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Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders #1)

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  29,205 ratings  ·  950 reviews
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 gen
Paperback, 880 pages
Published 1999 by Voyager (first published 1998)
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Piia I only just started reading Ship of Magic, but I've heard that the farseer trilogy and this one (the liveship traders trilogy) are both very much…moreI only just started reading Ship of Magic, but I've heard that the farseer trilogy and this one (the liveship traders trilogy) are both very much displayed in the tawny man trilogy. At least there's characters from both trilogies, or that's what my friend says :D *whispers* it's all connected... (less)
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The Best Epic Fantasy
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Community Reviews

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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
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
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.
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 ...more
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'
David Sven
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Ships that bond with their owners, absorb their souls when they die until they become fully sentient. Fantastic concept. Throw in pirates, slavers, sentient sea serpents, other worldly beings; I was hooked start to finish.

This story is set in the same Universe as Farseer, south of the Six Duchies and the Chalced States and approximately three to five years after the Red Ship wars.

Early on in the book it became apparent to me that this was a deeper story than the F

What can I say? I just loved it!

This book combines two things that make up a brilliant fantasy book to me: amazing world-building and a bunch of real characters for me to love or despise (or constantly change my mind about). Add to that many intriguing storylines and you got a five star book right here!

Differently to Farseer this book is written in a few point of view characters. It all starts in one place, but quickly changes into many different storylines, all of them moving forward with a st
Benjamin Thomas
Having immensely enjoyed Robin Hobb's "Farseer Trilogy", I enthusiastically turned to her next fantasy series, the vast "Liveship Trader's" trilogy. This first novel in the series, "Ship of Magic", is set in the same world as the "Assassins Apprentice" but otherwise has very little to do with it, instead focusing on a whole new and unique fantasy setting. Liveships are large masted sailing ships made of wizardwood that actually become sentient beings after three generations of their owners' fami ...more
colleen the fabulous fabulaphile

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
Like most Robin Hobb fans, I was introduced to her work through Assassin's Apprentice, the first book of her Farseer trilogy. I devoured the next two books but was totally turned off after the ending of Assassin's Quest (most people know that I physically launched the book across the room after finishing it). After that, I declared that Ms. Hobb and I were on a break (yes, like Ross and Rachel [I am Ross in this situation]).

Boy am I glad that our break is over. Ship of Magic is a fantastic book
Absolutely amazing!I was entranced by this book from the start. It left me wanting more and more with every flip of a page, so much that I ended up slacking in my classes just so I could get the chance to read this. Robin Hobb is going to be my downfall, I swear.

Anyways, this book was almost impossible to put down. There was barely an combat (save maybe a scene or two), no insane bursts of magic everywhere, no goblins or demons running around. But it was still fantasy at its finest. There was a
This epic fantasy adventure is awesome!

I can't think of anything I didn't like about it (apart from Malta who was SO annoying) - it's imaginative, gripping and fast moving with real and complicated characters who you love then hate then love again!

It's got pirates. It's got magic. It's got new and fascinating lands and creatures.

But it also has family, politics, love and revenge.

Highly recommended for fantasy fans!
I jumped into this book after finishing the Farseer trilogy. Like that series, Hobb takes her time to set things up. I felt this book started a bit slower than Assassin's Apprentice, but like that book, once it really got going, it was hard to put down.

This book uses 3rd person, with multiple perspectives compared to the single first person perspective of Farseer. With all that was going on, I think the change of style was warranted.

Hobb introduced an interesting ensemble of characters. The lika
3.0 to 3.5 stars. Another good, solid effort by Hobb. Excellent world-building and great character development, but bogged down by a pace that was a bit too leidurely for me. Still, a fairly enjoyable read and it sets the stage very well for future books in the series.
Alexis Hall
Why in God's name did I shelve all the Robin Hobb?


Okay, this is ... a sort of spin-off of the Assassin's Blah series, except initially the connections are so obscure as to be ... well ... non-existent. There is a moment around Book 2 or 3 where you're all like OH I SEE NOW but if you're looking for Fitz and Co. this isn't a good place to be.

On the other hand, I do actually dig this series. I like the shape of the the first three Assassin books because they're so ... Anglo Saxon almost in th
This is a multi-series combined review and is copied/pasted across all of Hobb's related series. It does not refer only to this trilogy, and includes Liveship, Rain Wilds, Farseer, Tawny Man, and Dragon Keeper series.

These are the most compelling, most enjoyable, best-plotted, most complicated epic fantasy books I've read in ages. I adored them. There are 5 (?) interwoven, inter-dependent series that the author clearly outlined before picking up her pen for the first time. The characters are wo
I'm writing this review after my third re-read of this book. This time I listened to the audiobook version, mostly just as a comfort read. I needed sometime to listen to while I knitted and did other lame things like that, and ended up picking this.

Obviously if I've read it three times, you know I love it pretty hard core. Like seriously. Love it. For that matter, I love the series as a whole; it's probably my favorite trilogy by Hobb. This is the first book in the trilogy, and it does start sor
Mello ❣ Illium ✮Harry✮ ☀Myrnin☀ Torin Ichimaru

Bingtown is a hub of exotic trade and home to a merchant nobility famed for its liveshipsrare vessels carved from wizardwood, which ripens magically into sentient awareness. 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 unjustly denied hera legacy she will risk anything to reclaim. For Althea's young nephew Wintrow, wrenched from his religious studies and forced to serve aboard ship, Viva
Martin Yankov
FLAWLESS! BREATHTAKING! MAGNIFICENT! Seriously, this book deserves every praise I can think of!

There are many things to love here - the setting, the story, the constant twists, the subtle, yet effective, use of magic. But what I loved the most were the characters. All of them felt so real, so deeply human. They are everything I could ever want - amazingly relatable, but also incredibly strong. They are broken people, but at the same time they are fighters - they are people I could actually look
Tom Whalley
July 22nd, 1998. North Queensland, Australia. Huddled in blankets, too late to still be reading, young Tom Whalley turns the page on yet another of his father's collection of science fiction and fantasy novels. "That was cool," he thinks, "but I don't get why all of these books are about space stations or castles. Why can't someone do something cool about pirates?"

October 6, 2001. Brisbane, Australia. The lunchtime conversation, hidden under the teacher's staff room at a high school, turns to li
After reading Ship of Magic I am more than ever convinced that Robin Hobb is one of the best things that happened to the world of fantasy. Her writing, her stories, her concepts are truly a marvel. Her Liveship Traders Trilogy is so different from the Farseer Trilogy despite being set in the same world. I really could not thing of anything that I did not like in this book. But there were many things which I liked.

Plot Hobb’s specialty has always been in creating cozy little worlds. Her stories a
Written review from
Video review:

Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb is now my go-to book for critics who think that fantasy can’t be as well written as literature.

5/5 21/25 Possible Score

Plot – 4(Strong)

Characters – 5(Very Strong)

Setting/World Building – 3(Fine)

Writing Style – 5(Very Strong)

Heart & Mind Aspect – 4(Strong)


Ship of Magic deals with the lives of people that live on a coast and are ship traders. The Vestrits are an old fam
James 'Eagle'
A wonderfully unusual fantasy that focuses on the struggles of a trading family in the world of the Six Duchies. This is a very real human drama (as real as you can perhaps get within fantasy) with wholly realised characters with believable personalities and recognisable differences in their points of view. This varies greatly from its Farseer predecessor for not being focused on any world-shaking or nation-effecting vicissitudes and instead focusing on the more personal battles, like the self-c ...more

This book is just utter brilliance. After reading the extremely gripping Farseer Trilogy I nearly skipped this entire series out simply to follow Fitz into the next chapter of his life !

After my girlfriend forced me not to, I began reading this novel and my first impression was it was slow and completely random. However as I read on ( despite the slowness I was still intrigued ) it began to develop and pull everything together and the important information began to domi
I'm afraid I'm yet another disappointed "Farseer" reader. In fact, I may be one of the originals. I purchased both, the first book in the Farseer trilogy, Assassin's Apprentice and Ship of Magic the 1st Live Ship Trader book shortly after they were each released. In spite of an uncertain jacket synopsis on Ship of Magic, I’d hoped for a continuation of the well tempered, 1st person character driven action I'd found in the Farseer books. ( I didn’t much like how that series ended, but I loved ‘em ...more
I knew I would like this book, I remember thoroughly enjoying the first Fitz book, but I had no idea how enthralled I would be. Robin Hobb is a phenomenal writer, and her specialty is my favorite, character. When it comes to fantasy, my taste is pretty easy to pin down. I love richly developed characters, well thought out worlds, and outstanding writing. Robin Hobb delivers on all of these points and more. The family dynamics and political struggles in Ship of Magic were gripping, heart-breaking ...more
Kat  Hooper
This review refers to the whole Liveship Traders Trilogy:

I would never have picked up Liveship Traders if I hadn’t already read been a Robin Hobb fan. The thought of sentient ships just didn’t appeal to me. However, I really enjoyed this series for the same reason as I like her other works. Some of the characters overlap, also, which is nice. I had become attached to the characters in The Farseer Saga and Tawny Man Trilogy, so it was nice to see them again!

Read more Robin Hobb book reviews at
Anthony Ryan
Robin Hobb's follow-up series to the Farseer trilogy greatly expands her world beyond the Six Duchies. Hobb displays a remarkable breadth of imagination in the conception of the Liveships; self-aware vessels personified by figureheads carved from magical wood, creating a new sub-genre of maritime fantasy in the process. Crafted in Hobb's typically lyrical and captivating prose this ranks high among the canon of fantasy classics.
Andrew Obrigewitsch
The more I read Hobb the more I like her work. This one takes up some fairly tough subjects like slavery and slave trade, piracy and different aspects of this. Hobb is great a creating fully flushed out characters, some you like and some you really hate. The only complaint I have is the pacing of her stories is pretty slow.
Vladimir Stamenov
This is low fantasy done right. Robin Hobb is like a skilled fisherman who throws his net as wide as possible and still manages not only to make quite the catch, but also to catch different sizes and species of fish. From the broad brushstrokes of magical worldbuilding with the Others, wizardwood, serpents and Rain Wild Traders to the minutely detailed character interactions, financial and social mores and connections and a plot driven mainly by character's personalities and actions, instead of ...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
Favorite Robin Hobb trilogy? 8 9 Aug 02, 2015 02:47PM  
So how long did it take for you to get that...(spoiler) ? 13 172 Feb 20, 2015 02:54PM  
farseer vs liveship trader 9 74 Sep 17, 2014 10:28AM  
The Robin Hobb Co...: Ship of Magic > Chapter Thirty-One to Finish 21 37 Aug 29, 2014 03:52PM  
The Robin Hobb Co...: Ship of Magic > Chapter Six to Ten 25 39 Jul 28, 2013 03:37PM  
The Robin Hobb Co...: Ship of Destiny > Chapter 21 to 25 13 12 Jul 14, 2013 02:18PM  
The Robin Hobb Co...: Ship of Magic > Chapter Eleven to Fifteen 13 26 Jul 07, 2013 01:29PM  
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** I am shocked to find that some people think a 2 star 'I liked it' rating is a bad rating. What? I liked it. I LIKED it! That means I read the whole thing, to the last page, in spite of my life raining comets on me. It's a good book that survives the reading process with me. If a book is so-so, it ends up under the bed somewhere, or maybe under a stinky judo bag in the back of the van. So a 2 st ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Liveship Traders (3 books)
  • The Mad Ship (Liveship Traders, #2)
  • Ship of Destiny (Liveship Traders, #3)
Assassin's Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy, #1) Royal Assassin (Farseer Trilogy, #2) Assassin's Quest (Farseer Trilogy, #3) Fool's Errand (Tawny Man, #1) Fool's Fate (Tawny Man, #3)

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“For the weakest has but to try his strength to find it, and then he shall be strong.” 35 likes
“Look forward, not back. Correct your course and go on. You cannot undo yesterday's journey.” 30 likes
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