The ensuing chapter, “Prisoners,” begins with Jani Khuprus seeing to Reyn’s comfort as he prepares to be carried by Tintaglia once again. Dealings with the dragon are detailed, and Reyn and Selden confer briefly before Tintaglia goes aloft, bearing Reyn as he seeks Malta through the bond created by their dream-sharing some time ago and reinforced since.
Malta wakes from a vague recollection of connecting with Reyn to survey her materially improved circumstances aboard the Chalcedean ship with the Satrap. She also rehearses the ways in which her situation has deteriorated with the reassertion of the Satrap’s power and prestige, but, after questioning her father’s regard for her, she resolves herself to continue to press her own position on the ship. The appearance of pirates disrupts the flow of her work, however, and the Satrap rejects the notion that the Chalcedeans would be overwhelmed by the advancing raiders. She begins to dress him in his demanded resplendence as the sounds of conflict reach them.
Aloft, Tintaglia shakes Reyn back into his body. They converse briefly, not without tension, and the search for Malta continues as Reyn muses over relative powers at sea.
Aboard the Chalcedean ship, the Satrap makes to assert himself to the pirates despite Malta’s attempts to dissuade him. She accompanies him above deck and finds that the pirates have taken the ship; she falters when the Satrap proclaims himself as such to the victorious pirates and sickens when she sees the carnage of the taken deck. Malta affirms his identity, though, and declares her own; the pirates, laughing in disbelief, take them and the ship into their possession.
The thought suddenly, strangely occurs to me that the Bingtowners and pirates seem to be the only people depicted in the Elderlings corpus who seem to have blue-water shipping as it is typically understood. Yes, the Out Islanders can likely make such crossings; the ships they are described as having do evoke Viking longships for Tolkienian-tradition readers (or Haida war canoes for others), and such vessels can cross open water, but the frequency of raiding and other clues suggest that the Out Islands are not so far from the Six Duchies as might otherwise be thought. The Chalcedeans are explicitly reported to use galleys, and while such ships in the readers’ world might have crossed the Mediterranean, they were more used closer to the coast than far from it. The liveships, though, and other traders’ vessels described are depicted as striking out across open ocean, though, or at least in terms like the ships of the Golden Age of Sail. Perhaps they are to be taken as “more advanced” because of the technological distinction? I am not sure, although that suggests itself as a point that could be made…