A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 165: Mad Ship, Chapter 27

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

A chapter titled “Kingdom’s Foundation” follows, and it opens with the Vivacia considering recent events with Kennit, her hold full and his designs in progress. The ship relishes Wintrow’s accounts of happenings ashore as Kennit tours his burgeoning fleet, but she even more relishes Kennit’s attentions to her, and she watches eagerly as he reviews the settlement at Askew, where the Fortune is harbored. Wintrow is not so sanguine when he speaks with her about Kennit’s growing governance, and the ship is somewhat put off by his skepticism of Kennit. But Wintrow absents himself from the foredeck before Kennit returns to the ship and calls upon her at the figurehead again; they confer about Etta and Wintrow before Kennit beguiles the ship with a gift.

Perhaps not quite what was intended…
Jan Steen’s Argument over a Card Game, which I believe is public domain at this point…

Wintrow and Etta confer over seized manuscripts in Wintrow’s cabin aboard the Vivacia. He has her read, and she succeeds, although she has not come to that success easily; Wintrow rehearses teaching her, which had led to some decidedly uncomfortable thoughts and conversations. But the success is elation for him, and for her.

When Kennit retires to his cabin after seeing to his cargo, he finds Etta waiting for him. When she reads to him, noting her ability and Wintrow’s advice to read more widely to practice–without guidance–he is taken aback; he intends that the two spend more time together, and the seeming completion of the assigned task of teaching Etta to read inhibits that. Kennit directs Etta to spend more time with Wintrow, to “teach him,” implying that she should offer herself to him sexually. What Etta does, instead, is begin to teach Wintrow how to fight, coming to his room in the night to give him a knife and to begin their lessons.

For someone who is as perceptive as Kennit often is, he seems in the present chapter to have woefully misjudged Etta. There is perhaps irony to be found in it, especially that he is depicted as making much of Etta being more than her background to Wintrow even as he expects she will be with Wintrow as her background suggests she should be, that he has sought to be beloved and then does not expect that others will act towards him as if they love him. This is not to say he should be pitied, of course; he should not. But it is interesting to see such a failure in Kennit, something that could be taken by a new reader as a foreshadowing of his end. Whether it is or not, this rereading may discuss–later.

New month, old request: I can still use your support.


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