After an ostentatiously “official” note from Detozi to Erek, “Scales” opens on Sintara fighting her way to provided meat, gorging on it to the extent that she can even as she notices the close regard of the Traders surrounding her and the other dragons. She assesses her progress with Alise and Thymara, finding their attentions to other dragons annoying, and finding other dragons’ insistence upon the superiority of their own keepers no less so. The dragon Mercor forestalls outright conflict, reminding them of their destination of Kelsingra and beginning a call to head away that the rest take up, speeding upriver from Cassarick.
Meanwhile, Sedric, Alise, and Thymara attempt to provide medical treatment to one of the dragons who shows injuries healing poorly. The dragon’s appearance and condition are detailed, and treatment begins–with Sedric taking the opportunity to secret away some portions of the dragon’s flesh and scales. Tats offers assistance as the treatment continues, but it is interrupted by the dragons–including the one under treatment–starting their upriver race. The keepers and others involved in the relocation efforts follow as best they can–and Sedric considers how he can make use of the bounty he has secured from the dragon he has helped treat. Efforts to persuade Alise to leave off–allowing him also to return to Bingtown–are futile, and Sedric finds himself compelled to come along.
Increasingly, I find myself appreciating the side-narrative in the missives among bird-keepers. It’s a nice little bit of world-building, and it allows for commentary not only on events in the novel, but more generally. For instance, with the present chapter’s prefatory materials, I find myself put in mind of Fredalian bullshit, the idea of those in power giving lip-service to standards of politeness or outright using them as abuse, with which idea I’ve done some work; Detozi’s outright citation of “official capacity” comes off as a sneering rejoinder to Kim’s officious rebuke, and one not undeserved. Warms my cockles, it does.