This is the first book in the Tawney Man series by Robin Hobb. It picks up where the Farseer Trilogy left off but 15 years in the future. Once more it chronicles the thoughts and adventures of FitzChivalry Farseer, bastard in the royal family of the Six Dutchies. After 15 years of self-imposed exile, Fitz returns to the court at Buckeep under an assumed identity along with his friend the Fool. They are charged with the task of finding the soul heir to the throne, Prince Chivalry Farseer, who has gone missing.
The first third of this book re-introduces the characters fromthe first trilogy, as well as several new characters. It tells the reader what has happened to Fitz in the intervening 15 years, and sets the stage for his return to Buckeep. The second two thirds of the book concerns Fitz and the Fools' efforts to find Prince Chivalry and return him to Buckeep Castle. It is a fairly straighforward plot but it has enough surprises and twists to keep the reader's attention.
I found this book to be lighter and more entertaining than the previous trilogy. Its plot was more straightforward than the first two books, and its climax and conclusion more satisfying than the final book in that trilogy. This is partially due to the characters involved. FitzChivalry is 15 years older and has, thankfully, matured slightly. I found him to still be an anti-hero (he maintains his role as Catalyst to others heroics), but an older, wiser and thankfully less self-absorbed man. He still has a dark side, but his choices are marked by greater maturity. The Fool has always been a foil to Fitz's darkness. Despite his role as White Prophet, he is still a fun character and he brings a lot of humour and irony to the book. He is also my favorite character from the first series, so I am glad that he is a central character in this second series.
If you like fantasy I would definitely suggest you read this book. It gives enough background that you could read it without having read the Fareseer Trilogy. It was entertaining and engrossing. During the last two days I was reading it I all but neglected my housework and only vaguely supervised my son. I was so worried about how Fitz and the Fool were going to get out of one scrape that I found it hard to carry on a conversation with someone I ran into while I was grocery shopping. So, I have a bit of an overactive imagination and when someone says to me "suspend your disbeleif" I say "what disbeleif?" But that aside, it was a good book. Read it.