Ship of Magic: The Liveship Traders Mass Market Paperback – Feb 2 1999
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Robin Hobb, author of the Farseer trilogy, has returned to that world for a new series. Ship of Magic is a sea tale, reminiscent of Moby Dick and Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series in its details of shipboard life. It is also a fantasy adventure with sea serpents, pirates, and all sorts of magic. The liveships have distinct personalities and partner with specific people, somewhat like Anne McCaffrey's Brain ships and their Brawns, though these are trading ships and have full crews.
Hobb has peopled the book with many wonderfully developed characters. Most of the primary ones are members of the Vestritts, an Old Trader family which owns the liveship Vivacia. Their stories are intercut with those of Kennit, the ambitious pirate Brashen, the disinherited scion of another family who served on the Vestritt's ship, and Paragon, an old liveship abandoned and believed mad. The sentient sea serpents have their own story hinted at, as well.
Though Ship of Magic is full of action, none of the plotlines get resolved in this book. Readers who resent being left with many questions and few answers after almost 700 pages should think twice before starting, or wait until the rest of the series is out so that their suspense won't be too prolonged. But Hobb's writing draws you in and makes you care desperately about what will happen next, the mark of a terrific storyteller. --Nona Vero --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Library Journal
The untimely death of Old Trader Ephron Vestrit deprives his daughter Althea of her inheritance and places her ambitious brother-in-law Kyle in command of the live ship Viveca and the family fortunes. The author of the Farseer trilogy (Assassin's Apprentice, LJ 3/15/95; Royal Assassin, Bantam, 1996; Assassin's Quest, Bantam, 1997) launches a new series set in a world of sentient ships, merchant traders, ruthless pirates, dangerous treasures, seagoing dragons, and a mysterious elder race. Hobb excels in depicting complex characters; even her villains command respect, if not sympathy, for their actions. Most libraries should purchase this exotic, nonstandard fantasy.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Mayn people count the two trilogies involving Fitz as their favourite, with this being a close third. I personally thing that this is her best trilogy so far. There are a few reasons for this.
1. Hobb brings her strong characterization to a variety of viewpoints. Where Tawny Man/Farseer deals with Fitz only, Liveship Traders has a rich set of characters, all with their own story. While this means you don't get to know any one character as well as you get to know Fitz, it means that there are so many plot lines that you love. You care about every aspect of the story, with no plot line completely winning your attention. Even the 'serpent' viewpoint, which I would argue is the weakest (which is to say that it is slightly less interesting than the rest), revels in the mystery it contains. Who are these creatures and what do they have to do with the plot? Also, Hobb keeps these ones short, to give you a taste, then moves onto a juicier plotline. Kennit starts out as a figure that you revile, but Hobb quickly takes his flaws and paints them against a jaw-dropping canvas of humanism, so that you can't help but sympathesize with him.
2. The world building in this novel is superior to that of Farseer and Tawny Man. Of course, this may have been Hobb's intention, but there it is nonetheless.Read more ›
The Liveships of the title are very expensive and rare ships built from the mysterious wizardwood only found in the Rain River Wilds. After 3 generations of the owner's family have died on board, the wizardwood 'quickens' and the ships become living, sentient beings.
Throughout the book, the author interweaves the story of the Liveship traders, the story of the sea serpents who are driven by an instinct to search for their 'beginnings' and the tale of Kennick, a ruthless man determined to be King of the Pirates.
Ms Hobbs shows an extraordinary talent for characterisation. There are no totally black or white characters in her stories but realistic characters who have their good sides and their faults in abundance. At times the reader will feel antipathy toward the heroine and at others empathy for the 'bad guy'.
This is a book that you will find difficult to put down. Highly recommended
The character development is good in that all characters are all self motivated. However, many of the characters are not enjoyable to read about which at times makes the book seem very long indeed.
Clearly Hobb wants us to embrace Althea (our heroine), Brashen, Wintrow, and of course Vivacia herself. I like Althea. Really I do, but she just doesn't keep me interested (insert here: like Fitz Chivalry Farseer did). Brashen is interesting and I think I'll like him more in the next book. Vivacia is wonderful to read about. I wish Wintrow would just go away. Here is a problem since so many chapters revolve around him and I really could care less about him and his complete inability to be what he needs to be.
On the other hand not all of our villains are all that bad (again, true self-motivation and believable characterization - Hobb's strength). Kyle Haven is such an ass. Ok, he's trying to do what he believes is right ... but he can't see the forest for the trees. Kennit is respected by many but such a complete idiot - I hope Hobb kills him off soon. Kennit's [prostitue] however is so engaging that I hope she becomes a major character in the series. Of all the characters, she has the most potential. Malta ...Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This book was the least satisfying I have read in a long, long time. It disappointed me in just about every way: the characters were dull and static, the plot - although often... Read morePublished on Dec 3 2010 by Hannah Sherlock
Excellent work of fantasy. Exciting and engaging. A must read. Just put it down and wow!
**A book I would also recommend is The Unsuspecting Mage by Brian S. Pratt. Read more
Never have I been as frustrated with a book, which I suppose is a testament to its quality. If it sucked, I couldn't care less what happened next, right? Read morePublished on June 20 2004 by Michael J. Vuolo
It is a little difficult to come up with something original in the Fantasy genre, I think, at the moment. Most of the themes have been done over and over. Read morePublished on June 11 2004 by Doc
If you like your characters to have depth, reasons for what they do and to be like real people, no one's pure evil and no one's pure good, then these are for you. Read morePublished on May 20 2004
I was reading another fantasy novel that just had to be put down! I then picked up this novel, after having recently read her excellent 'Assassin' series. Read morePublished on April 24 2004 by Daffydd