The following chapter, “Loyalties,” begins amid the continuing funeral rites for Ephron Vestrit, who is buried at sea. Wintrow looks on uncomfortably throughout, not understanding the customs of the Traders. He largely escapes the notice of his family until Kyle sees him stumble and disdainfully assigns him to the new second mate, Torg. Torg puts Wintrow to work to keep him out of the way, and Wintrow struggles with the busywork.
After, when the family makes to depart the Vivacia for their home, the ship complains. More familial drama threatens to erupt, and Ronica stems it with a few quiet words to the ship and to Kyle. Wintrow is tasked to remain aboard the ship for the night after he escorts Ronica to the waiting carriage. She speaks to him of the ship, though he claims not to understand her. His unease with the quickened ship stems from his religious convictions, and the regard in which others hold him creeps into his mind. He moves to confront members of the crew and Torg, and while things go passably with the crew, Torg is another matter, entirely.
Wintrow leaves Torg and finds himself in conversation with the ship. He finds himself strangely stirred by her words.
Elsewhere, Althea drunkenly muses over her failures and regrets, and she mourns her father. Her family’s handling of the Vivacia rankles her, and she has trouble when she makes to leave. Fortunatley, Brashen is in the same tavern she is, and he makes to escort her home.
Once again, I find myself rereading affectively, sympathizing with Wintrow Vestrit in a way that was likely desired of audiences–and a fairly easy sell for the “typical” readership of fantasy novels. I have made no secret of being a nerd; if nothing else, I maintain this webspace and others (here and here), which is often regarded as being nerdy. Too, I got into grad school (and not for medicine or an MBA), which is nerdy, and I did so off of roleplaying games, which is even nerdier. And in keeping with that, I spent a lot of time in cloistered study–not unlike Wintrow, nerdy boy removed from “real” “manly” life that he is. (Yes, I have issues with it. Go figure.)
Consequently, the interactions with Torg struck something of a chord with me. I’ve known the type, as I think many have; I’ve been on the receiving end of the type, as I know too many have. And I continue, even now, to wonder how such people so often end up in positions of petty authority that they then use to berate and belittle and bedevil those about them. For they do, in life as in art, though art at least tends to offer their comeuppances for the audience’s view; the real world is less giving in that, often in keeping the comeuppance from ever happening.
Is it any wonder that I and those like me read what we do?