Inside the Skill Pillars? *Spoilers*


New Member
Feb 20, 2012

Hi there, I've just finished reading the 6 Farseer books about Fitz, i found this forum because i was searching for an answer that doesn't seem to get explained.

Namely the two occasions when Fitz gets lost in travelling through skill pillars. Once travelling to the others beach and once at the end of the story when he goes missing for a month travelling back from Aslevjal. Both times he has a conversation or is talked to by a female being who eventually sends him on his way home. I've never really been sure who this was supposed to be.

The encounter before the others beach makes me think it may have been the dragon Tintaglia. But the second encounter doesn't give any hints to me. I don't know if its explained in Live Ship traders as I'm yet to read them but is there a theory who its supposed to be? It almost seemed like he was passing into another life so at one point i assumed Hobb was hinting that it was the Goddess Eda who was sending him back. But i'm not really sure?
Feb 25, 2013
Hiya, I often wondered this when reading through the books the first time, but I've come to some conclusions since then. Other readers be aware of spoiler alerts further on. And please forgive me if I babble.

I've read in a lot of places that people assume this 'presence' inside the pillars who helps Fitz is Tintaglia. But from what we're told of Dragons and Tintagia especially throughout all the books, I truly doubt it is. This presence is kindly and helps Fitz. I really, really, don't think Tintaglia would bother. He is no more than a gnat buzzing in her ear for the rest of the books. I know you would swat a gnat away if it was bothering you, and thats why people say they think it IS Tintaglia, despite the personality differences, pushing him back out of the pillar...and maybe she would do that for the sake of getting rid of him, but I don't think she'd do it in such a kind way.

I think, inside the skill pillar, flows all those who ever skilled. The oldest beings (the presence being one of them perhaps) are probably ancient elderlings long gone (perhaps dragons, but if so, dragons of the past, not tintaglia). I think they are the 'souls' if you like, of old elderlings. Their beings in the form of pure skill - bodiless and eternal, with no ties to the physical world, simply being, until someone attracts their attention.
Notice how the presence said she was confused to see Fitz there because he was not 'finished'. So I think to be 'finished' maybe is to to fulfill your life and give yourself to the 'skill current' to exist out of time, at one with everything. Obviously Fitz is relatively young and has much more to do, so he did not belong in their world and she nudged him back in the right direction, telling him not to come back until he was ready to stay - to merge his consciousness forever in a suspended state of skill? Perhaps.
So that's my theory. The presence that helps Fitz is the great consciousness of an Elderling long gone from physical life. I think she was 'distracted' by his use of the pillars and lifted a hand to help out - more out of amused indulgence than anything else. To 'her', having a body and living a mortal life is a thing of the past, something wistful to remember - so she propels Fitz back into his so he can carry on with it.
I'd also like to note the fact that on the Other's Beach, Dutiful hears a male presence, authoritative and caring like a father. Being fatherless, it is a father he wants most. Fitz, being motherless, seeks a strong and protective female figure. I don't think the presences that speak to them both on the beach is even the same one. I think they're two different ones. The secret yearnings of their souls (Dutiful and Fitz's) are probably apparent in their wild skilling, and each has attracted the notice of those who most fit their desire. Fitz's soul calls out to a caring mother - and so the elderling who most fits this need is attracted to him through the pillar and gives him help. Likewise to Dutiful.

I'm really against the idea of it being Tintaglia - especially at the end of the book when he is within the pillars for a month, because we all know at this time that Tintaglia is engrossed with hunting and mating with Icefyre and nothing else. I like the idea that some people have thrown out there that it could be Eda...but I doubt this too. When he's in the pillar there are lots of glowing points of light - different beings, I think - and if there's lots of them but only one is singled out, then I don't think it likely it's a goddess - just another being, who has drawn his notice because they've already connected before. The being is described as something out of this world, and he has touched minds with a dragon before; I think that would have been a little more familiar to him than this was. So. Yeah. Ancient elderling consciousness's floating about in the endless stream of skill, existing out of time, formless and immense.