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The next chapter, “Piracy,” opens with Wintrow observing from the deck of the Vivacia as Kennit coordinates with Sorcor aboard the Marietta to seize another passing ship. Kennit exhorts the ship to the pursuit, and Wintrow considers the lead-up to it; the ship being pursued, the Crosspatch, had boasted of being able to evade Kennit and continue working as an elite slaver, and Kennit could not resist the open challenge.
Action to seize the Crosspatch ensues, with most of the work done by the crew of the Marietta, Wintrow having warned of the peril of spilling more blood on the liveship’s decks. The former priest frets somewhat about the carnage he watches alongside Kennit, but the pirate captain replies with strangely philosophical musings that give Wintrow pause. The pirates take the slaver, and Kennit commands Wintrow to accompany him to survey the takings.
In Bingtown, Althea makes for the Paragon, considering the liveship in a new way after seeing the gifts Amber had provided. She takes in the alterations to and maintenance on the craft as she joins Brashen and Amber–and the freed slave, Clef–aboard. Once all are gathered and the parts others have played are noted, they confer with the ship about the possibility of undertaking the mission to recover the Vivacia. The ship is hesitant, but Amis Ludluck, the ostensible owner of the ship, accompanies them in the discussion, as does Restart. She affirms the sale of him to them, explaining herself bitterly. Restart receives his fee, and he and Amis withdraw. Clef moves to comfort the sullen ship.
Aboard the Crosspatch, Sorcor reports to Kennit as the latter boards and surveys the taken ship. Wintrow accompanies him on his slow tour of the seized vessel. Some of the slaves aboard aver a desire to be delivered to their intended purchaser, and Kennit opines on the evils of slavery. He and Wintrow also confer briefly about the latter’s future; Wintrow affirms his bond to the Vivacia.
That night, as the three ships sail off for Divvytown, Kennit rehearses the aftermath of the day’s actions. Etta prepares herself for Kennit and approaches Wintrow, where he sits with an injured crewman near the Vivacia‘s figurehead. They confer briefly, and Etta moves to Kennit, who confers with the ship about their plans. Shortly after, Kennit and Etta retire to his cabin for an intimate interlude.
Later, Wintrow reports to Kennit the death of the injured crewman. After dismissing the boy, Kennit confers with the charm on his wrist, which rebukes him for how he uses those around him. It is a bitter, unpleasant conversation, and it bodes ill for Wintrow.
The chapter does much to reaffirm Kennit’s manipulative nature, reminding the reader that Kennit is not a good person by any standard. It also does somewhat to highlight the problems with attempting to use intellectual argument to prevail upon a corrupt person; Wintrow searches for a flaw in Kennit’s arguments, only to have more piled upon him before he can adequately refute the points made–and it is not because Wintrow cannot make the argument, but because Kennit does not care about the flaws in his own reasoning. He is, rather, interested in having his will prevail–and in a way that leads Wintrow along, rather than occasioning overt resistance. It is the kind of thin veneer of intellectualism that is often prized among the disingenuous and discriminatory, a papering-over of vileness that more people would do far better to attend to than currently do.
2 thoughts on “A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 158: Mad Ship, Chapter 20”
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