A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 162: Mad Ship, Chapter 24

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


The succeeding chapter, “The Ringsgold,” begins with the serpents Maulkin and Shreever regarding their growing tangle. More serpents come to join them; some remain feral, some regain identities, and some languish between the two states. They confer about their progress and their needs; they also confer about “the silver provider” that has confused and assailed them. Conversation among the serpents leads to the idea that such as “the silver provider” have forgotten themselves much as many of the serpents had, and they purpose to make one such return to itself as they had to themselves.

Sea serpent.jpg
Something like this, maybe?
Woodcut from the 1555 History of the Northern Peoples by Olaus Magnus; I’m pretty sure it’s public domain.

The attempt goes poorly. Despite the serpents’ imprecations and assaults, the ship they pursue gives no sign of knowing them. The serpents drag the ship under, killing the crew–but reawakening the dragon within the wizardwood ship, which claims to speak with the voices of the dead. The ship tells what it knows of its history and the cataclysm that led to its situation. It asks to be consumed by the surrounding serpents, ended thus and freed from the torment and enslavement it has learned it suffers. The serpents oblige, and memories flood into them–including, for Shreever, memories of flight.

As before, the interludes focusing on the serpents serve to remind readers that other intelligences than human inhabit the Realm of the Elderlings’ milieu. The confirmation in the present chapter of the nature of wizardwood and the liveships is striking, perhaps, although, if memory serves, it has been amply foreshadowed by this point in the series. What it portends for the other liveships that have featured in the novels, the Vivacia and the Paragon, will be worth attention as the reread continues…

We’re still handling medical expenses and could use your help.

3 thoughts on “A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 162: Mad Ship, Chapter 24

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