Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb
Review by Floresiensis
Ship of Destiny is the final book of Robin Hobb’s epic fantasy trilogy The Liveship Traders. First published in Great Britain by Voyager in 2000. The story is written in third-person narrative and consists of 903 pages.
The dragon Tintaglia, released from her wizardwood coffin, flies high over the Rain Wild River. Below her, Reyn and Seldon have been left to drown; while Malta and the Satrap attempt to navigate the acid flow of the river in a decomposing boat.
Althea and Brashen are finally at sea together, sailing the liveship Paragon into pirate waters to rescue the Vestrit family Liveship, Vivacia, stolen by the pirate king, Kennit; but there is mutiny brewing in their ragtag crew; and in the mind of the mad ship itself. And all the while the waters around the Vivacia are seething with giant serpents, following the liveship as it sails to its destiny.
Robin Hobb is rightly classed as one of the finest authors the genre has ever been fortunate enough to have. The Farseer Trilogy established this status – does the Liveship Traders keep the high standard? The answer is yes, the quality of the writing is once again excellent and the characters are full and lifelike. I did enjoy the trilogy but not to the same degree as The Farseer Trilogy. There is something about the characters that stopped me from getting completely behind them. They are undoubtedly well written but also often highly annoying (this may be intended, if it was, then it was done superbly well).
The dragon’s eyes spun silver flecked with scarlet, so great was her anger. She snorted a hot blast of breath that nearly knocked him down. Then with a single forepaw she snatched him up as if he were a doll stuffed with sawdust. Her talons closed painfully around his chest. He could barely take a breath.
The story was been set in Ship of Magic and The Magic Ship, what Ship of Destiny does, and does well, is bring everything to a satisfying conclusion, tidying up all lose ends and leaving the reader feeling that the time and energy spent reading the 2,500+ pages was all worthwhile. The writing and narrative are once again excellent; chapters are well structured and easy to read. There is a theme running through all three books, that of morality. This is not done with a sense of preaching but rather the effect is one that makes the reader think deeply about the issues that are raised and Hobb subtly suggests that a life spent in peace and harmony, a life spent putting other first may be the way to true happiness.
Admiration of Hobb’s work is widespread; Steven Erikson describes her as a “subtle and clever writer”. George RR Martin believes that The Liveship Traders trilogy surpasses the Farseer Trilogy. This praise is well given, Robin Hobb is indeed amongst the elite of fantasy authors, only Steven Erikson, George RR Martin and Ursula Le Guin are capable of producing books of such high quality.
Kennit cleared his throat. It was a little time before he could speak. ‘I never thought to stand here again, nor speak to you once more.’ Love was rising from the ship like a flood tide, threatening to engulf him. Kennit fought to hold himself apart from Paragon. He forced out the rebuke. ‘This is not what we planned, ship. This is not what we agreed upon at all.
The Liveship Traders trilogy has it all – intricate plot, realistic characters, a sense of magic and mercifully free from cliché. Ship of Destiny closes the trilogy perfectly; Hobb uses her skills to the full in keeping the reader gripped from start to finish.
It’s been a long time coming, but there’s a fantasy writer in our midst who’s doing something serious with a genre that deserves a lot of the cynicism directed its way. Always fascinating, its seriousness is balanced by an epic backdrop of events SFX
Leigh from Redfearn
Robin Hobb is once again at the top of her game. She is the best author around in this genre at the moment, she weaves a rich tapestry of plot lines involving characters that are so real that you could almost touch them. This is as close to perfect as it is possible to get.
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