Rarely, very rarely, you come across a special series. Something so fascinating, something that draws you in and won't let go, something that makes you miss your bedtime night after night. Seldom do we encounter such novels. But there are some series we wish would never end (Please don't ever mention this to Robert Jordan!!!). The quality of the work is such that we wish it could go on and on. . .
The Liveship Traders trilogy is one such series. Simply put, it is brilliant. Not since Guy Gavriel Kay's The Sarantine Mosaic have I been so moved by a fantasy work.
Congratulations, Mrs. Hobb.:-) This wonderful trilogy is fantasy on the grandest scale. With The Farseer trilogy, the bar had been set rather high. But seemingly effortlessly, you have surpassed yourself. And people claim that The Tawny Man series is even better. I would be inclined to doubt such claims. But for some reason, I'm persuaded that if I did, I would once again be proven wrong!
There is very little I could add that I haven't said before. The Liveship Traders was an extraordinary saga. Hobb shows once more the depth of her imagination. Innovative, compelling, imeginative; this trilogy is a major work of fantasy fiction.
Ship of Destiny brings this saga to a triumphant conclusion. As she did in Assassin's Quest, Hobb leaves the door open for countless possible future events. I have a feeling that we may get a glimpse of them in The Tawny Man series, but I'm not certain. If that's not the case, I don't believe readers would be too disappointed to return to Bingtown, the Pirate Isles, etc, in a future series.:-)
Once again, the characterizations are superb. And with the revelations pertaining to several key characters, Ship of Destiny lifts this trilogy to another level. Character growth is again predominant in the tale.
The large role played by the female characters, and the fact that we see the events happening through their eyes and POVs, all of this brings an interesting perspective to the entire series. Yet again, the emancipation of women holds central stage.
Hobb has truly become a master when it comes to characterizations. And the manner with which she manages to capture every emotion is definitely unreal. The deep, involved humanity that I mentioned in my previous review applies to this one as well. And Mrs. Hobb doesn't shy away from difficult scenes and how they affect the lives of her characters. The rape scene is ample proof of that. . .
And speaking of characters, Kennit has to be one of the most interesting characters ever created! All his secrets are finally revealed in this volume, and expect the unexpected.
So many different factors made Ship of Destiny has good as it was that it is hard to enumerate them all. Truly, the multi-layered epic delivered on every level. The Elderlings' secrets, the sea serpents, the conspiracy against the Satrap, the future of Bingtown, the secrets of the Rain Wilds, Paragon's buried secrets, Malta and Reyn's relationship, Etta's destiny, Amber's strange foretellings, and the list goes on and on. For those who haven't yet read this series, I don't want to include spoilers in this review. You will have to discover all about Althea, Wintrow, Brashen and company!;-)
Believe me. It doesn't get much better than this! And to think that I initially had reservations about reading this series. The Liveship Traders deserves a place of honor in any fantasy collection. Indeed, it comes with the highest possible recommendation.:-)
The final verdict: 9/10
I wasn't going to include this little anecdote, but what the heck!?! Last summer, I stopped for 5 nights in Budapest, Hungary. It was one of the last stops in my grand European adventure. I was staying at the worst dump ever: the Station Guesthouse. There I met a guy from Detroit who, it just so happens, was reading Mad Ship. I began to tell him how I had loved The Farseer, but couldn't bring myself to read The Liveship Traders. Wide-eyed, he stared incredulously at me, obviously taken aback by my statement. With good reason, I now know.
"Are you kidding me, man!?! Hobb's the shit!" he replied caustically. From there, the conversation sort of took a turn for the worst.
Well, a decade ago, being referred to as the shit would not have been considered much in terms of praise. But to those who comprise Generation X (he must have been 18 or 19), it is the greatest compliment one can receive.
Hence, as odd as it sounds and with all due respect, Mrs. Hobb, you ARE the shit!;-) You will definitely never see this quote on the cover of one of your future novels, but it's true! There is no denying it!
I am looking forward to reading The Tawny Man. For those who are interested, you can check Robin Hobb's website at www.robinhobb.com.