The dragon, Tintaglia, has been released from her wizardwood coffin, only to find that the glories of her kingdom have passed into ancient memory.
Meanwhile, Malta Vestrit nevigates the acid flow of the Rain Wild River in a decomposing boat, accompanied by the Satrap Csgo and his Companion Kekki. Against hope, a ship appears in the alien waters, but does it mean rescue, or a further nightmare, for Malta?
In ruined Bingtown, the citizens are at war. If the city is to survive, Ronia Vestrit must unite all its peoples – both Trader and Tattooed – and liberate the city once and for all.
Althea and Brashen are finally at sea together, sailing the liveship Paragon into pirate waters in a last-ditch effort to rescue the family liveship, Vivacia, stolen by the Pirate king, Kennit; but there is mutiny brewing in their rag-tag crew; and in the mind of the mad ship itself…
Majestic and sweeping, Ship of Destiny concludes the tale of the Vestrit family and their part in the history of The Liveship Traders with a soaring and unforgettable finale to this unique series of epic fantasy.
Trigger warnings: suicide, sexual assault
Ship of Destiny is the third and final book in The Liveship Traders series by Robin Hobb. I read and reviewed the last two books, Ship of Magic, and The Mad Ship, recently. If you haven’t started this series, start with Ship of Destiny. Because, spoilers. I have really enjoyed all of them. The series as a whole, Hobb’s Elderling series, is becoming one of my favourite fantasy worlds.
Ship of Destiny picks up where The Mad Ship left off. We follow multiple perspectives, in different parts of the world. Althea and Brashen are sailing into pirate waters, Ronica is trying to salvage Bingtown, and Kennit is still pursuing his goal of becoming king of the pirates. I still prefer Althea’s perspective, though in this one I did quite enjoy Ronica’s perspective as well. And Malta’s too.
Hobb gives Malta a substantially bigger portion of the story in Ship of Destiny. She has really grown as a character over the series, and I’ve gone from hating her in the first book, to really liking her in this book. Her character growth is the most pronounced in the whole series.
As always with Hobb, the book is well-written, though I did feel that Ship of Destiny suffered a little structurally. There was so much going on in it, that towards the end some of the perspectives sort of fade away. We get a lot of telling at the beginning of certain sections, to catch us up on what has happened while we were away with another character. I think it’s simply a case of too much content for the book without splitting it into multiple books.
I wasn’t entirely happy with the ending. A certain character didn’t get what they deserved, I didn’t think. It’s hard to talk about without spoilers, but essentially, a character commits a crime, and I don’t think they are really punished for it. I understand what Hobb was trying to do. I think she was trying to comment on how these things happen in life, and sometimes you are a plot point in someone else’s life. And sometimes people aren’t punished for their misdeeds. Sometimes people get away with things they shouldn’t, simply because of who they are. I’m just not sure the commentary really worked.
Other than that, I think Ship of Destiny was a good ending for the series. Hobb wrapped the story up in a satisfying way. Though as always when I finish a good series, I always want more from the characters. I always want to know how their lives go on from there. But series have to end at some point.
I’m excited to go into the next trilogy in the Elderlings Realm.