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Recap / A Thing of Vikings Chapter 43 "...Is Mightier..."

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Book II, Chapter 12

To modern eyes, the historical emphasis on the importance of hospitality between guests and hosts seems to be of exaggerated, even absurd levels of importance. We forget, with our modern mass transportation systems, or even just the freedom of movement that dragon-riding grants, that prior to the domestication of dragons, a journey of twenty miles was a day's trip by foot, with no guarantee of shelter or food at the end of it, except for hospitality. Thus these rules resulted from tradition, practicality, and social necessity in order to keep peace between neighbors.

Further emphasizing hospitality's importance, in nearly all pre-dragon societies and religions, hospitality was mandated by divine decree or example.

...the Norse religion's canon offers up the Hávamál, with the oral antecedents of the text dating prior to the Reformation, which details significant instructions on the duties and responsibilities of hosts and guests, dictated by Odin as wisdom and instruction on proper behavior...

...the Abrahamic religions all have strong injunctions and passages about the importance of hospitality. Beginning with Abraham himself, he offered bread and gave a feast to guests and was blessed—and the subsequent passages deal with Sodom and Gomorrah, two cities that routinely and violently breached hospitality and were destroyed in divine punishment...

...Hinduism tells of the god of death, Yama, in the story Nachiketā, who returned home after an absence to find that he had kept a guest waiting for three days. Having violated hospitality by causing trouble for a guest, even unknowingly, Yama offered his guest three boons, and revealed secrets of the gods in the act of fulfilling them...

Nationbuilding: How People Move, Talk, Think, Organize, & Structure Themselves, 1888, Amsterdam University Press

Tropes That Appear In This Chapter:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: The reason why Eochaid came to Berk in the first place was because he followed Camilla there, wanting to resume his advances after they literally drove her to run in the first place.
  • Bribe Backfire: While it is implied that Eochaid was planning on taking advantage of them regardless, he takes this opportunity when he finds out about Berk's anti-thrall values and Stoick's willingness to buys his thralls from him and milks Sacred Hospitality for all he can.
  • Every Man Has His Price: While Berk isn't allowed to force Eochiad to free his thralls under Sacred Hospitality, they are allowed to pay compensation. It doesn't work.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Mildew thinks of Stoick as a Control Freak, his Catchphrase "A Chief Protects His Own" as a front for a man who demands absolute loyalty, subtly destroys opposing opinions and forces his subjects into indentured servitude.
    Mildew: He wants control—but not at the point of a sword. No, that's boring. He'd rather have you give it up to him and let him dictate what you do. So his takeover of Vedrarfjord? Completely in character for him. Put people in a terrible position—having their homes burned or having to starve... and then offering a way out... through loyalty to him.
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  • Good Taming, Evil Taming: In-contrast to Berk's idea of treating dragons with respect, Mildew has learned that breaking a dragon's will at a young age and treating them like thralls also works to an extent. The exception seems to be his Whispering Death Mold, and even then it is unclear as to how much a difference there is.
  • Hostage MacGuffin: Toiréasa was trained to be a spy same a Heather to feed information about Eochiad to Alvin with the threat that her infant daughter Mhairi would be tortured and killed if she didn't comply, unaware that Alvin was overthrown and Mhairi is now safe and sound on Berk as Heather's adopted sister.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Eochaid apparently really likes children.
    It was perhaps his one saving grace in Toiréasa's eyes, that he was extremely and genuinely fond of children.
  • The Magnificent: Vladimir is nicknamed Vladimir the Nimble for his impressive dancing abilities.
  • Mythology Gag: When asked by Einar what he wants out of life, Tuffnut responds with "a finely crafted mace and a chicken".
  • Pet the Dog: Einar gives Tuffnut a pep talk about not letting his potential go to waste after seeing the latter had no meaningful ambition to speak of.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Eochiad apparently had heard of Berk's anti-thrall policies and dismissed it as "bardic exaggeration."
  • Scylla and Charybdis: Berk has reached this with the Eochaid's group, having just found out that they brought their thralls with them. Berk had just promised them Sacred Hospitality, meaning that they had already been given room and board and safety for as long as they are there, with the gods as witness whether they uphold it. With that said, the Hooligans - both on a judicial and an ethical level - are very much anti-thralldom and thralls would usually be liberated the moment they set foot on Berk, and to do so now would only cause insult to their guests. Bladewit is consulted over it and reluctantly chooses hospitality as precedent.


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