A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 349: Dragon Haven, Chapter 19

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

After more expressed concern from Bingtown about Sedric and Alise, as well as the ongoing exchange between Detozi and Erek, the penultimate chapter of the novel, “Mud and Wings,” begins with the Tarman running aground, the waters grown too shallow to float the old liveship and no clear current emerging from searches for the same. Leftrin sourly surveys the situation, discussing things with Alise as he reviews events. Reports of Greft’s death diminish morale, and Alise notes changes in the dragons. Leftrin announces that he will make a decision in the morning, and the crew tucks in for the night.

I believe this goes here…
ThereseoftheNorth’s Thymara and Sintara on DeviantArt, used for commentary

In Alise’s quarters, Thymara and Sylvie confer, the former asking the latter to examine and tend her back. The state of Thymara’s nascent wings is detailed, and Thymara urges Sylvie to keep quiet what she has seen. Sylvie agrees to wait only a day before taking it to Bellin.

Sedric calls upon Alise as she cooks dinner and reviews her notes, asking to speak with her. Alise rehearses her reassessment of her life in Bingtown with Hest, and she brusquely agrees to hear him out. Sedric confesses more of his perfidy with Hest and the Chalcedean dragon-parts traders. Alise commiserates with Sedric about Hest, and the two reconcile.

Thymara muses over the changes going on in her body once Sylvie leaves, and she makes to confront Sintara about them. The dragon exults in the process at work in Thymara, noting that she is being made into an Elderling–and admitting that the changes were not initially intended. Some of Sintara’s insecurities emerge as she rails at Thymara, and the commotion attracts the attention of the other dragons. Mercor urges calm, Spit violence, and further upset is interrupted by the unexpected return of Heeby and Rapskal, aloft, announcing the proximity of Kelsingra.

There is much I might point out in the present chapter. It is possible, if perhaps something of a strain, to read them as mimetic of transitioning, although I am assuredly not informed enough about such things to offer any kind of insightful commentary thereabout. (I might note, however, that it seems to run athwart of other parts of the author’s work, as Roberts attests.) It is also possible, and probably a stronger argument, to read the changes the keepers are undergoing as allegories or analogies to puberty, especially given the ages of many of the keepers and the pregnancy remarked upon among them.

The puberty-reading works well in part because of structural concerns. I’ve noted before, here, that the novel has somewhat of the Bildungsoman about it; I’ve commented, also, that other parts of Hobb’s corpus have spoken to such concerns (here and here, for example). There are possibly other places I have, and there are definitely other places I likely ought to have, made such notes–and that they were available for making at other points in the corpus and in the novel means they are possible, if not likely, in the present chapter.

It has been a while since my own pubescence, as might well be imagined, and, as also might be imagined, my memories of the experience will be somewhat occluded by that time. But I do recall that much of my experience was determined by things other than my choice. Forces beyond my control acted upon me to occasion changes in my body that were confusing and distressing at the time, and I am given to understand that the process is more…intense in that regard for those born with ovaries / uteri. (Having not directly experienced as much, I must rely upon the reports others who have have made to me, but I trust those who have made such reports to me.) Teasing out any metaphor is, of course, conjectural and conditional; all metaphors fail at some point (which is good; I’ve used that failure repeatedly in the freelance work I have done). But I think I may be on some solid ground with this one.

It’s not the only reading, of course. But it is a reading, and that is good enough to get started again.

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