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Ship of Destiny, by Robin Hobb
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Spectra
Published: 2001
Review Posted: 7/1/2013
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 8 out of 10

Ship of Destiny, by Robin Hobb

Book Review by Joshua Palmatier

Have you read this book?

Ship of Destiny is the third book in the Liveship Traders series by Robin Hobb. Like the previous two volumes, this one was good. All of the various plot lines (and there were many) came together and a generally believable way (I'll get to the hesitation here in a moment) and I really think that the character arcs ended where they should have ended. Nearly everything that happened in the previous two books was set-up for this novel, which takes all of that and ties it all up. By that I mean that there wasn't anything new introduced in this book. It's the culmination of everything she began in the first two.

One of the things that I loved about this series, and it's something I mentioned in the review of the previous book, is that the world--not just the characters--go through significant changes. This doesn't happen often in fantasy novels. Usually, something threatens to change the world, and the characters are fighting to keep the world the same. Here, nearly everything changes. The entire political structure of the coast undergoes upheaval, and completely reorganizes by the end of the series. The introduction of the serpents and how they are viewed by the world at large creates its own upheaval (which isn't really resolved here, only begun, which hints that there is more to come regarding this area of the world).

Another thing that I really like about the books is that the characters don't end up where they thought they would at the end. Typically, a character starts out with a specific goal (and here I'm thinking of Althea's goal in the book) and they struggle through the entire series to achieve that goal, and get it in the end. That doesn't happen here, but the characters end up WHERE THEY SHOULD, which is a major distinction. And they realize that by the end. Overall, I don't think any of the characters ended up where they thought they would by the end. And the reason they end up in different places is because of what happens to them throughout the course of the books. Life intercedes and changes them in ways they didn't expect, which changes their ultimate goals as well. That kind of fluidity in a fantasy novel, based on character, is rare. Pulling it off believably is more so.

I did have a few quibbles. The first regards one character in particular, Serilla. I became intensely interested in Serilla in the second novel, where she comes to the fore, and wanted to know what happened to her in the third book. For the first half of this novel though, I felt that her character's actions were . . . off. They didn't feel like the Serilla from the second novel, they felt manipulated instead. This only happened for the first half of the book. After that halfway point, it felt like the "real" Serilla appeared again.

My other quibble came with the convergence of all of the characters at the end of the book. Typically, the plot lines and characters all converge in a novel like this of course. You're expecting it. Getting them all to converge in a believable manner is the trick. I have to say that I was impressed with how all of the characters ended up in the same location in this novel. Nearly all of it felt perfect . . . except for how Rehn showed up. His appearance felt a little forced and not as natural as all of the others.

But both of those were quibbles. Overall, I felt this was another strong series from Robin Hobb. I'll miss these characters, but I do like where they ended and can imagine in my head their lives continuing on beyond this.
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