A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 103: Ship of Magic, Chapter 2

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.


The next chapter, “Liveships,” opens with Brashen Trell waking from a dream of sea-serpents to familiar surroundings aboard the liveship Vivacia. He considers his situation, now diminished after the illness of his former captain, Ephron Vestrit, and the demotion to second mate under his new captain, Kyle Haven. His history as a son of a leading Trader family receives a gloss, as does his first encounter with a sea-serpent as a junior sailor–and his realization that the serpent worked some strange compulsion upon him.

One of the titular liveships, but not the only one…
Vivacia by FloorSteinz on DeviantArt, used for commentary

Althea Vestrit, also aboard the Vivacia, considers her situation and the changes to it as she is summoned to Kyle’s cabin. He upbraids her for her initiative aboard ship and for her desire to captain the vessel, noting that she will be replaced by one of his sons when the Vivacia next sets sail. He also confines her to quarters for the remainder of the trip back to their home port of Bingtown. He also strikes her for words spoken drunkenly in a tavern, and he slut-shames her.

In her cabin, Althea considers what she knows of the ship’s history, the enlivening effects of family deaths upon the Vivacia‘s decks. She contrasts the familial tie with Kyle’s mercenary tendencies–pronounced even among trading families–and arrives at the conclusion that any defiance from her would only hurt the crew before looking ahead to returning to her home.

Ashore, the liveship Paragon listens as a pair of people–Davad and Mingsley–approach him on the beach and discuss selling him off. Mingsley is taken aback by Paragon‘s condition, which Davad explains as peculiar to the wizardwood of the ship’s construction; it holds up far better than regular wood, and some ships made of it are able to speak and move of their own accord. Paragon does not do so while the men are present, but after they leave, the ship voices his interest in Mingsley’s plan to wreck him for salvage rather than refit him.

Brashen’s story of his encounter with the sea-serpent recalls Verity’s work with the Skill against the Red-Ship Raiders prior to his expedition to the Skill-quarry. It is another tie between the series, made early on, and one the points toward other Elderlings works that have come into print since Ship of Magic and the Liveship Traders novels. I am in doubt that those novels were intended when Ship of Magic was in draft, but I did read my Wimsatt and Beardsley, thanks.

I’ll note, also, that there seems to be less fanart that deals with the Liveship Traders novels than with the Farseer, Tawny Man, or Fitz and Fool books. Some of that is understandable; the Farseer novels are older and have had more time to accumulate fan-works. But the Tawny Man and Fitz and Fool novels are younger, and they seem to a casual search to have as much or more, and the Dragon Keeper books seem to have even less. As I write this, I’m not sure the implications, but it might be worth commenting on at another time.

My parents’ anniversary is tomorrow; help me get them something nice?

3 thoughts on “A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 103: Ship of Magic, Chapter 2

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