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Ship of Magic: The Liveship Traders [Mass Market Paperback]

Robin Hobb
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (147 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 2 1999 Liveship Traders Trilogy (Book 1)
Bingtown is a hub of exotic trade and home to a merchant nobility famed for its liveships—rare vessels carved from wizardwood, which ripens magically into sentient awareness. Now the fortunes of one of Bingtown’s oldest families rest on the newly awakened liveship Vivacia.
For Althea Vestrit, the ship is her rightful legacy. For Althea’s young nephew, wrenched from his religious studies and forced to serve aboard the ship, the Vivacia is a life sentence. But the fate of the ship—and the Vestrits—may ultimately lie in the hands of an outsider: the ruthless buccaneer captain Kennit, who plans to seize power over the Pirate Isles by capturing a liveship and bending it to his will.
Praise for Robin Hobb and the Liveship Traders Trilogy
“Fantasy as it ought to be written . . . Robin Hobb’s books are diamonds in a sea of zircons.”—George R. R. Martin
“A truly extraordinary saga . . . The characterizations are consistently superb, and [Hobb] animates everything with love for and knowledge of the sea.”Booklist
“A major work of high fantasy, reading like a cross between Tolkien and Patrick O’Brian . . . one of the finest fantasy sagas to bridge the millennium.”Publishers Weekly
“Rich, complex . . . [Hobb’s] plotting is complex but tightly controlled, and her descriptive powers match her excellent visual imagination. But her chief virtue is that she delineates character extremely well.”Interzone

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Ship of Magic: The Liveship Traders + Ship of Destiny: The Liveship Traders + Mad Ship: The Liveship Traders
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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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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Works on Many Levels. June 27 2008
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Perhaps, by now, you've read this time and time again. Hobb's characterization is superb. Fitz is a timeless character, and one that will forever shadow the rest of Hobb's work. In that respect I won't flog the point to you. Hobb's characterization is amazing. That's all I need to say for the rest of my review.

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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Flawless fantasy July 19 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Robin Hobb has managed to achieve the impossible with her Liveship Traders trilogy. In a genre that so often uses the same themes and ideas, Ms Hobb has produced an original work.
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
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ugh! More! Now! June 20 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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? As it is, Ship of Magic has some of the most engaging characters I've read in a long time, and really quickly draws the reader into the lives and motivations of both the protagonists and antagonists, and there is a full cast of each.
Even the bad guys are very well drawn with individual motivations and backstories.
The frustrating part is that Ms. Hobb doesn't resolve any of the major plotlines in this book, and I haven't read the next installment yet! Worse, even more questions and issues are raised at the very end. I'm dying to read what's next for these living breathing people (and ships.) It ends at such a crossroads for so many of the characters than it's as if watching a half dozen of your closest friends in the world on the brink of a life changing decision.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Something original June 12 2004
By Doc
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. Robin Hobb however has created a world with unique characteristics that really capture your mind, your imagination. It's a sure bet when you know you just have to go and buy that very next book as soon as you can and I have now read all the Liveship series and the Farseer series and they are so well written. It is a very good blend of Fantasy, magic, mystique and characters to love and loath.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great books! May 20 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. What I like about this series is not only that the characters are great, but also that she follows some of them, one by one. They get one chapter each and take turns, which makes you scream when the chapter ends and you want to read more about that person, but then you start reading about the other one, and scream when that one ends, but then it's her again and... Wonderful, full of imagination and originality. I love them.
The only bad thing is two rape scenes. I DON'T enjoy reading them. I'm thinking about cutting out those pages. They feel unneccessary and I just hate such scenes. But that's the only bad thing about these books and they're worth it, I promise. Read the first book and if you still love them, keep reading even though these scener come later on, they are not in the first book.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Abysmal!!!!!!
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 more
Published on Dec 3 2010 by Hannah Sherlock
4.0 out of 5 stars Keep it up!
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
Published on Feb. 19 2006 by Jerry
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it, enjoy her other novels as well.
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 more
Published on April 24 2004 by Daffydd
3.0 out of 5 stars A good book, but I never felt attached to the characters.
This is hard to write mostly because I had such high hopes for this book. Many reviews were wonderful. Read more
Published on March 29 2004 by Richard Piatt
4.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting new fantasy
Sea serpents, pirates, sailing ships that are alive, a feisty female heroine who is bereft of her rightful inheritance by a cold, calculating brother-in-law, a young priest torn... Read more
Published on March 8 2004 by Anna Stanford
5.0 out of 5 stars Hobb rules the waves!
Can fantasy get any better than this? I don't think so. Robin Hobb is one of the best writers out there and she vastly proves it in this trilogy. Read more
Published on Feb. 8 2004 by ex nihilo
3.0 out of 5 stars Not on Par With the Farseer Saga
The first book of this series didn't grab me like her Farseer trilogy did. I will read the next one, but did anyone else get the feeling that Hobb really doesn't like her... Read more
Published on Feb. 7 2004 by Dan Dean
1.0 out of 5 stars what a perfectly awful book!
whiny, uninteresting characters. I was hoping for a lot. Great cover art, great blurb, simply amazing plot idea. Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2004
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