Book Review

Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb – Book Chat (With Spoilers)

“She wondered what it would have been like to be perfect.”

First line in Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb

Author: Robin Hobb

Published: March 2000

Genre: Fantasy

My rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I finished the Liveship Traders! So much pain has been endured, so many characters have stolen my heart, and Ship of Destiny finally gave me all the answers I’ve been craving. There was so much action from start to finish, and the characters saw their arcs come to an end. Character development truly is the reason to read Hobb, and I’m in awe of what she did here in Liveship Traders. My tiny but still relevant complaint is that I expected more from the ending. Which was also my complaint about Assassin’s Quest, unfortunately. Overall, I’m still left with a very positive experience after reading this trilogy.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“Do not pull back from the pain and imagine that makes you strong. Look at it, you dolt! It’s trying to tell you what is wrong so you can fix it.”

“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.”

“Perhaps people have a right to their pain,” he hazarded. Reluctantly he added, “Perhaps they even need it.”

The rest of the post will include SPOILERS as they are the thoughts I had while reading the book.


🐲 Ronica Vestrit is starting to grow on me.

🐲 I mean the first two chapters were great and it’s not that I don’t want to know about Ronica and Malta, but did Hobb know how desperate I was for any word on Wintrow that she just straight-up named the third chapter after him? Thank you for that! Not that he’s doing super great, but thank you.

🐲 I LOVE that whole political game that’s going on in Bingtown! Serilla isn’t just one to root for anymore because she’s too obsessed with power and thinks she knows more about Bingtown than the people who live there. I noticed an interesting contrast between her and Ronica in how they go about rebuilding the town. Serilla planned to go among the people, who she expected to be in full swing repairing their homes, so she could praise them for it and earn some cheap points. Then you have Ronica at their meeting hall, just starting to clean it up without anyone else there and that inspires the rest of the traders to do the same. She’s leading by example in a way Serilla never would have done.

🐲 EXCUSE ME! DID VIVACIA JUST DIE??? WE’VE BARELY STARTED THIS BOOK! But now the “dead” dragon has taken over? That shouldn’t matter much to Kennit, maybe it’s even an advantage for him since he no longer needs Wintrow and an angry dragon probably shares his sensibilities more than Vivacia did. But oh no, what about Althea?

🐲 That city Tintaglia went to… is that the same one Fitz visited in Assassin’s Quest? I don’t pay much attention to descriptions of places but those wide streets made for dragons sound familiar to me, but I guess there could be more of those cities.

🐲 Malta’s situation with the Chalcedeans isn’t that great. Am I hoping she will be saved? Yes. Am I also feeling slightly satisfied by seeing her suffer just a little after all the pain she has put me through? Also yes. It’s just karma!

🐲 GIVE WINTROW A MOMENT OF PEACE, PLEASE!! Is he going to die? He said the healing felt like it took years from him. Was that Bolt’s plan? Wintrow can’t die. He just can’t. He needs to get off that dragon ship!

🐲 Oh, Keffria who can’t be a mother to Selden because she thinks he’s her last surviving child, so there’s no point in loving him too much. That’s kind of heartbreaking. They’re still alive, Keffria!! Barely, I’ll admit, but they’re not dead yet.

🐲 Paragon is freaking scary, okay! I would not be brave enough to be aboard him. I can’t even theorize about his madness anymore because is he remembering being a dragon like Bolt? Sometimes? All the time? Is that what made him mad? Anyway, they’ve reached Divvytown and I’m sensing a clash.

🐲 Hold on a minute! Paragon was Kennit’s ship?!?! OMG! Paragon specifically said that he’s was Kennit’s family’s liveship, so he’s a Ludluck and he’s from Bingtown. He must be, right? But what about Igrot? Was he Kennit’s abusive father? I feel like we’ve gotten so many hints that I just can’t remember right now, so Paragon, care to explain some more?

🐲 Just for the record, I don’t ship (lol) Wintrow and Etta. He really needs to get over that little crush of his because I will not accept those two ending up together. I don’t know, there is also just something about Wintrow that makes it hard for me to believe that he’s straight but that might just be wishful thinking.

🐲 I think I’ve lost interest in Bingtown again. Apparently, the Chalcedeans invaded and killed a bunch of people but we’re only told about it afterward and the next minute, Tintaglia comes in and drives them out again. Storytelling-wise it just felt a little awkward to me. I’m also a bit sick of everyone being 100% sure Malta is dead when they’ve never seen a body. But hey, Selden finally matters. Why he is suddenly turning silver, I have no clue.

🐲 Okay, so the whole Paragon/Kennit-thing has my entire focus now. I initially thought Paragon must have protected Kennit in some way and that’s why he killed his crew back then, but then Kennit says that he has “dealt with Paragon before”, so it doesn’t sound like Kennit and Paragon ended things on good terms. We’re back to that thing that happened to Kennit that he doesn’t want other people to know about. When he thought everyone was going to learn his secret, he literally jumped straight to “let’s kill everyone!”. Chill, mate. But I need answers!!

🐲 I have about 350 pages left and something just occurred to me: Will we ever meet Kyle again? He was just left on that island with Kennit’s mute mother (who is also a Ludluck?) and that was it? I don’t really see any reasons for them to return to that island before the book is over.

🐲 Kennit loved Paragon so much as a boy, and when he saw how much that could hurt them both, he decided to never love anyone ever again… I’m fine, super fine. 😭😭😭😭😭. I mean, I still don’t like Kennit, but that story made me forget that for a moment. That explains so much! He probably does love the people around him (Etta, Wintrow, Sorcor) but because he was forced to cut out Paragon’s eyes because of his love for him, he’s not allowing himself to acknowledge that love. And Paragon took all his memories and was prepared to die for Kennit so no one else would know about them. Is there still something we don’t know? I feel like there is. I did also learn that Igrot wasn’t Kennit’s father. We’ve probably been told about that before, I just couldn’t remember.

🐲 Um, could someone please rescue Brashen and Amber? If my theory about Amber being the Fool is ever going to be confirmed, she can’t exactly die here.

🐲 Oh, Kennit, I hate you again. He would have raped Althea and he has probably been contemplating doing the same to Wintrow. I know we also got confirmation that Igrot sexually abused him, but that he’s willing to do the same to someone else makes me a little less sorry for him. At this point, I’m also just begging Wintrow to realize he’s being lied to. Come on!!

🐲 Nonononono, he did it anyway!! Kennit, you need to die RIGHT NOW and it can’t be painful enough!! The charm said that dragons won’t tolerate rape so will this be his downfall? I also still need Wintrow to get away from all this because Kennit’s obsession with him just got even more creepy.

🐲 It might not be important but I noticed Paragon saying “The only birth I have ever known was able to obliterate all the deaths that had gone before it.” Is this a figure of speech or is he being literal? What I’m asking is: can Etta’s baby save Vivacia?

🐲 Amber: “I have been called a fool as often as I have been called a prophet.” I’m taking this as the final confirmation of my theory just so you know.

🐲 Did they just save Kyle freaking Haven? Very convenient that they didn’t recognize him before he was already on board. I’m just saying, dropping him in the sea is still an option.

🐲 Does Paragon have the face of Fitz now? That’s what happened, right? Someone Amber could love. That’s just the most adorable thing ever! I can’t wait to read about Fitz and Fool again!

🐲 Maybe thinking the miscommunication trope is getting a little overused here when we see all our characters coming together. First between Etta and Wintrow, then Wintrow and Althea, and then again between Malta and Reyn. Will people PLEASE stop making assumptions? However, that whole scene with the three Vestrits telling each other what they’ve been up to was just what I needed! And Kennit is crumbling.

🐲 THAT is how Kennit dies? Killed by an unknown sailor? That wasn’t very satisfying at all. Where were the confrontations with Althea and Wintrow I had been waiting for? Where was the revelation of him as the biggest liar ever? I don’t think it’s okay we just skipped that. A bit more satisfying was Kyle’s death because he was literally killed by his own stupidity. Still, I had hoped he would see his children first so they could get some kind of closure in their relationship with him. I mean, I feel we were a bit robbed of Malta’s reaction to him after she’s been praising him so much.

🐲 So now Paragon looks like Fitz but with Kennit’s eyes? That’s a disturbing image.

🐲 “Take comfort in this, Amber. You are only one small, short-lived creature. You’d have to be a fool to think you could change the course of the whole world.” 😏

🐲 Final thoughts: Again I come to an end of a Hobb trilogy and feel that everything was wrapped up a little too nicely. Again, none of the good guys died and I feel we were robbed of some confrontations that were necessary to complete certain characters’ development. Especially with Wintrow, I think it’s bad that we didn’t get him coming to the realization that he was being manipulated by Kennit. I feel like it changes the way I see his journey through these three books. He also ends up with Etta which I’m not a fan of, no matter what form their relationship takes.
Generally, I really liked the book. There was a lot of action from start to finish and we finally saw all our characters come together so we could truly appreciate their immense development since book one. The ending took a lot away from my overall enjoyment though. I counted at least five instances of the miscommunication trope in the last 150 pages, and while it was fair enough a few of the times, it did start to bug me. I feel like we had so many interesting plotlines set up that didn’t get resolved in a satisfying manner. Maybe my expectations had gotten too high, but I feel like Hobb had made sure of that. Like with Assassin’s Quest, my main comfort lies in the fact that it looks like we’ll return to these characters at some point. Now I’m looking forward to getting back to Fitz.

What do you think of this book if you’ve read it? How do you like the trilogy compared to Farseer? Let me know what you think!

8 thoughts on “Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb – Book Chat (With Spoilers)

  1. First of all – you think Amber is the Fool and gave Paragon Fitz’s face!!! 🤗 I thought I was crazy for having this theory, but now that you also have it, I am more convinced than ever about being right 😇 Starling’s stupid remarks about the Fool being a woman have to be good for something, so I am taking them as proof that we are onto something here. Amber was too fooly to not be the Fool!

    I did have my suspicions about Kennit being a Ludluck, though, so getting that reveal was beyond satisfying 😊 I’d been desperately waiting for it since book two, and then when we read about how Kennit had to chop Paragon’s eyes off, I was bawling. It was sooo sad 😭😭😭 And then Paragon (my favorite character, next to Althea) took all of the pain onto himself! He’s so precious and must be protected at all costs 😭😭😭

    Kennit though – he’s an evil monster and his past does not excuse it. He turned on his own liveship, who only ever loved him, and what he did to Althea is inexcusable. When I realized what was happening, I was almost as paralyzed with horror as Althea. I HATE Kennit! (But not as much as Kyle 😁)

    I actually loved everything about this book, though. In this case, I thought the miscommunication stuff made sense, and while I’m not a huge fan of Wintrow and Etta either (I would have sworn Wintrow was asexual until Kennit started making his weird plans to get a new Vestrit baby for the Vivacia 🤮), I can see how it happened. And I think Wintrow never seeing Kennit for how manipulative he really was and still standing by him in a doltish fashion filled with male arrogance even after Althea accused Kennit of rape just goes to show how deeply Kennit manipulated him and how much of Wintrow’s innocence he took.

    And of course, all of the dragon stuff and the politics were so satisfying 😊

    But yeah, I’ll shut up now, because I’m basically just rewriting my own review in your comments 😂 Still, you’ll have to wait until Friday to read it, because I don’t have the energy for a third post this week. But it is very, very long and has lots of notes I took while reading, so hopefully, you’ll think the wait was worth it 😁 Now excuse me while I go read your posts for books one and two…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As certain as I am that Amber is the Fool, I don’t want to believe that Starling knew that about her. She still just took a wild guess because Fool didn’t want to sleep with her. I’m still not sure what sex Fool/Amber actually is because when was he/she pretending?

      I actually think I hate Kennit more than Kyle, maybe just because he’s so much more dangerous with his manipulation skills.

      And I’m glad I wasn’t the only one speculating on Wintrow’s sexuality. I was also on asexual for a while, maybe gay if he had been allowed to be so. Just not straight and definitely not in love with Etta. It felt too much like he just fell in love with the first and only woman he met. However, I still think Wintrow came to the realization of what kind of man Kennit was when he believed what happened to Althea. Wintrow is too smart to not connect the dots and realize that. I also felt it was obvious in the way he acted afterward, we just weren’t allowed to hear his thoughts about it. He’s almost as bad as Kennit because of that and I’m just still so upset that my favorite character was done dirty like that 😩

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I’m definitely with you on that. There’s no way Starling knew 🙄 But I think the fact that she came up with this theory in the first place shows that the Fool must be someone who could easily pass for a woman (or a man?) if he (she?) wanted to. And hmm, now you’ve got me thinking – I somehow still feel more inclined to believe that the Fool is the “real” identity and Amber the masquerade, but I can’t give you any reason as to why I think that. Maybe it’s only because I first got to know the Fool as a man and because I hate Starling so much that I desperately want her to be wrong 😁

        And I think maybe the fact that Wintrow wasn’t my favorite character is what saved me from hating his ending 😜 The favorite character honor goes to Althea, Brashen, and Paragon, and since I was more than happy with where they ended up, I was able to see Wintrow’s development as a super interesting example for a character losing his innocence and becoming hardened by the real world. Because even though he believed Althea, he STILL worshipped Kennit. I thought it was ingenious how Robin Hobb was able to graduately make me lose at least some respect for a character I originally adored (Wintrow) and make me love a character I had originally hated (Malta). But yeah, I don’t think Wintrow and Etta should have been linked romantically. I would have been perfectly fine with Wintrow stepping in and helping Etta raise her child as a friend, but I have a hard time seeing him in love with her. Honestly, I’m still half convinced that Wintrow is ace and just deluding himself into thinking that the friendship and respect he has for Etta is love, ESPECIALLY since he doesn’t have a lot of experience with women and because Kennit messed him up so much.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m right there with you wanting Starling to be wrong 😂 And I also really want the Fool to be the “real” identity but I still have doubts because it could sound like he/she has some romantic feelings for Fitz and so far Hobb hasn’t exactly acknowledged the existence of non-straight people. But that’s literally the only reason I have and of course, that could change.

        And now I feel the need to make it clear that nothing Hobb could do would ever make me love Malta. I tolerate her and that’s it! Had she died, I would still be happy 😅 And I disagree that Wintrow worshipped Kennit after finding out about Althea. We literally got nothing of his own thoughts on the matter and had to deal with Althea’s judgment of him instead, as if she knew anything about him!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that the non-straight representation is coming 😁 Especially once we get to later publication dates. Because I, too, do not see the act of recarving a ship to look like Fitz as an entirely platonic deed…

        And noooo, Malta went through so much character growth! I wouldn’t have minded someone strangling her in books one and two, but by the end, I would have been quite upset if she had died! And didn’t we at least get one Wintrow chapter where he admitted he believed Althea/Etta, but still didn’t speak up? 🤔 I mean, he did feel ashamed about it later and apologized, but I’m never going to forgive him for lines like “You’re only so emotional because you’re pregnant” and other entitled male rubbish… Wintrow should have known better than that!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I actually just started the novella The Willful Princess and the Piebald Prince and can report that there is non-straight representation in there 😄 It was also published ten years after Tawny Man but it gives me hope!

        Oh and Malta definitely didn’t suffer enough for me to forgive her for being such a brat. She never even apologized to anyone! And now, hear me out, Wintrow actually shouldn’t know better. He hasn’t had any female role models in his life that could teach him about things like women being pregnant. Who should have taught him that? The priests at the monastery? Kyle? Kennit? The all-male pirate crew he’s been hanging out with for the past year? I think it’s very likely that one of those horrible “father” figures has taught him that about pregnant women, so I would have been way more critical if he came out and resembled a modern-day feminist with that upbringing. And yes, we got him admitting that he believed Althea/Etta.. and that was it. To me that was just the thing that would get the ball rolling, the thing that would start to unravel the manipulation from Kennit because that went too deep to just be a one-chapter thing. But we didn’t get anything! 😢 Nothing can convince me the thought-process didn’t happen with what we’ve learned about Wintrow.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. That’s definitely great news! 🤗 And I’m not giving up hope for Tawny Man until I’ve read it, which will hopefully be soon! (I think my plan to not obtain more books this year is already off to a very bad start… 😅)

        However, I do have to disagree with you, at least a little. Wintrow has two younger siblings, and since I’m sure he wasn’t shipped off to the monastery immediately after he was born, he must have at least some experience with pregnancies. Though, admittedly, he might have been a little young, and dumb Kyle would have been around to give his belittling opinions… However, I don’t even really think it’s WHAT Wintrow said that bothers me that much, it’s that he said it even though I don’t think he ever truly believed it. Wintrow always thinks about everything so deeply that I doubt he would normally say a line like that without pondering over all possibilities in great detail. Unless he was absolutely unwilling to consider them. I think he was holding onto the image of perfect Sa-sent Kennit so badly that he tried to deflect Etta and Althea’s arguments by (maybe subconsciously) parroting exactly the kind of stuff he always hated to hear his father say, and would not listen to what his heart told him. I think that becomes very clear in that chapter where he walks out on Althea after she screams at him that he is just like Kyle – he already believes her side of the story, but he can’t admit it out loud. And yes, I do blame him for that, because other people got hurt because of it.

        I also agree with you, though, that Wintrow’s horrible “father” figures are at least as much to blame for this as he is. It’s a miracle Wintrow didn’t turn out completely awful, honestly. He’s still very much a decent person, albeit one who made a mistake because he was being manipulated by the one person who treated him kindly in a very long time. And yes, I agree that he will probably do a lot of thinking about this. But who knows? Maybe you will get to see it! After all, Amber (**the Fool**) as good as gave us a prophecy that Etta’s pirate king baby will be important, and that Wintrow should help raise him 😉 That sounds like there might be more Wintrow in future books, right? 🤔

        Liked by 1 person

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