A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 166: Mad Ship, Chapter 28

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


The next chapter, “Departure of the Paragon,” opens with Amber, Althea, and Brashen conferring about their status and that of the Paragon. They fall into an old pattern before Amber changes the subject to Lavoy, whose conduct has brought the flaws in their ill-matched crew to the fore. The ship fares little better, having reacted timorously to every change in course during sea trials, and the ship’s fear infects the crew.

Tall Ships Set Sail in Galveston at New Maritime Festival | THC.Texas.gov -  Texas Historical Commission
Pretty close…
The Elissa, from the Texas Historical Commission, which I believe makes it public domain.

Ashore, Restart conducts Ronica, Keffria, Malta, and Selden to see the Paragon off. Malta muses on the disjunction between her station’s demands and the restrictions of her family’s penury. The family greets the liveships they pass before coming before Paragon, where Brashen–now Captain Trell–greets them and welcomes them aboard. Malta considers the crew, including her aunt and Amber, and marks an exchange between the two as she remains above deck while others go below. Malta converses somewhat uneasily with Amber, unsettled by her oddness.

The Paragon is brought into the conversation and prophesies Malta’s death. She suddenly finds herself in a strange void, pulled between opposing forces and struggling to remain herself amid them. Outwardly, though, there is no show of the struggle, and onlookers think only that she is somewhat addled by the excitement of the liveship’s launch. Soon after, however, boats from the surrounding liveships are sent to help tow the Paragon out where sails can be set and the ship can get fully underway; the crew and well-wishers say goodbye to one another, and the ship leaves, sped by the Vestrits’ prayers.

As I have written the rereading entries for the Liveship Traders novels, I have found myself concerned with pronouns. More than usually, they are an issue of concern, and I find myself caught between tradition and accuracy. Traditionally, ships take feminine pronouns in English, including ships with masculine names. But this also only applies to inanimate vessels, which the liveships are not quite. Although they are not alive, as such, they do seem to have their own personalities and existences, and while sex is not necessarily a concern for the vessels–being built, the applicability of the term is questionable–gender identity certainly is. But how much of that gender identity is imposed upon the liveships by virtue of their construction–and the process of their quickening, which requires the deaths of family and is not always of a unified gender identity–and how much of it is accepted and adopted by them is unclear.

It might well be thought that I am worrying too much about the issue with the books. I can already hear objections being raised, many of which are…unkindly put. (I live and have lived where I do, with and among whom I do, and while I know stereotypes are not reality, I also know there are some folks who seem to do their damnedest to enact them. Pardner.) But I know that it is important that I get things right in the world in which I live, where people do suffer indignity from having their preferred forms of address ignored. I do not want to show disrespect in such ways, so I need to practice. How fortunate, then, that I have fiction with which to do so!

I can still use your help!

I Wish I Had This Batting Average…

If I have things figured correctly–and I may well not, I admit–this is the 1,000th entry in this blogroll. It is something of a milestone, certainly, although the kind of statistical breakdown that often accompanies such things will wait until the usual annual report I make on the blog about the blog. No, for now, it suffices to mark the occasion–something at which I do not excel, as those who know me in person know.

Such idle pasttimes…
Photo by Steshka Willems on Pexels.com

No, I am not quite so often celebratory as might be thought; I don’t generally see myself as having reason to be so, or not enough reason to set aside the time to do it as is needed. I’m happy to celebrate others, to mark their birthdays and anniversaries and achievements. Mine, though…not so much. And that is as it should be, really; it is enough for me to note that I’ve made it this far and to keep going.

I haven’t done enough yet, not by a long shot.

I do thank you, though, for reading, and I hope that you will continue to read what I write, whether my odd essay or the rereading series that is still going (and still has a long way to go). I have every intention of continuing to do the writing, whether it’s to note some new occurrence or just to keep things going along; I hope folks get some use or enjoyment out of it–or both!

Help me get to the next thousand?

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.