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What I'm Reading: Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb

Book: Ship of Destiny

Genre: High Fantasy

If you’ve read any of my recent posts, you may know that for the past few weeks (gah!) I’ve been reading Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb. It’s an amazing high fantasy novel filled with dragons, serpents, talking ships and all around magical awesomeness.

But, it’s a beast. Ship of Destiny weighs in at 816 pages and is heavy with economic, social and power plot points. I think it’s the “highest” a fantasy novel can get. I’ve read about 50 percent of the book and am absolutely loving it! It has so much rich detail and is filled with authentic, fleshed-out characters.

Only one problem: The overall density of the book is weighing me down a bit. There are no real “push on” points in the novel that have motivated me to keep reading past my bedtime (which is sadly very early).


“Robin Hobb concludes her nautical fantasy epic with Ship of Destiny, set in the world of her Farseer series. It lives up to its predecessors, Ship of Magic and Mad Ship in every way: the characters continue to develop, the plot moves swiftly, and the setting is vividly realized.

Again, three generations of Vestrit women are at the heart of the story. Ronica, the matriarch, stands alone against accusations that her family is responsible for the chaos that has overtaken Bingtown. She fights to uncover treachery and maintain the Trader’s Council. Her daughter, Althea, sails on the disturbed liveship Paragon, hunting for Vivacia, the Vestrit’s liveship, now the flagship of a pirate fleet under Kennit, who is both ruthless and compassionate. Her granddaughter, Malta, has disappeared following an earthquake in the ancient treasure city by the Rain Wild River. Her fiancé, Reyn, and her brother, Selden, are trapped while seeking her. They are rescued by the dragon Tintaglia, whom they helped liberate. Reyn asks Tintaglia’s aid in finding Malta, but Tintaglia has her own urgent mission to accomplish, one which will change everything. Hobb weaves these plot threads into an exciting and satisfying conclusion.”

What I Think So Far

1I have no idea what’s going to happen. Like I said- I’m halfway through the novel, and I’m at a loss of how this final book is going to tie up all the loose ends. There are liveships (ships that have been magically animated to talk and think for themselves) that need reclaiming, couples that need reuniting and towns that need rebuilding.

The story is told from as many as 10 or 11 perspectives, so a lot seems to be going on at once. All the individual stories are becoming more and more intertwined in a way that is both engaging and very mysterious.

2Well-written characters are not necessarily likable characters. Every character in this book is extremely well-written. They all have secret motivations and ambitions that drive them. They’ve evolved and grown. Malta, the spoiled daughter of Bingtown Traders, has become a strong woman who’s fighting for survival while trapped with the repugnant Satrap. Kennit, the so-called pirate king, has dark depths that he himself has not searched fully.

Now that I’m finally at the end of this series, I’m starting to like some of the characters- like all of the women in the Vestrit family, who are fighting to keep their family finances and honor in tact after disaster hits. In the first two novels, I couldn’t find it in myself to root for anyone. Everything they did seemed to be marked by greed, jealously, callousness or selfishness, and I would have yelled  “Whoop, whoop!” at the top of my lungs if a sea serpent ate one of the them.

I think it was just an adjustment reading a story that didn’t have any wholly noble, kind or selfless characters. They’re real…and it’s scary how much you can see yourself in them.

3 You had me at “pirate.” Pirates, prophesies and dragons are all mixed together in one epic tale. I could physically implode with all the contained awesomeness! The whole idea of ships that are cognizant and can steer themselves and have their own personalities is such an amazing idea by itself, but Hobb adds in cutthroats and serpent attacks and starcrossed lovers.

This is a novel strongly driven by the characters. Their wills and fates and destinies are all intertwined and yet fighting for their own path: The Vestrit matriarch Ronica uses her pull with the Bingtown Council to usurp power from Jamillia, the home of the Satrap; Althea, one of Ronica’s daughters, takes off on the liveship Paragon to recapture her family’s stolen liveship- the Vivacia.

So…I think I’ve officially inspired myself to finish Ship of Destiny this weekend!!

What high fantasy books are you reading? Even if you haven’t finished it (like some people), what do you think?

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.