A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 348: Dragon Haven, Chapter 18

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

Following additional messages in the ongoing exchange between Erek and Detozi, these detailing the openings of formal marriage proceedings, “Gone Astray” begins with Thymara rousing on the deck of the Tarman to find herself and the ship out of the woods, somewhat disconcertingly for someone who had grown up in a tree-borne city. Process towards Kelsingra and the current state of the dragons and their keepers are rehearsed, and changes to Sintara are detailed. Thymara’s own aches, pains, and changes also receive attention. Several keepers approach Greft for the use of his gear, which he denies, though to no avail. After a tense exchange, Thymara retires.

Not too far off, I think…
Coastal Wetlands by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

Leftrin considers the increasing peril for the Tarman and his crew as the group proceeds past what can properly be called a river, and he guesses at the geography that has led to the creation of the region in which he now travels. More of the local environment is described, and the dwindling supplies available receive attention. Alise joins him, and they confer about their situation. The pair affirm their mutual love, and their conversation turns awkward afterward, taking in Greft and his situation.

Leftrin and Alise walk the deck together, and Alise muses on the changes that have occurred in her. It is noted that Greft has taken his boat, as well as much of the hunting gear and no small part of the ship’s supplies. Given the theft from ship’s stores, Leftrin dispatches Carson to retrieve Greft. Carson asks Sedric to accompany him, confusing the latter, who muses on the shifting shape of their relationship. Carson and Sedric confer about their mission and the situation that obliges it, and they reaffirm their affections.

Meanwhile, Jerd experiences some difficulties with her pregnancy, occasioning some concern from the Tarman as blood hits the deck. Consultation with women on the crew notes that Jerd is likely experiencing a miscarriage and that those who have been engaging in sexual escapades are fools for doing so without the assurance that those who can get them pregnant will stand by them when hardships come. The rebuke is lengthy and detailed, and Jerd is delivered prematurely of a stillborn baby who is taken swiftly away and put overboard. Thymara considers the warning given, and Jerd’s dragon consumes the dead child.

Carson and Sedric proceed in their pursuit of Greft, backtracking under Carson’s honed skills. Gallators think to make meals of them, only to be eaten in turn by Spit. They find that Greft has not fared so well, but has been attacked by the gallators and left to die. Carson eases his passing, and Spit eats the body after it has been relieved of what few valuables are upon it. Sedric is confronted by evidence of his perfidy, purloined by Greft and found by Carson, and he confesses himself to his lover. Discussion turns pointed between the two, and Carson urges Sedric to confess to Alise.

The present chapter opens in another passage that serves to affirm, at least for me, that the setting of the Elderlings novels is more North America than Europe. The “gallators” Thymara and other keepers note encountering are reminiscent of alligators in name and described behavior, for one; the regions through which the Tarman passes call to mind such places as the Florida Everglades and the Louisiana wetlands (hence the image for this post). Other novels have, of course, offered other clues–the presence of raccoons is one that comes to mind–but as I was rereading this chapter, I was struck by it once again. There’s a comfort in being reminded that ideas you had were good ones.

That recognition brings to mind what seems to me to be a strange thought. The Traders were, as is noted early on in the Liveship Traders series, effectively exiles from their former homes in Jamailllia. (There’s more about that in some supplementary materials I will address in time, but I need to get through the “main” rereading first.) The Rain Wild Traders from whom the keepers are drawn are very nearly exiles from even the rest of the Traders. I have to wonder if there is some attempt at mirroring or borrowing from the history of the Cajuns in the United States; to my inexpert eye, exposed only cursorily in my few short years of study at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, there seem to be some parallels, though I am well aware that my opinion is not the most informed that could be found. Still, I wonder if any of the future alumni at the school might be able to explicate that further. (I’d love it if you did and let me know!)

The discussion of the consequences of sex–more for women than for men–also provokes thoughts in me. I know that some of the discussion is entirely true to life; there’s a reason “Mama’s baby, Papa’s maybe” is a current phrase, and I have seen all too many children abandoned or worse by one or more of those who made them, all too many women who became pregnant and remained pregnant and were not aided in it by those who made them pregnant. (And that leaves aside questions of consent, which are many and almost certainly beyond what it is fit for me to address.) It is the case that people who can act as adults–and the keepers, having entered into contracts, seem to be in that place by the standards of the society in which they were reared, so there is at least that much to say–should act with thoughts towards the consequences of their actions. But it is also the case that consequences fall unevenly upon those who act, unfair as it is (and as the narrative, to its credit, makes explicit).

Too, as I continue to read with affect, I cannot help but note that my own daughter approaches the time in her life where such concerns will be hers to consider. She is not there yet, but she grows closer to it, some of it at her own insistence. I hope that, when the time comes, she will not need such harsh reminders. I fear, though, that she will, or that circumstances will conspire to strip that agency from her. The world is as it is, as is the part of it in which we live, and while there is much to commend that place, there is also much of pronounced concern, especially as regards such things…

I do not think I am wrong to worry about my (still-) little girl.

Like how I write? Want me to write for you? Fill out the form below!

Or simply send some patronage!


One thought on “A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 348: Dragon Haven, Chapter 18

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s