A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 105: Ship of Magic, Chapter 4

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

The following chapter, “Divvytown,” starts with Kennit fancying himself up as the Marietta pulls into the harbor of the titular settlement, which is given a glossed description. He confers with Sorcor as the ship is towed into port, speaking of ambitions for leadership; Sorcor comments aspersively on the notion, remarking on the desire of those in Divvytown to be free people.

r/dndmaps - Dock town/Pirate bay encounter map
Something like this for the setting, perhaps.
Dock town/Pirate bay encounter map by glennjitsu on r/dndmaps, used for commentary.

As the Marietta continues into port, Kennit considers her and her history. Against it and his ambitions, the ephemeral desires of the crew become as nothing in his mind, and their indulgence of those desires makes all his victories shallow. But his career continued, as does his reminiscence over it until the Marietta is safely moored; at that point, he makes his standard offer to the crew regarding their shares of the ship’s booty. Some take it; more do not, and Kennit grouses about it to Sorcor after the crew has disembarked. Sorcor reminds Kennit that such has always been the way in Divvytown, and Kennit disembarks in anger.

The anger sustains and distracts Kennit as he proceeds through the dockside crowds and barters the bulk of the Marietta‘s takings. And it continues to sustain him as he returns to a familiar brothel, seeking the prostitute whose services he prefers–Etta–and accommodations for the night. Despite some protests, they are provided him, and Kennit avails himself of them, some musings and awkward conversations intermingling.

After, Kennit gives one of the treasures he had taken from Others Island, the ruby earring, to Etta and stalks out angrily. While he does, the wizardwood charm on his wrist speaks with him, and Kennit calls on a tattoo artist he favors. The artist rebukes him for perennially employing and destroying his work, but he proceeds after being paid, Kennit reveling in the pain as a price paid for a bad decision and looking forward to removing the tattoo as a way to put the bad decision behind him.

The chapter is useful in laying out more context for the characters, particularly Kennit and Sorcor, and for introducing Etta. Kennit’s musing on and conversations with Sorcor about governance seem to follow the more overtly political bent of the Liveship Traders novels, though I am not quite as up on political theories as I need to be to trace the implications further than noting their existence. And I find myself frustrated at that, that I know enough to see that something is there but that I do not know enough to know what that something is, even if I have the nagging sensation that I used to know enough to know.

Something else comes to mind as I read the chapter again, as well. As Kennit voices ideas about Divvytown to Sorcor, one of the things he mentions is placing defensive weaponry at strategic points–specifically pre-gunpowder weaponry. It is a strange anachronism, given common depictions of pirates. I’ve commented elsewhere on the admixture of pirates in medieval/ist settings, and the Realm of the Elderlings certainly is medievalist in its overall shape (again, with large caveats); it seems a common enough thing that I should not be surprised to see it here. I do have to wonder, though, why so many fantasy authors steer clear of gunpowder…

Summer’s coming, and A/C is expensive. Help?

4 thoughts on “A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 105: Ship of Magic, Chapter 4

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