Ship of Destiny (2000): Robin Hobb

★★★½

The Liveship Traders Trilogy: Book III

In this final instalment in the Liveship Traders trilogy, we rejoin the people of Bingtown and the Rain Wilds in the aftermath of the hatching of the dragon Tintaglia, whose existence calls for a complete change of attitude. That change is required not just in the minds of the Rain Wild Traders, who will become so intrinsically linked to her iron will, but more generally in the minds of those waging war, who come to realise that, no matter how powerful they are in human terms, there are some forces they can never overcome.

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The Mad Ship (1999): Robin Hobb

★★★★

The Liveship Traders Trilogy: Book II 

The second volume of The Liveship Traders trilogy kicks off with a bloody amateur amputation on board ship; and the drama barely lets up until the climax 800 pages later. Along the way, Hobb eventually allows us to see the Rain Wild Traders at first hand and begins to reveal their secrets. These offer some answers to questions arising from the first book, about serpents and dragons and wizardwood; and these answers in turn give rise to questions of their own.

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Ship of Magic (1998): Robin Hobb

The Liveship Traders Trilogy: Book I 

Time to return to Robin Hobb. I’m now onto the first book of her second trilogy, The Liveship Traders. These books are set in the same world as The Farseer, a long way further south, where the trading community of Bingtown lies between Chalced and Jamaillia. Bingtown could belong to an entirely different age than the Six Duchies. Here, rather than the medievalism of The Farseer trilogy, we have  trade and shipping and merchants’ colonies, with a distinctly seventeenth-century feel. The Six Duchies are mentioned occasionally, but mainly as a bitterly cold backwater (both in location and civilisation) that no one particularly wants to visit. The two trilogies aren’t completely separate, of course, but that’s something that doesn’t become obvious until a little later on, so I’m going to hold off until the next book.

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