The following chapter, “Rescues,” begins with Brashen railing at the Paragon to retrieve Althea instead of pressing on in pursuit of Kennit. Brashen reluctantly relents and directs his crew to heed the ship’s desires. Meanwhile, Kennit sits on the deck of a Jamaillian ship along with several slain crew and the Satrap, mulling over his dire situation and urging the Satrap to calm and consideration. The call of the Paragon sounds over the water, interrupting things, and Kennit blanches as his old family ship approaches with a serpent in company. The Vivacia, the Marietta, and the Motley come along, as well, ramming the Jamaillian ship to attempt to effect Kennit’s and the Satrap’s escapes, and battle is joined again.
Aboard the Vivacia, where Wintrow is in command, Malta struggles towards Reyn. She finds him, thinks him dead, and begins to grieve, only to see his eyes open and hear him speak to her. She searches him for injuries, and he marks and marvels at the changes that have occurred in her, and they reaffirm their love and intent to wed. Then the Vivacia rams into another ship.
Also aboard the Vivacia, Althea notes Wintrow’s command ability as she, along with others, responds to his orders. She also rehearses her hatred of Kennit and desire to see him undone until the Vivacia joins the fray and she wades into combat behind Jek.
Aboard the Jamaillian ship, Kennit attempts to fight off the sailors tasked with killing him and the Satrap. He is run through for his efforts, and stabbed again when the crew realizes he is not yet slain. Wintrow arrives to see Kennit assailed and kills his attacker, knowing despite Etta’s pleas that the pirate leader is doomed. Kennit and the Satrap are recovered, Althea fuming that Wintrow still attends her attacker, and Malta, still exulting in Reyn, takes the Satrap aside. Others work to get Kennit to the foredeck of the Paragon.
Etta tends to Kennit as he languishes; the pirate bids her take the wizardwood charm from his wrist and keep it until the birth of their child, whom he asks be named Paragon. The Vivacia takes Kennit up and offers him to the Paragon, bidding Etta accompany him to the other ship; the Paragon opens blue eyes to gaze upon the pirate as he is taken aboard, with Etta following. And he dies into his family’s liveship at last.
I find Althea’s internality perhaps most convincing in the chapter. The tensions she feels and notes…compel me. And while I take Hobb’s point that even such people as Kennit have others who love them, I do not find myself sympathizing with the pirate. Indeed, a return home for him is a kinder fate than he probably deserves. Not so for Reyn and Malta, though; although their infatuation is inopportune, it makes sense, and they’ve had to put up with enough that they ought to get some kind of happy ending. They’re not the only ones, admittedly, and Hobb does have a tendency to thwart her characters’ happiness…but, then, that’s life. Who among us has untrammeled joy after having lived in the world?