A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 155: Mad Ship, Chapter 17

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


The following chapter, “Marooned,” begins with Kennit moving to follow through on a promise. The progress of his recovery and adaptation to his amputation is noted, as is the status of the crew of the captured Vivacia. The ship itself quizzes Kennit on his intentions, and he deflects the conversation as he goes about his intention, collecting Sa’Adar, the former captain, and a few others of those freed from enslavement aboard the Vivacia.

Drowning
Good bye, priest.
Drowning by Pretty-Angel on DeviantArt, image used for commentary.

The group takes the captain’s gig out to a hidden bay on a nearby island. The former captain attempts escape after making landfall, but he is quickly subdued and restrained. Kennit leads the group with some difficulty up a path to a small settlement where Kennit announces himself–to his mother. He surveys her situation and briefs her on what he has brought along–harshly. And when his announcements report that he is leaving the former captain–imprisoned, but alive–in the settlement as part of a promise to Wintrow, the boy’s father rages against his son. Kennit rebukes him sharply and tours the small settlement again, beset by memories. Some of his past–ruined by the pirate Igrot–emerges as he considers what was his childhood home.

As Kennit orders the former captain’s restraint, the latter asks for the pirate’s demands. Kennit reports that he has none, although he muses on possibilities as the other man is shackled and shut away. And he finds himself pleased when he returns to his mother, sitting to a brief meal before making to head out again. Sa’Adar resists being left behind, although he accedes to Kennit’s request for a blessing on his mother. When the two rejoin at the gig, Kennit is able to convince the priest to help him launch the boat; the pirate does not, however, help the priest into the craft, though Sa’Adar does heave himself in. After a tense conversation, Kennit pitches the priest into the sea and kills him. The charm on his wrist speaks wryly to him after, but Kennit sets it aside.

The nods towards Kennit’s past in the present chapter might smack of the kind of sympathy-building exercise I’ve noted elsewhere but for the fact that Kennit remains an asshole even with his mother–something for which he is rebuked, to no avail, in the text. The pirate, though clearly wronged, is not in the right, and he seems to acknowledge his error unapologetically; the Freduian excuse is not.

In truth, I am not certain how to feel about the chapter. I enjoyed rereading it, of course; there is a reason I keep coming back to Hobb, after all. And I appreciate the character development accorded to Kennit; while it does not excuse or justify his actions, the glimpse of his personal past provided does deepen and enrich the character, thus the milieu in which he exists. But, again, the man is clearly evil, and following him so closely is…not entirely comfortable. Then again, comfort is never guaranteed, and it is not always good…and there is hope in that I remain (at least) uneasy against the presentation of what is wrong…

There’s a week left; help out?

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