A chapter titled “Convergence” follows, opening with Amber conferring with the Paragon about some final bits of woodcarving. Her progress and the final portion–a silver earring with a blue jewel, matching one she wears, and familiar in description–are rehearsed, as is the process of the ship recovering memories from logbooks and reintegrating them into the dominant personality that has emerged as an amalgamation of the dragons whose cocoons were used in the ship’s construction and the blood-borne memories of those who have died aboard. Comments are made about the face Amber has carved for the ship as more of her work is detailed, and Brashen offers some rebuke for her working unsecured by a line.
Brashen also regards the work done on the ship, noting details of the face and recarving–including a broken nose and some scarring, as well as an axe-harness. He confers with Amber and Kennit’s mother about their plans for once they reach Divvytown, and he notes that Wintrow’s father is of no use to him. Talk turns philosophical, leaving Brashen out of depth.
Elsewhere, Malta sits with the Satrap and Captain Red, serving as an intermediary in negotiations between the two. The Satrap surprises the others with a sudden surge of emotional maturity, and negotiations proceed well until interrupted by sighting of the Marietta and the Vivacia.
Kennit, accompanied by Sorcor, receives Captain Red aboard the Vivacia, considering his situation and the several directions in which his attention is pulled. Althea continues to resist him to the extent she is able, although that is not as much as she would prefer, and Kennit delights in the continued denial. Althea also continues to reject Wintrow’s overtures, and Kennit notes Wintrow’s fitness for command even as he inwardly laments a lack of more individual time with Althea. He further notes Malta’s appearance with interest.
For her part, Althea muses on her anger at her surroundings and situation, and she frets about her separation from the ship she had thought would be hers. The Vivacia speaks with her, both psychically and aloud, and Althea tries to parse her feelings.
Malta approaches the Vivacia with some trepidation, willing herself to composure. She is startled to see Wintrow, hopeful to see her father, and marks that it is Althea who helps her aboard. Greetings are exchanged, and Kennit contemplates his success as the wizardwood charm he wears rebukes him. Malta feels her hopes for her father dashed, and she is shocked when the ship speaks to her, calling her “Dragon-Friend.”
If it had not been clear before, it is abundantly clear in the present chapter that Amber is an alias for another character present in the Realm of the Elderlings. Others speak to the issue more eloquently than I, and there are overt discussions of the aliasing later in the novels, so I will not go much into detail at this point. For now, it will suffice to say that Hobb seems to have made up her mind by this point, and that decision sets up an awful lot of narrative motion moving forward–as well as helping no small amount of scholarship to happen, as my Fedwren Project seeks to represent.
Too, from the length of the chapter and the number of perspectives presented in it, it is clear that matters hasten towards their conclusion. Major characters in the series are being brought back into proximity, suggesting that major events are soon to happen (as is obvious from the decreasing number of pages left for me in my reread; the chapter ends on page 622 of 789 in the edition from which I am working). It is time for narrative threads to be gathered together and woven neatly, a point of divergence from the readers’ world where matters rarely settle, but still a satisfying one.