The next chapter, “The Launch of the Paragon,” opens with Brashen reviewing the final repairs and refitting conducted on the Paragon before the ship can be floated. He mulls over the question of disciplining the vessel, which he had discussed with Amber and Althea previously; their discussion is rehearsed. Their initial foray is also rehearsed. So is the plan for floating the ship and addressing likely further repairs. Brashen assigns Althea to monitor below-decks action; Amber will remain at the figurehead to handle the strange moodiness of the ship. That done, he signals for the plans to begin, and the ship starts to move.
The ship is disquieted by the return to the sea; Amber works to soothe the Paragon. The ship perceives obstacles to being floated and calls them out, initially to disbelief, but soon enough to acceptance, and the work of the on-shore crew and offshore barge pull the ship out from the beach into the surf. Pumping and caulking begin in earnest. The ship is righted, exulting in being afloat again even amid the fear of unseen dangers, and secured to the work barge as timbers align, planking swells, and caulking continues. The ship’s conversation with Amber grows strained, as if Paragon is a moody boy amid the throes of puberty, and as Amber withdraws, Clef approaches and reproaches the ship.
Below decks, the pump crews are rotated. Brashen and Althea confer about progress and prospects. After, she moves off to survey the damage occasioned by re-righting the long off-kilter vessel. Berthing receives consideration, both aboard the Paragon and for the ship; Brashen purposes to put in with the other liveships, while Althea expresses concern regarding that arrangement. He acknowledges is, put means to proceed, anyway, proud captain of a ship at last.
The Paragon remains aware of what transpires on and below deck. The process of realignment continues, considered closely. The ship begins to take a peculiar pleasure in being captained once again.
The Liveship Traders series makes much of anthropomorphism, obviously. Ships speaking through the mouths carved for them, noting thoughts and feelings much like those of their crews, is a blunt instantiation of the device. The present chapter, though, seems to be a better example of it than most. Something in it rings true to me; something in the depiction of a ship exulting in returning to sailing seems somehow right to me. I know it’s silly in the sense that I should not be an affective reader, and I know it’s fraught from the perspective of a rereading that knows whereof the liveships are made in milieu. Still, I find myself thinking “Yes, that’s it!” as I read the chapter again–as I have several times elsewhere in the book and in the corpus of which it is part.