The final instalment in Robin Hobbs wonderful Liveship Traders trilogy does not disappoint, not that it was ever likely to. The characters, are of course, by now vividly defined but its the way that the author ties all the disparate plot strands and by proxy the characters that makes this such a pleasure to read.
Anybody reading Ship Of Destiny would surely have read the previous novels and be familiar with the characters. Anyone reading this book who has,nt read the other books....what are you playing at? The plot draws together the multiple members of the Vestrit family as they struggle to survive . Ronica and Keffria are still in Bingtown , a place under siege and falling apart. Malta is stranded on a tiny boat on the Rain Wild River with the arrogant Satrap of Jamellia while her possible husband to be Reyn is trapped in the mud of the sunken city destroyed by an earthquake with Malta,s little brother Seldon.
Meanwhile Althea is aboard the Liveship Paragon still confused about her feelings for Brashen but determined to find the families Liveship Vivacia. The ship herself is exploring her long hidden identity , exacerbated by the serpents that follow in her wake. Would be pirate king Kennitt , the arch manipulator , is still attempting to coerce Wintrow and Etta into a destiny neither envisage . On top of all this the freed but arrogant Dragon Tintaglia views the humans as mere pawns to be used in the propagation of her species.
The way Robin Hobb draws all the characters together for the sagas conclusion is completely believable , free of contrivance and masterfully paced. It is also hugely satisfying without resorting to sentimentality and cliché though it does,nt have quite the lump in the throat effect of the end of the Farseer series.The link between the serpents and the dragons is finally revealed and there is a tantalising hint as to who the mysterious Amber might really be. You would be a fool to miss it. That.s my less than subtle hint there.
Ship Of Destiny is the conclusion to another tremendous fantasy series.Imaginative, wonderfully written with memorable characters and a serious sub-text involving the evils of slavery . Every bit as good as the Farseer series and as anyone who has read those will tell you , that's some achievement.
on 1 March 2006
Robin Hobb is one of the fantasy genre's Good Guys. She may not be doing anything vastly original or profound - but, man, she does it so well. For pure entertainment, there's none better: intricate plotting, knife-edge tension, a sense of place so real you can smell it, and emotional engagement in spades with characters well worth caring about. I haven't turned 900 more enjoyable pages since ... (you can see this one coming, can't you?) the previous instalment.
The setting, slightly outside the normal run of high fantasy, is clearly inspired by colonial America. The pioneer Trader families have prospered for several generations in the bustling entrepot of Bingtown, thanks in large part to commerce undertaken with the Liveships - magical, self-aware vessels built of a particular wood only found upriver from Bingtown, crafted for the Traders by their mysterious kin who live there. But theirs is, naturally, a precarious existence in a frontier land. They are dependent upon trade for much of their food and other supplies, and remain politically subordinate to their former homeland; the society that has developed in response to the challenges is a deeply conservative one; and there are other opportunists who desire the same chance at making their fortune, who are willing to use slave labour to get it.
The concerns, then, are familiar ones; this is all about a society in the painful throes of transition, forced to confront issues of privilege, hierarchy, and access to power. This is played out in a number of ways, one of the most pointed and nuanced being the status of women, as expressed through a diverse range of major characters. There is Althea, who dreams of captaining her family's new Liveship, but finds herself out in the cold when the inheritance goes to her brother-in-law, the new man of the house; her sister Keffria, torn between being a good Trader wife and the desire to protect her children; her mother Ronica, struggling with the loss of status brought on by widowhood; Etta, a former whore who finds a whole new world opening up to her as she learns to read; and many others. All of them are beautifully-drawn, fully-rounded individuals, filled with dreams but mired in mistakes; they are individuals with their own compelling stories who each embody a facet of who women are and can become in this world.
Leaving aside the specifics of the plot, the third and final volume is a more than worthy conclusion to a complex, magical, multi-layered saga - and confirms again my belief that nothing can quite make my heart and my imagination soar like well-written fantasy!
on 14 April 2000
Robin Hobb does it for me again. I've been reading fantasy books for a long time and it's not often that you come across an author that puts out good book after good book after good book. I was enthraled by the original trilogy that Robin Hobb wrote, but the liveship trilogy has blown my mind away.
She tackles the usual fantasy book fodder but she does it in an an intelligent, thoughtful, interesting way. There are so many new ideas. The characters each have flaws and strengths - they feel real. No one is down right evil, yet at the same time there is no one that is down right good. Each keeps a little back whilst still giving out loads.
I loved these books, this third was excellent I'm only dissapointed that I had to come to the end of the trilogy. Feels like I've just been seperated from a good friend. Oh well, guess I will just have to go back and read the Assassins Quest books again :)
on 1 July 2000
It took me quite a while to discover Robin Hobb, but after finishing the Farseer trilogy I was very glad that I had. Robin Hobb writes some of the best books I have ever read, although the end of the first trilogy was fairly depressing. It made the entire thing more amazing, but left me very sad nonetheless.
The Liveship Traders trilogy surpasses her first one, a thing I thought almost impossible when I started reading Ship of Magic. But the characters, both good and bad, and the sometimes startling developments of their personalities throughout the trilogy, not to mention the nicely paced plot, I could go on for hours about why everyone should give these books a chance. I do not think the ending was hurried, the trilogy was wonderfully wrapped up. I truly hope Robin Hobb continues to write for a long time, so I have something to look forward to.
on 29 May 2000
After the strengths of the first two books, as well as the opening two thirds of this volume, I would have been willing to assert that this trilogy was one of the best works ever written in fantasy. In almost all respects, I continue to believe this. However, Hobb has somewhat sadly stumbled in the concluding hundred pages, appearing to rush to resolution, as if having once predetermined that this work would be a trilogy, that she could not decide to extend it into a fourth book. This is truly unfortunate, has her conclusion appears rushed and, compared to the pages preceding, loosely wrapped up, with a resolution that is only barely satisfying.
After all the character and plot development that led up to this work, the final hundred pages seem precipitate. The main characters come together abruptly and in a way that is largely contrived, several are disposed of summarily, and everyone else lives happily ever after. While this type of fairy tale ending may satisfy some, I found the conclusion to Hobb's earlier Farseer Trilogy far more credible. Further, the disposal of the Chalcedians, the plot against Bingtown and the Satrapy of Jamaillia, the restitution of the Vestritts, and the rescue of the fortunes of the Wild River Traders, as well as Reyn and Malta's new identities, never reach full fruition, rather arbitrarily and hastily wrapped up as are so many other plot threads earlier so well developed and measuredly evolved. Finally, the mystery of Maulkin's Tangle gets simply settled with a quick trip up the river.
While I continue to believe overall that this is one of the best works of fantasy that I have read, I nonetheless remain mildly disappointed in the ending. After the investment of time and energy, both by the author and myself, in setting up and developing a wonderful story, I can only wish that she had been willing to committ an equal amount of time and development to her ending, which would have provided the substantial balance needed to conclude this story fully. As is, the ending seems somewhat stillborn, with so much more that it could have offered. I can only say that I'm sorry.
on 6 January 2012
I first became aware of Robin Hobb about four years ago when I ordered the Liveship Traders series in Hardback. I enjoyed them immensely. Her writing style is clear and easy to read and she writes with good pace; those two things coupled with a ready imagination is a winning combination.
However, this audio book read by Anne Flosnik is abysmal. Flosnik has no talent for this medium. Her pace is patchy and her delivery is like a stereotypical fortune teller (think Mystic Meg without sentence structure); also Flosnik has difficulty with Bs, Fs and Vs, which are indistinct and appear to be mixed up (Ronica Bestrit, Bifacia...). She does no justice to such a superb book. I really can't see why she is being given work in this medium at all.
I checked her web site to see how much work she has had and it does seem to be fairly prolific. I was surprised at that. I checked her demo samples page to see if it was just this book that was so poor (it didn't make sense that someone so obviously bad would get a lot of work); the demo samples confirmed my review. They all seemed fairly poor.
If I were Robin Hobb, I'd be rather upset by this disastrous reading.
on 2 January 2001
I nearly didn't buy this book as most loose ends seemed tied up or at least predictable by the end of the second book. But I'm glad I did. It gripped me from start to finish, full of quick paced action and characters whose motivations and dilemmas could be empathised with. I was quite sorry to reach the end. Heartily recommended.
on 17 December 2011
Robin Hobb's second trilogy set in the Realm of the Elderlings has focused on the Liveship Traders of Bingtown and their many and varied battles. This third book rounds off the story extremely well, wrapping up almost all of the threads, even some that I'd forgotten about, and brings the tale to a really satisfying close.
I read the final third of the book - around 300 pages - in one sitting as the tension and drama reached the highest levels. There is action aplenty and it's amazing how well all the seemingly disparate threads of narrative weave back together to bring the ending into place. All the characters change and grow and even those who started off as irritating become loveable in some respects. Well, almost all.
I love the tantalising hints of a story that spans the trilogies, that grow almost to the point of being explicit but not quite reaching it, and I'm really looking forward to reading the Tawny Man trilogy which follows.
My only criticisms of this book would be the length, though not in a bad way - just that it is so absorbing to read and there's so little time in which to snatch a chunk of text, and keeping track of time in the narrative. I found it hard to work out whether the different threads of story were meant to be progressing at the same pace, and particularly when travelling I wasn't clear on how long the journeys had taken.
Despite this, it has to be one of the best books I've read this year, and I'm very glad that the next trilogy is already written and I don't have to wait for more to be penned.
on 12 February 2011
As a big fan of Hobb's work, it went without saying that I was going to read this series. And, if you've read my other reviews, you'll know that although I loved the first two in this series (Ship of magic, Mad ship), i didn't like them as much as her Farseer or Tawny Man trilogies. However, I still think this series is amazing, and well worth the time to read it.
Some people think these books are a bit hard going, they are big books, but I didn't find them hard going at all. For me these were excellent page turners, and I was addicted from the word go!
As for this book in particular, it was a great conclusion! It beautifully summed up the whole series, bringing all the characters together. Tintaglia has risen, the serpents are fighting for their survival as a species (race?), and Althea is battling harder than ever to have Vivacia returned to her.
As it was with the 2nd book, my favourite characters were Amber and Paragon, I loved them individually, but their interactions together were excellent. Amber, usually a rather reserved character, lets so much of herself free when she speaks with Paragon, and you start to see the playful (foolish...) side to her show. Paragon, mad and brilliant as ever, was such a compelling character, I often forgot he was a ship!
I adored the storyline in this book, and despite the fact i usually don't go for stories set on board ships, I find them rather dull at times, I found that the story was so good, that even when they were talking about the ships in detail, I wasn't bored. The ships are so interesting and alive, that it made them much more enjoyable to read about.
So, although I felt they weren't as heart-wrenchingly brilliant as Farseer and Tawny Man, this book, and this series, were so brilliant, I'm glad I read them! And I recommend them highly!
on 7 December 2010
"The Liveship Traders" of which "Ships of Destiny" is the third instalment revolves in the same set world of the "Farseer" and the "Tawny Man" trilogy somewhere in between the two described events. Robin Hobb clearly is a prolific writer and one could erroneously place a critic on her books because of just that. Maybe one could write the same in less words but as I see it not better than she does. The story is gripping and keeps you interested to the very end a feeling I already had with the Tawny Man. Maybe it is a touch gloomy and despaired in some respects and some characters are annoyingly harsh (the liveship Vivacia/Dragonship Bolt comes to mind) but they are in character. How would you feel to find out that from the prospect of becoming a stunning flying dragon Ruler of the Three realms you had became but a "vivid" memory of yourself in a sailing ship cumbered by numerous memories of those that had died on you dripping on yourself their own short-lived humanly self-centred memories? To find out that your kind is almost if not all dead? The desperation of the sole surviving dragon when it faces the reality of the new world is reason enough to understand the fate of a being that has memory of the rule it once had and no longer exists...
To resume the story flows terrifically as a river from an slow start next to the source of all it becomes a river in flood dripping acid towards the sea like the rain wild river... How it ends? Well read it and live it...