A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 345: Dragon Haven, Chapter 13

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

This one needs a content warning about suicidal ideation.

After yet another part of an exchange among bird-keepers, this one working to refine their craft as well as to trade news, “Choices” begins with resumed progress up the Rain Wild River, the straitened circumstances of the dragons, their keepers, and the crew of the Tarman detailed. Greft continues to be an annoyance to Thymara, as do the boys competing for her affections. She and Tats put themselves to work fashioning replacement oars, if awkwardly, and they talk together as they do so. Tension between the two is clear even as they reaffirm their friendship.

Useful things to have on a boat…
Image is Motmit’s on Wikipedia, used under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license

Meanwhile, Carson emerges from the isolation in which he has wallowed in self-pity. He steps out on the deck of the Tarman to find keepers and dragons at play in relatively clean water flowing into the Rain Wild, and he assess their situation and his own as he stalks to the galley and procures a scanty meal for himself. Alise confronts him there, and a tense conversation ensues between them regarding his earlier revelations. At her prompting, Sedric explicates some of the gay culture of Bingtown, and Alise reacts relatively poorly thereto. She determines to break off her marriage with Hest, and Sedric cautions her away from Leftrin, citing his arrangement to sell dragon parts to Chalced. Alise stalks off, and Sedric finds himself changing and comforted by Relpda after she does. Faced with the dragon’s regard, Sedric considers suicide and is halted by Carson, to whom he confesses much and with whom he proceeds to an assignation.

Thymara stalks off into the night, considering how matters have fallen out among the keepers. She considers remaining in place in solitude, but she is joined by Tats, and she allows herself to accept his physical attentions until Greft interrupts. In the wake of his interference, Thymara again rejects Tats’s suit.

I am not surprised at Alise’s reaction to Sedric’s unfolding of gay culture in Bingtown and her duping thereby; being lied to, and for years, is not a happy thing. I suppose there is some homophobia in her reactions, but I am not necessarily in a position to be able to address it in any particular way. Others with more vested interests in such things, whether from experience or from more focused scholarship, would be able to say more; there is at least a paper in such a thing, if not more, and it is partly for such reasons that I continue to return to Hobb’s writing.

Sexual politics do seem very much to be at play in the expedition up the Rain Wild, though. I suppose it is not unexpected; a small group in isolation, particularly one largely composed of teenagers and young adults, can hardly be expected not to experience sexual tensions and to act on them, in many cases foolishly. The overt sexuality and the efforts to control and constrain it–for varying reasons, some of which appear on the surface of things to be more legitimate or acceptable than others–do heavily mark the narrative. It’s another thing that invites at least a paper, if one written by a better scholar than I know myself to be as I am now.

Perhaps someday I will once again be the kind of scholar who can grapple with such ideas meaningfully and well. Perhaps.

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