[Read no further if you wish to avoid spoilers]
So far our hero has faced war, assassination plots, witches and dragons. This 7th book finds our hero now facing...the reality of having a special needs child. Yes, there are still dragons, murders and other intrigue, but the primary drama of the majority of this book is the relationship between our hero and his youngest child, Bee. Bee, who from the beginning is different. Bee who finds eye contact difficult, who is over-sensitive to stimuli, who develops speech late, who perceives the world around herself in such a different way than other children. She is not autistic, she is magically extraordinary in a different way, but Hobb makes her as close to a spectrum child as possible.
I expected an excellent addition to the fantastical story of Fitz and the Fool and I was not disappointed. I did not expect to find an insightful and heart-rending account of both what it is to be the parent of a special needs child and what it is to be that extraordinary child. Epic fantasy meets autism in a meaningful and thought provoking way.
This book has earned a very special place in my heart. That one of my favorite authors took one of my favorite characters and explored what it means to be the parent of a non-typical child and what it's like to be that child -- it is an unexpected gift that I treasure beyond words. As the parent of a special needs child I feel like she nailed down many different aspects of it. I simply love this book.