The following chapter, “Bingtown Negotiations,” starts with Ronica looking over the remains of the old Traders’ Concourse as the people of Bingtown gather together. She notes, too, that the people assembled are strangely equal, affected alike by war and grief. Notably, Serilla, Caern, Kelter, and members of the Traders’ Council are in attendance, as are representatives of the Tattooed, the Khupruses, Mingsley, and Selden; the last claims to be present to intercede between Bingtown and Tintaglia, and he reports on her current status. Keffria regards her son strangely, taken aback by the changes to him.
The assembly begins to confer, fractiously at first, spurred by Caern. Serilla unceremoniously rejects him and attempts to assert authority; the rejection is upheld but the authority rejected, in part by the Tattooed. Jani speaks in favor of the position outlined by the Tattooed, as well. And Tintaglia arrives, announcing her presence decisively and berating the people gathered together. Selden again intercedes, diverting what seems promised retribution, and Ronica senses the political realignments at work. Tintaglia again reiterates her command that the folk of Bingtown help her save dragonkind, noting the means to do so; negotiations regarding how best to do the work required ensue, and a tentative accord is in place when Keffria interjects regarding Malta. Reyn rushes to her aid, and Tintaglia rages–but does not attack, physically. Reyn is, however, pulled into her psychic power, where he is shown Malta. But even that revelation does not bind him to her will; negotiations continue, and it is averred that all who seek to remain in Bingtown and the Rain Wilds will agree to the arrangement and to the governance of the Bingtown Council, which is opened to new elections from among all the groups present.
Bingtown appears to be on the rise from the nadir of the previous chapter, with new beginnings and what seems to be a more stable, inclusive form of government in the offering. I am reminded again of parallels to the stories about the emergence of the United States (stories, I emphasize; I know that the histories are not so happy or fortunate, and that current events continue not to be so), and I do note that Hobb’s parallel is more open than even those happy tales. Women and minority populations are explicitly and specifically included, and those who had been enslaved are afforded equal status in the emerging system, with slavery being prohibited in both its chattel and indentureship forms. It is refreshing to read a piece of historicist fiction–that is, one that borrows from historical details without pretending to accurately represent bits of history–that does not laud the prejudices of the past and overtly reinscribe them, but instead offers a view of how things can be better.
It would be nice if more people would work towards such things.