Ater a message being sent from Jess to Sinad Arich, the penultimate chapter of the novel, “Community,” starts with the dragon expedition at rest for the evening. The keepers confer quietly aboard the Tarman, and Thymara considers their progress and the various groups forming among the keepers. Thymara also considers her infatuation with “Skymaw,” and she mulls over what she has been learning of dragons from accompanying so many at such length. Greft and Kalo present themselves to her as being something of a threat to the rest, and Thymara takes herself off into the tree canopy to hunt, taking a marsh elk and struggling to bring the meat back to camp. As she labors to that end, she is confronted by Greft, who contrives to assist her.
Alise reflects on what she has been able to learn from “Skymaw” and is interrupted by an anxious Rapskal who searches for Thymara. Aided by Sedric, Alise continues her documentary work, and mention is made that Rapskal has ridden Heeby. “Skymaw” rails at the news, offended, and Alise works to calm the dragon as Rapskal escapes.
Greft presses upon Thymara despite her unease and rejection, and Thymara hastens back to camp to deliver the first batch of elk. She finds Tats engaged in treating the injured dragon, and she enlists help to retrieve the remaining meat. The group she assembles finds Greft and his companions carrying it back already, and a tense exchange follows that is defused only by the need for haste. Confusion and factionalism begin to arise among the keepers, and discussion of the threat Greft represents continues. The need to adjust their social rules to their new situation also arises.
Thymara’s group returns to the dragons, distributing meat. One dragon, a copper, is weak and has to be persuaded to eat; the dragon’s condition improves upon doing so, and matters seem better for the group.
Ah, factionalism, inevitable consequence of human association and plague of all! But it is not as if the divisions among the keepers was not foreshadowed; Greft has been a fractious presence since his introduction, and he made no secret of his selfishness and willingness to manipulate others even then. I find myself wanting once again to read the novel against current events, to look for parallels to his character, which I know is not an ideal reading but does suggest to me that 1) the cultural moment in which Hobb writes is not ended and 2) the presence of the kind of people on whom Greft appears to my eye to be modeled argues in favor of the continuing value of Hobb’s writing.