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    SHIP OF DESTINY by Robin Hobb


    Bantam Books, August 2000

    One last dragon, trapped for generations, is free--but is it too late to save its species. Meanwhile, short-lived humans squabble over the government of their city of Bingtown and over ownership of their Liveships, ships created from the cocooned bodies of dragons. These ships share memories of humans and dragons. Kennit, King of the Pirates, has stolen a Liveship and Althea Vestrit, its rightful owner (if anyone can own a sentient creature like a Liveship) is trying to track him down.

    Robin Hobb shifts the narrative between a number of interwoven plots--Kennit's attempts to free himself of his abusive past and create a nation out of a den of Pirates. Althea juggles her desire for her ship with her growing love for a man who serves with another ship--Paragon, a man Liveship who has killed his crew. Ronica Vestrit attempts to hold Bingtown together after it was torn apart by treason and greed. Malta Vestrit matures into a negotiator for the Satrap (Emperor) who holds her in contempt. Reyn seeks Malta, the woman he loves, riding the dragon as his body transforms into something between human and dragon. She who Remembers leads the last of the serpents who may yet become dragons, or who may simply fade to extinction.

    The power of SHIP OF DESTINY comes from the fact that each of the major characters has compelling goodness about them, yet has flaws so serious that their success seems impossible. THE LIVESHIP TRADERS trilogy represents powerful world-building. The potential extinction of the dragons raises the emotional charge of the book, yet even Tintaglia (the dragon) mixes power and beauty with an arrogance and vanity that keeps her interesting rather than stereotypical.

    Three Stars

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