Book Review: Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb

Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb book cover

Author: Robin Hobb

Title: Ship of Destiny (The Liveship Traders #3)

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Date: 2000

Plot: The dragon, Tintaglia, released from her wizardwood coffin, flies high over the Rain Wild River. Below her, Reyn and Selden 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 sailing the liveship Paragon into pirate waters in a last-ditch attempt to rescue the Vestrit family liveship, Vivacia, who was stolen by the pirate king, Kennit; but there is mutiny brewing amongst 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 she sails to her destiny . . .

Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb

Ship of Magic | The Mad Ship

As the Liveship Traders trilogy progressed, there’s been rising stakes, character arcs woven together and heightened danger as the individual narrations come together.

Ship of Destiny, the final in the trilogy, did not disappoint. I was gripped throughout.

While the first two books followed the separate characters – Althea, Wintrow and Matla – as their destinies drew them out into the wider world, this novel brings them back together. But not by returning home victorious and reuniting in Bingtown: the family are thrown together under deadly circumstances, far from home where family loyalty is just one contender when fate has set them on different paths.

Combining the story-arcs made Ship of Destiny feel faster paced than the previous two. Beforehand, the tension would peak, then ease for one set of characters before changing narration and repeating the process. This time, entwining the story arcs means the stakes are high, the danger real for everyone and there is no reprieve now they all face the same battles.

Despite having guessed the stories would come together, it didn’t disappoint. The characters have been apart for some time and it meant the growth of each one was witnessed by the others: they were forced to accept how they had changed and embrace those changes in order to survive.

“Be now what you must be to succeed at the end of your journey, and when the end comes, you will find it is just another beginning.”

After two and a half books of annoying me,Wintrow finally felt like he was stepping up, making decisions and taking control. He would have been a likeable character if this hadn’t taken so long!

On the flip side, Kennit went from a mysterious good-guy/bad-guy to the villain. While you learn more about his past, his actions towards others – especially Althea – and his determination that things won’t change makes it easy to hate him. There’s no redemption for what he does – nor does he wish for it.

Althea’s arc disappointed me. She’s been a strong character throughout but her ending felt unsatisfactory. She suffers at Kennit’s hands and becomes the victim. The fact she doesn’t get her heart’s desire – or even that the desire changed – felt disappointing. While her dream isn’t as attainable as it once was, it felt like she was being put back in her place by the end – by her man’s side while he captains a ship and she doesn’t. I wanted Brashen to give up his dream for her, not the other way around.

Malta is entirely unrecognisable from the arrogant, selfish girl we meet in book one. The way she handles her situation shows not only cunning, but immense patience and being able to see the long game – something she is entirely blind to at the start.

There are so many fantastic, deep characters in this and so many satisfying ways that the plot draws together all the details from the first two books to make an enjoyable finale. While still long, this book has a faster pace as the tension and stakes are higher and I was gripped throughout.

Definitely a recommendation for any fantasy fans looking for their next read.

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A Rambling Reviewer

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30 thoughts on “Book Review: Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb

  1. This sounds like a really interesting read, and I’m absolutely in love with the cover art of the books; it’s so pretty! The characters sound so interesting too x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love anything piratey! Oddly enough, I have never read any pirate-themed literature before. I love the names of the characters in this book. I’ve just added this one to my reading list, thank you xxx


  3. I had to take a mini break from Hobb after finishing this trilogy because of all the characters go through. I agree with you about Althea, who is one of my favs. I was very angry that no one believed her about what Kennit did to her.


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