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Recap / A Thing of Vikings Chapter 55 "And Who We Make Ourselves To Be"

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Book II, Chapter 24

…with all due respect to my esteemed colleagues, the specific metaphor they used to describe the pull that Berk had upon merchant traffic is inaccurate and inadequate, as a magnet will only attract iron filings within a certain short distance, and the pull rapidly drops off from there. In contrast, it appears that the seagoing merchants across all of Europa in the era attempted and typically succeeded in making their way to Berk for trade within two years of the domestication of dragons.

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According to the bills of sale, lading, and customs declarations recorded by Ingerman's archives, merchants from across the Mediterranean were flocking to Berk by April of 1042, hearing of the riches of the tamed dragons. Previously, Berk had been a hazard port, where only those who were willing to risk being attacked by wild dragons went—although the demand for dragon-derived materials was such that some still made the journey, especially due to the near-total depopulation of dragons from the Mediterranean region over the previous two thousand years. In the aftermath of the demise of the Green Death, the danger had evaporated, and this new opportunity for profit without major risk caused a significant draw to head to Berk with all possible haste. Over the course of 1042, over a hundred merchant ships from as far away as the Fatimid capital of Cairo visited Berk—and, two years earlier, there had been only two such visits.

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As such, magnetic seems to be inadequate as a metaphor to communicate the depth of the impact upon the commercial traffic of the era, as the draw became even more intense as the distance grew. While I acknowledge that Historians Paulson, bat Rivka, and Larson prefer to focus on the religious aspects of the subsequent conflicts, their consistent downplaying of the economic factors does them a disservice…

Dr. Dame Karolina Haddock, Ph D, Professor of Norse History, Vedrarfjord University, Debate during the 89th Annual Symposium on Imperial History

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Tropes That Appear In This Chapter:

  • Call-Back: The make-shift nest Toothless, Stromfly and Mistletoe made in Chapter 53 was because they knew Astrid and Wulfhild were pregnant.
  • Crossover: Downplayed example; This chapter features an appearance by Fergus of Dunbroch, with his wife Elinor, their three sons Harris, Hubert and Hamish, and their daughter Merida. The author has stated that this will not be a straight-up crossover, but the Dunbroch clan will play a role in future chapters.
  • Culture Clash: Gunvor and Hákon being pagans find several aspects of Christianity strange and confusing such as the concept of the devil, or why women aren’t allowed into monasteries.
    Hákon was starting to see why the native Eirish made the comment that a blue sky was a blessing from the gods, or from their singular one, although apparently there was a second one that was out to corrupt them—some kind of jotunn lord? He still didn't understand it, but that was part of why they were here.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: While Stoick may not be stupid, it's still unexpected when he's the one who realises that dragons shed their scales a week or so before their eggs hatch so that they can use the scales as material for fireproof nests.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Hiccup invents the wheelbarrow either one hundred or two hundred years before it was invented in Real Life.note 
  • Hidden Depths: Tuffnut refuses to take advantage of Marte when she offers herself to him in gratitude for saving her from her abusive husband.
  • I Want Grandkids: Hiccup very correctly predicts Stoick's reaction to the news that he's going to be a grandpa.
  • Love Epiphany: Hiccup realizes that he has fallen in love with Wulfhild.
    He kissed them both, one after another, feeling his heart bursting with love... for them both. And, in the intensity of the moment, he realized that he had fallen in love with Wulfhild. While Astrid was first in his heart, Wulfhild had settled in there as well, quietly as was her preference, but still undoubtedly there, a comforting rock to lean on, a hearthstone for Astrid's blaze, a shield paired with Astrid's ax. The three of them together had become a family, in more ways than one.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: Fearghas mac Flann a glassmaker brought to Berk realizes quickly that he's this trope. He admits he's not the best glassmaker but he’s the only professional glass maker on the entire island.
    Fearghas mac Flann: I was the low man in my old shop! I lost the job because we weren't making enough coin! And now... I'm the one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind!
  • The Social Expert: Gobber did not show Feaghas Heather and Fishleg's workshop as a type of unspoken rule among people who have them.
  • Take a Third Option: When Hákon and Gunvor try and meet with the abbot at the monestary, they refuse to let Gunvor in due to being a woman. Not wanting to conduct politics without his wife, Hákon has the abbot meet with both of them outside of the building instead.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Quoted by Marte in regards to Tuffnut.
  • Wham Episode:
    • It's official: Astrid and Wulfhild are both pregnant.
    • This chapter also introduces the Dunbroch clan to the story as well as Heather's brother Dagur the Deranged.


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