The next chapter is titled “Jamaillia Slavers,” and it begins with Wintrow exulting in his freedom from the ship and service, walking along the streets of Jamaillia City. He considers his present circumstances, how to return to his monastery, and the ship he has left, and it nags at him no less than the clear signs of corruption in the city that is supposed to be the heart of civilization.
The Vivacia stands sullenly as her officers query her about Wintrow’s departure. At length, she rebukes them openly and violently, striking Kyle and damning him. Gantry persuades Kyle to go out and look for the boy and to put out word of a reward for his safe return. Gantry tries to ease the ship, showing respect to her, but she stiffly rebuffs him, weeping at her current circumstances.
Elsewhere, Kennit and Sorcor make ready to take another slaver. Sorcor tries to spare Etta the sight of it, but she refuses, and the plan to take the slaver begins. Kennit makes to lead the boarding party, and as the Marietta draws close to the slaver, the slaver begins tossing slaves overboard, threatening to send more screaming into the sea if they are accosted. Kennit presses the attack anyway, and into the fracas presses a serpent that had been following the slaver and feeding upon the dead. The serpent takes Kennit’s leg, even as Etta saves his life.
Wintrow finds himself among the slave markets in Jamaillia City, stunned by the squalor and suffering he finds there. He responds to one of the enslaved who asks for pity and mercy–not for himself, but for a woman suffering from a botched abortion. Wintrow initially seeks to find an ordained priest to help, but the idea is laughed at; with some reluctance, he offers a terminal last rite to the woman. The slavemonger takes exception to the mercy, however, and challenges Wintrow for the lost revenue. When he cannot tender it, he is taken, himself.
As I read the chapter again, I find the juxtaposition of events curious. I am aware that yoking them together is supposed to tell readers that they are roughly contemporaneous, and that comes across fairly clearly, but I also know that the events are under their author’s control; they are made to be contemporaneous. And so readers are led to understand them as somehow linked other than by time–fallaciously, perhaps, but readers who will seek such fantasy as Hobb writes are not necessarily reading to make a predominantly logical argument.
I’m not sure where else I can go with that line of thought, though. Perhaps it is simply me reading badly once again. I tend to think not, though; I’m supposed to be trained to read analytically and critically, and if there is such a yoking in place, such a construction of a contemporaneity of events, there has to be something going on in it, right?