The next chapter, “Tintaglia’s Bargain,” begins with Reyn waking where he has bedded down in the Tenira household alongside Grag and Selden. He muses on recent events, both the burgeoning new Bingtown and the holdovers of the older system and their interpenetration by Roed and Serilla. Caern’s bloodlust poisoned initial attempts at rapprochement as Chalcedeans attacked some days past, and the Chalcedeans seized the Kendry, the harbor, and many captives to enslave. Grag rouses, and the two confer about what can be done and what should be done. Selden also rouses and declares his intention to proceed with the other two to the fight that they all know is coming, and they find that matters are already in motion as they take what they recognize may be a final meal together.
Elsewhere, Tintaglia fumes at her reception at Trehaug; it was unkind even by human standards, and dragons tend to assume that they deserve veneration. But as she flies forth, searching for Reyn or Malta, she comes under attack from ships in Bingtown’s harbor; she responds in kind and is surprised to hear Selden singing her praises. She alights, and Reyn steps out to confront her despite the fatigue of his fighting. Tintaglia realizes his fey mood is prompted by his belief that Malta is dead; she says to him that Malta lives and bids him and those with him to work to save dragonkind. She also repels a sneak attack from Chalcedeans in the town before reiterating her demand; Selden interposes and sways her with honeyed words to clear the harbor of the Chalcedean threat. As Bingtown begins to rally, Reyn confronts the changes occurring in Selden.
There is an interesting echo of Tolkien in the first section of the chapter; Jani Khuprus and Nana Tenira both appear ready to go out and fight, with the latter remarking that she is of more account than simply to feed her son and send him out to die in a comment that calls to mind Éowyn’s remarks in The Lord of the Rings. Given Éowyn’s efficacy in the Battle of the Pelennor, it is possible there is some quiet foreshadowing at work, here; Hobb is certainly aware enough of Tolkien to have echoed the comment deliberately, and even if it is not deliberate, it is not to be wondered at that an author shows her reading.
In terms of narrative structure, the present chapter is close to the middle of the book; it is therefore to be expected that the climax for which Freytag calls or the turning point outlined in Frye’s models would be in the present chapter or soon enough. And Bingtown does seem to have reached something of a nadir as the chapter begins; it is in disarray, its holdings looted and burned, its people divided and being taken into slavery. Matters appear to improve somewhat by the end of the chapter, with Tintaglia turning to the aid of Bingtown, but Reyn is wary of the influence of and interference by the dragon. Given how the dragon acts–and fights–and the traditional associations of dragons in the English-speaking world, there is some question about whether Bingtown has made the proverbial “deal with the devil,” the more so as those who treat most closely with Tintaglia bear the mark of it upon them…