The Tawny Man, Book 1, Fool's Errand, Robin Hobb - 05.30.07 ****
Fifteen years have passed since the end of the RedShip Raider wars. Fitz & Nighteyes have lived a mostly solitary life in the hills of Buck Duchy, and Fitz has created a new identity to go along with his new life - Tom Badgerlock. He and his adopted son, Hap, live simply and easily until events conspire against them. In the Fifteenth year of his new life, the summer brings three visitors in quick succession. Starling the Minstrel arrives to take Hap to Buckkeep for SpringFest, and while they are gone Chade arrives to try to convince Tom to come back to the palace to train the young Prince Dutiful in the magic of the Skill. Tom refuses, not wanting to return to court life. Next comes the Fool, who has also assumed a new identity, that of Lord Golden a Jamailian lord visiting from the south. The two spend many happy days reminiscing about their old adventures. Tom still refuses to return to the palace, and at last Lord Golden must leave.
Shortly after Hap returns from SpringFest, Tom and Starling have a brief argument when Tom discovers she is married, and he ends their relationship, and Hap determines to acquire enough money to pay for an apprenticeship with a cabinet maker in BuckTown. Almost at once a messenger arrives from Chade, begging Tom to come at once - Prince Dutiful has disappeared.
So finally Tom does what everyone has been conspiring to force him to do, and returns to the palace to help Chade and Lord Golden discover the whereabouts of the Prince. Have the Piebalds, a group of the Old Blood who despise the FarSeer reign, abducted Dutiful? Or has the Prince run away willingly, unaware of the Piebalds plans to use him for their own political gain? Tom and Lord Golden have only two weeks to discover the truth - for a delegation of Outislanders will arrive with the new moon for the Prince's betrothal ceremony to the Narcheska Elliania, as part of a monumental trade agreement to ensure peace between the two kingdoms.
Once again, Tom will be called to sacrifice everything he holds dear to save those he loves from the treachery that surrounds them, and his Skill and Wit will be tested, and his divided loyalties stretched to the breaking point as he struggles to decide who to trust and what to believe.