A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 347: Dragon Haven, Chapter 15

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

Following more of the ongoing exchange among the bird-keepers (with complaints about public spending priorities), Tarman begins with Thymara bringing food to Sintara, to the Dragon’s begrudging approval. Thymara inquires about Sintara’s effects upon her, and Sintara answers somewhat cryptically. Mercor puts into the conversation and rebukes Sintara for her lackadaisical attitude toward her keeper. Sintara responds to the rebuke with anger, provoking upset among the dragons that is only narrowly stopped from becoming violent. Sintara stalks off, nursing her embarrassment.

Not the friendliest, no.
PunkerLazar’s Black Dragon (3) on DeviantArt, used for commentary

Leftrin and Skelly confer about the ongoing reluctance of the Tarman to get back underway. Annoyance with the ship’s resistance to efforts to resume travel is noted, and the motivations of the ship are theorized. Leftrin puzzles over the matter for a time before recalling that the liveship is made of the stuff of dragons. The Tarman seems pleased with the recognition and shifts to realign the course to be taken; Leftrin delights in his ship’s renewed compliance, even as Greft questions him aspersively.

Thymara and Sintara, returning from where the former has tended to the latter, see the liveship’s reorientation. They confer with Sedric and the other dragons about the same, and the dragons begin to talk together about the liveship and the nature thereof. Another argument ensues among the dragons, threatening violence until it is stopped by Kalo. Kalo recalls having been Kelaro, a follower of Maulkin who became Mercor. Kalo calls for forbearance with the Tarman, and Thymara sees the modifications that were made to the ship. The dragons and the Tarman depart, heading upstream on the correct course and leaving the keepers scrambling to follow.

Sedric finds himself conducted along by Thymara and Sylvie, assessing the condition of the waterway as they go and noting the differences from the main flow of the Rain Wild River. Sedric’s thoughts turn to Carson and warm him. At length, Sedric offers to spell one of the keepers at the oars, and Thymara notes willingness to accept the offer, surprisingly, but citing a back injury. Discussion turns to the changes befalling each of them, as well as their sources in the dragons. Conversation lapses thereafter into uncomfortable silence.

There are interesting parallels between Sintara and Thymara in evidence; the one brought to attention by the present chapter is their vexation with being the focus of others’ reproductive desires. It is an understandable thing, if one I’ve commented on with any number of other chapters–at least insofar as it relates to Thymara. For Sintara to show similar attitudes is of interest, however–although this is far from the first time Hobb shows such things among thinking members of different species.

Of more moment is Sylvie’s comment that “Elderlings were a form of art for the dragons of that time. They found humans they thought had potential and developed them. That was why they cherished them. Everyone cherishes what they create. Even dragons” (392). It is a chilling thought, the idea of being made an artwork for some other thing; for some reason, I am thinking of Hellraiser and the less savory parts of Berserk…Given the implications of the chapter, that many of the dragons who are “developing” Elderlings do not really know what they are doing…body horror comes to mind. Even with “beneficial” changes, it’s chilling, to indulge litotes.

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