One of the darkest legends in the Realm of the Elderlings recounts the tale of the so-called Piebald Prince, a Witted pretender to the throne unseated by the actions of brave nobles so that the Farseer line could continue untainted. Now the truth behind the story is revealed through the account of Felicity, a low-born companion of the Princess Caution at Buckkeep.
The Willful Princess and The Piebald Prince is a new novella from Robin Hobb that takes the reader back to the early days of the Farseer reign. Set in the same world as Hobb’s renowned Farseer trilogy, this novella serves as a prequel but also manages to stand on its own as well. The story of the Piebald Prince is a well known legend of the Six Duchies mentioned several times throughout Hobb’s Farseer trilogy. Therefore, while the story may stand on its own, I would strongly suggest reading the Farseer trilogy first.
In this new novella, Robin Hobb tells the story of the legendary Piebald prince through the eyes of Felicity, a wet nurse to the royal family of Buckkeep. The entire story takes place within Buckkeep castle in the Duchy of Buck. The story focuses on just a few characters, namely Princess Caution, our willful princess whose passion for a quiet stable master forever alters the history of the Farseer reign. Our narrator, Felicity, grows up with Princess Caution and becomes one of her closest confidantes. Throughout the story, one of the more interesting aspects is how their their relationship grows and becomes complex as things start to spiral out of control for Caution.
Readers of the Farseer Trilogy will know that those with the Wit magic are not well loved. In fact, they are generally thought to be disgusting creatures and have to guard their magic abilities throughout their entire lives. The reader gets a different, refreshing perspective on the Wit magic in this novella, as it is not yet regarded with hate in the Six Duchies, but actually rather appreciated. By the end of the story, we see how the attitude towards the Wit magic changes and gain a better understanding of how those with the so-called “beast magic” are treated in Assassin’s Apprentice, the first book of the Farseer trilogy.
Overall, this story is not a joyful one. But it is a pleasant read that I think will certainly be enjoyable for those who have read Hobb’s other Farseer books. Even if you haven’t read them, I think this will still be fun read. There is nothing in the story that will cause confusion or misunderstanding for you if you haven’t read the Farseer trilogy.
While not my favorite work by Robin Hobb, it’s a short and sweet read that should only take one or two sittings to get through. Give it a try.