The brief final chapter of the novel, “She Who Remembers,” opens with the serpent Maulkin expressing confusion at the seeming-but-not-actual serpent he had scented and followed. Conferring with other serpents, he notes their previous cyclical existence and their slow degradation. They determine to find and follow the titular She Who Remembers before they become nothing more than beasts, themselves.
The chapter functions as something of an epilogue, pointing forward more emphatically than the previous chapter (which makes clear that how Kennit works on Wintrow and the Vivacia will be a focus) by giving an explicit indication of what is to come. Too, it serves as a reminder that the world in which Hobb writes is not only a human one; there are other forces, other thinking creatures at work in it. (Some will contend that the same is true in the world Hobb inhabits, but that discussion is outside the scope of what I can even pretend to be qualified or competent to address.)
Ship of Magic is one of the few Elderlings novels I do not have in hardcover. The next volume in the series, Mad Ship, is not one, although I will be reading from my paperback copy to continue this reread; it travels easier than the hardback I was fortunate to be able to find. And I might discuss the differences, for me, in reading each. Maybe. Another time.