Following another part of the ongoing exchange among bird-keepers, “Rescue” opens with Thymara assessing her situation, which is described in detail. The losses the keepers have suffered begin to tell upon them, fatigue setting in, and Thymara goes out to forage for food. Her efforts yield some success, and she brings a small load back to her fellow keepers, who are themselves at work ensuring food is available for them. Thymara does have a tense exchange with some of her fellows as she goes about her business, and arguments about how to divide what provisions are available ensue. Greft attempts again to assert authority and is met with stubborn resistance by some. Distraction from the conflict is welcome, and Alise suggests asking the dragons if they know the whereabouts of their fellows as some keepers anguish over not being able to feel their dragons.
Alise assesses herself and her situation as she remains among the keepers in the wake of the flood. She eats and frets about what has been lost, but she takes some comfort from conversation with Thymara. Others join in on the conversation, and the group begins to take stock of how it will proceed. Various alternatives are proposed, and the decision is set aside in favor of attending to immediate needs. More tension emerges over who will accompany Thymara as she goes out to forage again, and Alise becomes aware that more is going on among the keepers.
Elsewhere, Jess presses upon Sedric for aid in slaughtering and processing Relpda. Sedric decides to aid the dragon, and melee ensues. Sedric acquits himself ably for one with limited experience, but Jess soon gets the better of him and begins to throttle him. Relpda saves Sedric, however, eating Jess and delighting in the meal.
As Thymara stalks out to forage, she considers the romantic entanglements at work among the keepers and assesses her own feelings toward those involved. The pair return to where the keepers, rejoined by the dragons, are bivouacked for the night. Accommodations are described, and in the night, Greft approaches Thymara again. He broaches the topic of who she will take as a lover, brusquely explaining his reasoning and noting that he and Jerd are expecting. Thymara rages at the implications, but Greft presses, on citing ostensibly biological justifications for his policies as he proposes founding a new settlement where the flood has marooned them. Sintara, however, commends Thymara’s thoughts on the matter.
As happens so often, I find myself reading with current events in mind. The exchange between Greft and Thymara at the end of the chapter is…chilling in light of putative evolutionary psychologists and the incels who idolize them. It is the kind of rhetoric–coercive if not outright threatening, and presented as a “natural” inevitability not far out of line with Hobbes–that is all too frequent among execrable groups and people. It is the kind of rhetoric that points toward (young) men being owed sex, an attitude that is unfortunately common and all too often reinforced by the works of media consumed and held up as being worth consuming.
Given what else is in the chapter and what else is in Hobb’s work, and given the usual separation between authors and the narrative personæ they necessarily adopt, it would be folly to ascribe to Hobb the kind of belief Greft presents. (More indication of that incorrectness will emerge as the reread continues, as well.) But it is also the case that many who make arguments in favor of the kind of rhetoric and underlying beliefs that Greft voices refuse to recognize larger contexts; it doesn’t matter that the next sentence is “And that is wrong,” only that the present one is something they can use. They’re not alone in such things, certainly, but the fact of prevalence isn’t proof of correctness. Nor is it proof of goodness, maugre the heads of many who would say otherwise.
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