After finishing Liveship Traders, I almost immediately jumped on to reading the Tawny Man trilogy. I was missing Fitz and Buckkeep and I was so curious about what happens next in his life. I finished the books ridiculously fast (in probably 4 days), and then I went back and reread all three slowly, taking in the story.
And I loved all three books so, so much.
And the Fool, the Fool was gold gleaming and joy and a flight of jewelled dragons across a pure blue sky.
I jokingly called The Tawny Man trilogy ‘the one where Fitz adopts many kids’ which is true, but is also ironic because Fitz is the worst father I have ever seen. To be fair, he didn’t have any good role models.
Fitz in the beginning of the trilogy isn’t Fitz anymore. He’s Tom Badgerlock, living in a house in the woods with his wolf Nighteyes and his foster son Hap. He’s 35 years old and has spent 15 of them being dead, cutting himself off so totally from the outside world that only four people know he’s alive. He’s kind of a mess, and I love him for it.
He’s settled into a quiet life and is still trying to bury old ghosts when, one by one, they come back and upend his life. Again.
“Ah, Fitz, Fitz, we are who we are and who we ever must be.”
I love all three books in this trilogy for different reasons. Fool’s Errand might have some VERY heartbreaking moments but I’m sure it’ll become one of my comfort books. There’s just…so many moments of fun and pure happiness that left me giggling in joy.
The Golden Fool features Fitz being dense and problematic (a bit more so than usual). A lot of things happened in this book, like introducing Elliania and Nettle and Thick (best characters ever, I love all three of them). There’s almost nothing by way of a plot, just court drama and unsettling tension and unease that keeps on collecting, and some of the best character dynamics I have ever read.
Lastly we have Fool’s Fate, which…destroyed me. I still can’t stop thinking about this book because it made me feel every possible human emotion while reading it, and when it ended I was left with this empty sadness and wistfulness and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for DAYS.
Random observations, SPOILERS and rambling
Me @ this series:
The handful of chapters in the beginning of Fool’s Errand after the Fool and Fitz reunite are PURE COMFORT before shit starts hitting the fan. Just the two of them and Nighteyes spending their days hunting, cooking, reading, drinking expensive brandy and telling stories.
I had a great deal of fun telling anyone who would listen that the villain in this book is a freaking cat. Well, not technically a cat, but you know. The way cats are written in this series is just *chef’s kiss*.
The Fool’s real name is so beautiful hello??? The moment it was introduced I knew I would die every time the name was mentioned.
The moment Fitz and Prince Dutiful first meet is so wonderfully heartbreaking. Just, Fitz describing Dutiful’s face and saying that time stopped for him at that moment, while Dutiful attacks Fitz with no idea who he is. Then later, the way I started GIGGLING when Dutiful theorised that Fitz was Chade and Lady Thyme’s son.
The Golden Fool was really the Fool’s book. I love how quietly confident he was in his identity and his feelings and his goals, and how much he cared about the fate of the world at large. I liked it whenever he talked about saving the world, but I specifically love this moment where he talks about bringing dragons back into the world:
Remember with your heart. Go back, go back, and go back. The skies of this world were always meant to have dragons. When they are not there, humans miss them. Some never think of them, of course. But some children, from the time they are small, they look up at a blue summer sky and watch for something that never comes.
Saying I hated Starling in this trilogy would be an understatement (at first I was okay with her but very quickly she became intolerable) but I find it hilarious that even though she didn’t recognize the Fool, she clocked that something was going on between Fitz and Lord Golden. Between that and Prince Dutiful asking him and Jek (I didn’t expect to love her cameo so much!) teasing him, no wonder Fitz exploded (he was a spectacularly stupid piece of shit in that one chapter, if you’ve read the book you know what I’m talking about). I just felt really sorry for the Fool, no one deserves that.
The ending of The Golden Fool is my favourite. It feels like a warm reassuring hug. Fitz calling the Fool ‘Beloved’ for the first time. Just – “Beloved, I have missed your company.” I died. ‘He looked at me and nodded gravely, as if thanking me for returning something precious to him.’ I AM DECEASED.
I did not expect to like Elliania, Nettle or Prince Dutiful (or even Swift) this much when I started Fool’s Fate, but turns out I do. The kids steal the show sometimes. The scene where Dutiful and Nettle use the Skill and talk for the first time makes me smile so much. “Prince Mannerless, I am Queen I-Doubt-It-Very-Much of the Seven Dungheaps.” The sass. Nettle calming Thick’s dreams on the boat is another favourite of mine, and then there’s Thick saving Nettle from being consumed by Icefyre. I love their dynamic so much.
I feel infuriated by Fitz and then I come across a passage where he’s just musing about his loneliness and depression and trauma, and I immediately want to give him a hug. I find it kinda disturbing how relatable his loneliness is, actually.
The entire Aslevjal arc was top-notch fantasy writing. I read it on my e reader at 1 am in the morning while everyone else was asleep and the lights switched off, and it was an EXPERIENCE. Meeting the Pale Woman, the fight of the dragons, and Fitz staying behind to recover the Fool’s body and then refusing to put him down to confront the Pale Woman (My dream was dead in my arms. I continued to walk 😭😭😭😭) and then bringing the Fool back to life. Madness, truly.
There’s no consistent overarching plot in the trilogy, but that wasn’t a problem for me because mainly, this series was about Fitz and the Fool and their relationship. They are almost unhealthily devoted to each other, and I think it scares Fitz, in the beginning, to have someone know everything about him and still love him completely and without limits. I just love the way they find safety in each other and they care about each other so damn much. Their last proper farewell makes me crazy just thinking about it. The tenderness and the intimacy and the tragic sadness of it all.
I did not like Burrich’s death. It felt sudden and honestly, it felt as if it happened just to get him out of the way, so that Fitz could go back to Molly. It felt weird that Fitz only returned to Molly after Burrich, Nighteyes and the Fool all had been removed from the equation. I loved Molly in Royal Assassin and Assassin’s Quest, but did she really know Fitz at all?
That being said, I liked the ending. Technically it’s Fitz’s ‘happy’ ending, but it’s full of regrets and angst and unsaid things, and while it sometimes feels unsatisfactory, it just fits.
It was after finishing the whole book that I realised that I’d missed the Fool’s poem and I went back and read it. I don’t cry while reading books, but I’ll tell you I teared up. No other characters have felt SO REAL as they have in this story.
Overall, out of the three books, I have to say I loved Fool’s Errand the best. Despite the Pain, there’s something just so comforting about that book.
Anyways, you got to admire Robin Hobb’s dedication to writing the most tender, emotionally intense and intimate scenes between Fitz and the Fool and then capping it off with, ‘no homo, though!’ HAS SHE REALIZED SHE HAS WRITTEN ONE OF THE GREATEST LOVE STORIES OF ALL TIME?
My ratings for the trilogy:
- Fool’s Errand: ★★★★★ (5)
- Golden Fool: ★★★★★ (5)
- Fool’s Fate: ★★★★★ (4.5)
Because I kinda suck at drawing people, here’s a doodle of Nighteyes, looking up at the sky mid-howl.
7 thoughts on “The Tawny Man trilogy by Robin Hobb review // I am just rambling a lot”
JAN I LOVE HOW THE ROBIN HOBB BOOKS HAVE KIND OF UNAPOLOGETICALLY BECOME YOUR ENTIRE ONLINE PERSONALITY AT THIS POINT?? ALSO ALL THE CONSTANT SCREAMING. I LOVE IT ALL SO MUCH?? oh and DID I MENTION THE REVIEW’S STUNNING AND ALSO VERY CONVINCING AND BOOKS THAT STEAL YOUR ENTIRE EXISTENCE AND MAKE YOU OBSESSIVELY THINK ABOUT THEM FOR DAYS ON END ARE THE BEST EVER?? i must read this.
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Ajjsksk the books have consumed my brain I can’t stop thinking about them 🙈 thanks❤️❤️
YES DO READ!! hopefully you like them too!
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Excuse all the emojis, but I just love this review so much that I am unable to string words together into coherent sentences!! Like, I’m just so glad you’re finally reading this series and love Nighteyes, the Fool, Fitz, and all his “children” as much as I do!! And that you hate Starling! 😂 Seriously, one of my favorite moments is still when Nighteyes refers to her as “the howling bitch”… 😇
Honestly, I agree with almost everything you wrote here. Robin Hobb’s cats are epic. Lonesome, clueless Fitz is pathetically adorable and relatable. And Fitz and the Fool’s relationship is one of my favorite relationships in fiction, ever 💙😭
Still, I’m not really a huge fan of the ending. Not necessarily because of how the Fitz and the Fool thing was handled, but because I was disappointed how rushed it felt, because I’m not a huge fan of the resurrection trope, because I really wanted to have the Wit plotline resolved, because the Burrich reunion and everything following it felt so cheap, and because I hated how Fitz getting his Girl-on-a-Dragon memories back seemed to invalidate a lot of his earlier sadness and depression… However, ever since I’ve finished the entire Realm of the Elderlings, I also see things in a bit of a different light – I’m already so pumped to discuss the ending with you!
But fine, I’ll shut up now. As my own reviews have shown, I could go on about this series forever, so it’s probably best to stop while I still can 😅🤣
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IT REALLY WAS SO GOOD thanks for introducing the series to me now I’ve got serious brainrot!
How had I forgotten that nighteyes called her howling bitch?? Iconic, really. I wanted to reach into the book and slap starling so hard after she yelled at Hap the poor boy. And then acting as if fitz was the one in the wrong.
I loved all the cats in here, they just sound exactly what I’d imagined a cat would sound like!
YEAAHH I get what you’re saying about the rushed ending. I liked the reunion with burrich because it was so damn sad but I HATE that he was killed off (yeah, it felt cheap. And for no other reason I can see other than to get him out of the way.)
Asksksj I completely forgot about the witted plotline lol.
I liked the resurrection. I knew the Fool wouldn’t die but then he actually died and I had a heart attack but those few chapters were just beautifully written.
And djsjkk you might…disagree but messy as it was I liked fitz and molly’s relationship in royal assassin 😶 what I do not like is that here Molly had basically no say in Fitz coming back into her life SO MANY years later. Burrich and the fool and fitz just decided for her and she just had no agency at all.
I’m halfway through the rain wild chronicles now! Those books are so much shorter and easier to devour lol
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Yes! I’m never forgiving Starling for Hap! 😡 Or for how she basically manipulates everyone around her to her own advantage! Seriously, why does Fitz keep coming back to her??? It’s obtuse even for him!
And lol, I definitely preferred the Fool being resurrected to him dying and also loved sobbing over Fitz finding his body (I mean “my dream was dead in my arms” 😭😭😭😭😭), but I just generally have something against magic that has the power to reverse death, especially when the magic seemed much less powerful when it was first introduced. It just seems so overpowered and introduces all kinds of plot holes! Like, why don’t more people use this kind of magic if it’s out there?
Hard agree on Fitz and Molly, though. I hated how agency-less Molly is! Like, the only scene where she really shows some backbone is when she leaves Fitz when she discovers she’s pregnant – and then she just throws everything away, gives in to his creepy post-her-husband’s-death stalking and takes him back??? I just don’t see what Fitz sees in her! 🙈
But anyway – I’m really looking forward to your thoughts on The Rain Wold Chronicles! 🤗
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