A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 112: Ship of Magic, Chapter 11

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

The following chapter, “Consequences and Reflections,” opens with Althea consulting the Bingtown equivalent of an attorney regarding the terms of her father’s will. They are, unfortunately, clear, and clearly not in her favor. She also asks about Kyle’s oath about ceding the Vivacia to her if she could present proof of her honest sailor’s skills; her interlocutor notes that it would likely work, but counsels her against pursuing the action.

-Amber- by AngellaMireille on DeviantArt, used for commentary

After Althea leaves, she fumes, musing on her situation, and determines that she will not live on her sister’s charity. She also calls upon the Vivacia at the docks, reminiscing on the status of women among sailors as she does so. As she begins to confer with the ship, she realizes that she can feel Wintrow at work aboard her–and that his suffering marks the ship, to its potential future peril. When she is interrupted by Torg, she sits upon her anger and counsels the ship to set it aside; the ship does not, but acts against the mate.

As Althea leaves, promising to return to the ship, she wonders about the ship’s intentions and harbors dark thoughts of her own. She also has an uncomfortable encounter with Amber, though the two exchange no words, and there is no hostility made manifest between the two. After, she eats and gives thought to how she will proceed afterward, being unwilling to accept more of her family’s charity, and she begins to realize how dire her family’s situation is. She also gives more thought to the Vivacia and her nascent development, comparing her to other notable liveships–including the Paragon, whose history she rehearses in part; the part is tragic enough.

After the meal, she sends a note to Ronica and walks out amid the shops selling goods from up the Rain Wild River. She sees Amber again, at her shop this time, and considers her situation again before making her way towards the beached Paragon.

The story of the Paragon that Althea rehearses is, as noted, a tragic one, the more so given that it depicts the ship as having come into consciousness amid fear and pain. Death has already been established as necessary to quicken a liveship–three generations of a single bloodline–with implications that the Liveship Traders novels do begin to investigate, but there is a patent difference between lives ending of old age and its often-associated infirmities and the calamities that befell those whose lives quickened the Paragon. It is hardly to be wondered at that a consciousness that forms amid such trauma would have problems, as ascertained by the standards generally applied. (How apt the application is is something with which the books concern themselves later.) The repeated traumas clearly do not help, either.

Help me recover from the weekend’s holiday?


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