Cosplay 2017 round-up post no. 3 - Shades of a Fool

If I had to pick one favourite fictional character, it would always be Robin Hobb’s Fool. As Assassin’s Fate came out this year, wrapping up a 16-book fantasy epic of unsurpassed scope, originality and skill (not to mention an intentensely emotional journey), I decided it was the perfect time to pick some of his personas to cosplay, eventually settling on 6.

As with Malta, this involves spoilers if you haven’t read the books.

1. King Shrewd’s jester
This covers the very early years, roughly the Assassin’s Apprentice era. The Fool is described as near-colourless, with white hair and pale skin and eyes, usually wearing motley in his role as King Shrewd’s court jester.

This was fun and relatively easy, except for covering up my tan (he is at his most colourless in this early stage, so naturally I tackled this costume after several weeks in scorching NZ sun, lol). His hair is described as kind of dandelion-fluffy, which this wig didn’t really do, but I was pleased with its colour and tousle.

It was surprisingly hard to find some motley that wasn’t garish or obviously costume-y. Eventually I settled on a pair of basic tights and a non-costume second-hand blouse (that I had to fight a hard bidding war for!) plus dollar-store gloves. I did experiment with a Ratsy stick but the cats kept insisting it was a toy.

Another close-up. These contacts would NOT stay centered on my pupils and insisted on doing a lazy eye thing in 9 shots out of 10. I guess I can claim it adds to the otherworldliness? lol

2. The toymaker / In the mountains / Verity’s garden

This is the stage after his first on-page hue change, rendering him a shade of pale golden; it’s what I think of as “the young Fool,” even though he was obviously already older than he looked (but Kettle was still right, he and Fitz were basically a pair of idiot boys). Covers parts of Royal Assassin and all of Assassin’s Quest.

A pair of contacts that actually worked; my trusty faux-fur vest in an approximation of winter garb; a wig that I really loved; and some Glenfiddich standing in as Sandsedge brandy.

This was based on the Fool’s time as a toymaker in the Mountain Kingdom. If you look carefully, you’ll spot he’s carving a tiny Nighteyes.

More toymaking. You can’t see all of it, but the table in the background is made of prehistoric New Zealand swamp kauri, which if you read up on it is basically wizardwood.

Wellington Zoo conveniently had Verity’s Dragon right there! Topaz was helping out as Nighteyes. (This is legit the most dignified she has ever looked and it took about 50 photos to get there, lol).

3. Amber / The Liveship Traders

I don’t think Amber needs explaining. I’d cosplayed her once before, a few years back, but it was very haphazard and I wasn’t happy with the result. I’m much more pleased with how this one turned out.

As a baseline reference, my IJ banner is John Howe’s depiction of Amber and Paragon. As a bit of interesting trivia, the seashore is actually modelled on the Seatoun beach area of Wellington, which is kinda neat.

“I can see that you go through life athwart it. You see the flow of events, you are able to tell how you could most easily fit yourself into it. But you dare to oppose it. And why? Simply because you look at it and say, 'this fate does not suit me. I will not allow it to befall me.' I have always admired people who can do that. So few do. Many, of course, will rant and rave against the garment fate has woven for them, but they pick it up and don it all the same, and most wear it to the end of their days. You... you would rather go naked into the storm. I cannot abide that you should do that. So I offer you a bead to wear.”

The colour scheme here was, of course, various browns: wooden beads, amber jewelry, tawny hair, a darker skin tone. Amber’s clothing in the books is described as basic, genderless, hempen brown, as in the John Howe painting. I tried just wearing layers of simple cotton brown at first, but it ended up looking mostly “Aldi, wearing brown things,” so I decided to go a tiny bit fancier while hopefully still preserving the concept of Amber: a touch of the Rain Wilds in the layered, belted look, some creams, burnt umber, and greens mixed in with the brown. The leather vest was added for a touch of “artist at work,” for practicality in her shop and/or shipboard, and a smidge of androgyny.

Our beach proved handy for driftwood and atmosphere.

Jewellery close-up - amber and brass. The feather set was made by [info]omarandjohnny. The amber pair was a gift from [info]sarajael. The hair is technically too dark (more red than tawny) but it went with the costume, and seemed to work once I added a scarf. (Apparently my cheeks go freckly in the sun.)

4. Lord Golden

Arguably the most irritating of the Fool’s personas in the books, Lord Golden was actually really fun to cosplay. A golden peacock, showy and flashy, with scores of admirers and not a trace of his usual subtlety. My trusty op shop provided me with a ridiculous, gold-embroidered coat just when I needed it; the rest was ostentatious glitz, feathers, gold gloves, lavender neckcloths, and my campiest boots.

"I am fabulous."

And a ~sash~ lol

Not highly visible, but that is supposed to be Fitz’s/Burrich’s earring with the blue stone caught in a dreamcatcher-like net.

Actually, that deserves a better shot *goes hunting* Voila:

(tacky gold gloves, ostentatious ring, and jewellery from the man you devastatingly and unrequitedly love, what better dress theme could you want)

Angling slightly away from Lord Golden’s scandal-ridden and lavish court life and towards the heartbreak of Fool’s Fate, which I otherwise left out of this narrative, here is a cameo from the lovely [info]alsha and her convenient dragon tattoo:

I had briefly considered doing the Brown Man from the end of Fool’s Fate, but a) it was too emotionally scarring and 2) he didn’t offer a whole heap of costuming options. Instead I skipped a good ~20 years and went straight to...

5. Mage Grey / The Blind Beggar

Covering the end of Fool’s Assassin and early parts of Fool’s Quest, this era was extremely frustrating/devastating to read about and extremely disgusting yet fun to cosplay. It just involved putting down newspaper wherever I was likely to step, and then a bunch of fake blood, real dirt, and gleeful destruction of old long johns and new bandages.

And of course, Bee’s apple.

Please note the twisted/broken/club foot. I had fun making it.

Full-body view. Everything was super-gross, which was very fun. The dog did not appreciate me usurping her under-the-house dirt pit she likes to rest in, lol.

See? She was DISGUSTED.

6. Dragon-touched / Beloved / Amber, again

This covers the latter part of Fool’s Quest and the early parts of Assassin’s Fate; I opted to lean more heavily on the Kelsingra period and the Fool’s return to Amber than the latter parts of Assassin’s Fate, which I didn’t think I could capture. I focused on the dragon-induced changes after the consumption of dragon’s blood; dragon eyes, scales, and a touch of that lavish Elderling dress style, with lots of gold to emphasize the Fool’s previous personas.

I’m not sure how well it shows up in photos, but the hair is kind of an ashen blond, with tinges of grey remaining; returned to better health but with a bit of Mage Grey lingering. The eyes, of course, are all dragon.

With butterfly cloak.

Scales/hair/eye detail.

And that’s pretty much it. I was going on very personal visuals, so obviously this will not coincide with everyone's ideas, and there’s only so far I can go in terms of gender fluidity. But it was an amazing challenge and I enjoyed every minute of it.


ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh it's just so glorious to see these altogether Aldi. What a stunning achievement. I have just been scrolling up and down, wallowing in all the memories of the books that your pictures evoke.

King Shrewd's Jester:: I love how bright the eyes stand out, despite being so pale the liveliness of him in this period truly stands out. I adore the tights and the whole outfit.

Oh my gosh the Toymaker wig is divine! I love the extra warmth there is in the hair colour and skin tone. This is kind of my happy place, thinking of them at this stage, despite the hardship at the time, little did we know!

I did love your previous Amber (hence, icon) but I love her here too. All the patchwork and flashes of detail work so well for her, knowing the care that she would take I think. And the leather waistcoat of androgyny WORKS goddammit. :D

Lord Golden, STOP! Hahaha flashy flash flash with a hint of devastating heartbreak. NOTHING TO SEE HERE!

Why is the blind beggar my favourite? I have no idea but you do capture the devastation of the fool being brought to this so well. Particularly seeing this cosplay straight after the lushness of Lord Golden and Amber and the Toymaker. OMG my tears. The hint of gold in the head bandage is making me weep so much. ARGH ALDI!!! Also your desolate stance in the full body view, KUDOS ON THE ACTING, it looks like it truly hearts to stand. ARRRRRHH. (Based on this I am relieved you didn't attempt Brown Man because I have no idea if I would have survived it!)

HELL YES DRAGON TOUCHED. I LOVE THIS. All the Elderling touches are so wonderful, it's so great to end on this colourful sundrenched high but you've still caught the sort of sad, subdued edge to it that covers this part of the story so well. I have to say the belt is a great touch here with it's scale-like effect.

All in all this is such a phenomenal achievement and a beautiful tribute to an all-time great character. I've loved the opportunity to discover more about the character and your interpretation of so many of the aspects of the Fool through this post.
Aaaaaah, thank you so much, Anna, you have no idea how happy this comment made me!!

I love that the Blind Beggar is your favourite. It is such a gutting stage in the books (especially after the end of Fool's Fate, like, how many times are we going to have to see him horrifically tortured??) and given how in most of his stages he is always described as some degree of youthful and attractive, it was a really interesting challenge to come up with a look that is older and utterly broken. I'm so happy the result worked for you.

I totally agree about the relative happiness of the toymaker/Assassin's Quest era. For me, the fact that during that trip on the Skill Road, Fitz is actually allowed to be himself, with friends who know who he is and love him, instead of the endless secrecy and loneliness before and after, has always made that a happy journey, no matter how high the stakes and how dark the danger. We tookmost of the toymaker pics inside our Tiny House, which is made of light woods and has that warm light, so it felt like a good background choice. Again, so chuffed you liked!

Hahah, I really wanted to find a wolf statue for the final stage to add more ~devastation~, but there wasn't anything handy nearby. Oh well.

Thank you so much for this, your reactions have seriously made my day <33333333333

January 2020



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