Wednesday, March 09, 2016

The Liveship Traders Trilogy by Robin Hobb

I have read a Robin Hobb book occasionally here and there and I have enjoyed them, but when I started reading Ship of Magic, I just couldn't put it down.

In this trilogy (Ship of Magic, The Mad Ship, and Ship of Destiny, in order), you are introduced to a world in which certain watercraft "quicken" and take on human-like characteristics, including being able to talk and help in their own navigation and sailing.  These ships become the centerpieces for a world on the brink of war and major cultural shifts in trading, slavery, and gender norms.

These books were published in the late 1990s/early 2000s, but they are so smart if you read them as a critique of the contemporary political climate. It's mind boggling that many Americans don't look at the history of immigration in the United States and see that building a wall or rounding up "illegals" or stopping people of a certain religions from entering the country is just repeating ridiculous strategies that have been used, to no good ends, in the history of the nation. Yes, let's put all our indigenous peoples into restricted lands with tribes they've historically warred with, give them no assistance, and see what happens. Let's round up all the people who "look like" our enemy and hold them in concentration camps and see what happens. Let's send millions of people out of the country and see what happens.

In this fantasy world, Hobb ties up all the loose ends so that you believe it will all work out.  And sometimes she gets criticized for that. But I think of it as a utopian ending to a dystopian world that gives me hope that somewhere, somehow, there's going to be a diplomatic solution to this nonsense.  But maybe we're going to need a little bit of magical help to get there.

1 comment:

  1. One of my pet peeves in criticism these days is the turn toward "no happy endings." Long ago a professor told me she believed all stories should end with some kind of hope that the situation or the world would get better. She believed that THAT is why we read fiction in particular. I don't agree that EVERY story has to end happy, but I do think the majority of them do, and I think this trend toward bleak, "realistic" fiction is disconcerting.


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