is so low. You and Chade should really stop referring to yourself as Fitz’s friends because you constantly prove that you aren’t! He finally took a stand and they just beat him down again.

🧁 Speaking of his friends, Fitz is being completely cut off from the Fool and he describes it as leaving a hole in his heart. If you haven’t got the message so far, my entire body is in pain! And the Fool is completely in the right to end their friendship. He was hurt so bad by Fitz’s words and he was already the one their situation hurt the most, so I get it. It just means that I see no way to resolve this and it makes it hurt even more!

🧁 They finally looked at that figurine properly! Took them long enough! Like me, they also don’t know what it means but at least they’re thinking about it now. I have kind of given up on a resolution to the feather situation though.

🧁 So Fitz makes up with Starling before he makes up with the Fool? That’s just unnecessarily cruel.

🧁 Oh, Fitz almost died again. It’s a back wound again because he’s apparently very fond of those. However, that meant that we got him lying on his stomach while in severe pain and I had flashbacks to when he was in the same scenario because of an arrow to the back in Assassin’s Quest. That was also one of my favorite scenes with the Fool, and WHY DID YOU SEE THE NEED TO REMIND ME OF THAT RIGHT NOW, HOBB?. However, I also need to say that I’m actually very disappointed that Laudwine died without ever playing a role in this book. Why did we spend time on him then when he was that easily killed?


🧁 THEY TALKED! BUT THEY’RE STILL NOT TALKING! WHY?? But yeah, I don’t know what’s up with those tattoos on his back. Of course, it’s also devastating for Fitz to hear that the Fool will die on that island… but I know there’s a trilogy called Fitz and the Fool so I don’t think that piece of information had the intended impact on me. I’m sure Fool is going to come very close to dying just like we’ve seen with Fitz, but he’s going to make it.

🧁 “You said once that I might call you ‘Beloved’, if I no longer wished to call you ‘Fool’.” I took a breath. “Beloved, I have missed your company.”
If I wasn’t dead before, I certainly am now! I’M NOT OKAY! However, the conversation was a bit short considering how long we had to suffer, and speaking of that, what exactly prevented them from doing this earlier? It’s not like there was a specific event that prompted this.

🧁 Final thoughts: I don’t think I’ve read a book in a series more worthy of being called ‘skippable’ than this. Out of the 730 pages, I’d say we only really needed the 150 and those were mainly the ones that involved Fitz and the Fool (obviously). The rest of this book was so insanely boring. I don’t care that Hap is being a teenager. I don’t care about Jinna or the Bingtowners. I don’t care about Dutiful, Chade and Thick learning about the Skill because didn’t I as a reader learn about that in The Farseer Trilogy? It’s not an interesting enough magic system that it’s worthy of being rehashed to this extent. And then the plot about the Old Bloods from book one was turned into the blandest sub-plot that literally meant nothing. Sort of in connection to all of that, I’ve often said that I love that these books are told through a single perspective (Fitz), but this book was practically a multi-POV story because it was not about Fitz. He was just going around observing and being a medium for other people’s stories. It gave me that same feeling multi-POV books give me of just waiting for the book to be about my favorite character.
Speaking of my favorite character, we’re all familiar with the term ‘queer-baiting’ but I want to accuse this book and this trilogy of Fool-baiting. How dare you title this The Tawny Man Trilogy and The Golden Fool and then not give us a plot that is centered around the Fool??? I think Jinna had more page-time than the Fool in this, and for that, I knew very early on that I wouldn’t give this book 5 stars. It then failed to have any kind of plot and just turned into an endless lesson on the Skill that just repeated what we already knew. I was prepared to let the ending save it, like, maybe there was a point to the meandering, but nothing happened there either! It just kind of faded out and that was it.

Yeah, apparently I have two moods: Bored or screaming. But let me know what you thought of this book!

8 thoughts on “The Golden Fool by Robin Hobb – Book Chat

  1. I really don’t know how to react to this – on the one hand, your comments on the Fitz and the Fool scenes were absolute perfection and my heart got twisted in the most painful way possible reading them, and on the other, you just declared that what might be my favorite Robin Hobb book to date ranks even lower than Ship of Destiny 😂 Of course, I wouldn’t have minded more Fitz and the Fool either – although maybe it’s also a good thing we didn’t get that because then I would have had to spend the rest of my life in bed, heartbrokenly trying to recover from scenes like Chapter 15 😭 – but in contrast to you, I also loved all the Skilling and Bingtown stuff! Thick in particular was one of my new favorite characters, so I didn’t mind at all that we got to see a lot of him!

    Jinna, however… Well, now that you’ve read this book, I feel like I can safely tell you that I am NOT a fan of her at all 🙄 Seriously, Fitz, why do you always have to go around sleeping with the worst possible women out there?? Jinna is definitely another Starling figure, and you do not need people like this in your life!!!

    Also, I feel like you were the one actually having theories and paying attention this time around, because guess who massively missed the obvious clues pointing to something being up with Rosemary for the second time in a row? That’s right, me 🙈 I think in the future, I’m just going to suspect her first whenever I need a suspect for something because how do I just keep forgetting about her?!! And it also took me forever to connect the figurine with Elliania, even though I did picture them looking very similar in my head… 😅 What can I say? I was just very preoccupied with everything going on between Fitz and the Fool!! 🥰😭🥰

    Anyway, I think I’ll leave it at that for now – after all, I have extremely thorough notes on this book as well, should you want more of my thoughts 😂 (Yes, this is me confirming that it is now safe for you to read the second section of my Tawny Man review, as long as you don’t peek ahead to Book Three.) Although I do still want to add that your thoughts on Icefyre and Denmark’s history were super interesting! My thoughts on that were pretty much limited to thinking that it was very suspicious to want to chop off the head of a creature that was supposed to protect you… 🤔😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, that’s kind of why I said that this CURRENTLY ranks as my lowest because I’m actually not 100% sure how to rank it compared to Liveship Traders. I imagine that if I ever reread those (which I won’t), they would get lower ratings so this might be better than Ship of Destiny. I can’t tell yet 😅
      And you didn’t have to tell me that Thick is your new favorite character. I knew that just from reading about him 😄 You always get attached to those characters we’re meant to feel sorry for and Thick is a prime example. Didn’t you appreciate my cupcake emojis? They were for Thick, and a kind of I’m-sorry-I-didn’t-love-this-book-that-you-rated-5-stars 😅 (I actually didn’t plan on posting this today, but I feared you had seen my rating on Storygraph and had been hating me a week now, so I wanted to explain myself!)

      The thing with Jinna is so weird, and I was immensely frustrated by his inability to just say no! However, it did get me thinking that it might be a very logical development for Fitz who didn’t exactly get much love as he was growing up, so as an adult he (subconsciously) “takes” all the love that is offered to him because what if that’s all he gets? I don’t know if that makes sense, and it also doesn’t make me hate the Jinna-thing any less, but I’m searching for ways to make it make sense 😅

      But how on earth did you miss Rosemary being the apprentice AGAIN? 😂 I don’t think Hobb could have been any more obvious about it. However, I’m extremely proud of seeing the resemblance between the figurine and Elliania because to guess that, I actually had to pay attention to the description of the figurine in the first place 😄 Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have noticed that until Dutiful said it, so I don’t want to blame you for that.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m also not completely sure where this ranks compared to Liveship Traders, even if my reasoning is very different from yours 😅 I just love both so much that I have a hard time picking a favorite! 🥰 (Also, I hate the ending of Fool’s Fate so much that it partially taints the series for me overall 🙈 So that might be messing with my perception of Golden Fool and makes it difficult to actually compare it to The Mad Ship, which is the other candidate for my favorite Robin Hobb book… I guess I understand your Ship of Destiny struggles a lot better now! 😅)

        Gosh, you might have a point about which kinds of characters I tend to like, though. I had never analyzed it that way, but now that you mention it, you are probably not wrong 😅🙈 And I very much appreciated the cupcakes, actually!! 🥰 Although I swear you didn’t need them or this post to convince me not to hate you – even if you had rated this book one star and told me you absolutely detested the Fitz and the Fool scenes, you would have been stuck with me! 💙 (Although, fine, I might have been the teensiest bit heartbroken if you had remained unaffected by everything going on between Fitz and the Fool. So at least we agree on the most important thing!)

        And your Fitz-and-Jinna theory sounds very convincing – I’ll take that explanation! Well, that and the fact that Fitz has already established he is remarkably good at being an idiot sometimes 😅

        AND I KNOW! The Rosemary thing was beyond obvious! In retrospect… 🙈 I wanted to slap myself so hard for not seeing it because especially after the last time, I should have been more suspicious!! But I’m very proud of you for noticing both that and the figurine thing 😄 You definitely deserve bookish honor for that!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I have no clue what to expect from Fool’s Fate now, though. Like, there is not really anything for it to “taint” because, well, I don’t think the first two books have built anything. So if it affects something from those two, wouldn’t that only be a positive for me? 🤔 Like I said, just give me a purpose for the meandering, and I will accept it 😅

        I’m absolutely right about you liking those characters 😝 They might not always be your favorite character but it’s hard not to notice that you always rank them very high.
        And I’m glad you liked the cupcakes 😊 And I suspect you would have hated me just a little bit if I gave this one star 😉 But you know I can’t hate anything about Fitz and the Fool! I’m so sad I only have one book left in this trilogy about them!

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I obviously can’t give you any details to help you out there 😁 But, if it reassures you a little bit, my view on earlier books in a series generally changes a little once I know where the whole series leads, even if the events in a later book don’t really affect what happened in earlier ones. I just can’t separate each installment from the whole anymore, if that makes any sense 😅 Like, for example, An Ember in the Ashes used to be one of my favorite books, but when the sequels turned out to be such a disappointment, I didn’t really love book one as much anymore either, because all the potential there had been never really amounted to anything. It’s nowhere as extreme with the Tawny Man Trilogy – Fool’s Errand and The Golden Fool are still solid five-star books for me 🥰 – but it’s enough to maybe make me not prefer The Golden Fool over The Mad Ship… I hope that kind of makes sense? 😅

        Also, I still don’t think I’d have hated you, but I would probably have judged your judgment 😜😂 A lot. But yeah, I definitely had withdrawal symptoms after finishing, because how can the Rain Wild Chronicles possibly offer anything that can compare with those Fitz and the Fool scenes? I’m going to miss them so much! 😫

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Yeah, it makes sense. Like, I already think The Golden Fool has had a negative effect on how I view Fool’s Errand because I can excuse book 1 for not doing much of importance but then when book 2 does the same, it becomes more of a trend.

        Liked by 2 people

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