A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 206: Ship of Destiny, Chapter 27

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

A content warning: there’s discussion of suicide here.


The next chapter, “Key Island,” opens with the Paragon sailing with the tide–uneasily, but with determination. Amber confers with the ship, learning more of the history of the dragons, the region, and the Ludluck family along the way. The ship also notes the amalgamation of memory and personality that animates the figurehead, as well as musing on the desire for death and noting the approach to the island of the chapter’s title.

Satellite view of Niuafo'ou, 2005-03-19.jpg
Not unlike this?
Image is of Niuafoʻou Island, Tonga, per NASA, which makes it public domain, I think.

Brashen commands the crew aboard the Paragon, assessing their status and the ship’s progress. Clef reports the anticipated course and progress to his captain, and Brashen goes forward to confer more closely with Amber and the figurehead. They arrive at the intended destination, and Brashen takes a large contingent ashore, guided by the ship’s report from Kennit’s memories. They encounter the small settlement in which Kennit houses his mother and some others, meeting some resistance and more suspicion, but Kennit’s mother is fetched. Brashen relates to her that he means to take her aboard the Paragon to Kennit, and she agrees to come–along with a chained captive who has to be hoisted aboard as if cargo. Kennit’s mother restores the ship’s logs, and the captive, recognizing Brashen, announces himself as Wintrow’s father and asks to be taken home.

I note, with some interest, that Bingtown and the Cursed Shores are depicted as having access to whiskey. Although the typical spirit associated with piracy in mainstream United States popular culture is rum (with all of the unfortunate associations thereto appertaining), it could be argued that whiskey is more fully piratical, being so often a spur to smuggling and rebellion as it is. The latter becomes particularly important in line with my contentions that the Realm of the Elderlings partakes more of the Americas than of Europe and that Bingtown seems to parallel the early United States (as witness here); the Whiskey Rebellion was a thing, certainly, if not one that gets a lot of attention anymore. (Too, whiskey is a drink of choice in the distinctly-US Wild West; it’s another reinforcement.) I’ll admit that the point’s not a particularly strong one to argue in favor of my earlier assertion, but it’s not exactly a counter-argument, either.

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