A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 214: Ship of Destiny, Chapter 35

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

The succeeding chapter, “Hard Decisions,” opens with Malta trying to persuade the Satrap to go belowdecks for medical attention; he demurs in favor of taunting the Jamaillian lords who have turned against him. Reyn rebukes him, but the Satrap presses ahead until Malta shakes him from his tirade. She and Reyn cozen him with embroidered accounts of things to come.

King's Throne
Still nicer than it should be…
King’s Throne by MargoAquato on DeviantArt, used for commentary.

Aboard the Paragon, Amber makes to lay out a shroud for Kennit, to which Brashen agrees. In the dying battle, the Paragon begins to make for open water, to leave the fray; before the ship can do so, the Vivacia calls out and tosses Althea from herself to Brashen’s ship, where she is caught safely. Amid a brief exchange, she relays Wintrow’s plan–make for Divvytown, with its defensible harbor–and the Paragon avows a desire to keep the crew alive.

Wintrow offers the Jamaillian nobles a chance to come aboard the Vivacia to safety, if they will risk themselves on a tossed line. They take the opportunity, with some assistance, and there is a tense exchange between them and the Satrap aboard Wintrow’s ship. Wintrow orders the captives secured abovedecks, where they can be seen by the Jamaillian fleet, a warning against further attacks. Malta accepts the necessity.

Aboard the Paragon, Althea goes aloft, in part to escape, and surveys matters; she notes the changed status of her ship’s crew. The battle continues, with the piratical forces getting the worse of the exchange. Amber’s call to descend breaks her reverie, and she is taken by news that her brother-in-law is aboard, complaining. He rants on the deck, and Althea deflects his tirade long enough to allow sailors to tend to Kennit’s body; Etta offers cold thanks along the way, both women burdened with Kennit’s actions against Althea. And Amber gives Althea more about which to think.

Aboard the Vivacia, Wintrow considers his command decisions and what steps to take next. The ship encourages him, and he picks a course, bringing the ship to bear upon it and making to break away; the Paragon follows, and more violence ensues as they work to free the Motley. Some of it comes from the Paragon, and both Motley and Marietta are able to escape in the carnage. Kyle Haven is slain in the exchange, and Etta cries out to the Paragon to flee for the sake of Kennit’s unborn child; the ship accedes thereto.

I am taken by the last sentence of the chapter: “On the deck, Kyle Haven’s blood pooled in standing puddles.” Throughout the novels, the liveships take in blood that falls upon their decks, absorbing the memories and spirits of those who die aboard. For Haven to be decisively rejected is saying something, especially given Kennit’s acceptance by the Paragon. Admittedly, Kennit was a Ludluck, a member of the family that had purchased and quickened the vessel; there was reason he would be taken in, in particular. But how many of the crews who had died aboard the ship were taken in, similarly, while Kyle Haven is not? Surely it is a significant thing; what significance it holds is subject to interpretation, of course, as are all things written. Perhaps it is a sign that the order Haven represents is fading away; perhaps it is the Paragon repudiating (more) madness. Perhaps it is something else, entirely?

Send a housewarming present, maybe?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 213: Ship of Destiny, Chapter 34

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

The following chapter, “Rescues,” begins with Brashen railing at the Paragon to retrieve Althea instead of pressing on in pursuit of Kennit. Brashen reluctantly relents and directs his crew to heed the ship’s desires. Meanwhile, Kennit sits on the deck of a Jamaillian ship along with several slain crew and the Satrap, mulling over his dire situation and urging the Satrap to calm and consideration. The call of the Paragon sounds over the water, interrupting things, and Kennit blanches as his old family ship approaches with a serpent in company. The Vivacia, the Marietta, and the Motley come along, as well, ramming the Jamaillian ship to attempt to effect Kennit’s and the Satrap’s escapes, and battle is joined again.

Aboard the Vivacia, where Wintrow is in command, Malta struggles towards Reyn. She finds him, thinks him dead, and begins to grieve, only to see his eyes open and hear him speak to her. She searches him for injuries, and he marks and marvels at the changes that have occurred in her, and they reaffirm their love and intent to wed. Then the Vivacia rams into another ship.

Also aboard the Vivacia, Althea notes Wintrow’s command ability as she, along with others, responds to his orders. She also rehearses her hatred of Kennit and desire to see him undone until the Vivacia joins the fray and she wades into combat behind Jek.

Aboard the Jamaillian ship, Kennit attempts to fight off the sailors tasked with killing him and the Satrap. He is run through for his efforts, and stabbed again when the crew realizes he is not yet slain. Wintrow arrives to see Kennit assailed and kills his attacker, knowing despite Etta’s pleas that the pirate leader is doomed. Kennit and the Satrap are recovered, Althea fuming that Wintrow still attends her attacker, and Malta, still exulting in Reyn, takes the Satrap aside. Others work to get Kennit to the foredeck of the Paragon.

Etta tends to Kennit as he languishes; the pirate bids her take the wizardwood charm from his wrist and keep it until the birth of their child, whom he asks be named Paragon. The Vivacia takes Kennit up and offers him to the Paragon, bidding Etta accompany him to the other ship; the Paragon opens blue eyes to gaze upon the pirate as he is taken aboard, with Etta following. And he dies into his family’s liveship at last.

I find Althea’s internality perhaps most convincing in the chapter. The tensions she feels and notes…compel me. And while I take Hobb’s point that even such people as Kennit have others who love them, I do not find myself sympathizing with the pirate. Indeed, a return home for him is a kinder fate than he probably deserves. Not so for Reyn and Malta, though; although their infatuation is inopportune, it makes sense, and they’ve had to put up with enough that they ought to get some kind of happy ending. They’re not the only ones, admittedly, and Hobb does have a tendency to thwart her characters’ happiness…but, then, that’s life. Who among us has untrammeled joy after having lived in the world?

The move is tomorrow; lend a hand?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 212: Ship of Destiny, Chapter 33

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

The chapter coming next, “Ship of Destiny,” opens as Kennit approaches Etta, who has just resumed the Vivacia with the rescued Reyn in tow. As Malta exults in Reyn’s arrival, Kennit coldly acknowledges Etta’s, and Reyn begins to come to. The Jamaillian ships begin to rally, and Kennit orders wariness. Etta reports her pregnancy to him, stunning him, and Kennit’s charm mocks him from his wrist as he realizes his luck is about to turn, that he will perpetuate the cycle of violence done to him.

Shocking, yes.
Image from Giphy.com, used for commentary.

Kennit is jolted from his reverie by his first mate, plotting how to turn the situation to his advantage. Below, Reyn wakes in the company of Althea and Jek, Malta having been summoned. When they leave him to dress, he muses on the changes to his body and guesses at the current political situation. Malta, meanwhile, muses on Reyn as she attends on the Satrap; Kennit assigns Etta to assist her, and the two manage to make the Satrap presentable as Malta considers continued changes to her own situation. Their exchange is tense, terse, but it serves well enough.

Reyn ventures above deck and observes Malta attending the Satrap. He intuits that they are romantically involved. Meanwhile, Althea also comes above and assist with the Satrap; the ship marks her hatred for Kennit. Kennit seems to, as well, as he orders the Jamaillian delegation brought aboard. The Satrap offers information about the coming party, but is interrupted by a perfidious attack. Melee is joined, complicated by the sudden arrival of the Paragon and Brashen’s crew into the tumult. The Satrap is taken amid the fracas, and Kennit pursues onto the Jamaillian decks. Althea marvels as the Paragon pulls up alongside and pursuit begins, both liveships following after Kennit.

It makes sense that a chapter titled identically with the book would serve as a narrative pivot–and things do seem to have pivoted for many of the characters in the present chapter. As in some earlier chapters, there is enough happening, and it is divided into enough brief sections, that the narrative threads begin to become entangled–but that is appropriate enough in a depiction of combat, which by its nature resists effective re-presentation. Too, as in some earlier chapters, there is something of the romance novel or soap opera about the present chapter; it’s not quite to the level of deus ex machina, having been foregrounded, but it does seem…convenient. Admittedly, any narrative is contrived to some extent, but there is a feeling of rushedness that strikes me–and I tend not to like it, even in Hobb’s work. So it’s a problem for me, although I am still certainly enjoying rereading the novel.

Everybody has an occasional off day.

Care to help me out?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 211: Ship of Destiny, Chapter 32

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

The following chapter, “An Ultimatum,” starts with Wintrow ushering Althea, Malta, Jek, and the Satrap belowdecks, bringing them food; he shortly excuses himself and overhears the Vivacia conferring with Kennit about heading north with the serpents. Kennit dickers for more time to conclude his arrangement with the Satrap and deliver him back to Jamaillia; the ship notes that the serpents have no time for that, and Kennit reluctantly accedes to the ship’s terms.

The Liveship Traders: Volume 3 - Ship of Destiny: Tintaglia
Seems to fit.
Source in the image, used for commentary.

Wintrow returns to the cabin where the others wait in annoyance and reports the status of the ongoing negotiations. After a terse exchange, the Vestrits begin to swap stories of their travels. Events are glossed, and the group, sans the Satrap, determine to kill Kennit once the ship is made aware of who and what he truly is. Their further conversation is interrupted by the ship summoning the serpents, after which, with the Satrap sleeping, Malta relates her tale; reactions from the others are noted. Wintrow again goes out on deck to observe.

All the while, Kennit waits, watching the other ships and considering their likely actions and what he will do in response. The Vivacia reports the unrest and division among the serpents, as well as the threats they have issued, and Kennit orders what serpents will to attack the Jamaillian fleet as Wintrow joins him. They both note the diminished but still substantial capacities of the serpents as they go about their destructive work. After one of them is injured, the others rage against the Jamaillian fleet, and Kennit summons Etta back from the Marietta.

Aloft, Tintaglia continues to bear Reyn onward. She hears something and cries out; the serpents with the Vivacia hear the cry and turn towards it, as does the ship, and Malta notes that the dragon and Reyn are coming. After a brief pause, the group goes out on deck to see Kennit horrified as the dragon summons the serpents away; Tintaglia drops Reyn in the water as she withdraws, and the boat ferrying Etta to the Vivacia draws him up before he drowns.

The present chapter feels somewhat rushed as I read it again, with multiple narrative threads twining together in rapid succession. I suppose part of that is my own present feeling of haste; I have a lot going on at the moment, which should be no surprise. Part, though, likely stems from narrative necessity; the book is getting close to its end, and with it, the series. As such, things that will be wrapped up have to be wrapped up, and while it is the case that leaving things open-ended helps to foster the verisimilitude Hobb identifies as necessary to fantasy fiction–readers’ lives do not wrap up neatly, after all–there is an expectation that novels will close off at least some of the narrative lines they begin. There is some value in thwarting readerly expectations, to be sure, but there is only so far a work can go in doing so and have the author get more readership later on–and while art for the sake of art is a fine and noble thing, the lights have to stay on…

Help me get my family moved?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 210: Ship of Destiny, Chapter 31

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

The next chapter, “Bargaining Chips,” opens with all on the Vivacia‘s foredeck paying rapt attention to the figurehead. Malta balks at having been addressed, at having attention called to herself, as she assesses the others and finds Kennit perilous. The Satrap responds in her place, speaking to the ship as though he had been addressed; he also greets Kennit, who responds in kind, and several of them depart.

Even thus, she remains a compelling figure…
Malta Vestrit by Starving Designer on Blogspot, used for commentary

After being left on the foredeck, Althea wonders aloud about the arrival of her niece aboard the ship; Jek’s swift reply is unhelpful, but conversation with the ship takes an unsettling turn. What can be offered to secure Kennit’s aid is unclear–save for Althea.

Kennit sends Wintrow ahead to prepare a room for discussion; Sorcor accompanies Wintrow. The pirate considers Malta and the Satrap, rehearsing what he knows of those involved and their offers as negotiations commence–and Kennit understands himself to be in control.

Aboard the Paragon, Brashen dozes as he considers his situation along the approach to Divvytown. He is roused by the ship’s singing, and when he approaches the figurehead, he is informed that the ship has decided to support efforts enthusiastically; he questions it internally, but does not voice his concerns. He also receives a report from Clef that Jamaillian ships are in sight, which he confirms by going aloft; rumors about tensions between Jamaillia and Bingtown are noted, as are some of Brashen’s fears.

Wintrow muses over the progress of negotiations as they drag on, wearying all present save Kennit. He notes pride in Malta as he rehearses events, most of which involve the Satrap ceding more in anger than would have been advised by a calmer head. Wintrow longs to confer closely with his sister, and he sees a chance to do so in the tumult that accompanies the sighting of a number of Jamaillian ships by the Vivacia‘s crew.

I’m uncertain how to parse the chapter as I read it this time, honestly. It’s written well, as is the rest of the novel, and the events that make for…uncomfortable reading for me are not as present, but that doesn’t mean I really know what to make of things going on. Maybe I’m falling victim to the peril of having spent so much of my life in literary study as I have, trying to pull from a passage messages that may not really be there. A closer reading than I can do at the moment might yield more; as I used to tell students, back when I had them, every word on the page is a choice made, and not only by the author, so there is something to find. But, being accustomed to finding things easily, I sometimes balk at not doing so; I am being a lazy reader this time, I guess.

I’m not sure that that’s necessarily bad, though. As I’ve had occasion to reflect on recently, I got into doing this because I enjoy it; I moved into the studies I did from love of and appreciation for the things studied. Letting that be enough for now…it should be fine. Right?

We’re moving, as I’ve noted; I could still use your help, if you’ll give it.

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 209: Ship of Destiny, Chapter 30

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

A chapter titled “Convergence” follows, opening with Amber conferring with the Paragon about some final bits of woodcarving. Her progress and the final portion–a silver earring with a blue jewel, matching one she wears, and familiar in description–are rehearsed, as is the process of the ship recovering memories from logbooks and reintegrating them into the dominant personality that has emerged as an amalgamation of the dragons whose cocoons were used in the ship’s construction and the blood-borne memories of those who have died aboard. Comments are made about the face Amber has carved for the ship as more of her work is detailed, and Brashen offers some rebuke for her working unsecured by a line.

«Give me a face you could love»
Illustration series for The Liveship Traders Trilogy by Robin Hobb
I have been waiting to use this one…
“Give me a face you could love” by Katrin Sapranova on Tumblr, used for commentary.

Brashen also regards the work done on the ship, noting details of the face and recarving–including a broken nose and some scarring, as well as an axe-harness. He confers with Amber and Kennit’s mother about their plans for once they reach Divvytown, and he notes that Wintrow’s father is of no use to him. Talk turns philosophical, leaving Brashen out of depth.

Elsewhere, Malta sits with the Satrap and Captain Red, serving as an intermediary in negotiations between the two. The Satrap surprises the others with a sudden surge of emotional maturity, and negotiations proceed well until interrupted by sighting of the Marietta and the Vivacia.

Kennit, accompanied by Sorcor, receives Captain Red aboard the Vivacia, considering his situation and the several directions in which his attention is pulled. Althea continues to resist him to the extent she is able, although that is not as much as she would prefer, and Kennit delights in the continued denial. Althea also continues to reject Wintrow’s overtures, and Kennit notes Wintrow’s fitness for command even as he inwardly laments a lack of more individual time with Althea. He further notes Malta’s appearance with interest.

For her part, Althea muses on her anger at her surroundings and situation, and she frets about her separation from the ship she had thought would be hers. The Vivacia speaks with her, both psychically and aloud, and Althea tries to parse her feelings.

Malta approaches the Vivacia with some trepidation, willing herself to composure. She is startled to see Wintrow, hopeful to see her father, and marks that it is Althea who helps her aboard. Greetings are exchanged, and Kennit contemplates his success as the wizardwood charm he wears rebukes him. Malta feels her hopes for her father dashed, and she is shocked when the ship speaks to her, calling her “Dragon-Friend.”

If it had not been clear before, it is abundantly clear in the present chapter that Amber is an alias for another character present in the Realm of the Elderlings. Others speak to the issue more eloquently than I, and there are overt discussions of the aliasing later in the novels, so I will not go much into detail at this point. For now, it will suffice to say that Hobb seems to have made up her mind by this point, and that decision sets up an awful lot of narrative motion moving forward–as well as helping no small amount of scholarship to happen, as my Fedwren Project seeks to represent.

Too, from the length of the chapter and the number of perspectives presented in it, it is clear that matters hasten towards their conclusion. Major characters in the series are being brought back into proximity, suggesting that major events are soon to happen (as is obvious from the decreasing number of pages left for me in my reread; the chapter ends on page 622 of 789 in the edition from which I am working). It is time for narrative threads to be gathered together and woven neatly, a point of divergence from the readers’ world where matters rarely settle, but still a satisfying one.

Our day draws closer; help me keep this going?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 208: Ship of Destiny, Chapter 29

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

And a content warning regarding sexual assault and related concerns is in order.

The succeeding chapter, “Kennit’s Women,” starts with the serpent Shreever considering the tensions between She Who Remembers and Maulkin. Neither seems to have decided anything as the group follows Bolt through the waters, and Shreever voices some small criticism to Sessurea, and Maulkin inserts himself into the conversation. He notes the peril of the sex-imbalance among the serpents, noting Bolt’s reticence and pointing to Wintrow as a possible help to them all.

Simpering little shit, sometimes…
Image from gil-estel on Tumblr, used for commentary.

Kennit approaches Althea’s cabin aboard the Vivacia, contemplating both his assault upon her and resuming it; the exercise of power entices him. Althea assaults him as he enters her cabin, trying to escape; he has his crew restrain and return her to her quarters; Wintrow is one of the restraining crew and hears her allegations against Kennit as Etta makes to tend the pirate captain. An argument ensues, and Wintrow suffers his aunt’s imprecations as he sees to Kennit’s orders. Kennit realizes he is losing control of the situation, and he tries to reassert it as Bolt summons him; the wizardwood charm on his wrist mocks him and notes Kennit’s coming doom.

Not long after, Wintrow tries to comfort Etta, who is acting strangely to his understanding in the wake of the encounter with Althea. Etta rebukes his folly, and Kennit intrudes upon them, demanding service and ordering Etta to the Marietta. He also rebukes Wintrow, expounding on his control of matters aboard the Vivacia. They are interrupted by the outcry of the ship, to which Kennit responds at length. After he does, Wintrow tries to comfort Etta again, and she avers her belief of Althea’s accusation against Kennit, accepting her supplanting in Kennit’s affections by Wintrow’s aunt.

Kennit makes slow progress across his deck to the figurehead, and the ship demands to see Althea and Jek on the foredeck. Kennit demurs, and the ship accuses him of raping Althea; he deflects the accusation, turning discussion towards Etta before the Vivacia returns it to the destruction of the Paragon. Kennit deflects there, too, and the ship accepts his dissimulations as Kennit has Wintrow bring Althea and Jek on deck. The latter is angered as she tends to the former, who moves through a drug-induced haze to confer with the ship and be told that she is no longer needed. Wintrow tries to offer some comfort and is rejected, and Jek conducts Althea back to her quarters.

There, Jek and Alteha confer, Jek raising some doubts as to Althea’s story. Wintrow again attempts to offer comfort and aid, only to be rebuked; he chides her, in turn, and considers circumstances.


The gaslighting going on in the present chapter is astonishing, and Etta is right to rebuke Wintrow’s folly. Honestly, it’s infuriating and distressing to read the chapter this time around, knowing what I know now that I did not in many of my earlier readings; I suppose it marks me as having grown as a person that I react to events in the book the way I do now. And I suppose that they’re to my chagrin both that it took me so long to arrive at such reactions and that I do not react more forcefully and emphatically to such things in real life.

It’s one of the values of literature and of literary study that reading the stories others tell helps us to reflect upon ourselves and our understandings of and place within the world. Literature is, among many other things, a means of self-examination; what we read and how we read it show parts of who and what we are. What I see in its particular mirror is not necessarily to my liking, and I know I will be taking some time and expending some effort to improve the image by improving the thing reflected.

We’re moving; lend a hand?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 207: Ship of Destiny, Chapter 28

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

The following chapter, “Dragon Dreams,” begins with Tintaglia landing badly with Reyn; he sends her off to hunt as he surveys their landing site, rehearses his routine, and reviews his present circumstances. He thinks of Malta, and, as he falls asleep near the dragon and a large fire, he dreams of her. In the dream, she hears his call, and Tintaglia starts awake with it. The dragon notes both the lowering barriers between them and his transformation into an Elderling.

The woman of the hour…
Malta by HazelFibonacci on DeviantArt, used for commentary.

Malta, still aboard the pirate ship, muses on thoughts of Reyn and considers her own circumstances–which she believes leave her socially ruined. She rehearses her plans for freedom, and she manages to convince the waning Satrap to go out on deck. He muses on his own background and circumstances, and he presses Malta for details about it. When they are forthcoming, they bode ill for them both; he realizes he is worth more dead than alive, as his death allows another to take the Satrapy. Malta presses him further, and they dicker over details of how to proceed; Malta comes out of the exchange with a fine deal and a finer idea.

The present chapter shows Malta well, certainly; she’s come a long way from being the vain and petty girl she was when her role in the series started, and, though done with difficulty, it is a good progression. She suffers, as characters must, from limited knowledge; it’s clear she is ignorant of events in Bingtown, for example. But, given what she knows, she is making excellent use of her situation and the resources available to her–and in ways that make sense from the character’s background and history. It’s a fairly rare thing, actually, and its presence–a consistent presence in Hobb’s writing, really–does much to bespeak the quality of the novel. More writers would do well to read such things.

Let’s keep this going!

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 206: Ship of Destiny, Chapter 27

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

A content warning: there’s discussion of suicide here.

The next chapter, “Key Island,” opens with the Paragon sailing with the tide–uneasily, but with determination. Amber confers with the ship, learning more of the history of the dragons, the region, and the Ludluck family along the way. The ship also notes the amalgamation of memory and personality that animates the figurehead, as well as musing on the desire for death and noting the approach to the island of the chapter’s title.

Satellite view of Niuafo'ou, 2005-03-19.jpg
Not unlike this?
Image is of Niuafoʻou Island, Tonga, per NASA, which makes it public domain, I think.

Brashen commands the crew aboard the Paragon, assessing their status and the ship’s progress. Clef reports the anticipated course and progress to his captain, and Brashen goes forward to confer more closely with Amber and the figurehead. They arrive at the intended destination, and Brashen takes a large contingent ashore, guided by the ship’s report from Kennit’s memories. They encounter the small settlement in which Kennit houses his mother and some others, meeting some resistance and more suspicion, but Kennit’s mother is fetched. Brashen relates to her that he means to take her aboard the Paragon to Kennit, and she agrees to come–along with a chained captive who has to be hoisted aboard as if cargo. Kennit’s mother restores the ship’s logs, and the captive, recognizing Brashen, announces himself as Wintrow’s father and asks to be taken home.

I note, with some interest, that Bingtown and the Cursed Shores are depicted as having access to whiskey. Although the typical spirit associated with piracy in mainstream United States popular culture is rum (with all of the unfortunate associations thereto appertaining), it could be argued that whiskey is more fully piratical, being so often a spur to smuggling and rebellion as it is. The latter becomes particularly important in line with my contentions that the Realm of the Elderlings partakes more of the Americas than of Europe and that Bingtown seems to parallel the early United States (as witness here); the Whiskey Rebellion was a thing, certainly, if not one that gets a lot of attention anymore. (Too, whiskey is a drink of choice in the distinctly-US Wild West; it’s another reinforcement.) I’ll admit that the point’s not a particularly strong one to argue in favor of my earlier assertion, but it’s not exactly a counter-argument, either.

Help support my continued endeavors?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 205: Ship of Destiny, Chapter 26

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

A content warning regarding sexual assault is in order here, and there may be some homophobia present, as well.

The following chapter, “Courtship,” begins with Althea attempting to argue for her release aboard the Vivacia; Kennit refuses, citing her injuries and the danger posed to her by Bolt. He regards her lasciviously, musing on the effects of the drugs he has administered to her and noting the similarities between his situation with regards to her and his former abuser’s situation with regards to him. He continues to press upon her, and her ability to resist fades.

Althea Vestrit
We’re a long way from here…
Althea Vestrit by DoctorPiper on DeviantArt, used for commentary.

Althea asks after Brashen and the Paragon, and Kennit tells her that the ship has been sunk by serpents attacking it. The news rocks her, and, in her emotionally and physically weakened state, drugged, she cannot effectively resist his raping her; she recalls Keffira upbraiding her for her first tryst years before, and loses consciousness.

Having concluded his assault, Kennit considers its implications for the ship. The charm on his wrist rebukes him harshly, and as Kennit considers quietly killing a crewman who might have overheard, the charm tells him that he has become the monster his former abuser was.

Elsewhere, Etta and Wintrow confer, and they take stock of what they know about Althea and Jek. Some of the information is conflicting. Jek is reticent. Etta notes that Bolt rejects Althea, railing against her. She also notes Wintrow’s foolishness, and Wintrow apologizes for his lack of understanding. He also kisses her, leaving both of them uncertain of where they stand in relationship to one another.

Unconscious, Althea finds the “original” personality of the Vivacia, suppressed by Bolt but still present. For an interval both seek death, but Althea presses the ship to endure; she is convinced to lead the ship back to waking life, and the Vivacia floods her with life as she returns to consciousness and awareness–but Althea loses her sense of the vessel.


The big thing in the present chapter is, of course, the rape. I…hesitate to discuss it in detail, for several reasons. I will note, though, that I am struck by the connection to internalized victim-blaming depicted, as well as the implication that the homoeroticism Kennit displays in his comparisons of Althea to Wintrow derive from his own rape. Neither sits entirely well with me, although I do not recall either evoking that reaction from me in several earlier readings of the series. Then again, I am not the same person now as I was then; I hope I’m better, but I don’t take that for granted.

I am struck, if less forcefully, by Wintrow in the present chapter. His affection towards Etta is not new, certainly; his boldness is, and I am not sure there’s enough lead-up to be believed. Yes, adolescent boys are mercurial; I remember that much of it well. But such–dare I use the term?–nerdy boys as Wintrow…I have noted before my tendency to (over-) identify with the character, problematic as it is, and I don’t think I’d’ve had the nerve to do such a thing. Hell, I’m not sure I have the nerve now–not that it’d do me any good (or that I’d need it, being happily married).

It’s strange to go back to reading done often and enjoyed, only to find it…uncomfortable. It seems to happen to me more and more often, anymore. Whether that’s for good or ill, though, I hardly know.

I can always use, and do always appreciate, your support.