A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 118: Ship of Magic, Chapter 17

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

The next chapter, “Kennit’s Whore,” begins with the Marietta pulling into port in Divvytown, Sorcor reporting to Kennit the crew’s activities and decisions since liberating several slaveships. Kennit reminds Sorcor that other pirate crews may not be so sanguine about their escapades. The disposition of crews and ships under Kennit’s overall command receives some attention, and Kennit goes ashore to sell his captured cargo as a lot.

The eponymous, about whom consensus seems clear
Etta by CyanideMilkshake on DeviantArt, image used for commentary

Negotiations proceed, with a local broker making a ploy towards an enduring business arrangement. There is a tacit offer of marriage to his daughters to secure it; Kennit does not accept it, but he does make an agreement, as he explains to Sorcor afterward before sending him back to the Marietta and heading for his preferred brothel. His wizardwood charm offers him some warning as he proceeds, and he finds a waiting trap for him when he arrives. Fortunately for Kennit, he is able to spring the trap, if with difficulty; Etta aids him against his attackers, and he takes her from the brothel as his crew arrives to support him, springing to his orders to gather in their crew from the rest of the town.

The chapter is relatively brief and focused. For all that, it serves to deepen the impression of Kennit as a mercenary, unpleasant person–not unlike Regal in the Six Duchies in outlook, though much more effective (and much more closely examined, to be sure, which the third-person narrative permits far more than a first-person). His gestures are to serve his own ends, to build loyalty and acclaim rather than simply to do good, and I find myself in mind of many people I suspect of doing the same thing. (No, I am not going to name names. I have to live here.)

It is only as I reread the chapter for this project that I realize or recall a pun. Kennit’s ship is named the Marietta. He seems to have, for many intents, married Etta. I am ashamed that it only strikes me now–but strike me, it does, and I am reminded of Hobb’s stance on specificity of wording, as presented, as well as her penchant for meaningful, emblematic names in the Six Duchies novels. It should be no surprise to see such a pun in place. Especially for me.

Reader, can you spare a nickel, even?

3 thoughts on “A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 118: Ship of Magic, Chapter 17

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