The next chapter, “Vicissitudes,” opens with Wintrow being taken to be tattooed as one of the Satrap’s slaves. Thus marked, he is returned to the pens where the slavers keep people imprisoned, smarting from the pain of the tattooing and from not being redeemed by his father. He rebukes himself for having had hope of rescue.
At anchor in Jamaillia Bay, the Vivacia mulls over her separation from the Vestrits. Gantry, the first mate, tries to console the ship, to no avail. She presages doom to him, but he does not take the warning.
Elsewhere, Althea–posing again as Athel–attempts to sign onto the crew of the Tenira liveship, the Ophelia. She manages to talk her way into a berth among the crew, and is told to report to the mate, Grag Tenira. Happy at her success, she makes to retrieve her kit, noting to herself that she will not see Brashen again.
Brashen, meanwhile, seeks a berth on the coastal trader Springeve. He suspects it of trafficking with pirates and is reluctant to engage, but financial straits and a dearth of his preferred stimulant, cindin, motivate him. Through bravado, he manages to secure a solid berth at the ship’s mate, and he makes to report to his new ship, thinking a bit of Althea and wondering if he will still be known in the Pirate Isles.
Wintrow wakes, still a captive, and learns more of his situation from another held with him. He is soon herded off and assessed, as if so much livestock, and soon is put up for auction. Kyle sees him and offers an insultingly low initial bid; it does not pass. At length, he is sold, Torg taking him in hand and hustling him off to be tattooed again, marked as slave to the Vivacia, herself.
In the Farseer novels, Hobb positions her protagonist as distinctly other than the typical fantasy hero. I’ve argued the point, so I’ll not rehash it–but I will note that Wintrow seems to be in much the same mold, made even more so in the present chapter than he had been by the earlier parts of the novel. By being made a slave, and one not even claimed by his father, he is placed into a particularly abject position, one even more tenuous and precarious than his predecessor, Fitz. It marks him as perhaps the focal character of the Liveship Traders novels, as well as reinforcing just how execrable Kyle Haven and the institutions in which he participates are.
Given continuing events surrounding the composition of this little piece, I have to think that more people need to be reminded more forcefully of that execration and its lingering effects.