56. SHIP OF DESTINY, BY ROBIN HOBB (Book 3 of The Liveship Traders, Book 6 of the Realm of the Elderlings)
The final installment in The Liveship Traders trilogy. I was looking forward to this one... And it didn’t disappoint. The only bad feeling I have is that, because of the challenge, I can’t read more than 3 books by the same author this year, so this is the last I’ll read of Robin Hobb for a while. I’ll go back to her, and the Realm of the Elderlings, next year.
Synopsis: Althea and Brashen go on their expedition to save Vivacia. Bingtown and the Rain Wilds face civil war and war with Chalced and Jamailia, with Ronica, Keffria and the rest of the Vestrits involved. All of this will be solved when the secret of serpents and dragons is revealed.
Overall enjoyment: LOVED IT. I don’t even know what to say. She’s definitely one of my favorite authors right now.
Plot: It could be said that the conclusion is too perfect. Just like she did with the Farseer trilogy, she ties all that happens in a very neat little bow, and everyone gets a happy ending. As much as I criticize it now, though, while I was reading I was whooping in happiness. Plus, you really have to admire how she does it; the story was so complex and convoluted I never imagined she would be able to tie all loose ends so neatly.
Characters: Amazing, as always. The characterization is flawless.
World/setting: It’s the Realm of the Elderlings. Need I say more?
Writing style: Easy to read and captivating. I couldn’t put the book down.
Representation: Same as the first two; could’ve been a lot better. But many people have reassured me that that she improves representation A LOT in the subsequent instances of this series.
Political correctness: Well. Because the characterization is so good, she doesn’t commit any big blunders. Also, in this whole series, there are a lot more female characters than in Farseer, and they take a much more central role. She doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects; she tackles them with as much honesty and mastery as anything else. BUT. I, personally, don’t think she handled Althea’s rape very well. Having Paragon magically take her pain away felt like cheating, a cheap solution to a very complicated problem. Especially since she portrays the act and the trauma so vividly, from Althea’s point of view, and then switching to Kennit, and then having everybody else not believe her when she accused him. It felt too real for such an artificial solution. I was already frowning at how she handled Serrilla’s rape, especially having Ronica basically tell her to “snap out of it”, but that was very in character for Ronica to say, especially since she didn’t know what really happened, so I let it pass. But even then, Serrilla does kind of recover from it, with the help of Ronica and Keffria, but there is no true solution, either. As that famous quote goes, “fairy tales are important to teach children that dragons do exist, and can be slayed”, but there is no slaying of this particular dragon in here. The men responsible for these acts of violence go on unpunished and, most importantly, unrepentant; they do not see the error of their ways, don’t try to make amends or anything, there isn’t even an understanding that they won’t do it again (well, Kennit won’t, because he died, but if he had stayed alive he most certainly would, and his death is no punishment). So, this particular dragon cannot be slayed? We just have to learn how to deal with it? That made me very uncomfortable, and it was a note of bleakness amidst all the happiness of the ending. I truly believe it could have been handled better.
Up next: Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier