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Wizardwood, a sentient wood. The most precious commodity in the world. Like many other legendary wares, it comes only from the Rain River Wilds. But how can one trade with the Rain Wilders, when only a liveship fashioned from wizardwood can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain River? Rare and valuable a liveship will quicken only when three members, from successive gener Wizardwood, a sentient wood. The most precious commodity in the world. Like many other legendary wares, it comes only from the Rain River Wilds. But how can one trade with the Rain Wilders, when only a liveship fashioned from wizardwood can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain River? Rare and valuable a liveship will quicken only when three members, from successive generations, have died on board. The liveship Vivacia is about to undergo her quickening as Althea Vestrit’s father is carried on deck in his death-throes. Althea waits for the ship that she loves more than anything else in the world to awaken. Only to discover that the Vivacia has been signed away in her father’s will to her brutal brother-in-law, Kyle Haven... Others plot to win or steal a liveship. The Paragon, known by many as the Pariah, went mad, turned turtle, and drowned his crew. Now he lies blind, lonely, and broken on a deserted beach. But greedy men have designs to restore him, to sail the waters of the Rain Wild River once more. Cover illustration by John Howe


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Wizardwood, a sentient wood. The most precious commodity in the world. Like many other legendary wares, it comes only from the Rain River Wilds. But how can one trade with the Rain Wilders, when only a liveship fashioned from wizardwood can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain River? Rare and valuable a liveship will quicken only when three members, from successive gener Wizardwood, a sentient wood. The most precious commodity in the world. Like many other legendary wares, it comes only from the Rain River Wilds. But how can one trade with the Rain Wilders, when only a liveship fashioned from wizardwood can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain River? Rare and valuable a liveship will quicken only when three members, from successive generations, have died on board. The liveship Vivacia is about to undergo her quickening as Althea Vestrit’s father is carried on deck in his death-throes. Althea waits for the ship that she loves more than anything else in the world to awaken. Only to discover that the Vivacia has been signed away in her father’s will to her brutal brother-in-law, Kyle Haven... Others plot to win or steal a liveship. The Paragon, known by many as the Pariah, went mad, turned turtle, and drowned his crew. Now he lies blind, lonely, and broken on a deserted beach. But greedy men have designs to restore him, to sail the waters of the Rain Wild River once more. Cover illustration by John Howe

30 review for Ship of Magic

  1. 4 out of 5

    Regan

    Truly one of the best books I have ever read

  2. 5 out of 5

    Petrik

    4.5/5 stars Color me impressed, just the first book in the Liveship Traders trilogy alone is already better than the entire Farseer trilogy. Don’t get me wrong, the Farseer trilogy certainly has its charm but the third book of the trilogy, Ass Quest, was a massive disappointment for me. Fortunately, that didn’t stop me from giving Hobb another try because this was just utterly fantastic. Ship of Magic, the first book in the Liveship Traders trilogy—which is also the second out five subseries within 4.5/5 stars Color me impressed, just the first book in the Liveship Traders trilogy alone is already better than the entire Farseer trilogy. Don’t get me wrong, the Farseer trilogy certainly has its charm but the third book of the trilogy, Ass Quest, was a massive disappointment for me. Fortunately, that didn’t stop me from giving Hobb another try because this was just utterly fantastic. Ship of Magic, the first book in the Liveship Traders trilogy—which is also the second out five subseries within Hobb’s gigantic Realm of the Elderlings series—is a completely different book from Fitz’s first trilogy. It contained a new storyline, revolves around a completely new cast, new magic system, and the story took place on a completely different area from Fitz’s storyline. In fact, other than a few familiar places and event mentioned, such as Six Duchies and Red Ship War, there seems to be absolutely no correlation between this book and the Farseer trilogy. Taking place south of the Six Duchies, Ship of Magic focused around a variety of casts with their own agenda and motives in the conflicts of persevering faith, family, and gaining the liveship, a rare ship that can be quickened (brought to life) only when three family members from successive generations have died upon their deck. The different location also provides a great expansion to the world-building element for the series that Hobb has created previously in the Farseer trilogy. “The man who worries about what will next be happening to him loses this moment in dread of the next, and poisons the next with pre-judgement.” It took around 100 pages for me to get used to the characters and the flow of the story but after that, everything ended up being a smooth sailing experience. Same as Hobb’s previous trilogy, this is still a totally character driven book and the main plot moved at a really slow pace with the characters development taking the highest priority. What differs this book greatly from the Farseer trilogy however is the fact that it’s written in third person multi-POV. Whether you love him or not, Fitz is a well-written character and Hobb did a spectacular job in fleshing out his and all the major side characters’ personality even when the narrative was told solely from Fitz’s perspective. However, as great as Hobb did, if we truly want to know all the characters’ true thoughts and feelings, multi-POV is always the best plot device to do it. Hobb is truly a brilliant author, it doesn’t matter whether it’s first person or third person perspective, she knows how to write and make her characters felt realistic, complex, and compelling to read; even when some of the characters were despicable as dog shit (Malta). I forgot the exact numbers but readers get to follow the storyline from the perspective of more or less thirteen characters and I found them all highly engaging and addictive to read (including Malta’s). It was hard to choose a favorite POV here (excluding Malta) when they are all superbly well-written, but I think it’s safe to say that out of all of them, Wintrow was definitely my favorite one. Every character had a magnificent character development, in personalities and relationships between the cast, but Wintrow’s storyline simply excelled above all the others. Just from the first book alone, I already love his POV more than Fitz’s. “I’ve just been living from day to day. Waiting for something or someone else to change the situation.” His eyes studied her face, looking for a reaction to his next words. “I think I need to make a real decision. I believe I need to take action on my own.” Pirates, amazing ensemble cast, serpents, sentient ships, great actions (when it’s there), Ship of Magic is a superb start to a trilogy. At this point, if someone told me that Hobb is actually a psychologist, I will believe them due to how great she is at characters studies. I absolutely can’t wait to continue to the sequel and I highly recommend this to anyone who’s looking for a great character driven fantasy books. Picture: The Liveship Traders by Marc Simonetti You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest

  3. 4 out of 5

    Muhtasin Oyshik

    Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders,#1 Realm of the Elderlings,#4) As a big fan of Hobb's writing, I wasn't disappointed by this book at all! Ship of Magic is not just one of the best fantasy books I've read but one of the best fiction books I've ever read. I was reluctant to leave Fitz after finishing the first trilogy. But it turns out that I enjoyed Ship of Magic even more. As this is only the first book of a trilogy, it makes for even higher praise. Now I would surely look forward to finishing t Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders,#1 Realm of the Elderlings,#4) As a big fan of Hobb's writing, I wasn't disappointed by this book at all! Ship of Magic is not just one of the best fantasy books I've read but one of the best fiction books I've ever read. I was reluctant to leave Fitz after finishing the first trilogy. But it turns out that I enjoyed Ship of Magic even more. As this is only the first book of a trilogy, it makes for even higher praise. Now I would surely look forward to finishing the whole Realm of the Elderlings series. Look forward, not back. Correct your course and go on. You cannot undo yesterday's journey. Superb Book

  4. 4 out of 5

    Em Lost In Books

    **Reread - Loved it more this time around specially all those small things that I let slip first time enhanced the reading experience. And there were so many moments "Ah! You shouldn't have done this, you fool!! Now be ready to face consequences."** 4.5* I can't believe she wrote this masterpiece after that messed up Farseer finale... I read Assassin's Quest back in 2016 and lost every hope of getting back to Realm of Elderlings. But then I wrapped up Twany Man in August this and now I am a faithfu **Reread - Loved it more this time around specially all those small things that I let slip first time enhanced the reading experience. And there were so many moments "Ah! You shouldn't have done this, you fool!! Now be ready to face consequences."** 4.5* I can't believe she wrote this masterpiece after that messed up Farseer finale... I read Assassin's Quest back in 2016 and lost every hope of getting back to Realm of Elderlings. But then I wrapped up Twany Man in August this and now I am a faithful Hobb fan. So it was time to start Liveship Traders, everyone's favorite Hobb books. I knew I will not be disappointed and she delivered in best possible way, giving us the talking ships, and characters who are trying very hard to prove themselves. Story follows three main characters Vivicia - the ship, Wintrow, and Althea. Althea was ignored in favor of her elder sister to be the captain of the Vivicia. Since the elder sister is married, the responsibility was given to her husband Kyle, who was an arrogant fool, greedy, and cruel. Althea leaves her home to prove to her family that she was the worthy captain for Vivicia. Kyle brought his eldest son, Wintrow, who was in a monastery to be raised as priest, aboard Vivicia to train him as a sailor and bond with the Livship. But Kyle’s plan backfired when he soon realized that Wintrow was not what he wanted him to be, thus forcing Wintrow in to a life of hard ship on the ship. Vivicia, a newly quickened ship, tried her best to bond with Wintrow but the boy always maintained his distance and soon there was a wall between them, and a lot of pain, sadness. There were tons of other characters too but their story was intertwined with Vivicia, Althea, and Wintrow in one way or the other. The first thing that I noticed about this book was multiple PoVs. I had a difficult time getting used to these sudden switches initially but once I got to know the characters, the ride was smooth. Hobb always put her characters in difficult situations so that they learn and when the time comes they were not helpless and readers get something spectacular in their stories to admire and adore. And I have to say there was only misery in this book; perhaps in next book or the book after it, all the hard work, learning, regret, pain, struggle would pay off. For now it was all tears and anger. Just like Fitz’s story, Hobb here has woven a web with secrets, lies, desperation, madness, and magic that is very tangled and complicated for now. It will be interested to see all these knots coming undone and perhaps we will get a happy ending. Hell I want one for Vivicia!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs

    This was good, but it wasn’t as good as Robin Hobb's Farseer books. Fitz is an excellent narrator, and an excellent focal point for a series, though this uses several point of view characters. Some are great and some are, unfortunately, as dry as dust. Wintrow was by far my favourite character in this series. He is torn between two lives. As a young boy he was sent away from home and raised as a priest; it’s a life he has gotten used to, but circumstances demands that he returns to his former li This was good, but it wasn’t as good as Robin Hobb's Farseer books. Fitz is an excellent narrator, and an excellent focal point for a series, though this uses several point of view characters. Some are great and some are, unfortunately, as dry as dust. Wintrow was by far my favourite character in this series. He is torn between two lives. As a young boy he was sent away from home and raised as a priest; it’s a life he has gotten used to, but circumstances demands that he returns to his former life: it is one of sea faring hardship, which is something he is not remotely accustomed to. He never had the chance to become a sailor, though he would have if he wasn’t taken away. He is now ineffectual and scribe like. His hands are soft and stained with ink. He is not a hardened sailor, so when his farther orders his return he is forced to toughen up and become something he is not. Wintrow is, naturally, reluctant to accept his new life; however, when he begins to discover his magical bond with his ancestral liveship, he realises he may have some mettle after all: “For the weakest has but to try his strength to find it, and then he shall be strong.” Conversely, Althea views the life on the sea as a thing of wonderment. Unlike Wintrow, she longs for the open ocean and planks beneath her feet. She wants to be aboard her family’s liveship, but the chance has been taken away from her, and handed to the young Wintrow. Resentment quickly forms. But who can blame her? She has spent her life longing to take control of the magical vessel that would make her a fortune on the open sea. This is both painful and soul destroying because in the wood of the ship is a magic that speaks to her blood; this is no simple attachment, but something powerful and innate: it calls to her and beacons her aboard. The liveship’s bond to their owners in a deep and magical way; thus, when she is separated from her ship, Althea goes on a long a perilous journey to get back what was rightfully hers to begin with. Let the adventures begin! Some good characters Althea and Wintrow were two very different characters; they contrast well and the dynamic between the two is tense. On the other hand, Veronica Vestrit (Althea’s mum) is a dreadfully dull point of view character. Her life is, simply put, boring. She is not badly written; she is just mundane and uninteresting. Her narrative is vital for the overall story, but her chapters are tiresome. I found myself skimming entire paragraphs because of their triviality. For example, the rest of the characters were undergoing an identity crisis or they were in extreme danger, meanwhile Veronica was evaluating her household budget. Everything else worked really well. I think the idea behind the liveships is great, and it really adds some depth to this fantasy universe. I love the way Robin Hobb has written a new trilogy set far away in her already existing fantasy world. This book was a good opener to the trilogy and it really sets the tone for what is to come. Of all of Hobbs books, I do think this one would make the best television drama. The Liveship Traders 1. Ship of Magic- A seafaing 3.5 stars 2. The Mad Ship- A tumultuous four stars. 3. Ship of Destiny- A cresting four stars

  6. 5 out of 5

    Emily (Books with Emily Fox)

    DNF at 50%. I think I'm officially giving up on Robin Hobb. I wanted to love her and her books but after reading the Farseer trilogy and half of this book... I'm not enjoying myself. Nothing in here is gripping me. Not the writing, not the story, not the characters, not the world... nothing. DNF at 50%. I think I'm officially giving up on Robin Hobb. I wanted to love her and her books but after reading the Farseer trilogy and half of this book... I'm not enjoying myself. Nothing in here is gripping me. Not the writing, not the story, not the characters, not the world... nothing.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    This book was awesome! I love the concept of the liveships!! Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾

  8. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    Final verdict: a great antidote to A Game of Thrones, with brilliant, complicated characters. My friend introduced to me to Ship of Magic because I'd been complaining about annoying stupid characters. She recommended Robin Hobb in general, but Ship of Magic especially, primarily for Althea Vestrit, our primary protagonist. One thing I want to point out is that I would have never picked this up on my own. Not for the title, not the cover (yes, I'm disproportionately attracted to pretty covers--the Final verdict: a great antidote to A Game of Thrones, with brilliant, complicated characters. My friend introduced to me to Ship of Magic because I'd been complaining about annoying stupid characters. She recommended Robin Hobb in general, but Ship of Magic especially, primarily for Althea Vestrit, our primary protagonist. One thing I want to point out is that I would have never picked this up on my own. Not for the title, not the cover (yes, I'm disproportionately attracted to pretty covers--there's a blog post in there somehow), and not even the cover copy. Although Althea is my middle name. But normally not even that. Thank goodness for my friend, because this book seems to have marked a change in the books I'm reading--after a streak of at best mediocre reading, I'm enjoying it again! (That can't be attributed entirely to this book, but did contribute to the exhilaration of my reading experience.) Althea Vestrit is the younger daughter of a liveship trader family. In essence, the elite of colonial Bingtown. Liveships are just that: living ships. But you don't just build a ship that's alive, or buy one, it has to be built first of wizard wood, and 'grow': that is to say, quicken. A liveship, though, will only quicken after three of its family members die on-deck, through which they gain knowledge and awareness. And a liveship will only respond to a member of the family, especially once it is alive. And I haven't even gotten to the story yet. Continued in vaguely topical order: World building Robin Hobb has built an incredible, complex world, much of which is gradually revealed throughout the story, naturally and through the characters' perspectives. The world-building is crucial to the story's success, because in many ways, its core theme is the clash of worlds, old and new. There isn't one simple conflict between good and evil or even two families. Bingtown is a colony, only now, they're being settled again by people who don't understand the land and customs--and worse, Bingtown has started following the customs of the mainland, even those that just a generation ago would have been too horrifying to contemplate. Now, the newcomers may not understand the reasons for Bingtown's customs, but the locals won't explain them either (more on that later). The conflict of cultures is so important. Worldly Jamaillia is decadent, rich, slave-owning. And the slaves can be anyone: the educated call for particularly high prices. Bingtown once had equal relations to men and women: they've borrowed the madonna/whore complex from Jamaillia and now are looking to slavery. But Bingtown has a strange relationship with magic and the people up the river who make it. Back to Althea. Because she's the natural daughter of the Vestrit's, who own a liveship just one death away from quickening, Althea fully expects to be the next captain. After all, she's been sailing with her father for years, and her older sister is married: settled with children. But as the summary states so baldly, Althea doesn't get Vivacia, her brother in law does. Ways in which Ship of Magic exceeds A Game of Thrones: *The characters matter. The majority of characters in A Game of Thrones are AT BEST observers, and often not even good at that; all the characters (especially viewpoint characters)in Ship of Magic have agency: they are making things happen, everything they do affects the plot, the story. In A Game of Thrones the plot is happening around the characters--when they could make a difference, they don't, because characters get in the way of the plot. That could work, but only if the reader has a sense that characters caused the plot in the first place. Ship of Magic only takes place because of decisions made generations ago, and how the current people are trying to live around and with those decisions. There is a deep, complicated back story that at no time takes over what's happening now, but only makes it possible. Can I say how much I've missed this? *A Game of thrones suffered from odd, arbitrary chapter breaks that always followed only one character (ideally, and when Martin didn't abruptly drop into omniscient when he forget what he was doing) and didn't follow the same characters in a row BECAUSE. The chapter breaks and POV changes in Ship of Magic are based on the timeline and pacing. And they don't just skip the big scenes to sum up later. *The characters in Ship of Magic are so much better. In fact they're so awesome, I'll have to get back to this. *The women are just as complex as the men! and just as active! and compelling! and have equal textual representation in a sexist world! and there's no creepy, overdone euphemisms for genitalia! and no glorified, underage, fetishized rape scenes! uhhhh....I feel like I shouldn't have to expect such things, but I am comparing it strictly to GoT here. *This is also a vaguely historically-based world with only rare magic. Only here it's embedded from the beginning, and while not understood and distrusted by the inhabitants of the world, it doesn't follow the pattern of: 100 pages of ambiguity 1 sentence maybe? (x3) 100 pages ambiguity full-on firewalking and suckling dragons! Plot Like A Game of Thrones, Ship of Magic has several major plot threads (approximately eight, some embedded in the 'world' arcs), all given roughly equal treatment, and a great many POV characters (at least eight). I wonder if there's something to those numbers. and Martin is praised because he's willing to kill off 'anyone', which just makes me suspect a paucity of decent literature in the fantasy section. Ship of Magic made me care about the characters, even without ever having a POV of their own, and _then_ they died. Character Getting into more spoiler-y territory, I loved the conflict between Ronica (Althea's mother) and Kyle (her brother-in-law).Kyle really seems like just your standard sub-boss evil. In most novels (The Name of the Wind), he'd be petty and cruel, and basically the antagonist until the confrontation with the real bad guy happens. In some ways, Kyle is all of those things. But his main threat is in how he threatens, and represents the threat, to the liveship trader way of life. And Ronica loathes him for it. But he's been her son-in-law for 15 years, IIRC, and no one in the family has tried to make him understand these traditions and why things are the way they are in Bingtown. There's a lot of hidden history that's gradually being revealed, but the locals don't discuss it amongst themselves, much less outsiders like Kyle. At least once, the truth has been actively hidden from him. These are cultures clashing because their people (on any side) cannot understand comprehend a way of life different from their own. Wintrow, Althea's oldest nephew, lived with the priests since infancy, because in Bingtown, it's an honor. Wintrow can't wait to be a priest. But since Kyle captains the Vivacia, he needs a family-member by blood on board, especially now that Vivacia is conscious. Wintrow's struggles: to stay safe, to stay sane--my heart BLED for him. Btw: Hobb has built an incredible, convincing fictional religion. Kennit is about as villainous as a villain can be. As I said in a forum: "[he] knows he’s not a good guy, goes around plotting like mad, but is just going after what he wants in any way he can. He knows he’s not a good guy, but doesn’t care: he just wants power. He also goes around going good deeds, but evilly...He’s a pirate freeing slaves because then they’ll voluntarily be his army to help him take over the world. And he’s surrounded by people who are unbearably loyal to him: even his sentient charm fashioned in his image hates him and doesn’t think he deserves what he has." One thing that Hobb does beautifully that Martin fails entirely, is have a focus to her narrative. Althea's story is central to the unifying thread. All of these characters have very important stories of their own, but Althea's is going to be right in the middle of it all. Slut Shaming One note about the characters: sometimes they aren't all good. Or bad. (Unless it's Kennit) They can be whiny, infuriating, annoying, ignorant, just-plain-stupid, and often wrong. For instance, Althea's quest to retake the Vivacia? Well, first she has to learn that she wasn't qualified to captain a vessel on her own, that when she traveled with her father, she was playing at sailoring. So she goes off on her own to learn--and learn she does. Slowly. Which is possibly the best part. Now that I've been working on this for two hours, I want to touch on a subject I know is important to many of my GR friends--and the reviewers I follow who have no idea who I am: slut shaming. THERE ISN'T ANY! First you have Malta, Althea's niece, all of thirteen years old, *IIRC. O Good Lord, Malta. She takes the place of Martin's Sansa: obsessed with boys, rather stupid. Only Malta specifically wants sex. Preferably before babies and marriage, because she doesn't want to end up with an icky husband. Is she too young for this? Hell yes, she's spoiled rotten, doesn't understand how her own society works, and despite her interest, completely ignorant of what said sex would actually mean. Sansa, I just hated, but while I wanted to smack Malta upside the head, I also ached for her. She is so completely unaware of how vulnerable she is--and she does have to work at ignoring it too. Unlike Althea, she retreats from what scares her, what's hard (although Althea has her moments), and Keffria (her mother) and Ronica are only just learning how much they've neglected to teach her. As for Althea-- Spoilers! Please click carefully, because this section is so important to her character development! It wouldn't ruin the book, but it would color the reading experience. (view spoiler)[After Althea goes off to learn sailing while disguised as a boy (explained in text) she sleeps with Brashen (well, okay, it's clear he's a love interest from the cover copy) while both are impaired. She's concussed and they're both drunk and high, I think. He might be concussed too. It turns out, despite being 'upper class' in this society, and their expectations for women, she's had sex before. The first time when she was fourteen under skeevy circumstances. When she goes home to tell her sister, Keffria makes her get a charm to prevent pregnancy and STDs, assuming her sister is easy. It's the betray of trust that Althea has a problem with, she doesn't think of herself that way. In fact, she's NOT damaged by the experience, and she knows it's supposed to be pleasurable, so she seeks it out herself, occasionally. But it's not a flaw of her character that she's sexually active, and while other characters may not like it, it's never a view condoned by the text. Thought you guys might like that. (hide spoiler)] I should end for now. I can think of so many more things to say! If I can get this under control, I promise to try and make it readable. I just want to get everyone to read it themselves! It's just that awesome!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    This book is now one of my all time favorites. Hobb was already an accomplished writer when she produced her last trilogy, and the characters of Fitz and the Fool rank with some of the most engaging and rounded characters I have seen in literature. Then along came this book. Wow. The books in this trilogy run around 200 pages longer than those in the last series, and the author needs every single word. Typically, when something is this large there are at least some segments I skim. (I have deve This book is now one of my all time favorites. Hobb was already an accomplished writer when she produced her last trilogy, and the characters of Fitz and the Fool rank with some of the most engaging and rounded characters I have seen in literature. Then along came this book. Wow. The books in this trilogy run around 200 pages longer than those in the last series, and the author needs every single word. Typically, when something is this large there are at least some segments I skim. (I have developed a theory that authors sometimes become disinterested in their own story, and this shows through in those section I skim, but I digress). Out of the 885 pages in this book, at no time did I find myself skimming. Rather, the story switches to a different plot thread with a different set of characters each equally, or more, engaging than the last. I have seen this technique used before, but normally I wind up patiently waiting for the new plot threads to evolve so I can transition back to the other characters that I am really interested in, all the while hoping these threads eventually merge. That was not the case here. Each new group of characters had a plot that I knew was drawing inexorably together with the others, and this left me with the tension of a drawn bowstring. I am glad I had a chunk of time to read this apart from my daily life, because I have been thoroughly immersed in this story and the lives of these characters. They are battling shades of moral ambiguity, and often evil seems good and good seems evil, or there is such a complex combination of this twined in the build of these characters (and perhaps fate itself) that the characters seem more lifelike and the story more immersive and realistic. Perhaps I am raving a bit too much about this book. But I don’t think so. Five stars because that’s the highest rating I can give a book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    ❄️BooksofRadiance❄️

    4.75 ⭐️ THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD IT’S INSANE!!! Greatness. Absolute greatness.

  11. 5 out of 5

    James Tivendale

    The Liveship Traders is the second trilogy in Robin Hobb's The Realm of the Elderlings saga. After a couple of false starts, I ended up loving The Farseer Trilogy. I adored the tale of The Fitz and the Fool so much that I carried on following their narrative, probably incorrectly as this chronologically is set before those events. I read The Tawny Man trilogy next and I don't imagine that I am the only person who has followed this route. I was then ready to jump straight into the final The Fitz The Liveship Traders is the second trilogy in Robin Hobb's The Realm of the Elderlings saga. After a couple of false starts, I ended up loving The Farseer Trilogy. I adored the tale of The Fitz and the Fool so much that I carried on following their narrative, probably incorrectly as this chronologically is set before those events. I read The Tawny Man trilogy next and I don't imagine that I am the only person who has followed this route. I was then ready to jump straight into the final The Fitz and the Fool trilogy but a top reviewer and friend, Petrik at Novel Notions told me that I'd be missing out on so much if I did. He is one of the only reviewers I truly trust so I took his advice and I haven't been disappointed. It was actually truly interesting reading it in the order I chose. There is one main character from the first trilogy who is featured but under a different guise and we also visit the treasure beach that Fitz frequented with Prince Dutiful. That is one of the handful of times that the trilogies cross over in Ship of Magic. Being used to the emotionally focused and truly dedicated "warts and all" first-person perspective of Fitz, the way this novel was presented was a major shift. Hobb's writing is as elegant, poignant, and admirable as ever, yet having so much of my heart invested in FitzChivalry it did take a while to get on board (no pun intended) with these new players. I analysed that their were three main characters here, however; Hobb presents the events so that we also get the views of the surrounding players also. My favourite character introduced here was Wintrow. If Fitz pulled at your heartstrings I think Wintrow will be a similar emotional burden on your mind for the drama and what fate has in store for him. He was a priest-in-making who was taken away from his monastery and tutors. His grandfather, a famous captain of the Liveship Vivcacia is close to death. Against his oath but forced by the will of his father he is sourced away from the calling of Sa, of which his life is dedicated to. He is needed on Vivacia as he is a blood family relative to the Vesrits. The Liveship, just quickened, should have been passed to Alethea, Wintrow's Aunt, not her sisters husband, Kyle Haven. Kyle is the closest that readers will get to a Prince Regal here. Aletha travelled under her fathers flag from when she was a child and was always told and under the impression that the Livership would become her possession and friend. Her mother, and her father's ailing illness and loss of wit aided to assign the living vessel to probably the worse possible person. After Aletha and Wintrow, the other main player is Captain Kennit. A dark, charming and handsome pirate that has a Wizardwood charm on his wrist that talks, and he also wants to be the King of all pirates. He also wishes to commandeer a Liveship. He decides to strike a deal with his first mate that that every time they try to take a Liveship they have to free the cargo from a slaver vessel. Ship of Magic was slow going to begin with. I wanted to see more of Amber but, for very good reasons she was always on the fringes in this entry. That being mentioned, there were some extremely memorable scenes when she conversed with Paragon "The Mad Ship". As a quick aside, I devoured 25% of this book via audible and I found the narrator excellent. The majority of what is presented here was as brutal as it was unpredictable yet I did predict the ending. I enjoyed following the majority of the point of view perspectives. Except that of Malta, but I'm sure her character ARC will become truly important. It was written well so I have no issues against Hobb going down that avenue, however; she is presented as a spoilt 12-13 year old brat. The happens here hint that she will have importance with the Rain Wild traders going forwards so I am interested to follow her events. Next to me right now I have the second novel in this trilogy and also Mark Lawrence's The Girl and the Stars both winking at me saying "read me next." - The fact that I've gone straight on to read The Mad Ship, over Lawrence, one of my favourite author's unreleased book speaks volumes. The last 50% of this narrative is sublime. I'm not saying that I prefer it yet over The Farseer Trilogy as the Fool and the Fitz have a place in my heart. The ambitious change in style and direction, focusing entirely on an area that has only been briefly mentioned beforehand is a masterclass in itself. I'm not sure how all the pieces of the fantasy puzzle will fit together but I can't wait to endure the adventures, heartache, love, and the also foreboding influence of fate with Fitz, the Fool, Wintrow, Alethea, and Kennit. Also, whoever Hobb throws into the mix in her next few tales. You could start reading Hobb's world here and still have a stunning experience. I'm currently reading to find out every single thing her mind has envisioned throughout this excellent saga.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lema

    Step aside Pirates of The Caribbean, Robin Hobb is the crowned queen of maritime fiction and she's here to stay! Allow to say that I can't believe I've been putting off starting Robin Hobb's work for the last couple of years just because it's a little bit on the heftier and slow burning side. OH MY GOD I'VE BEEN SUCH AN IDIOT! Well, better late than never and all that rot.. I was thinking about saying that getting to this book was worth the time it took me to read through the Farseer trilogy, but Step aside Pirates of The Caribbean, Robin Hobb is the crowned queen of maritime fiction and she's here to stay! Allow to say that I can't believe I've been putting off starting Robin Hobb's work for the last couple of years just because it's a little bit on the heftier and slow burning side. OH MY GOD I'VE BEEN SUCH AN IDIOT! Well, better late than never and all that rot.. I was thinking about saying that getting to this book was worth the time it took me to read through the Farseer trilogy, but I would be lying. I didn't "go through" that trilogy, I freaking loved it and enjoyed every dragged out second. So getting to Ship of Magic was not only a reward but a continuation of the wonderful journey I started in the Assassin's Apprentice, and it only gets better and better with every book. First of all, let's be clear that I am not a fan of the sea, I hate ships (urgh just the memory turns my stomach), I don't care for stories with sailors, I do love pirates but maybe once every blue moon I would go out of my way to read a story about them specifically. Well, Robin Hobb just changed my opinion 180 degrees! However, I'll probably still won't think much about them unless those stories were written specifically by her. The atmosphere, the world, the characters, the plot, everything! It's so just immersive so that you feel you are experiencing every setting, feeling and hardship yourself. Bit of warning, it's not a story about pretty ships and hearty adventures in the wide blue ocean, this novel deals of lot of heavy topics regarding family dynamics, inheritance, subservience to the "man of the family", slavery, free will, sexism, rape and abuse and many more that are so true to our world's issues today. It's not as flashy as my other favorite fantasy books I've read by Sanderson, Tucker, Gwynne, and others.. Yet it has some of the complexity characteristic of ASIOAF by GRRM, the same darkness I saw in The First Law Trilogy by Abercombie, it's a little quieter and more low key (that's more true of Farseer actually rather than this one) but has the same punches as the best of them. Why I loved it so much? Why, the Characters of course! Captain Kennit probably takes the trophy here, a heartless bastard and a pirate to boot who just happened to do the right thing at the right time, reluctantly and out of sheer dumb luck. His conniving and coldness just serve to make him more interesting, and his interaction with everyone around him is always intrigue-guaranteed, and that ending man! Althea Vestrit is another great character that comes to mind. Spoiled privileged girl who thinks she can do anything because she spent her childhood sailing with her father abroad their family liveship the Vivacia, only to be hit with the cruel reality of life. Her journey and growth were just amazing, she still has a lot to go and I can't wait to see how she'll progress. Speaking of the Vivacia, I've never read about a live ship before, like ever, and that was quite the experience I'll leave it at that! WINTROW! can I hug that precious child and hide him from the world? Is it blasphemy that I think he's much much more interesting and awesome than Fitz ever was? Boy-priest forced into becoming a sailor by has asshole of a father, his arc has probably one of the best character development I've ever read! Vivacia and Wintrow by Sephinka Of course there's a tonload of other great characters that will make you love life or make your skin crawl and then there are a couple that will make you want to bitchslap some sense into them (friggin' Malta that stupid brat!), or just plain smack them into the waiting mouth of a sea-serpent (yes we have those too!!). I was surprise by the strong emotions that Hobb had awakened in me during my read, I won't lie to you it was bloody exhausting! Not to mention all the unsolved mysteries! OK that's enough rambling on my part, every minute I spend babbeling and gushing here is keeping me away from starting Mad ship, so farewell ye scallywags!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kaora

    I was a huge fan of Robin Hobb ever since I read her story Homecoming in Epic. And while I loved her Farseer series, this has surpassed those as my favorite books. Vivacia is a liveship, a boat made of wizardwood, that after three deaths of family members on board comes to life. Liveships are the only ships that can make the journey up the river to the Rain Wilds in order to do trade, and are extremely valuable. This book follows several points of view, including a pirate named Kennit, Althea the I was a huge fan of Robin Hobb ever since I read her story Homecoming in Epic. And while I loved her Farseer series, this has surpassed those as my favorite books. Vivacia is a liveship, a boat made of wizardwood, that after three deaths of family members on board comes to life. Liveships are the only ships that can make the journey up the river to the Rain Wilds in order to do trade, and are extremely valuable. This book follows several points of view, including a pirate named Kennit, Althea the daughter of the last sailor to die aboard Vivacia, her sister Keffria, her nephew Winthrow, and various others. Some I loved, some I hated. I also really enjoyed the addition to the world she has created in Farseer. While some of the places in the Farseer trilogy are mentioned, this takes place in a different area, and I was fascinated by the magic and depth of this world she has created. To get some perspective, this is an almost 900 page book that I finished in about 5 days. All other books were placed on the backburner to be picked up at a later date, because I could not put this one down. I quickly became invested in the characters, and love watching as events shape their lives and personalities in a very believable way. Even characters I hate with a passion can become favorites in the span of a few pages. Highly recommended.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Obida

    The man who worries about what will next be happening to him loses this moment in dread of the next, and poisons the next with pre-judgement. If there was ever a book that exceeded my expectations due to its uniqueness its this book, this book is one of those books you didn't know you needed till you read it. There is a praise by The Times written on the cover of this book As addictive as morphine, and I couldn't agree more. I know its wrong to compare but I just cannot help myself, this book The man who worries about what will next be happening to him loses this moment in dread of the next, and poisons the next with pre-judgement. If there was ever a book that exceeded my expectations due to its uniqueness its this book, this book is one of those books you didn't know you needed till you read it. There is a praise by The Times written on the cover of this book As addictive as morphine, and I couldn't agree more. I know its wrong to compare but I just cannot help myself, this book is a thousand times better than the Farseer trilogy in all angle. There isn't much action or magic in this book, what this book has is great well written characters and plot. Just like all Hobb's book the writing is to die for, its so addictive, this book is written in third person multiple POV which is my favourite, I get to know what the characters are thinking. The characters in this book are all selfish with ulterior motives, there isn't a single character in this book that is selfless but I still adore them, my favourite been Kennit, I just can't help myself. Althea isn't all bad but she is such a spoilt brat and Wintrow is way too self righteous. Malta is just the worst, I just want to enter the book and hit her upside her head. The world building as always blew my mind, the depiction is just so explicit, herebis one of my favourite Sorcor, as always, was dressed in a wide array of fine clothes in colours that bedazzled the eye. The silk scarf that belted his waist had come from the plump, pale shoulders of a noblewoman they had ransomed. The jewelled dagger stuck in it had come from her son, a brave boy who had not known when to surrender. He’d had the yellow silk shirt tailored in Chalced. Given the bulkiness of the man’s muscled shoulders and thick chest, the wide expanse of fluttering fabric reminded Kennit of a ship under sail. This book is about a Bingtown trader family, a pirate and his crew, Brashen a disgraced trader family's son, Amber and some Liveships. Ephron Vestrit is the head of the Vestrit family, his wife is Ronica, they have two daughters Keffria and Althea, Keffria is married to Kyle Haven and together they have three children, Wintrow and Malta are the only ones that have POV in the book. The family own a Liveship. A Liveship is a sentient ship that can come to life after three family members die aboard it. Kennit is the pirate, he is cold, heartless man and his dream is to become the king of the pirate and own a Liveship even though everyone knows a Liveship will only sail for its family members. Brashen and Amber are sort of wild cards cause I don't know how their story will become one with the initial plot. The more wilder cards is the narrative of sea serpents, I have no idea how that is related to the plot, can't wait to figure it out. The Liveship are awesome, just two has a POV in this book and their thought is just so touching, Paragon is a sad and crazy ship while Vivacia is a young and inexperienced ship. Ophelia is the third Liveship featured in this book and I love her, she is curious loves to gossip and meddle in people's lives. Finally the addition of slavery in this book, I love the way the author depicted the inhumane confinement of the slaves, you have to be heartless not to feel how wrong it is.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlin

    This book was fabulous! I read it as a part of the #TBRTakedown Readathon and as a Buddy Read. It's a little bit on the slow side for sure, but actually it's a very interesting story and the characterisation and development of this was seriously fantastic. It's a slow story which is made up mostly from the introduction of various characters (mostly Traders) and developing our understanding of them and their ways. It's set in a different part of the world from the Farseer Books and it's set on th This book was fabulous! I read it as a part of the #TBRTakedown Readathon and as a Buddy Read. It's a little bit on the slow side for sure, but actually it's a very interesting story and the characterisation and development of this was seriously fantastic. It's a slow story which is made up mostly from the introduction of various characters (mostly Traders) and developing our understanding of them and their ways. It's set in a different part of the world from the Farseer Books and it's set on the Cursed Shores (doesn't sound like the nicest area). We join the story when there's a fair amount of outside interference coming into the community of Bingtown, and the Trader families living there are not entirely sure just what to do or how to manage the situation of the new inhabitants trying to come in and change their ways. This is a book which clearly puts the characters at the forefront of the story because despite it being an 880pg book actually only a few very major events stand out. Despite this, there's so much work on defining and understanding the characters that I feel as if I know them all so well now and I can see how they'd react and why they'd react that way in various situations. The world-building of this book is also more unique than that of the Farseer books in that it's largely focused on the sea, and ships at sea, used by the Traders. The old traders of Bingtown are often owners of Liveships which means that they own a ship made of wizard wood for many years and generations and they gradually bond with the ship. Over time this bond develops to the point where the figurehead of the ship will 'quicken' and come to life, filled with the memories and wisdom of all the previous family members it has bonded with. I loved the idea of the Liveships and the way that they become so integral to the town and the trade that they conduct. Not only this, but they are very interesting characters in their own right and the understanding they learn after their quickening can decide how they will react for years to come, being either loyal to the family they are bonded with or turning mad from the grief and savagery introduced to them. We're also introduced not only to the Bingtown Traders in this book but also the Rain Wild Traders who were one of the most mysterious and interesting elements of the book for me. I know that one of Hobb's later series is called the Rain Wild Chronicles and I have to say I am VERY eager to check that one out after what i learned and saw hints of in this book! Pirates and Slavery are big themes within this book and we get to meet one character and crew who have little to do with the Traders other than that they are Pirates who wish to own a Liveship. Everyone knows that a Liveship will only work for the family that it's bonded to and it can easily go mad or savage if it's separated from the family members, but this won't stop the crew who serve under Kennit, a man with high ambitions... The final element I want to point out before diving into the characters is that we also follow some Serpents in this book and we get to see their thoughts as they follow their prey and seek food and wisdom. This section, although initially intriguing, was the only element I feel like I still don't have much interest in, and although we get hints that there's a bigger story ahead involving the Serpents, I didn't find them anywhere near as interesting as the human characters. So, the characters:- - Althea Vestrit - is a young woman who is working on board the Vivacia, her family ship, whilst she waits for it to become quickened. She's a somewhat competent sailor, but she's a little spoiled and she knows that when her father retires or dies she will be the one whom the ship is passed to. She is bold and daring as a character, but she also has some flaws with entitlement and believing she's better than some of the other crew just because she's the captain's daughter. When her father is sick for a long time her story suddenly begins to change pace and things don't always go quite as she may have believed they would, throwing her into some rather tricky situations. I enjoyed Althea's story a lot, although she wasn't my favourite, and seeing her grow as a character and develop more skills and knowledge over the book was very pleasing. She's got a way to go still, but her character was one which grew on me more and more as I got to know her more, and she's a very interesting one to watch. - Paragon - is an old and washed up Liveship whom everyone avoids. He used to be a great Liveship who was proud and happy as any other to serve his family, but something horrible happened and over time he sunk deeper and deeper into madness until he was no longer worth using for fear he would kill the crew he served. He's a sad and forlorn character a lot of the time and he really doesn't have a lot to live for which makes him grumpy and distrustful. I really enjoyed that fact that the ships themselves had pov's in this and that we got to see things from their view as it gave a new perspective on many of the situations. Paragon is a character whose sections instantly gripped me because he was so different to most things I have read before, and his bitter nature was interesting to follow. - Vivacia - is the Vestrit's family Liveship and she's the ship that Althea and her father have worked for all of their lives. She begins the story before she's quickened, and so the events that go on on the ship still affect her, but she has no voice herself for any but those she's bonded with. Once she does become quickened she finds that things are not quite as she'd always imagined they would be and there's actually a lot more hardship and terror ahead for her than she would have ever believed that the Vestrit's would put her through. Vivacia's pov really was great to see, especially as she has the memories of various past Vestrit's within her. She gives us an interesting outlook, one of a newly quickened ship (unlike the Paragon) and she shows us how it is to be born into the life of a Liveship and the toll that this bond can exact upon her. - Brashen - was Captain Vestrit's (Althea's father's) first Mate and he's a well beloved member of the Vivacia. He's a kind and loyal member of the crew and when he sees things turning sour before him he understands that the best thing to do may be to abandon ship and start afresh. Unfortunately, things are not that simple and he's already entangled in the affairs of the Vestrit's, something which will no doubt continue... Brashen is a friend to the Paragon, and he's also a good ship mate. He knows his job and does it thoroughly and well, and he's also a man of common sense (most of the time). I really enjoyed seeing him on his journey, and I liked the way that he dealt with some of the more difficult situations he was put into, using his intelligence. - Kyle Haven - is Althea's brother-in-law and a member of the Vestrit family only by marrying into it. He's a capable sailor and a decent captain, but he's ruthless and only believes in his way. He's always certain that he knows the best way to handle things, and he's unable to see other's points of view even when the evidence of his mistakes are laid bare before him. He's a stubborn and cruel character and whilst he's a little deserving of deference, he's not as deserving of loyalty and love as he first appears. He was certainly the 'bad-guy' of the book for me and I found him rather detestable at times, however it was a very tense moment whenever he intervened and for that his parts kept me intrigued!! - Keffria Vestrit - is the wife of Kyle and sister to Althea. She's a woman who loves and admires her husband so much that she's become accustomed to deferring to him and letting him have his own way both with her and her family. She's a kind and conscientious character who only wishes that she could please everyone, but when everything starts to go wrong and she's in the middle of two strong wills she has to begin to stand tall herself and come into her own. Keffria's character took longer for me to warm to because at first she seemed a little weak and silly, but as the story went on I saw her too grow and become someone I liked a lot and admired for the actions she took. - Wintrow - is the oldest child and son of Kyle and Keffria. He's a true member of the Vestrit blood whether he wants to be or not and he's been in training to become a Priest of Sa for most of his young life. He believe's strongly in Sa's teachings and the ways of following his God, and he's a soft-natured and gentle young man. He's the character that I think I was most easily connected to early on because of his genteel nature and the way that he approached difficult situations and always tried to do the 'right' thing. He may not have always handled things in the most efficient and productive ways, but he's a very loyal and careful character and he stays firm to what he believes in no matter what he's subjected to so I admired him immensely for that. - Ronica Vestrit - is the mother of Althea and Keffria and the Grandmother to Wintrow and Malta. She's a strong-willed character who's handled the affairs of the family for as long as her husband has been sailing the Vivacia and she's very competent at what she does. She's kind and careful and reputation matters greatly to her so she always tries to keep up appearances and do the best thing for her family. I think she was a character whom I enjoyed a lot as she was tested more because it brought out her more soft and tender side and showed how vulnerable even the head of the family can be. She's always trying to do the thing she sees best for them all and sometimes she gets things wrong or makes mistakes, but I liked her ability to try new approaches when necessary and acknowledge her mistakes. - Malta - is the daughter and second child of Kyle and Keffria and she's a very spoilt young girl. She wants things to be her way and none other and she follows firmly in her father's way of managing things. She's silly and foolish and makes many grave mistakes over the course of the book but she's also young and naive and doesn't fully understand the results of her actions. I found her to be one of the most irritating and yet interesting characters and storylines because she made mistake after mistake and refused to bend or apologise even when she was caught out. Her will is as strong as her father's and grandmother's and she tested her family sorely many times. - Captain Kennit - is the pirate Captain of a ship who desires his own Liveship more than anything. After hearing a prophecy about himself at the start of the book he acts upon what he believes as his right and aims to capture and acquire a Liveship for himself. He's a dark and very cruel man with a skill for manipulation and pain. He desires nothing more than reaching his goals and if he has to be a bloodthirsty Pirate to do so he will, but he's equally a fantastic character whose inner thoughts were great to read. I enjoyed seeing the development of him as a character and learning more about how he worked and planned out his moves. He's crafty, thinks highly of himself, and he uses all of this to his advantage to achieve his aims. Certainly another one to watch! So as you can see there's a range and collection of characters who are all very distinct and yet are connected together in various ways. Hobb's development in this book of these characters leads me to believe that the plot of the next two should be a little faster paced and we will begin to learn more of the other elements of the world, but I a, sure there will still be more development and tests ahead for our characters. Hobb certainly didn't shy away from a more dark and gritty reality in this book. She approaches topic such as slavery and gives great insights into how it would have been to be a slave or slaver and she integrates this into the story in a seamless way, making it a key part of the world and plot. She also manages to involve politics and mystery into the book, making it not only thought-provoking but also tense. On the whole, my favourite Hobb book by far and I hope to start the next one in this series sometime later this month to see what will happen next. A wonderful story and a slow but fantastic book, 5*s - highly recommended!!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mpauli

    A very, very character-driven book. It reads almost like a classical family drama ala The Buddenbrocks. Despite the plot being rather on the back-burner I pretty much enjoyed all the characters and their development. Maybe not a book for everyone, due to its slow pace but I really enjoyed it, which was surprising, cause I normally prefer plot heavy books.

  17. 5 out of 5

    colleen the convivial curmudgeon

    12/21/10 I'm about 75% through with this book, and I'm finding it frustrating. As others have said, it's very much a character-based book, and I can dig character-based books if I like the characters, but I'm having a hard time really latching onto anyone that I don't want to smack upside the head. Actually, no, I do like some characters (Brashen and Paragon, for instance) - but the ones I do like we don't seem to spend enough time with, while we spend far too much time with the likes of Kyle and 12/21/10 I'm about 75% through with this book, and I'm finding it frustrating. As others have said, it's very much a character-based book, and I can dig character-based books if I like the characters, but I'm having a hard time really latching onto anyone that I don't want to smack upside the head. Actually, no, I do like some characters (Brashen and Paragon, for instance) - but the ones I do like we don't seem to spend enough time with, while we spend far too much time with the likes of Kyle and Malta. And I have a love-hate relationship with the shifting perspectives. When I'm slogging through a particularlty annoying or slow perspective, I'm grateful for its end, but there are other times when things are finally get interesting, only for the action to then cut-away from what's going on, and I have to wait 150 more pages to get back to what I was interested in. (And then, when we do get back to it, often time has passed, and so we're not taken back to the moment that had captured me anyway.) So far, I've been reading this book for 9 days. That's a long time for me to take on one book. Part of the problem is that I'm just not really motivated to pick it up. I'm not attached enough to the characters to long for the time when I can pick the book back up, and, sometimes, I even find myself putting it off during my daily allotted reading time. But I don't hate it. Thus far, I would probably rate it 2 stars. And I guess that's what's so frustrating, because I think I could like it more, like it could almost be a book I loved, but it's just not. *shrugs* *** 12/22/10 So I finally finished. I was promised some actual character development by the end, and it did happen, of a sort. Also, some stuff came together and there was actually some action. Yay! I wish that the events hadn't been quite so predictable, but at least the last 100 pages or so moved at a better pace. I know do feel the need to continue, when, before, it was more of a "I suppose I must", but a lot of this is because nothing gets resolved in this book. It's definitely not a stand alone. Anyway, even though I feel slightly more favorable to the book than I did above, I still feel like it could've been chopped down, a lot of the character set-up was repetitious and tedious, and I can easily see how some scenes could've been combined. I'm still not sure I like any of the more major players, though. 1.5

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    It started slow for me until I realized that nothing much was going to happen until the extended family all had their say. That being said, the plot started weaving and the world started blooming. So many bad things started happening to everyone so slowly that I wondered if I, too, was slowly being boiled alive. That's the effect this novel had on me. It's very long, and its very detailed. If you like immersive fantasy and especially nautical fantasy, then you'll love this. Edit 7/5/16 Looking back It started slow for me until I realized that nothing much was going to happen until the extended family all had their say. That being said, the plot started weaving and the world started blooming. So many bad things started happening to everyone so slowly that I wondered if I, too, was slowly being boiled alive. That's the effect this novel had on me. It's very long, and its very detailed. If you like immersive fantasy and especially nautical fantasy, then you'll love this. Edit 7/5/16 Looking back after years and having read the full trilogy plus a third trilogy after this one, I'm a bit more forgiving of the novel. The final interesting events, the redemption and restoration of the mad ship, the tragedy of the main family, and all the proto-dragons, the leviathans, and the wilds, makes me think much more fondly on the whole storyline. :)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amy | littledevonnook

    I think this could be the one of the best fantasy books I've read so far this year - I can't wait to see what the rest of this trilogy holds! This series is set in the same world at the Farseer Trilogy and so far I am enjoying it a lot more! Unlike the Farseer books The Liveship Traders follows a larger group of characters - from land to sea we are given a whole host of exciting people to share adventures with. One of our main characters is a young lady named Althea. She lives aboard her families I think this could be the one of the best fantasy books I've read so far this year - I can't wait to see what the rest of this trilogy holds! This series is set in the same world at the Farseer Trilogy and so far I am enjoying it a lot more! Unlike the Farseer books The Liveship Traders follows a larger group of characters - from land to sea we are given a whole host of exciting people to share adventures with. One of our main characters is a young lady named Althea. She lives aboard her families liveship named Vivacia. Once a certain number of generations have died aboard the decks of a liveship the figurehead comes to life - at the very beginning of the book Althea's father dies and Vivacia is freed from her static life. Althea's dream of captaining the ship are quickly taken away by her sister's gruesome husband - it is then Althea's mission to regain the captaincy of her families ship! There are so many other things happening in this novel that I wouldn't be able to explain it all here. I would simply say that if you enjoy fantasy and you are looking for a exciting ride I would highly recommend you pick this one up! Robin Hobb is a wonderful writer and I can't wait to see what happens next!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Victoria Rose

    JEEBUS I love you Robin ❤️ Full review to come when I have the time to flail properly! Reasons to love Ship of Magic: + Talking ships + Mean, handsome pirate captain who sets his skin on fire for angst reasons + Almost cried 20% in + Character development like a boss I just cannot COMPREHEND how Hobb is able to make each and every character so multi-faceted?! Like even vile Kyle is doing what he thinks is right.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kat Hooper

    2015 re-read Originally read in 1995. Still awesome.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Helene Jeppesen

    If you're looking for a great and original fantasy story with a big set of characters and an amazing world building, then this is it. Robin Hobb is a master at creating suspenseful stories with vivid and interesting characters that you feel a connection to. In this book, you even feel a connection to the ships! What I especially like about Robin Hobb's books is that she makes fantasy accessible to me. I'm not the biggest reader of fantasy, but when I do read it I want to be enchanted with the wor If you're looking for a great and original fantasy story with a big set of characters and an amazing world building, then this is it. Robin Hobb is a master at creating suspenseful stories with vivid and interesting characters that you feel a connection to. In this book, you even feel a connection to the ships! What I especially like about Robin Hobb's books is that she makes fantasy accessible to me. I'm not the biggest reader of fantasy, but when I do read it I want to be enchanted with the world. I always am when I read Robin Hobb's books. Now, while I really liked this story and definitely recommend it, I didn't rate it 5 stars. That's because even though I did find the plot very interesting, intricate and just about complex enough, I also felt like some elements of the story became too silly in my eyes. I sometimes questioned what was happening - not because it didn't fit it with the story and the world, but because I didn't see the deeper meaning of it. Sometimes it felt like Robin Hobb used a lot of fantastical elements that you can expect from a story like this, and I guess I just missed the element of surprise. Furthermore, while I did love all the characters (their weaknesses as well), they were written as caricatures, and almost all characters lacked nuance in their behaviour. Either they were the good guys, or the evil ones, and they didn't differ from that place. I would've loved for Robin Hobb to bring it up a notch and give the reader the possibility to actually connect with the bad guys as well, and to give the good guys some weaknesses. In my eyes, that would have made the story even better. Nevertheless, this is absolutely great fantasy which takes you on quite a journey, and I'm very interested to see what will happen to these characters in the upcoming books.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ferdy

    2.5 stars Not as good as the Fitz books, mainly because bar a few characters there was hardly anyone to properly root for or to even feel mildly connected to. There were way too many characters and POVs, and it felt like ages before things really kicked off, it was a really slow start. Pretty much everyone was unlikeable, even the characters that were meant to be likeable were mostly unlikeable. And they were quite a few boring characters as well, mainly Wintrow, Althea and Brashen.. they did get 2.5 stars Not as good as the Fitz books, mainly because bar a few characters there was hardly anyone to properly root for or to even feel mildly connected to. There were way too many characters and POVs, and it felt like ages before things really kicked off, it was a really slow start. Pretty much everyone was unlikeable, even the characters that were meant to be likeable were mostly unlikeable. And they were quite a few boring characters as well, mainly Wintrow, Althea and Brashen.. they did get somewhat interesting by the end but it took too long to get there. Loved Kennit and the pirates, they were fantastic. The whole idea of liveships was brilliant too. Best of all though was Paragon, he was the most interesting and easy to root for, loved everything about him. I was really expecting the ship Vivacia to be an amazing character, but she was rubbish, as soon as she quickened all she did was whine and bitch, she had no endearing qualities about her. She had no loyalty to anyone, she flip flopped between Althea, Wintrow and Kennit so easily, and even though she was a ship she somehow managed to be a vapid, shallow, attention seeking twit who latched on to whoever paid her the slightest bit of attention. Wintrow was too thick for words, his every decision was idiotic. Worst of all was his sanctimonious, holier than thou religious talk, he really did think he was better than everyone else, despite being useless and dull. And it was hilarious how he judged anyone who was stuck in a difficult decision for not doing this or that or for not thinking one way instead of another, he always had some superior answer to everything, but as soon as he was in an impossible situation himself he couldn't muster up any solution to get himself out if it. No, he just did daft thing after daft thing and dug himself deeper into trouble. Althea's family were dicks, talk about screwing her over. Althea spent half her life training to take over her family's liveship, that was all she cared about, she had her dad's support and knowledge, she understood the work and would have made a decent captain and ultimately helped the family out of debt. But her awful mum engineered things so Althea wouldn't inherit the ship all so she could control her and marry her off to some rich guy who could help the family. Then she stupidly gave the inheritance to Keffria instead, the doormat eldest daughter who was completely controlled by her slimy husband.. WTF was she thinking? It was disturbing how cool she was with betraying Althea all so she could manipulate and control her into being the dutiful daughter. She was only sorry after she realised her son-in-law wasn't going to do things her way and was taking over as head of the family and could now control her as well as the household, then it dawned on her what a big mistake she made and what a horrible position she was in now. The hypocrite got what she deserved, she fucked over Althea well and truly, then got all regretful and upset when all her careful plans to get Althea under her thumb backfired and she ended up being the one at the mercy of her slimy so -in-law. She had no right to act all outraged when the tables turned on her and it was impossible to feel any sympathy for her situation after she treated her daughter the way she didn't want to be treated herself. Brashen was meant to be the good guy who was down on his luck and had it hard but everything about him pissed me off. I mean, the guy bitched about Althea's attitude and offered her little sympathy or support on the day her dad died, her inheritance was stolen from her and her family betrayed her. There was no kindness, only judgement at how Althea was acting and behaving. Seriously, the guy had no compassion whatsoever. Everything was about him and his pain, I just didn't care about him at all. Last of all, the serpents were terrible, I felt like dozing off in their parts, they had relatively short POVs but they felt so long and drawn out. They didn't fit in with the rest of the story/characters, and I didn't see the point of their particular arc.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sade

    It will never cease to amaze me how writers can take words, spin it and make you care about characters that exist only in books, make you care about the words these characters utter, how because of words on a page, you're rooting for a character to be better, stronger, braver. It's awe inspiring and just amazing. Robin Hobb is one of those writers that weaves magic with her words. and it's curious, it's not like her books at least the few i've read have an insane amount of gore or are especially It will never cease to amaze me how writers can take words, spin it and make you care about characters that exist only in books, make you care about the words these characters utter, how because of words on a page, you're rooting for a character to be better, stronger, braver. It's awe inspiring and just amazing. Robin Hobb is one of those writers that weaves magic with her words. and it's curious, it's not like her books at least the few i've read have an insane amount of gore or are especially grim. but somehow she's captures the essence of a character so thoroughly. You can feel the selfishness of Malta, the apathy that dictated Keffria life, the strength that was Ronica Vestrit, the confusion peppered with shadows of strength, wisdom and the occasional dose of stupidity that was Wintrow, the stinking mess of insecurity that was Kyle Haven, the fire cracker that was Althea Vestrit and the ships, gosh the ships..... I did feel sometimes descriptions ran a tad too long but having read the Farseer trilogy, i've come to recognise that as signature Hobb story telling.. All in all a truly delightful book that does not disappoint.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

    Another master class given by Robin Hobb in characterization, pacing, plotting, stakes, and emotional truth, all delivered in her clear, brutal, graceful prose. I marvel at the skill with which she pivoted from a first-person narrative in The Farseer Trilogy to that of this novel, which is told with multiple viewpoints, all convincingly and humanely brought to life, even the most despicable or complex of them. It had been a while since I was this satisfied with a book, and I am grateful.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Scott Hitchcock

    A big thanks to Niki and Bill who convinced me this was worth reading in spite of the Farseer trilogy which while well written drove me crazy but Fitz might be the worst protagonist, EVER! 4.5*'s This book had all the elements I love in fantasy. Smart and real characters who weren't black and white. They all had motivations which led them to both good and bad decisions. Different types of magic and magical creatures and you weren't just told about them, you were made to feel them. What they were A big thanks to Niki and Bill who convinced me this was worth reading in spite of the Farseer trilogy which while well written drove me crazy but Fitz might be the worst protagonist, EVER! 4.5*'s This book had all the elements I love in fantasy. Smart and real characters who weren't black and white. They all had motivations which led them to both good and bad decisions. Different types of magic and magical creatures and you weren't just told about them, you were made to feel them. What they were about. What they felt. How they interacted with the world and the characters. There was real trauma and hardship, tough decisions to be made. Strife between conflicting characters and their points of view. A lot was left unanswered for us which I love. Don't show me everything at once, play the long game. The customs of the different people interwoven into their lives. I especially love the two ships. To me they are so unique. Looking forward to seeing how their stories play out and for the rest of the series.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kat

    March 2014: Buddy read with Kat, Damian and Em. Ooooooh, Kennit! If I had to choose between you and Toreth, I'd have to chop myself in half.:') Yep, I still stand by my hysterically enthusiastic review from a few years ago *happy sigh*. __________________________ 2011 fan squealing below :p: Woot woot..Wow, this trilogy is incredible. I mean, I've re-read these bible-sized books three to four times. And I keep discovering new bits and pieces, new clues in this extremely rich, yes epic, (now that I March 2014: Buddy read with Kat, Damian and Em. Ooooooh, Kennit! If I had to choose between you and Toreth, I'd have to chop myself in half.:') Yep, I still stand by my hysterically enthusiastic review from a few years ago *happy sigh*. __________________________ 2011 fan squealing below :p: Woot woot..Wow, this trilogy is incredible. I mean, I've re-read these bible-sized books three to four times. And I keep discovering new bits and pieces, new clues in this extremely rich, yes epic, (now that I'm on a superlatives-roll: MINDBLOWING) story. Sure, Hobb's first trilogy was such an intense reading experience. I was quite young when I discovered the first Farseer book and I felt like I could almost crawl into Fitz's skin and live his life with him. And Night Eyes' life! I forgot to study. I started missing my train station. I had to wait for half an hour on the opposite platform, in the cold, not minding. I skipped meals so I could keep reading (which is a highly unusual thing for me to do) etc etc..you get the picture? Now The Liveship Traders trilogy is a little different, mostly because Hobb no longer focuses on one character, but introduces a whole bunch of three-dimensional ones. I know how some reviewers keep missing Fitz, but I personally found these books even more compelling. If you like straight forward fantasy books with a main character going on a quest, Hobb's books are probably not for you. As I mentioned, she introduces many, brilliant characters that are all starring in a spectacular fantasy story including evil, yet charming pirates, tough girls' running from home, a sinister island, sea snakes and a long forgotten tribe, that in reality is very much alive in the blood of some people in Bingtown... I particularly liked that, although Hobb definitely makes sure to add plenty of tragedy, drama and torture to The Liveship Traders as well, she didn't go overboard this time. If Fitz had been a real person, the poor fellow would probably have been dead and buried six times already after everything Hobb cooked up for him. Fans of Fitz will enjoy the references and clues to him, that Hobb included in this trilogy. Although reading her first trilogy before this one is not necessary, I would recommend doing so because, let's face it; you'll probably want to do so anyway afterwards. I just wish Hobb would write a trilogy starring pirate Kennit...hey, a girl can dream!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    I have very mixed feelings about this book. At this point, I'm invested - to the tune of 800 pages - and I liked the world and the general direction the series seems to be going in. Even with 800 pages, though, it felt like Hobb ran out of room to truly develop the world, and because this is a trilogy the characters end up at (what I hope is) the nadir of their fortunes at the end of the book. All of it feels a little incomplete. I'll end up reading on, but before I do: Things I Really Liked - The I have very mixed feelings about this book. At this point, I'm invested - to the tune of 800 pages - and I liked the world and the general direction the series seems to be going in. Even with 800 pages, though, it felt like Hobb ran out of room to truly develop the world, and because this is a trilogy the characters end up at (what I hope is) the nadir of their fortunes at the end of the book. All of it feels a little incomplete. I'll end up reading on, but before I do: Things I Really Liked - The history between the Rain Wild Traders and the Bingtown Traders, while not explored that deeply in this book, is fascinating and something I haven't seen much of in other fantasy books. I am really excited to get into the reasons why the Vestrits have stopped trading up the river. (view spoiler)[I hope Malta gets married off so there can be scenes there. (hide spoiler)] - I am a sucker for Girls Sailing, Girls Sailing as Boys, Forbidden Love at Sea, and any number of other fantasy seafaring tropes. A++ would like more of all of this please. - Kennit's obvious sociopathy tickles me. He's interesting to read because his perspective is so skewed. I did spend the first 300 pages reading "Kermit," though. Things I Didn't Like As Much As I Thought I Would - The characters are particularly tough in this book. Around page 200, all of them are terrible, but they begin to even out as you spend more time with them. The characters develop, sure, but they have to for the reader to stand them. I thought I was going to like Althea Vestrit a lot more than I did. I never thought I would like Malta, but I would like to point out the distinct Alison DiLaurentis vibe I'm getting from her. (Anyone? Is this the right part of Goodreads for that comparison?) - I'm not 100% sold on the liveships. I like the concept (maybe?). I don't know. I need some more time to sort out my feelings. I have a hard time both visualizing and understanding how Vivacia is interacting with the humans and how her figurehead is positioned on the ship. Things I Really Didn't Like - This book is all about the characters' fortunes in free-fall, which makes the ending sort of depressing. The reversal of Wintrow's fortunes was particularly hard to read. (view spoiler)[Something about the slave tattoo really gets me. There's no coming back from that. (hide spoiler)] - The multiple perspectives are edited very poorly. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the first long scene in the book with Kennit on the Others' island. During that scene, Hobb cuts to Wintrow in the monastery before coming back (??). It completely kills the suspense, kills interest in Wintrow, and feels very uneven. In fact, she kept cutting from all of the interesting bits, and I found myself skimming forward to find out what was going to happen, which I very rarely do. It's not like she inserts cliffhangers - it's like someone took a pair of scissors to the narratives and just arranged them at random. - Kyle Haven feels like a cardboard cutout of a villain. (view spoiler)[Everyone's 180 turn on how they feel about Kyle - particularly Ronica Vestrit! - is just too much. (hide spoiler)] It's so obvious that he's awful that it's boring and unrealistic. - The map included in the front is terrible! None of the locations that I care about are represented. Where is the Rain Wild River?? Where is Chalced? Why does the map of Bingtown have depth indicators for Trader Bay, but no map of Bingtown itself? This drives me batty. I love when fantasy books include a map in the front (bonus points for a nice family tree in semi-ornate font), but it would have been better to have no map at all.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jake Bishop

    Ship of Magic takes everything I loved about The Farseer trilogy, and ramps it up to 11, somehow Hobbs writing shines even brighter in this expanded setting and PoV. To start I am going to preface this with things that may cause you to not enjoy this book as much as me. None of these things are cons, more just the style of book it is. Be warned if you want a fantasy book with action, this is not the book for you. There are maybe 2 or 3 action scenes in the entire book, and the first one is more t Ship of Magic takes everything I loved about The Farseer trilogy, and ramps it up to 11, somehow Hobbs writing shines even brighter in this expanded setting and PoV. To start I am going to preface this with things that may cause you to not enjoy this book as much as me. None of these things are cons, more just the style of book it is. Be warned if you want a fantasy book with action, this is not the book for you. There are maybe 2 or 3 action scenes in the entire book, and the first one is more then halfway through. The next thing is that characters in this book will make some decisions that are just oh so human, and by that I mean dumb. If you find books where people make foolish decisions that you would never make frustrating and bad then this is not the book for you. Fortunately I think books where everyone was a logic bot would be pretty boring. Ok moving on from the disclaimer. Some people have also said that this book has a rough start, and I literally could not disagree more. It is the best first 150 pages I have ever read in a fantasy series. It definitely isn't action packed, but emotionally it is so hard hitting. “Many will rant and rave against the garment fate has woven for them, but they pick it up and don it all the same, and most wear it to the end of their days. You... you would rather go naked into the storm.” As soon as I started this book I was happy to get back to Hobbs writing. She managed to combine the gravitas and beauty of Tolkien, with the readability and digestibility that is common among modern fantasy. I have always said that most books prose fall in a range that is not good or bad enough to significantly affect my enjoyment of a book. Hobb however is easily in the camp of prose that blows 99% of the genre out of its socks. There are simply scenes that Hobb can write, that other authors can't because they can't find the perfect words. Hobb finds the perfect words. Every time. I have said it before and I will say it again, Hobb is my prose GOAT, even after one trilogy, and in this book she continues to separate herself from the pack. It's so immersive, so elegant, so impactful, and it flows so well. So after you get to the writing, what is The Liveship traders about. This trilogy takes place after the Farseer trilogy, but further in the south, mostly around a city known as Bingtown. The Bingtown traders are the only people in the world who have ships made of wizardwood. If a wizardwood ship sails with a family for three generations, and all 3 generations die on its deck, then it will awaken into a liveship. Most of this series could be considered a family drama, the third generation of the Vestrit family is coming to the end of his life, and Vivacia awaits. “Only my pain is more silent than my anger.” The real main reason this is my favorite book ever like with all my other favorites is the characters. The character work in this book is off the charts. It is by far the best character work I have ever read in a novel. Every single character is so human, I felt like I knew them as well I know characters I have spent entire series with after one chapter, and all of them have fantastic, natural character development. In my opinion Hobbs mastery of character shines even brighter in 3rd person limited then it does in 1st person retrospective. She has always had the ability to develop characters who don't have PoVs, and she still uses that, but it also gives her the ability to show us how so many characters see the world. Hobb is also simply masterful at dialogue, I have no way to describe what makes it so perfect, but she captures who people are, their relationship to others, how they see others, and everything else that can be in dialogue perfectly, and there isn't a single line of awkward dialogue in all 4 books i've read from her. I suspect that will still be true after 16 books. Also their are sentient boats, and they are so amazing, I love them all, I want one. He could smell the stench of their entrapment and hear their cries. Perhaps he was the one who was truly mad, for a key hung at his belt and he did nothing Now time to talk about the remaining things, and what Liveship did better then Farseer. One of my main criticisms of Farseer was that it felt like the main antagonist had plot armor, and a lot of his success wasn't earned. That just gone here, and overall I think the main hateable foil in this book is an even better villain then his equivalent in Farseer. The thing that really stands out is the worldbuilding and setting. I thought Farseer worldbuilding and setting were...fine, pretty good. But a lot of that story could have just being in generic medieval castle, and not much about the series would have changed. In general I don't think people read Robin Hobb for the worldbuilding, but in Liveship the setting came to life. The locations, and ships, and cultures, and cities were so much more unique, and well utilized. Also I thought the magical elements were a better fit. Farseer magic is a very simple hard magic system, and sometimes the limits to it seem to be whatever the plot needs it to. Liveship relies way less on having magical characters, and it has what I would call magical elements, that are there to add a sense of mystery and wonder. I think this is simply a better fit for the story Hobb is telling. Lastly the plot and pacing of this book, which is normally Hobbs kryptonite was really really solid. It didn't feel like their was any real fat, and the way the plots interwove was incredibly well done. In general this wasn't the most unpredictable book ever, but when you correctly predict things in a Hobb book you are normally predicting that things are going to go terribly, which if anything adds to the sense of tension. It isn't that it looks like bad things happen but I am pretty sure the characters are going to be fine, with no lasting harm. In this book sometimes it looks like things are going well, but I am pretty sure that isn't going to last. If anything I see this as a pro, as it adds to the sense of tension. The combination of this and how much I care about all the characters made a lot of this book put me on the edge of my seat, and somehow Hobb is so good she can write a slow burn character driven page turner. I don't think you can teach someone to write character, prose, relationships, and dialogue like Hobb, it is simply genius. Words of Radiance has being the king of my top book list for 7 years. The King is dead, long live the queen 10/10

  30. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    ***4.5 stars This was a buddy read with a group from Epic fantasy books. I went into this book expecting to enjoy it because I enjoyed the Farseer trilogy. Hobb’s writing is great. In this book even when events weren’t moving along quickly the writing was so good that it kept me wanting to read. There were parts when I was ready for the plot to move along. Looking back I realize that Hobb was using that time to develop the characters so it doesn’t bother me anymore. The plot was interesting with ***4.5 stars This was a buddy read with a group from Epic fantasy books. I went into this book expecting to enjoy it because I enjoyed the Farseer trilogy. Hobb’s writing is great. In this book even when events weren’t moving along quickly the writing was so good that it kept me wanting to read. There were parts when I was ready for the plot to move along. Looking back I realize that Hobb was using that time to develop the characters so it doesn’t bother me anymore. The plot was interesting with many different players and events throughout the book. The ending of the book wrapped somethings up but left enough open to keep me wondering what would happen next and wanting to continue the series. A great first book to the second series in Hobb’s world, but I have to say it was made even better by the discussion that went along from my group!

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