Ship of Destiny: Strong conclusion to an exciting trilogy

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review Ship of Destiny Robin HobbShip of Destiny by Robin Hobb

With so much being churned out in the way of epic fantasy, it’s always a pleasure to come across something original and unique. I felt that way about Robin Hobb’s Farseer books and wondered if she’d be able to maintain such high standards in Liveship Traders.
While I don’t believe she quite got there (it is after all a pretty high bar she set herself), this series certainly stands on its own as quality fantasy, and Ship of Destiny is a fitting conclusion (though one wonders if that word has been banned from the genre).

The basic storyline is both original and interesting, and Hobb manages to avoid the typical banalities of genre fiction. She creates characters far more often than character types and then flings them out into her world on their own or in various twos and threes. Best of all, Hobb’s characters are often conflicted over their motives and actions, allowing for a depth of introspection seldom seen in the genre. And nowhere is this better done than in her main character Kennit, who alternately has the reader pulling for his success and hoping for his well-deserved comeuppance. It is a tightrope act she attempts with this character and I at least would have to say she pulled it off. It is tough enough to evoke an emotional response in a genre where characters all too often barely squeak into two dimensions, let alone three, but here Hobb swings for the fence in an attempt to elicity a multiplicity of responses. And she connects fully. Not only with Kennit, but with others as well. It takes a brave soul to attempt a character made out of wood; it takes an excellent writer to make me care about that character.

Is the final book as strong as the first? I personally don’t think so, but it doesn’t tail off much. Some plotlines are all too neatly resolved (one of her characters tries to make a distinction between “coincidence” and “destiny,” but I wasn’t buying it myself) and some characters’ roles/personalities change a bit too abruptly, but in a work that spans three good-sized novels and a dozen major characters, these turn out to be minor complaints, far outshadowed by the quality of the story and especially the characters. She’s two for two in series and I look forward to her next work — I wouldn’t even mind if it’s another multi-book “epic.”

~Bill Capossere

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review Ship of Destiny Robin HobbShip of Destiny is a fine conclusion to an extremely well-detailed and imaginative series. It departs from the genre in that its characters are not exceptionally gifted or powerful adventurers or warriors. Instead, they’re traders and sailors and matriarchs in more of a sixteenth to seventeenth century atmosphere. The discussions amongst the Vestrit women in Bingtown and the political machinations do tend to drag in places, and some of the plot lines are tied either too neatly or too loosely at the end.

Nevertheless, as with THE FARSEER TRILOGY, this trilogy is a breath of fresh air — with some fine writing, too. In sum,Ship of Destiny and LIVESHIP TRADERS are imperfect, but they are engaging. The first,Ship of Magic, is particularly strong.

~Rob Rhodes

book review Ship of Destiny Robin HobbShip of Destiny is slow in spots, the political discussions run on a bit too long, and I never liked the plotline involving the Satrap’s advisor, but this is still a strong and exciting conclusion to an excellent trilogy. I loved the evolution of most of Hobb’s characters (especially Malta and Wintrow) and the way she used this setting to explore power, freedom, immigration, pain, family, and feminism.

~Kat Hooper

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BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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ROB RHODES was graduated from The University of the South and The Tulane University School of Law and currently works as a government attorney. He has published several short stories and is a co-author of the essay “Sword and Sorcery Fiction,” published in Books and Beyond: The Greenwood Encyclopedia of New American Reading. In 2008, Rob was named a Finalist in The L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. Rob retired from FanLit in September 2010 after more than 3 years at FanLit. He still reviews books and conducts interviews for us occasionally. You can read his latest news at Rob's blog.

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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