Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.
Another chapter, “Discoveries,” begins after a continuation of the exchange among bird-keepers, sending condolences and an invitation. As it does, Relpda wakes Sedric, to his annoyance, and he assesses his situation. Sedric tends to the dragon, if haltingly, and he tends to himself amid the injuries incurred fighting Jess. Communion with the dragon leaves him unsettles and uncomfortable, and Sedric begins to recognize increasing closeness with her, not entirely unpleasantly.
Aboard the Tarman, Alise emerges on deck to find Thymara and Jerd conferring, and she begins to muse both on friendship and on the locket she found in Sedric’s goods. Turning away from such thoughts as are provoked, she moves about the ship and continues to muse on the differences between her situation and those of others, musing on Leftrin and the feelings he provokes in her. Soon enough, Leftrin joins her, and the two confer about developments. The likelihood of finding additional survivors and supplies is noted as rapidly diminishing, though Leftrin notes that Carson, who is searching, will have reason to find Sedric.
Thymara and Jerd confer about their own situations and the latter’s sexuality. Thymara is wounded by the conversation, and she moves away from Jerd, thinking uncomfortable thoughts.
Sedric continues his efforts on Relpda’s behalf, enjoying some success, if at the cost of some pain from the caustic waters and the unfamiliar exertion. The dragon grows somewhat panicked and petulant, and Sedric angrily pushes back. His doing so clarifies matters for Relpda, and the pair have something of a breakthrough. They work together for a time, and Relpda makes to rest. Sedric hears the call of a horn and calls out in response to it, being greeted by the searching Carson. Overjoyed Carson works to tend to Sedric and Relpda, and he reports developments among the dragons and keepers before pressing on to continue the search a bit longer.
Sintara muses on her situation, as well, conferring with Mercor about events and her responses to them. The other dragons are less sanguine about Mercor’s philosophizing, and they determine together to press ahead rather than die in sucking mud. Conversation among the dragons grows tense and approaches violence, but is defused partly by Mercor and the revelation that they are developing as dragons. The fragile truce brokered is broken by the silver dragon, now recovered, who proclaims himself–Spit–and asserts a place among the rest. Sintara watches for a time before settling in to sleep, joined soon by the other dragons.
It’s clearly been a while since I put myself to work on this long project, and I have no excuse. I can only say that I have been greatly busy with a number of other things, and that it is good to come back to Hobb’s writing once again.
As I return to the reread, I find myself questioning some sympathies I have had with the various characters. I’ve noted before that I tend to read with more affect than ought to be the case, something that my schooling would have had me leave behind but that I never have been able to shed fully. (Perhaps it is part of why I was never able to secure a tenure-line job. Ah, well!) I feel for the characters more than is seemly, something for which I have been teased and more by a number of people in my life. (It is a bit silly, I acknowledge.) I contend that it’s part of the quality of Hobb’s writing that the characters are so easy to feel with, even when they are not necessarily good or nice people.
Returning to the text, though, after so long away and in such an awkward position in the book–nine chapters in to twenty–I am not having trouble picking the narrative threads back up. (There’s a reason to write summaries.) The feelings, though, are not springing back as quickly as the memories are. I’m not sure what’s going on with it, really, whether it’s in me or in the text. (Some of each, perhaps?) Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m fighting off a head-cold at the moment.
Be that as it may, however, I do note that the current chapter would appear to reward feminist reading, as I believe I have noted that the Bingtown-centered series tend to do. The “frontier” aspects of the work also continue (?) to attract my attention as I read; there is something decidedly pioneering about the keepers and their progress upriver, with much less of the baggage that so often associates itself with such narratives as they apply to the United States. There are no people living in the areas where the keepers travel and to which they are bound, although there once were (something of a commonplace, really); the keepers and their dragons are therefore not on track to impose the kind of oppressive settler colonialism so often seen in the readers’ world. But then, fantasy is supposed to show something of an idealization, an “other way” that could have been, had things been different.
I’m happy to write to order for you; reach out below and let me know what all you want me to work on!