Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series soon.
With more tidings passing between bird-keepers, these unpleasant, “Horns” begins with Alise rousing to the sounds of active dragons. The sounds of the approaching Tarman soon follow, and the reuniting groups compare notes about who has been found–and who has not. Greft again attempts to assert some measure of control, finding himself annoyed not to be lauded, and again nettled when Alise points out Thymara’s efforts to provide for the keepers.
Leftrin, hearing Carson’s signal, exults as he rehearses findings to that point. He urges the Tarman to caution and the barge-crew to action as the ship reaches the keepers and their dragons. Greft, when he comes aboard, attempts to forestall further searching, only to be reminded that Leftrin, not Greft, is the captain of the Tarman. After Greft’s dismissal, Leftrin hastens to welcome Alise aboard, but their reunion is shadowed by concern for Sedric, Leftrin’s own guilt, and the crew’s questions about provisions.
Alise retires to her cabin and considers the likely loss of Sedric, as well as her complicity with the same. Her guilt at feeling for Leftrin emerges, as well, and she assesses herself. After, she determines to set Sedric’s possessions in order, finding among them a locket that turns out to be from Hest. Her mind shies away from possibilities.
The keepers and dragons confer, somewhat tensely, over the disposition of the fallen. The dragons assert their right to consume the corpses of their keepers, with the keepers refusing. Leftrin notes that any bodies would have to be given to the river, and the keepers agree to be given to their dragons–save Thymara, who argues against Sintara’s claim. She watches and considers her place and ill fit as rites are conducted, and she and Tats confer about relative standings and politics among the keepers. Tats echoes some of Greft’s rhetoric, occasioning upset no less than his reports of more of Greft’s decision-making. Their continued conversation is interrupted by the return of another dragon and keeper, and Thymara finds herself considering Tats closely. She kisses him suddenly, leaving him uncertain of her intent.
My comments about Greft that accompany my summary of the previous chapter…do not go far enough in the event. He’s not some image of the putative evolutionary biologist or incel, but of a cult leader of the sort depicted in Netflix series and true-crime documentaries. The manipulation of events to ensure the “protection” of a younger woman among the keepers is…chilling. Despite the usual publication disclaimer–“Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental”–it is all too easy to find real-life parallels, and ones recent to the context of composition for the novel, as well as close enough to where Hobb lives (near Seattle/Tacoma, per her website over the years). Too, Hobb is open about working from real-life inspiration, not on a person-per-character basis, but certainly with an eye toward how things are in her readers’ world (here it is). So there are enough parallels to point out.
There are more than enough.
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