Ship of Magic (The Liveship Traders, #1)
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Ship of Magic

by Robin Hobb
Release date: March 1998
Type: speculative fiction
Genres: fantasyhigh fantasy

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.

updated 2017-01-16

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Reviews (2)

Marjeina avatar
Written by
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 ... (more)
Seregil of Rhiminee avatar
Written by
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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