Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb
The Ship of Magic is book one of the Liveship Traders trilogy written by Robin Hobb. First published in 1998, the series is set far to the south of The Six Duchies, the setting for the excellent Farseer Trilogy.
After having read and thoroughly enjoyed the Farseer trilogy I was expecting more of the same again. I was not disappointed; in fact I found the writing of even higher calibre. This is no small compliment as I find Robin Hobbs’s use of the English language superb and a joy to read.
The story is unique, the character development excellent. In just a few chapters the characters are well drawn and take on a life of their own. There is a distinctly nautical feel to the Liveship Traders but it is in no way important that you have a passion for the sea as the story could be based on land, sea or air, it really wouldn’t matter.
The event upon which the story is central is the “quickening” of the liveship Vivacia. Once three family members of separate generations have died on board the ship it will become “alive” and share the memories of the deceased and become a being in it’s own right. This is a wonderful notion and adds certain freshness to the story that remains throughout.
" They all looked up at him from the sea-bottom, their great eyes of green and gold and copper unwinking. Shreever spoke for them all when she asked, ‘Why? The water is warm, the feeding easy. In a hundred years, winter has never come here. Why must we leave now? "
Ship of Magic: Prologue
Once the liveship Vivacia has been wakened, the pace of the narrative slows down; the characters are further developed, at this, a key moment in the lives of all the main characters. The inevitable infighting that plagues families times of bereavement also affects the Vistrits and they are a family torn apart. Kyle Haven exerts his newly foundcontrol of the family and this drives a further wedge amongst them.
It is at this point that Paragon once again returns to the narrative. Paragon (or Pariah) is a half-crazed liveship, renowned for being cursed and bad luck. It is to this ship that Brashen and Althea turn in their hour of need. This is a very interesting sub plot and hopefully will play a bigger part in the subsequent books.
“ ‘It’s done,’ Althea breathed. She doubted if anyone but Brashen heard her. But as his grip on her tightened and he began to pull her up, Vivacia suddenly turned to her. She reached up, her strong hands catching hold of Althea’s own. Her green eyes met Althea’s.
‘I had the strangest dream,’ she said engagingly. Then she smiled at Althea, a grin that was at once impish and merry. ‘Thank you so for waking me.’
Ship of Magic: The Quickening of the Vivacia.
The second half of the book follows Althea, Wintrow and Brashen as they endevour to find contentment within their new lives. Alongside their stories is the social-drama that is life in Bingtown for Keffria, Ronit and Malta. There is a definite class system in place and image very important. Keeping up appearances even though they have fallen on hard times is very important to the Vestrit family.
Wintrow's troubles however far outweigh the rest of his families. He is a figure that is easy to fall in behind, a soft, gentle caring boy who is thrust into a life that he does not wish for.
You can add to this story a pirate by the name of Captain Kennit and have an excellent nautical tale fall of excellent characters.This is a large book and takes some reading. It is an orignal theme that has very good characters and a gripping storyline. Thoroughly enjoyable.
The book's cover illustration's are by the John Howe.
"Refreshingly original" Jenny Wurts
This Ship of Magic book review was written by Floresiensis
All reviews for: The Liveship Traders
Ship of Magic
The Liveship Traders: Book 1
On the northernmost point of the Cursed Shores lies Bingtown, a bustling hub of exotic trade and home to a proud merchant nobility famed for its extraordinary vessels. Only...
The Mad Ship
The Liveship Traders: Book 2
Althea Vestrit has found a new home aboard the liveship Ophelia, but lives only to reclaim the Vivacia as her rightful inheritance. However, Vivacia has been captured by th...
Ship of Destiny
The Liveship Traders: Book 3
The dragon, Tintaglia, has been released from her wizardwood coffin, only to find that the glories of her kingdom have passed into ancient memory. Meanwhile, Malta Vestrit ...
Have you read Ship of Magic?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Ship of Magic reader reviews
NC from Denmark
VERY character-driven narrative to the point that hundreds of pages actually pass before there is any momentum in the plot. A very long book (and the first part of an even longer trilogy), which would have benefitted from being 200-300 pages shorter. Pros: Author's extraordinary imagination & Kennit's character arc. Cons: Occasionally soap opera-worthy dialogue, lack of momentum.
Jeroen from The Netherlands
After all other fantasy series the books of Robin Hobb are a fresh breath. No one writes her characters so well, you actually live the story.
Lyn from Australia
Robin Hobb is arguably my favourite author. Her fantasy world is peopled by well rounded characters you really care for. The Mad Ship trilogy is my favourite.
The Liveship Traders Trilogy is overrated. It cost me lot of time to get through to the last book, just because I wanted to read the Fool's books, which as well, do not reach the quality of the Assassin's trilogy, but are still worth reading to some extent. Don't read the Liveship stuff, just have someone tell you the most important bits and pieces and that's a lot of time saved for you.
Shell from Winchester
Having fallen for the Farseer characters loved this digression - linked but strong independently as well - Robin Hobb is one of my favourite re-read writers - can't bear the death of the Fool - so have to go back to beginning on reaching the end - Shakespeare would be proud.
Lorna from Australia
This series is one of the best I have ever read. I couldn't put the books down. The author has a fantastic imagination. Did what its supposed to do, took me into another world.
8.4/10 from 7 reviews
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Age of Misrule
The details that Mark Chadbourn puts into the Celtic mythology are fantastic. I’ve never really been that keen on Celtic mythology in books in the past, this is the f...
Harrowing the Dragon
Spanning a quarter of a century, an anthology of previously uncollected short fiction by the World Fantasy Award-winning author explores a world of magic in such works as &...
The Dragon's Tooth
For two years, Cyrus and Antigone Smith have run a sagging roadside motel with their older brother, Daniel. Nothing ever seems to happen. Then a strange old man with bone t...
Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Young pioneer, Micah, enters Wrymeweald full of hope to return home having made his fortune. But this is a land where wyrmes, fabulous dragon-like beasts, roam wild and rei...
Tales from the Perilous Realm
Enchanted by a sand-sorcerer, the toy dog Roverandom explores a world filled with strange and fabulous creatures; the fat and unheroic Farmer Giles of Ham is called upon to...
Kallon Redheart lives with his back turned on his fellow dragons, on humans, and on everything he once understood. Riza Diantus is a young woman with dreams too wide to fit...
Under the harsh regime of an ambitious master, Eon is training to become a Dragoneye - a powerful Lord able to command wind and water to nurture and protect the land. But E...
Pamela Wiseman and Sarah Laichas
From fire-breathing to friendly, dragons pretty much rule the fantasy world. Dedicated to the coolest of mythological beasts, DragonWorld is a showcase of some of today&rsq...
George RR Martin
Among the scattered islands that make up the water world of Windhaven, no one holds more prestige than the silver-winged flyers, romantic figures who cross treacherous ocea...
In a small village, miles from the great cities of the Twin Kingdoms, a young boy called Errol tries to find his way in the world. He's an outsider - he looks different...
In The Labyrinth of Drakes
In this, the fourth volume of her memoirs, Lady Trent relates how she acquired her position with the Royal Scirling Army; how foreign saboteurs imperiled both her work and ...
Big Dragons Don't Cry
A depressed dragon, impudent kitten, and frightened young woman make an unlikely trio to save the dragon's swamp and lead humans to wholeness. They need the help of the...
Captain Will Laurence has been at sea since he was just twelve years old; finding a warmer berth in Nelson's navy than any he enjoyed as the youngest, least important s...
The Red Knight
Twenty eight florins a month is a huge price to pay, for a man to stand between you and the Wild. Twenty eight florins a month is nowhere near enough when a wyvern's ja...
The Devil in Green
Humanity has emerged, blinking, from the Age of Misrule into a world substantially changed: cities lie devasted, communications are limited, anarchy rages across the land. ...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
- Recommended high fantasy books/series
- Recommended dragon fiction
- Recommended epic fantasy books/series
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
After the sudden death of his best friend Neil, involving a 6-foot giant crow and quite some Tequila, Lou’s life takes an unexpected turn towards the impossible. As Lou discovers his unwelcome gift to see Neil’s ghost, he starts to question his sanity; but the real challenge is just coming up. Mallory, a self-proclaimed medium, offer...
Age of Assassins
Girton Club-Foot, apprentice to the land's best assassin, still has much to learn about the art of taking lives. But their latest mission tasks him and his master with ...
A Conjuring of Light
The precarious equilibrium among the four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empi...
Sebastien de Castell
Falcio val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, is on the brink of fulfilling his dead King's dream: Aline is about to take the throne and restore the rule of law once...
The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart
Edinburgh, 1874. On the coldest night the world has ever seen, Little Jack is born with a frozen heart and immediately undergoes a life-saving operation. But Dr Madeleine i...
The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow's Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow...
A Tale of Time City
Diana Wynne Jones
When Vivian is evacuated from London in 1939, she expects to be staying in the countryside. Instead, she is whisked away to Time City – a place that exists outside ti...