Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book
Rate this book
As Bingtown slides toward disaster, clan matriarch Ronica Vestrit, branded a traitor, searches for a way to bring the city's inhabitants together against a momentous threat. Meanwhile, Althea Vestrit, unaware of what has befallen Bingtown and her family, continues her perilous quest to track down and recover her liveship, the "Vivacia, "from the ruthless pirate Kennit.
Bold though it is, Althea's scheme may be in vain. For her beloved "Vivacia "will face the most terrible confrontation of all as the secret of the liveships is revealed. It is a truth so shattering, it may destroy the "Vivacia "and all who love her, including Althea's nephew, whose life already hangs in the balance.

789 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published March 1, 2000

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Robin Hobb

348 books97.7k followers
** I am shocked to find that some people think a 2 star 'I liked it' rating is a bad rating. What? I liked it. I LIKED it! That means I read the whole thing, to the last page, in spite of my life raining comets on me. It's a good book that survives the reading process with me. If a book is so-so, it ends up under the bed somewhere, or maybe under a stinky judo bag in the back of the van. So a 2 star from me means,yes, I liked the book, and I'd loan it to a friend and it went everywhere in my jacket pocket or purse until I finished it. A 3 star means that I've ignored friends to finish it and my sink is full of dirty dishes. A 4 star means I'm probably in trouble with my editor for missing a deadline because I was reading this book. But I want you to know . . . I don't finish books I don't like. There's too many good ones out there waiting to be found.

Robin Hobb is the author of three well-received fantasy trilogies: The Farseer Trilogy (Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin, and Assassin’s Quest), The Liveship Traders Trilogy (Ship of Magic, Mad Ship and Ship of Destiny) and the Tawny Man Trilogy (Fool’s Errand, Golden Fool, and Fool’s Fate) Her current work in progress is entitled Shaman’s Crossing. Robin Hobb lives and works in Tacoma, Washington, and has been a professional writer for over 30 years.

In addition to writing, her interests include gardening, mushrooming, and beachcombing. She and her husband Fred have three grown children and one teenager, and three grand-children.

She also writes as Megan Lindholm, and works under that name have been finalists for the Hugo award, the Nebula Award, and the Endeavor award. She has twice won an Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Readers’ Award.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
33,861 (49%)
4 stars
23,111 (33%)
3 stars
8,540 (12%)
2 stars
1,937 (2%)
1 star
969 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,765 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
675 reviews43k followers
May 4, 2023
4.5/5 stars

A satisfying conclusion to the Liveship Traders trilogy and at the same time, it also made me super excited to start Tawny Man trilogy.

Ship of Destiny marks the conclusion to the Liveship Traders trilogy, the second out of five subseries in Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings series, and this was overall a satisfying conclusion. I really have to give this praise to Robin Hobb. Having read six books and one novella so far, whether I love it or not (mostly love), I found all her stories to be unpredictable. The book is filled with—once again—amazing characters developments, political turmoil, dragons, and a few great nautical battle scenes. In addition to that, there are a lot of revelations to secrets that were hinted ever since the first book; everything was resolved with no loose ends and the book also shed light on what to come in the future series. I almost absolutely loved reading this one, there were a few things I disliked which I’ll get into later but first let me dive talk a bit about the characters in this trilogy.

I’ve praised Hobb on her characterizations strength in all my review of her books so far and I envisioned you’re going to see this as an occurring event. Hobb is seriously superb in developing her characters, especially in this trilogy. Almost every single character ended up playing a role that gave the story its own charm and none of the characters in this trilogy ended up the same way from their first appearance; I mean it, every single character has gone through their own battle and struggles that changed them, for better or worse. I had a problem with the serpents' POV in the first and second book, they felt completely unnecessary, but in here it all finally made sense why they were necessary. The only character that remains the same was Amber and there’s a special reason for that.

There’s this phrase that’s used countless times in many novels, especially in YA fantasy, “she’s unlike any other woman” which ironically, makes the female characters mentioned the exact copy of all the other woman that received that description. However, I can assure you that Malta seriously deserves the title of “unlike any other woman”. This character’s growth from the first book to the third book is a coming of age tale at its finest. She grew from a highly spoiled brat and one of the most despicable characters I’ve ever read into one of the most interesting characters in the trilogy. And then there’s the liveship, Paragon, which I can’t stress highly enough how happy I am reading his story line and background. One final thing on the characters, Hobb seriously isn’t afraid to make her characters suffer.

“When you fear to fail, you fear something that has not happened yet. You predict your own failure, and by inaction, lock yourself into it.”

Hobb has spent a lot of time building towards the last 250 pages and it was really worth it. The moment of convergence where all the characters that have been spread out across the continent throughout the trilogy finally meet each other were rewarding to read. This made the last 250 pages of this book incredibly compelling to read.

I did felt this book was a bit too huge for its own good. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind reading a tome, I absolutely loved and finished Oathbringer (450k words) in five days, and I still wanted more from it. But there were at least 100 pages here where Hobb repeated things that have been stated. This was more evident in the first 300 pages of this book during the Bingtown political discussions, right now, I don’t even remember half of the discussions that were discussed there because they felt like like fillers, and it did became tedious after a while. I've mentioned this in my previous review and I still think that Serrila’s POV was pointless in my opinion. It can be cut off completely and it won’t affect this trilogy at all. Having read up to this point though, I guess I’ll just have to accept that Robin Hobb has the tendency to ramble and being wordy, whether it’s her own fault or the editors, I have no idea. These are all just minor issues I had, though, the second half and Hobb’s prose more than made up for these cons, and the ending was fantastic. Otherwise, these issues I stated would've been a gigantic problem.

For those of you who are wondering if you can read this without reading Farseer or not, you absolutely can if you want. There’s one major character from the Farseer trilogy that’s here but if you haven’t read Farseer, you probably won’t know it’s him, that’s all you’ll miss. However, if you’re willing to read Farseer, I strongly recommend to finish the first two book and see how you feel about it first. If you don't like it, just read a summary of the third book, Assassin’s Quest, on Wikipedia. It will save you a HUGE amount of time and believe me, that book deserves to be skip, finishing that one almost made me give up completely on Robin Hobb, and this is coming from someone who actually enjoyed the first and second book in the trilogy.

Overall, The Liveship Traders is still a marvelous and satisfying trilogy to read, it’s so much better than the Farseer trilogy in my opinion. Also, I’m now super eager start Tawny Man, which from what I’ve heard is the most highly praised trilogy written by Robin Hobb and I will definitely do that after one or two book break. I highly recommend this trilogy for anyone who loves epic fantasy with a lot of characters POV and well-written characters’ development.

Picture: My copies of Liveship Traders

Series review:

Ship of Magic: 4.5/5 stars
The Mad Ship: 4/5 stars
Ship of Destiny: 4.5/5 stars

Liveship Traders: 13/15 stars

You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest
Profile Image for oyshik.
212 reviews665 followers
February 3, 2021
Ship of Destiny(Realm of Elderlings #6, Liveship Traders #3)
Great series with a phenomenal concept Robin Hobb come with was absolutely fascinating to read. Really enjoyed this series.
One does not need the size of a dragon to have the soul of a dragon.

I'm content.
Profile Image for ELLIAS (elliasreads).
477 reviews38.2k followers
July 29, 2022

I cannot even begin to just encapsulate everything that I just went through. Robin Hobb is literally a fucking genius!!! No one, NOBODY NO ONE NOT AT ALL NUH HUH does it like her. Actually WTH.

Also not be bowing down to Malta in this book??!!
Literally my new favorite fantasy series of all time.

Watch my full review (nonspoilers & spoilers) here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_VOc...

5 STARS BABY, 5 STARS!!!!!!!
Twitter | Bookstagram | Youtube |
Profile Image for Matt's Fantasy Book Reviews.
236 reviews3,128 followers
April 30, 2022
Check out my new youtube channel where I show my instant reactions to reading fantasy books seconds after I finish the book.

Simply a masterpiece - one of my top 10 fantasy books of all time

I really wasn't sure how Robin Hobb was going to improve upon the previous two books in this series, as they were so well done and I had literally no complaints with any part of them. But she did here, in what has turned out to be one of the all-time best fantasy books - and without doubt the best fantasy pirate story ever told.

The characters, as is typical in a Robin Hobb book, are wonderful and arguably feel more real than any other characters in any other book. They are not static characters, and they all go through dynamic growth that feels so refreshing in a fantasy book when oftentimes fantasy characters stay the same through a series of a books.

The plot is once again incredible, but what really propels this book into such a high status is the ending of this book, which was nailed so perfectly and was setup through the other books to such a great level. I absolutely love the direction the "sea serpents" have taken through this series, culminating in this book, as well as the development of the plotline in Trehaug.

There is some debate between Robin Hobb fans about which series is best, but for me - this series is the absolute best of her works.
Profile Image for Em Lost In Books.
874 reviews1,762 followers
November 11, 2018
“Do you not see how strange and wonderful that is? That all history balances on an affair of the human heart?”

Well, this was a bittersweet story.

Hobb started this right from the end of Mad Ship and we saw all the story arcs going in farther away from each other instead of converging, at least initially. I was frustrated how all the story arcs were taking their on sweet time to reach the conclusion but once I finished reading this, I couldn't help but marvel on how beautifully she brought everything together. Once again I will talk about characters that impressed me the most.

Paragon beats every other character to be my favorite of the trilogy. I didn't like him initially, after all he was a mad and a brooding ship, with a bloody history to tell. Here not only he told the dark secrets from his past but also made us how at heart he was still a child and how he's connect to another child. So much happened on his deck; murder, rape, abuse, you name and Paragon has seen it all and yet he is still capable of forgiving that one person who cheated him in the end for someone else. It was heartbreaking to see them together one last time.

Once again Malta made it to my favorite list. That girl never cease to amaze me. When all hope was lost she did something that not only saved her but also redeemed the whole of Bingtown and Rain Wilds. It was because of her that we got to know the secret of Livships. But her journey in this book was not so flowery, it was full of hard work, constant disrespect, and taking care of self obsessed man. And she did it all! Every time I thought yup, she's going to give up and jump the ship but she came back strongly and won my heart.

Last but not least Kennit. I hated him but I also could not help myself and pity him. I hated what he did to Wintrow, Etta, and Althea. How he deceived Paragon! I wanted to strangle him in that moment but could not. The story of who he was, who he is now, and what he wanted to be made me tear up. His was the darkest, saddest, and ugliest story. Hobb was not kind when she told us about Kennit. It was at times uncomfortable to read on but I guess that's what made Kennit such a complex character.

And then there was Tintaglia in all her glory. She was magnificent and one of the most important character of this book. I loved her but then who doesn't love dragons!

It was an amazing story and I had a great time reading it. I will definitely be recommending it to friends.
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,113 reviews44.4k followers
May 1, 2016
I loved the ending of this because everything was resolved perfectly, and at the same time the events have far, far, reaching consequences. These will no doubt affect the Six Duchies. This made the ending so strong for me because I couldn’t wait to read more. I couldn’t wait to see how far Amber has (and will) shape the world in accordance with her prophecies.

It’s all about the dragons!

The magic behind all this slowly began to reveal itself across the trilogy and, finally, in this book it was released. The revelation of what drives the liveships was completely bizarre, but as the novel progressed it became clear how well established this outlandish idea was. It’s all so strange and wonderfully accidental. The magic system is very well thought out to say the least. If someone would have told me when I began reading that this weirdness was behind it, I would have laughed. But Hobb is the master of her craft; she makes the impossible magical: she makes it real.

“One does not need the size of a dragon to have the soul of a dragon.”

I found myself liking Paragon more and more as the series developed. He initially appears as a sullen brute who is about to explode with unbridled rage. But the ship has a massive backstory. He’s a victim, a big one. He has been abandoned and defaced; he has been used and mistreated. However, Amber saw into the depths of him; she saw what lurked behind his wooden exterior, and she gives him the most ultimate gift. Unsurprisingly, during the process she pays great homage to her greatest friend and biggest love. Such a fool. (see what I did there)

It all came together in the end


(^^ I love this pic!)

The climax was everything it needed to be. The characters all had one big clash at the high seas and in doing so Hobb expanded her fantasy universe tremendously. The importance of a group of serpents, which I initially perceived as insignificant, became abundantly clear. They’re so central to Hobb’s magic. I always wondered why they were so drawn to the boats. In retrospect it’s all rather obvious. But when I was reading I was rather dumbfounded. I wonder how the rest of the world will feel when they find out, if they find out.

“Do you not see how strange and wonderful that is? That all history balances on an affair of the human heart?”

Malta is, perhaps, the character that will go furthest in this. (Excluding Amber of course.) Her path has been intertwined with that of the dragons. Her development was wonderful; she went from an annoying brat to someone with real character: she grew up. Some of the other characters had semi-predictable endings. With her it was fairly surprising. Overall, this was a good ending to a good trilogy. I’m looking forward to seeing how Hobb uses elements of this in later books.

The Liveship Traders
1. Ship of Magic- A seafaing 3.5 stars
2. The Mad Ship- A tumultuous four stars.
3. SHip of Destiny- A cresting fours stars
Profile Image for Sheyla ✎.
1,820 reviews480 followers
July 31, 2021
The conclusion of this trilogy was satisfying in all the ways that it counts!

I was happy to see that all the Vestrid women were strong in character. They did what had to be done, despite all being in different situations with different dangers. The same thing goes for Wintrow who became a man despite his young age and his little brother, Selden, who stood up when it was vital.

My favorite character development hands down has to be Malta. She evolved from someone I hated to becoming my favorite character (sorry, Althea but it's true). Malta went from an annoying little brat to a resourceful and interesting young woman who has been well-matched with Reyn.

The next best character development was Paragon. Through this book, we learned what truly happened to him and by who. Thanks to Amber in Ship of Destiny, he is comfortable in his own skin. Or should I say wood?

Tintaglia was a wonderful addition to the mix. I can see how she will change the future of the realm.

If I have to say what I disliked about this book, I would have to say it had to do with where the story went with Kennit. I felt it was a wasted use of an antihero. I'm also not sure I liked the new Vivacia but I guess it had to happen.

I can't finish this review without making a stand. If you are an impatient reader (which I am) this series is not for you. The Realm of the Elderlings series is full of books that are long, detailed, and slow prosed. They are meant to be savored and unless you have been warned like I was (thank you hubby), you won't enjoy them. You will think why are all these details important? Why does it matter? I would answer that the key is most of the time in the details.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fangs

MrsLeif's Two Fangs About It | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Profile Image for Library of a Viking.
156 reviews2,404 followers
June 12, 2022
One of the best trilogies I have ever read!

This trilogy was everything I hoped for and more. This review will be spoiler-free!
Ship of Destiny is the final book in The Liveship Traders trilogy, and all I can say about this series is...WOW! (Well not quite ‘all I can say’ because as you see I wrote a review.)

I have to praise Hobb for how she handles the themes of grief, identity and trauma. I have never come across an author that is able to handle these complex and challenging themes in such a realistic and impactful way. It was fascinating to see how these characters’ grief and trauma slowly changes throughout almost 3,000 pages. I don’t think I have come across an author before that seems to understand mental health and portray it so well in fiction as Robin Hobb.

Consequently, Hobb is able to wrap up all the loose ends in this final book of the trilogy, making this a very satisfying read. It felt incredibly gratifying to see how all the loose ends were wrapped up in the last act and how almost every single main character played a crucial role in the conclusion. Moreover, the reader will truly come to appreciate each character arc near the end of this incredible series. The character arcs in this trilogy are some of the best I have come across in fantasy. Hobb has a unique ability to pull at the reader’s heartstrings and make the reader feel invested in each character.

However, as with all of Hobb’s books, the pace is very slow. This book and series could have arguably been a bit shorter, but I also feel there is a strong case for making these books long. I am not sure you can rush a story like this and make it as impactful. Hobb obviously wanted to write a character-driven story with a focus on grief, identity and trauma. While you “could” speed up the pace of the story, I do not believe it would have been as impactful for the reader. Can you genuinely analyse such complex themes and characters in a few pages? Hobb clearly felt she needed nearly 3,000 pages to explore these themes and characters fully, and I am so glad she did.

That being said, I only gave Ship of Magic 5 stars, with The Mad Ship getting 4 stars and Ship of Destiny getting 4.5 stars. However, as a whole, this trilogy deserves 5 / 5 stars. This trilogy has cemented Robin Hobb as one of my all-time favourite authors, and The Liveship Traders trilogy has become one of my all-time favourite trilogies. I can’t wait to read The Tawny Man trilogy soon!

A special thanks to my Patreon’s Erin, Blake, Mel and Áron Sofus!
Profile Image for Gary .
200 reviews184 followers
February 5, 2020
This series was an experience for me. I immersed myself in it at a time when there was a ton of time on my hands, and I am glad I did. The large, sprawling books ended in this finale, and it was a fitting ending. Loose ends that floated through the series began to appear and draw tighter and tighter together as this story reached its conclusion.

This author knows how to end a series well. It’s one thing to end a story well, another to end a book well and entirely a different thing to end a trilogy well- especially one as massive and variegated as this one was. Hobb is the master of this craft. She has a delicate balance of action, dialogue and characterization that caused me to become invested in the story, and more importantly to me, in the characters.

This is one of those series of books that I will think about for many years to come. There have been time periods of my life that a song or a movie will seem linked to- these books will always remind me of these December and January days. The characters in this novel feel like real people that I will miss- the headstrong Althea, treacherous Kennit, lovesick Reyn, the impulsive Malta, the matriarchal Ronica. One of the surest signs of a writer’s talent is in the way the characters change by the end of a story and the way those changes intertwine with the themes, both major and minor. These characters all change and grow in ways that are significant to the plot and to one in another, which also lends the feel of authenticity to this book.

The culture and setting also changes in ways that relate to the overall plot development, as well as to the minor storylines that wind together like fibers into a rope becoming part of a larger world. The more unusual elements of this author’s fantasy world are blended in at a consistent and recognizable pace. At no point did I feel as if information was being dumped on me, nor was I confused by a lack of details or made to feel as if the story was being dragged thin. This book was large, and it needed to be.

The ending is perfect for a series this large.
5.5 stars for sure.
Profile Image for Choko.
1,203 reviews2,583 followers
April 18, 2023
*** 4.75 ***

Second read, and I guess I am even more impressed with the author's infinite talent to spin a yarn and steal our souls for the duration... What a tale!!! There are a series of chapters in this book, that are absolutely heartbreaking! I honestly don't remember a moment in a book that has upset me so much. I know I am an emotional reader to begin with and tend to be sensitive to all nuances of writing... Hobb is a magical storyteller! She is one of the best in her craft for sure. The combination of all that and her choices of the stories themselves, just kill me! How does she do it, so that although I am absolutely demolished emotionally, I still want to keep on reading? Not just want to, but I need to, because I can't get enough???? And I really want to know where she takes us with this cruelly crafted tale!

Despite all that, Robin Hoob delivers all the way!!! Beautifully and magically! Thank you!❤️👍👍👍👍👍

*** 4.25 for the whole trilogy ***

I love this author, I think she is brilliant and imaginative and can come up with one heck of a story. However, I was kind of frustrated with every character in the book at this point... I appreciate all the details and the debt of characters they create, but I really think that these books could have been a third as short as they are. I am a bit tired of knowing every emotion of every person in Bingtown or the Rein Wilds... For that matter, I don't need to know everything about all the random sailors or pirates. I think, the same thing I felt for Diana Gabaldon... They can't control their writing and tend to get lost in all the details they feel and want to relate. This is why I love Glen Cook, who can tackle epic themes like these, full of hundreds of characters, and still stick to the point, conveying all the rest with show of emotion through action and not needing to explain every emotion of the character, we just get it. I don't usually mind the in debt portrayals, but there has to be at least an editor who goes behind the author and keeps them in line.

I only say that because I really love this author and expect much more from her than the average ones out there. I love the world, the idea of the story, but yes, there is such a thing as story fatigue...

Having said that, I am addicted to this world and plan on reading all the books that are connected with the Elderlings:):):) Can't wait to see how the majestic and very selfish creatures, the Dragons, get to adjust to a world which has forgotten about them and how the world finds a way to live with those very high-maintenance demigods:):):)
Profile Image for Deborah Obida.
673 reviews604 followers
June 8, 2020

“When you fear to fail, you fear something that has not happened yet. You predict your own failure, and by inaction, lock yourself into it.”

A great conclusion, there is absolutely nothing I would change except that it was longer, that epilogue was way too short. This book tied all loose ends from the first two books, what I adored most was how the sea serpents evolved, its one of my highlights of this book. Another is how the Liveship were made, that is another shocking revelation, I love it when a book surprises me in a good way.

“Do you not see how strange and wonderful that is? That all history balances on an affair of the human heart

The characters were also awesome, I love them all even wicked Kennit and spoilt Satrap Cosgo, every character in this book got what they deserved. Of course they did not deserve the bad things that happened to them, especially Malta and Althea, despite all their flaws they deserve more. I felt bad and hated Serilla at the same time.

“It doesn't work that way. Silencing memories does not make them stop existing. Events cannot be undone by forgetting them.”

I love how all the other characters developed, especially Keffria, she became a strong and independent woman. Brashen is ever so strong and noble, do not even get me started on Reyn, I loved him from the first time he made an appearance in the series. Selden, lovable Selden made more of an appearance in this which was awesome. Wintrow is back to being strong and optimistic which is what I most about him.

Nothing is quite so destructive as pity, especially self-pity. No event in life is so terrible that one cannot rise above it

I need not say but the writing and world building is as great as ever.
Profile Image for Mili.
389 reviews33 followers
December 24, 2016
Another stunning trilogy by Robin Hobb. How I loved the characters! They are so vivid and real. Althea and Brashen are to fall in love with. Im no big fan of pirate tales, but Robin Hobb just enthralls me. I just had the best start of the morning by finishing this book. Woke up before 8 am ( on a day off .....) Decided to read the last few pages ( fell asleep last night on the couch ) and there were cookies next to me....healthy start of the day!

Im still convinced everyone should just read Robin Hobb. There isnt much to review it all speaks to its fantastic self.
Profile Image for Jennifer (Insert Lit Pun).
315 reviews1,974 followers
December 16, 2017
I'm just so grateful that this series exists. It is phenomenal. I enjoyed every hour of my life that I spent on these three books. That is all.
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews869 followers
March 10, 2023
“Do you begrudge me that I am who I truly am? Should I pretend otherwise for the sake of pleasing you? If I did, it would be a lie. Would you rather love a lie than know me as I truly am?”

Amazing Art from the Liveship Traders | Robin hobb, Robin hobb books, Amazing art

I felt invested in the characters and the outcome of the finale of Robin Hobb's Liveship Traders trilogy, Ship of Destiny. In my review of the last book in the series, I talked about how there aren't wasted characters in Hobb's work. As the action culminates in the finale, that statement seems doubly true. The growth of characters is astounding. I found it really fascinating that much of this growth is based around their perceived flaws. They don't so much change who they are, but in a different context, those qualities can be useful and thus be embraced. My one reluctance to wholeheartedly praise this book has to do with an ending that goes on for way too long. To me, it felt like an extended epilogue. Maybe its purpose was to set up something in a future book. Be that as it may, I enjoyed the trilogy and am quite sure I will be reading more of Hobb's work!

Profile Image for Hanne.
222 reviews317 followers
July 17, 2013
This one is going down as one of my favourite fantasy trilogies.
Without a doubt! (This review contains some spoilers of book 1 and 2)

Part of it is very typical Robin Hobb (after 6 books I’m allowed to say that right?) she makes characters so incredible real they become existing people. I’ve said it before, but it’s just really true: they become people for you to love or loathe. But it’s also remarkable how mean she is to them all: she sends them through hell, leaves them there without food or drinks, and then kindly asks them to walk back barefoot. Mean, mean!

There is however one thing she does in this trilogy she didn’t do in the previous one; for this one she took a trick of the fantasy writers tool box: multiple point of view characters with storylines that are all coming together. Not one ‘catalyst’ but a whole family of them.
I thought the general world building was very well done. The serpents, dragons, elderlings, pirates… enough mystery to keep you on your toes until the very last chapter.

Safe to say that i loved this trilogy. It just has all the elements right: Well developed characters, check. Marvelous world building, check. Solid writing, check. Enough tension to keep you going, check. A few unpredictable twists, check! And so on.

I want to end this review with Paragon. While I’m typing this, I have Mumford and Sons playing in the background (a CD obviously, if they would be live in my living room I wouldn’t be typing!), and this song reminds me of him.
Now I'll be bold, as well as strong
Use my head alongside my heart
So take my flesh, and fix my eyes
That tethered mind free from the lies memories
In my mind, I see Paragon, waiting all those years on the beach for someone who will push him back into the winds. Someone to restore him to former glory. And at last, the waiting is over, Paragon is sailing again and I loved every second of it!
Profile Image for Franco  Santos.
484 reviews1,343 followers
January 9, 2016
No intentes alcanzar las estrellas cuando estés rodeada del ancho mar.
Reseña general sin "spoilers":

Con una trama que partía de una idea sencilla, esta autora me llevó por las corrientes de un mar agresivo y caprichoso hacia el surgimiento de un relato sinfónico. Un relato largo, que se toma su tiempo para golpear, pero que, cuando lo hace, el derramamiento de sangre es seguro. Y la sangre recuerda. La sangre es identidad, y una parte de mi identidad se fue a bordo de las naves que vuelan en su cielo, que es el vasto océano.

¿Con qué se van a encontrar en esta serie? Con piratas, traición, mujeres que luchan por sus derechos, codicia, gente tatuada que busca su libertad, magia, guerra, inseguridad; amor, filosofía, amistad, criaturas que resurgen de una historia ya olvidada, política, soledad, desconsuelo; secretos.

Estos libros dejan huella. Desaparecen de tus manos pero arden en el alma. Desde un inicio tan armónico como absorbente, yo, el lector, navegué hacia un final en el que todo converge, en el que el Destino demuestra que de sus redes nadie se escapa.

Con respecto a los personajes. Esta escritora logra hacerme ver con cada uno de sus trabajos que personas creadas por la imaginación también pueden ser reales. Reales a su manera. Pero reales. Carne de tinta y huesos de papel. Son así, y así deben ser. El desarrollo de los personajes es tan perfecto como sus diálogos.

Esta saga me atrapó como pocas lo han hecho y no me soltó hasta llegar a su última página, hasta llegar al momento en que no me queda nada más que decir excepto que Hobb es de lo mejor que le ha pasado al género fantástico.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,009 followers
June 5, 2008
There are some beautiful ideas in there -- about dragons, and the life cycle of a dragon -- and there are references to the Farseers trilogy that complete that story, that explain things. Yet it's also, for quite a few people I've spoken to, quite tedious to read. This time as I was going through, I tried to put into words why it's broken for me. Comparisons to the Farseers trilogy abound, as well as spoilers for both trilogies and probably for the Tawny Man trilogy as well. Some of this, I've already written elsewhere.

Essentially, I have three main issues I'd point to -- all somewhat interwoven.


I think it suffers from being in third person rather than first. All the sense of someone setting down memoirs with all the relevant details put in the right places is lost, and it's less easy for Hobb to fit in the back story she needs to make the "front" story work. For example, Paragon's story -- it could come out through dialogue and interaction, for example, between Mingsley and a client, or Amber and a Trader, or Amber and Paragon himself... instead it comes out while Althea is sat down thinking about Vivacia. That might work, if it was written from Althea's point of view, but as it is you rather forget that you're even with her while you go on a five page foray into the woes of the Ludlucks.

Mind you, I can see why it would be impossible to write this story from first person and still have it be a "member of the cast", so to speak, doing it. In Farseers, sometimes Fitz's ignorance of other events helped the story, and sometimes the fact that Fitz could Skill out to Molly, Burrich and Nettle and see them prevented it from hindering the story. But in Liveships there's no one central character: in the first book alone there's Althea, Brashen, Ronica, Keffria, Malta, Vivacia, Wintrow, Kennit, Kyle, Paragon, Amber, Maulkin, Shreever... and a range of locations from all corners of their world. There's no way any one of them could know the whole story -- indeed, so much of the story, especially the romantic conflicts, is based on that fact.

Still, I think Hobb's writing shines best in first person. I also noticed that when I read the Tawny Man trilogy, I enjoyed that much more than Liveships. I'm not sure whether that was just the return to the familiar characters, or whether it was in a large part due to the return to a single point of view.


There are so many characters this trilogy follows. I couldn't even begin to list the main ones. They come in groups, in a way -- Bingtown Traders, Rain Wild Traders, pirates, serpents, Jamaillians -- yet those groups splinter and reform over and over again throughout the books. It isn't hard to follow exactly, but I do wonder if Hobb could have made readers care more about the characters had there been fewer, and had she kept the changes in viewpoint down. For example, you see from inside Malta in one section, and you see Malta from Ronica's eyes in the next -- it's jarring, to see so many sides to one character: not just implied, but "said" by the characters through third person (not actually very) limited.

One of the common mistakes in writers, one of my books says, is to make characters too passive. They aren't interesting to read about. And there are far too many passive characters in Liveships, people who can't or won't take control of their own lives. For example, Wintrow -- in the end, he realises it, but for most of the books he refuses to accept and grow with his experiences, but only look backwards. Keffria is shown as spiritless, completely taken in by her husband, believing he's good and right when he's actually quite cruel. She only wants things to go back to where they were, she wants Kyle to take over things and leave her untouched by cares. It's hard to care about characters who are so passive, who do nothing to better their circumstances. They bring their misfortunes on themselves.

On the other hand, there are the "strong" characters. They try to take their lives into their own hands, but without regard for others. Althea leaves her family when they need her, dividing it when they need to be strong, just to get what she wants. Malta doesn't care about the shame she might cause her family, or the hurt she might cause the men she flirts with and ensnares. She just wants to look beautiful and be adored. Tintaglia the dragon doesn't care about humans, even when they help her, but only about the fate of her own race.

It's true that there are a few intriguing characters: Ronica, in particular, strikes me as a strong female character who wants the best for her family, for her home. She, most of all, considers everyone in Bingtown and pushes for everyone to unite. There are other intriguing characters, too: Amber, and Jek, and Shreever, but... they're often more minor characters, or in Amber's case, have to be slightly separate from the plot so it isn't too obvious who they really are.

To me, there's a lack of a certain type of character we saw a lot of in the Farseer books: the Sacrifice. My favourite character in those was Verity, followed by Kettricken and then Fitz himself. They were still humans, with flaws, but in the end they pushed that aside to do what they had to do -- particularly Verity and Kettricken. In Liveships there is no single character who is willing to simply give him or herself up -- not through despair, but to bring hope to others. Nor do the characters have the sheer tenacity that Verity has. If they had to carve a dragon, I don't think they would continue as he did. Granted, perhaps the situation doesn't offer a chance for such a sacrifice, but it does seem as if in places, someone could simply do something instead of waiting, or trying to turn circumstances toward their own gain.

The people in Liveships are like real people, (literally) warts and all. I wonder, though, if it isn't too realistic.

Portrayal of Women

To be a women in these books is to suffer. I don't think a single one of them escapes humiliation in some way. In contrast, the men escape lightly: in the course of the books, Serilla, for example, loses everything, but the Satrap gains more than he ever had (although admittedly suffering in the process); Althea loses so much, while Brashen only gains -- and Althea's gain of Brashen is portrayed as filling all the places in her life where she's lost, which troubles me. There's a general attitude in the men that women should be kept in the home, kept safe, and not let to do anything, because they can't. While the women in the books do manage things capably, it's always at a loss to themselves: Althea could marry Grag, but she would lose by doing so, so she doesn't, but she loses in not doing so, too. Malta takes control, but to do so she has to accept humiliation. Keffria learns to manage things, but knows that in doing so she loses her husband.

In the end, they are all shown as strong in their ways, even Keffria. But things are heaped against them as they aren't against the men: it could be said that the society Hobb structures around them is what brings that upon them, but it still felt like a barrier to my reading than a natural part of the world.

I've discussed a lot of ways the books could be more intriguing, with various people. More interesting characters, more of the interesting characters there already are -- starting in the Rain Wilds instead of taking so long to get there... I can see why it's written as it is, but with some tweaking to the plot to allow it to be written differently, I think these books could have been marvellous. I don't recommend reading them casually, but to fill out the details of the whole world in the Realm of the Elderlings cycle, I do recommend trying to push one's way through them. There are some lovely things in these books, but they're rather obscured, for me, by the things I've already mentioned.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Anthony.
Author 4 books1,866 followers
June 28, 2020
While this trilogy didn’t completely transport and consume me as fully as The Farseer Trilogy did, there is still so very much to admire and honor in what Robin Hobb has achieved here. She beautifully interweaves themes of family, slavery, independence, politics, faith, destiny, and the interdependence of all sentient beings in a trilogy that is both epic and intimate. Pacing occasionally flagged, but I was never certain where and how the many threads she wove would cross one another and bind, and as always, there were riches of emotional depths in her characters that are all too rare in the fantasy genre.

I look forward to making my way through the rest of her Elderlings novels.
Profile Image for Helene Jeppesen.
685 reviews3,642 followers
January 27, 2016
I did it! I finished it! My reading of these three 900-page-books has been quite a journey, but in the end I'm glad I stuck to the end and got a great reading experience out of it.
This is the last book in the trilogy, so obviously I can't tell you too much about the story. However, I can tell you that this last installment was quite breathtaking and intense. With this novel, I finally felt a deep connection to all of the characters, maybe because I've been following their journeys for so many pages.
I was a bit hesitant to pick up this third book because my reading of the second book was a disappointment. I felt like the story became too silly and too dull, and that was after a great start with the first book that I rated 4 stars. Nevertheless, I now know that I love this series because of its originality and its intenseness. Robin Hobb rarely leaves you bored in this fantastic world of dragons, ships and traders - I think I just read the second book at the wrong time. This is definitely a great series for everyone! Fantasy lovers as well as people like me who are not that much into fantasy, but who loves a fantastical read once in a while.
Profile Image for David Sven.
288 reviews445 followers
July 18, 2013
Robin Hobb delivers a highly satisfying finale to an enjoyable fantasy series. If you have read The Farseer Trilogy and are debating whether to read this trilogy next or skip ahead to the Tawny Man trilogy – I can’t recommend The Liveships Trilogy enough. I think there are little tidbits throughout to reward those who choose to continue in publication order.

One thing Hobb does well, is produce interesting, well thought out, multidimensional characters. Many of the characters who are arguably “good” have their ugly side. I’m thinking here of Althea, Malta, Wintrow, Keffria and more. And Hobb forces us to look at the redeemable qualities of those characters who, if not totally evil, are pretty close. I’m thinking here in particular of Kennit, the pirate who would be king.

Up till about halfway through this book, I found Kennit for all his flaws and self centered ambition, to be a fairly likeable character. A lot of that stems from the kindness he extends to Wintrow and his relationship with the liveship Vivacia. However, come the second half of this book, Robin Hobb peels back the layers to reveal who Kennit really is. What motivates him. What has made him the man he is. It was not a pretty picture. In the second half of this book there were some truly jaw dropping, gut wrenching, and even sickening revelations that turned a lot of my assumptions throughout the series on their head. Hobb takes us down some dark and ugly pathways relating to the past which we then see perpetuated in the present. Hobb has a reputation for putting her characters through the mill, but this book took it that step further again and led me as the reader into some pretty uncomfortable places.

Still, for all the dark and uncomfortable places we are forced to travel there are also some glorious moments,. Like the rise of the dragon Tintaglia, soaring and hunting and doing battle. Also the growth of the mad ship Paragon, arguably the character who develops the most through the series.

I think overall the series finishes positively, however, to say this story has a happy ending would be over simplistic. Victory comes at a very high cost to many of the characters. Alongside the triumph there is also tragedy. For those who overcome, the face of redemption is covered in scar tissue.

Loved it

4 stars
Profile Image for Mara.
1,562 reviews3,777 followers
February 21, 2022
Whew, what a journey this trilogy took me on! As a whole, it is definitely a 5 star series. This particular entry was really good but I had 2 things that held me back from fully loving it: 1) the pacing didn't feel as seamless as THE MAD SHIP, and 2) the resolution for my favorite character didn't fully sit right with me.
Still, I LOVE this series and I am excited to keep going in RotE with the Tawny Man trilogy up next

CW: sexual assault; child abuse/SA
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,551 reviews2,937 followers
July 6, 2015
This whole series has been perfection. It's not often that after reading a 2* book by an author I will continue on with their work but with Hobb I am so thrilled that I did go on to the Liveship books after the Farseer ones because truly she's a miracle writer and her ability to craft convincing, beautiful and stunning characters, worlds and ideas is unparalleled.

This is book 3 in the Liveship books and so naturally I cannot give away the plot of the story but suffice to say we're once more following the characters we've grown to love, hate and be drawn in by. I because me enraptured by this world that at some points of reading this I fell asleep only to find myself dreaming about the magic of the world and the characters within the book!!

I think Paragon, Malta and Selden were solidly my favourite of the characters developed in this book but there are so many who come a very very close second place to that. They each had their own plotlines which were seriously moved along within the pages of this book and each one became so vastly improved and different from the characters they began as.

On the whole I would say this is a series I'd recommend to anyone who loves fantasy and wonderful characters because truly it is character-focused. Whilst this book had more of a political emphasis than some of the previous ones it didn't lose my interest or irritate me with the amount of politics shown because it still focused in on those characters we know and love.

This book and this series will forever cement Hobb as a fabulous writer in my mind and has made me wish to pick up the rest of her Elderlings books as soon as I can. I cannot wait to uncover more of the mysteries which are hinted at in this book and unfurl the tapestry of time, prophecy and the destiny for this world because there's so many original and cool ideas woven in.

An amazing book once more and a great conclusion to the trilogy (unlike that of the Farseer books) and so I would say it's a solid 5*s and a highly recommended read.

(p.s you can start Hobb with this series but you'll spoil elements of the Farseer books for yourself. Personally I enjoyed the first 2 Farseer books, but disliked the third. I'd recommend reading the first two but maybe skipping the third and just looking up spoilers for that one because it was so overly long. This series is miles better than the Farseer books in my opinion, but let me know your thoughts too below :)
Profile Image for Rob.
41 reviews10 followers
August 27, 2017
I give this book 5 pirates... 5 dragons... no, wait... 5 stars! One of the most emotionally charged fantasy books I have read coming from the master at making fantasy feel real, The Magician, Robin Hobb! 

Ship of Destiny (2001) is the third book in the Liveship Traders series by Robin Hobb. An absolute amazing finale! This comes from someone who gave two stars for it's first book, Ship of Magic. This book/trilogy is perfect for anyone who likes the fantasy genre with less action, more deep emotions and peg-legged pirates, YARR! (and dragons, shh)

Ship of Destiny is not a light read. It's... very... heavy! Heavy feels, heavy twists, heavy quotes, HEAVY!  Hobb is a master at constructing epic sentences while diving into the deepest depths of human nature. You want to take your time with this book to make sure you savor every single beautifully crafted sentence. I highlighted several quotes form this book. At one point I stopped because I would have run out of highlighter. (Yes, I destroy my books with highlighter, so what!? They are MY BOOKS!) ^^

"Now I sound like myself. The self I put aside and hid, the self I intended to be again someday, when I was ready. I have stopped intending. I am, now."

Hey (name is a spoiler), I feel that way too after hearing your story!

If you enter into the Realm of the Elderlings - the setting for many other Robin Hobb books - you owe it to yourself to treat the separate series as individual books. I HATED the first book of Liveship Traders but I ended up LOVING the trilogy. All the threads just come together perfectly in the end... but the whole adventure is needed to experience this, and the start can be a bit difficult. But no adventure is worth taking if there is no challenge! It's all worth it and more in the end!

The character development is AMAZING! Across the board, the characters change gracefully into their new roles since book one and two. Characters you despise end up being the target of sympathy. SYMPATHY! Such a huge theme in the story. Characters you think are weak end up strong, loved end up hated, rich end up poor. It's amazing to see the transformations and I can't describe it well enough. You will have to just read! :D

In the end it's not about loving or hating the characters, it's about understanding them, and you will understand them. You will understand them more than you do your friends and family! It's like magic!

Fully recommend! 5 stars, high five!

Profile Image for Scott  Hitchcock.
779 reviews223 followers
April 19, 2018
All three books in the series 4.5*'s.

I'm still surprised how much I enjoyed this series after struggling with the Farseer Trilogy and the nightmare of a lead character that is Fitz. This series wasn't without it's flaws and I hated the way Althea's situation was dealt with. That said Hobb did a great job telling this tale and while there were no big surprises it was entertaining from start to finish.
Profile Image for Maisha  Farzana (on hiatus).
551 reviews216 followers
February 22, 2022
And with "Ship of Destiny", Robin Hobb draws the jaw-dropping conclusion to the magnificent Liveship Traders trilogy.

"Ship of Destiny" continues the epic tale right from where "The Mad Ship" left off. 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.....

"That is the challenge Companion. To take what has happened to you and learn from it. Nothing is quite so destructive as pity, especially self-pity. No event in life is so terrible that one cannot rise above it."

By now, everyone knows how much I love the setting of The Liveship Traders trilogy. It's vast, it's epic. It's fantastic. The first book, "Ship of Magic" was the best of all, in my opinion. However, I enjoyed all three of them. "Ship of Destiny" draws the endline for this trilogy and these characters I have come to know so closely. It is an amazing conclusion for sure. Though I'm giving it a lower rating but I can definitely say - This Was A Epic Journey, something that would stay with me in many years to come.

The book is filled with—once again—amazing characters developments, political turmoil, dragons, and a few great nautical battle scenes. Lots of secrets are revealed; secrets that were hinted ever since the first book.

As I have mentioned several times before, all the characters presented in this trilogy are unique and distinct. Robin Hobb pays equal attention to the development of all kind of characters. When I look back to the story, I find every single character ended up playing a role that gave the story its own charm. None of the characters in this trilogy ends up the same way one would imagine based on their first appearances.

"Strangers had small interest in hurting you. That was always done best by your own family and friends."

"It doesn't work that way. Silencing memories does not make them stop existing. Events cannot be undone by forgetting them."

Well, enough with the wonderful parts. Now let me talk about the parts that compelled me to give this book 3 stars instead of 5. I skimmed through some parts to be honest.

The book is way too long than it should have been. Important matters didn't receive proper attention and care. And the author kept herself busy in attending to the unnecessary stuffs.

In this particular instalment, the story takes a swift turn and becomes heavier with political turmoil rather than focusing on the characters or the atmosphere. Don't get me wrong, epic fantasy books always have heavy political discussions and I'm okay with that. But in this case, it felt like the author have overdone it. Half of the book is about only politics and uprising rebellions. The characters and the main plot get side tracked by them. I am not a fan of political fantasy and I really don't like those boring political discussions. The book would have been much more enjoyable if it didn't focuse so much on the political turmoil.

All things aside, I still had plans to give this book 4.5 stars if not 5, the boredom seemed unimportant compared to the greatness of the series. But then something. A particular incident, a scene that broke all my resolves to see the story to shine in its full glory. This incident broke my heart, teared me apart. I cried for long. I cried hard; not because I was sad but because I was angry - so so angry. I failed to see the necessity of including this scene in the book. It plays no part in changing the fate of the trilogy. Yes, the characters, my vision of them changed - but that wasn't necessary. It felt like the author literally threw off such a incident into the book. The matter wasn't handled accordingly, neither did I like how everything turned out in this case. It was horrible, distressing and made me feel only anger. I personally think the authors should navigate matters with care if they are including sensitive things in their books. Robin Hobb was so focused on the epic fantasy part that this extremely sensitive matter was totally overlooked. I don't care what others think but I couldn't deal with the lack of attention to matters as such as rape and assault.
Profile Image for Tami.
Author 11 books2,608 followers
May 3, 2021
(5 Sterne für Charaktere, Welt und generellen Handlungsverlauf)

Der Abschluss einer wirklich unfassbar grandiosen Reihe, vor welcher ich mich verneige. Allerdings sollte es hier eine große Triggerwarnung geben, die ich selbst auch gerne gehabt hätte. Deshalb auch kein Sternerating.

Ich habe noch nie eine dermaßen explizite Vergewaltigungsszene gelesen/gehört, und dann auch noch aus Opfer- UND Tätersicht. Anschließend wird dem Opfer auch nicht geglaubt, sie wird von allen belächelt und für verrückt erklärt.

Ich war fix und fertig und hätte beinahe das Buch abgebrochen, weil ich es kaum ausgehalten habe.

Passt bitte auf euch auf, wenn ihr das Buch lest/hört.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,765 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.