Ship of Magic (The Liveship Traders #1) - Robin Hobb 8.38   59

Robin Hobb's acclaimed Farseer trilogy – Assassin's Apprentice, Royal Assassin, and Assassin's Quest – wove a spellbinding tale of magic, passion, and glory. Now, in the first book of a new trilogy set in the same world, she tells the magnificent story of a proud seafaring clan and the enchanted ships that carry them on far-flung, ferocious tides...

Not far from the Six Duchies lies Bingtown, hub of exotic trade and home to a merchant nobility famed for its liveships – rare vessels carved from wizardwood, which ripens magically into sentient awareness. Bingtown's Old Traders, their wealth eroded by northern wars and the rapacity of southern pirates, now face an influx of upstart merchants who bring change to a complex society.

The Vestrit family's only hope of renewed prosperity is the Vivacia, a liveship they have nurtured for three generations. Now, as old Captain Vestrit lies dying in Bingtown, the Vivacia cuts homeward through the waves, about to quicken into a living being. The ship carries Vestrit's daughter Althea and the conniving son-in-law he has named as the Vivacia's next captain.

But lovely, wild-spirited Althea, sailing the Vivacia with her father since childhood and sharing its half-awakened memories and ocean secrets, has bonded with the ship in her deepest soul. Joined by Brashen – her father's first mate, now demoted by the Vivacia's new commander – she will stop at nothing in a bitter quest to claim its captaincy.

Meanwhile, in the rocky cays known as the Pirate Isles, a ruthless man lusts after his own kind of power. The pirate captain Kennit, in his scheme to be king of this outlaw realm, has vowed that he will wrest a liveship from its owners and turn it to his own use. His twisted ambition will bring him into a strange partnership with a boy-priest turned seaman – and into violent conflict with the wizardwood magic of Althea and Brashen.

From the peculiar magic realm of the Others to the bawdy, raucous lair of the pirates, Ship of Magic sweeps a dazzling cast of characters into an epic of terrible beauty and mysterious sorcery.

Hobb covers portrayed here are from UK editions, by John Howe.


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Release date March 1998
Details updated August 18, 2022

The Liveship Traders :: Series

Series contains 3 primary works and has 3 total works.

The Liveship Traders Trilogy takes place mainly southwest of The Six Duchies, in Bingtown (a colony of Jamaillia) and focuses on Liveships, sentient ships and the Old Traders, their owners.

Main series The Realm of the Elderlings

Ship of Magic (The Liveship Traders #1) 8.38   59
The Mad Ship (The Liveship Traders #2) 8.58   49
Ship of Destiny (The Liveship Traders #3) 8.78   46

Community Reviews & Rates

Marjeina
125 ratings
3 reviews
0 posts
October 27, 2008
6 / 10

Robin Hobb certainly knows how to give her chacters a hard time. Not one of the main characters survives without some life-changing injury or psychological trauma. While this is an effective way of adding depth to the narration, it doesn't make comfortable reading, as every catastrophe inevitably leads to the next, even worse one. On the other hand, Hobb writes enviably lucid and fluent prose, and has all the makings of a master storyteller. Once the reader gets swept up into the swell of the story it's hard to resist its pull. Compared to the Farseer trilogy this book has a major shortcoming, however: its lacks really strong central characters which made the Assassin books a rare achivement in the field of fantasy. Whereas in the Farseers, Hobb had managed to create offbeat characters like the Fool, Ship of Magic is mostly peopled with stereotypes. If the next book of the Liveship trilogy turns up on my doorstep I will probably pick it up and read it. Otherwise I am not all that interested what will happen to the characters during the next 2000 pages or so, and in the meanwhile will look for something more original to read.

Seregil of Rhiminee
3518 ratings
260 reviews
3601 posts
October 6, 2007
10 / 10

Ship of Magic is a masterpiece of modern fantasy. It's a bittersweet, fascinating, complex and unpredictable story of the Vestrit family. This book is completely different from the Farseer books and the story is more complex. The character development is also more complex and the characters feel real and nuanced. If you haven't read Ship of Magic, I recommend you to do so. It's an excellent book.

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