A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 135: Ship of Magic, Chapter 34

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

The next chapter, Restorations,” begins aboard the liveship Ophelia, with Grag Tenira rousing Althea, still in disguise as Athel, with a summons from the captain, his father. She fears she has been uncovered, but she reports as ordered. The captain confronts her about her true identity, and, after she admits to her ruse, he orders her put ashore–so that he and his crew can take her aboard formally and properly, under her own name. She will also have the opportunity to act as the ship’s mate, as Grag will feign illness to allow it to her.

The Drunken Sailor
What to do with him? What to do…
The Drunken Sailor by BeSea on Pxleyes, used for commentary

As the principals involved agree and make arrangements, the senior Tenira notes the increasing political tensions in Bingtown. Grag sees her off, and they make arrangements to meet the next day, both recalling earlier, happy encounters previously.

Elsewhere, aboard the Springeve, Brashen has an encounter with one of the sailors under his command. The sailor, one Tarlock, voices recognizing Brashen from earlier voyages. Brashen reviews his situation and present condition, including some unsavory dealings with pirates in trade, and attempts to steer conversation away from his own past. Succeeding, he leaves the passed-out Tarlock behind and returns to the Springeve with cindin in his lip and a spring in his step, happy to have evaded identification.

I note with some satisfaction another bit of support for my notion that the milieu of the Elderlings novels is more North America than medieval/ist Europe. In the present chapter, Brashen and Tarlock drink together for a time, with Brashen calling for rum in his attempt to get Tarlock drunk enough to pass out. While that liquor has origins in southern Asia–there are early attestations in India and Persia–it is indelibly associated with the Caribbean and with the Americas through the horrors of the slave trade (with which topic the present novel also grapples), as well as with the pirates that continue to feature in the text and which, themselves, are a traditionally New World phenomenon.

I note also the ease with which the Teniras handle the revelation of Althea’s ruse. Perhaps it is because they are Traders with a liveship of their own, to whom (which?) they listen, that they are able to adjust so readily to the deception, annoyed only at being taken in instead of at the presence of a woman working aboard ship. Whatever the reason, in or out of the milieu, they do mark a pointed contrast to how others have viewed things, perhaps indicating that there is something of value in Bingtown society, after all.

Care to help me start this month off right?


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