30 Day Book Challenge – Day 24
I realise that this is going to sound sort of bizarre, but I’m nothing if not eccentric in my ways.
I recently finished reading Robin Hobb’s Fool’s Errand (I know, I know, I’m still stuck in the Robin Hobb love bubble), and I was on a plane when I read this particular scene. Now, I’m not usually prone to public displays of relative instability and unsoundness, but I honest to God was crying like a baby when I read this scene. I mentioned I was on a plane at the time, right?
I then arrived at my destination, hopped in the shower and booed again. A week later I was walking through town with my mum, explaining how I had teared up on the plane AND in the shower, and as I related the scene to her I choked up again. Mum was a little concerned, but once I managed to get it out through the sobs, she understood.
So my favourite scene is one that has me wailing like a banshee? Yes, it is.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt so emotionally connected to a character/s and his/their quest, as I have with Fitz and co. in both The Farseer Trilogy and now The Tawny Man Trilogy. I think the sheer fact that I got so upset by this scene is a testament to the author and her writing. When I’m reading these books, I’m there and the characters are real. I experience their joys and their sorrows, their desires and their concerns.
The scene in question is at the end of the book after the final battle, when the protagonist, Fitz, lays down by his wolf, Nighteyes, with whom he can communicate with and is essentially bonded to in mind, heart and soul. Those who have this ‘magic’ are known as Witted, or as having the Wit. In this book, Fitz and Nighteyes undertake a quest to save their Prince Dutiful from a band of Witted folk with evil intentions. Throughout the story it becomes apparent that Fitz and Nighteyes are not the youthful heroes they once were, with Nighteyes in particular showing signs of fatigue and aging. As they fall asleep after the final fight, exhausted, they share thoughts and dreams.
I could not sort out which thoughts were mine and which were the wolf’s. I didn’t need to. I sank into his dreams with him and we dreamed well together. Perhaps it was Dutiful’s loss that put us so much in mind of all we still possessed, and all we had had. We dreamed of a cub hunting mice beneath the rotting floor of an old outbuilding, and we dreamed of a man and a wolf pulling down a great boar between them. We dreamed of stalking one another in deep snow, tussling and yelping and shouting. Deer blood, hot in the mouth, and the rich soft liver to squabble over. And then we sank past those ancient memories into perfect rest and comfort. Healing begins in deep sleep such as that.
He stirred first. I nearly woke as he rose, gingerly shook himself, and then stretched more bravely. His superior sense of smell told me that the edge of dawn was in the air. The weak sun had just begun to touch the dew-wet grasses, waking the smells of the earth. Game would be stirring. The hunting would be good.
I’m so tired, I complained. I can’t believe you’re getting up. Rest for a while longer. We’ll hunt later.
You’re tired? I’m so tired that rest won’t ease me. Only the hunt. I felt his wet nose poke my cheek. It was cold. Aren’t you coming? I was sure you’d want to come with me.
I do. I do. But not just yet. Give me just a bit longer.
Very well, little brother. Just a bit longer. Follow me when you will.
But my mind rode with his, as it had so many times. We left the cave, thick with man-stink, and walked past the cat’s new cairn. We smelled her death, and the musk of a fox who had come to the scent, but turned aside at the smell of the campfire’s smoke. Swiftly we left the camp behind. Nighteyes chose the open hillside instead of the wooded vale. The sky overhead was blue and deep, and the last star fading in the sky. The night had been colder than I had realised. Frost tipped some of the grasses still, but as the rising sun touched it, it smoked briefly and was gone. The crisp edge of the air remained, each scent as sharp as a clean knife-edge. With a wolf’s nose, I scented all and knew all. The world was ours. The turning time, I said to him.
Exactly. Time to change, Changer.
There were fat mice hastily harvesting seedheads in the tall grass, but we passed them by. At the top of the hill we paused. We walked the spine of the hill, smelling the morning, tasting the lip of the day to come. There would be deer in the forested creek bottoms. They would be healthy and strong and fat, a challenge to any pack let alone a single wolf. He would need me at his side to hunt those. He would have to come back for them later. Nevertheless, he halted on top of the ridge. The morning wind riffled his fur and his ears were perked as he looked down to where we knew they must be.
Good hunting. I’m going now brother. He spoke with great determination.
Alone? You can’t bring a buck down alone! I sighed with resignation. Wait, I’ll get up and come with you.
Wait for you? Not likely! I’ve always had to run ahead of you and show you the way.
Swift as thought, he slipped away from me, running down the hillside like a cloud’s shadow when the wind blows. My connection to him frayed away as he went scattering and floating like dandelion fluff in the wind. Instead of small and secret, I felt our bond go wide and open, as if he had invited all the Witted creatures in the world in to share our joining. All the web of life on the whole hillside suddenly swelled within my heart, linked and meshed and woven through with one another. It was too glorious to contain. I had to go with him; a morning this wondrous must be shared.
‘Wait!’ I cried, and in shouting the word, I woke myself. Nearby, the Fool sat up, his hair tousled. I blinked. My mouth was full of salve and wolf-hair, my fingers buried deep in his coat. I clutched him to me, and my grip sighed his last stilled breath out of his lungs. But Nighteyes was gone.
Robin Hobb Fool’s Errand pp.604-606
And yes, typing this out had me in tears yet again! It’s so sad, and yet so beautiful. I think Robin Hobb is a truly wonderful writer.
These are my favourite books! Also- if you start crying because of that scene (me too) just -wait- for the rest of the series. Truly. My roommate walked in on me while I was reading it and by this time I’d been crying for a good few hours. I think she was a little frightened. That said, As soon as I was done she stole all of the books to read so that can only be a good thing, right? XD
If there’s such thing as a Robin Hobb love bubble, may I join you?
Oh no! More crying?! I haven’t made much progress with the second in the series because I’ve been too busy, but this week onwards I anticipate a teary reunion with my Robin Hobb love bubble. In which, by the way, you can definitely join me! :)
I’ve never read Robin Hobb, but if the books are that good enough to have you crying.. Then I think I might just have to now.
I’ve cried on planes way too often. There’s something about the atmosphere of reading on a plane, being sleep-deprived, air-deprived and solitude-deprived that makes the tear glands seem to work overtime, I swear.
There’s no denying I think they’re brilliant. Let me know what you think if you ever do read them!
I can’t say I’ve cried on planes very often, but it really does suck when you do because there’s no escaping the small enclosed area or hiding the sobs from your neighbours. It’s just so cruel!
That’s an easy one for me. It took me a few times to get going on The Diamone Age by Neal Stephenson, but I was blown away when I got near the end (yes, spoilers):
I shall have to look into this I think!
Wow I think i’ll be making some Robin Hobb purchases. Thanks Katy :)
Yes Aly! Go to the Book Depository…they are soooo cheap! :)
Hope your month’s going well.
I’ve put another RSS feed on my blog but I used a different one this time, blogger’s own. Just thought I’d let you know in case you still wanted to subscribe, and in case you have to resubscribe.
That’s enough tech stuff.
I’ve also just written a post about Kate Holden at the Age who’s also written a couple of books and got a response from her, and had my first online stoush! With a bloke called Simon who felt marginalised by my blog, so that’s a shame.
Kate’s got a wordpress blog as well, she managed to comment as Anonymous but left her name.
See you next week.
I tried to send you this as a direct message but was told my email was invalid – both of them! Oh no! – persona non grata!
Hi Fiona! Sorry for the late reply…I’ve been hiding on a mountain for some time with no running water, electricity or phone reception…how primitive of me, right?
That’s great about Kate! I just had a quick peak at the post and her response! Woo celebrity contact! ;) Congrats Fiona! Not so cool about Simon, but I suppose you just can’t please everyone.
I shall have to look into this direct message business. Our blogs seem to be rejecting each other which is most unfortunate! Play nicely blogs! Tut tut.
As you have probably already gathered (unless you didn’t make the meeting either), I didn’t make last week’s rendezvous, but I should definitely be making the next one. I will have just returned from Melbourne, where I’ve managed to get a job working as a volunteer at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, so hopefully I’ll have loads to share.
And now, back to writing! I feel so out of practice! :\
Chat soon xx
PS – I was scrolling down through your site and my husband was looking over my shoulder.
‘Is that your blog?’ he asked.
‘No, it’s Katie’s, she’s in my writers’ group.’
‘Are those all the books she’s written?’ he asked.
So you’re doing very well.
Ha ha ha ha! Ohhh, bless! If only, Fiona. If only!
Ok I’m geeking out, because Robin Hobb is the only fantasy author I read anymore. I love her!
I am quite obsessed…and I think it shows!
LOL .. I do -not- blame you one bit!
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I just read this scene last night. So sad. And now today I can’t stop thinking about it. :'(
I’m sorry for the extraordinarily late reply Bek – but even now, so many years after reading this book for the first time, I get a lump in my throat thinking about it. So I feel your pain!
Well it’s 2016, and I just read that scene today. After moaning and wailing a bit in a very unexpected way, and after pulling my poodle close to my face (to her mild confusion), I had to check online and see how others reacted. Glad to find your page, and your emotion that matched my own!
I was overcome with the beauty of the scene, but especially that very specific moment in my own life when I’ve wanted to sleep in and then I’m suddenly overcome with the sense that there is a glorious day out there waiting to be experienced. Fitz calling “Wait!” to Nighteyes and then realizing his wolf was still beside him, but gone… so crushing. Made me not want to miss another morning. Made me want to open my heart up to the world a bit more.
Thanks for stopping by AdamCo. The fact that I’ve reread the books so many times seems to have no affect on the raw emotion I felt on that first read. It still pulls on the heartstrings! How wonderful that it inspires you to live life with such an extraordinary attitude, especially when there really are so many good reasons to pull the blankets over our heads and hide from the world. I’m currently waiting on the release of the final in the latest (and probably last) Fitz trilogy, which is proving just as incredible as the first. Happy reading to you, and long live Nighteyes!
Like AdamCo i browsed the Net to see if other people shed tears on this scene. The first time I was commuting to Paris. I could not believe the wolf was going to die, but Hobb brings is very well. It is really weird to want to cry in a public transportation. I mourned for 3 days, and now that i read it again i feel sad again !
Why is it that one can get more emotionnally attached to animals in a book than all the other people dying in the series ?
Having read the other series (the sea, and the city) i did not find something that compelling. Assassin’s saga is the best of Hobb in my opinion.