A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 347: Dragon Haven, Chapter 17

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

Another message in the ongoing exchange between Detozi and Erek sent along with official business between Traders’ Councils precedes “Changes.” As the chapter begins, Sedric paddles and considers the changes going on in him, on which Carson remarked the night before. Their conversation about those changes is rehearsed, and Sedric mulls over the need to keep parts of himself hidden from his lover. Relpda intrudes upon his reverie, noting the coming of changes.

It’s a good look.
Firehorse Glass‘s Sintara via Coffee and Captured Moments, used for commentary

Sintara muses over her current situation and that of the other dragons with her. The changes going on in her own body please her. The changes going on among the keepers do not, and she looks on as Mercor and Kalo summon the keepers to attend. The dragons’ actions provoke ire from Leftrin at the treatment of the Tarman, and Kalo demands a keeper to replace Greft. A scuffle among the dragons breaks out, which Mercor swiftly subdues. Discussion proceeds, more calmly but not without tension, and Carson’s nephew, Davvie, volunteers to the task of keeping Kalo, and Carson finds himself conscripted to aid the belligerent Spit. Sintara considers the changes occurring in Thymara, finding herself startled at some of the particulars, and determines to guide their further course. The dragons set out, compelling the rest to follow.

The dragons are long noted in the Elderlings novels as being mirrors to humans, the Fool making the parallel explicit more than once. If that is the case, and if, in a more “literary critical” sense, the dragons are metaphors for (certain) people, then I have to wonder what comment is being made with the casual assumption of authority over humans on the dragons’ part. Admittedly, it is persistent throughout the Rain Wilds Chronicles–and in earlier Elderlings novels–but it seems more prominent at present than elsewhere, with the offhanded consideration of eating Greft and the assertion that new keepers will make themselves available to the dragons. There are reasons for the new keepers to agree, of course; desire and fear are powerful motivators, as no shortage of advertising demonstrated. But even so, there is an arrogance in the dragons that…I wish I could say I see it rarely in the world around me and the people in it.

My wishes are many. Not many are granted.

It will, of course, be the case that some will complain of striving toward such a reading. “It’s just a story,” some will say. “Why do you have to make it political?” or some other purportedly objectionable thing. The thing is, though, that I’m not making it any way. The words are on the page, whoever reads them. All of us who do read, though, approach the text from the perspective/s we inhabit, and those perspectives emerge from our own orientation. When I had students, I explained it to them as a combination of where we’re from, when we’re from, and who we’re from. Even if we place ourselves into the positions of other, we do so only to the extent that we are able to imagine those positions, and those imaginings are themselves constrained as we are. And, all of those constraints reflect the circumstances in which we have lived; they are all necessarily already political, whether in terms of party alignments, demographics, ideological orientations, or other factors.

Reading is always a communal act. Any community will necessarily have “politics.” The questions become whose are reflected and in what ways.

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