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Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders #1)

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  27,349 ratings  ·  869 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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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
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 contrarian  ± (... never stop fighting) ±

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
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.
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
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
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
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

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
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
Full Review:

I have read both the Farseer and Tawn Man trilogies prior to this. Yes, I know, technically out of order. I was advised I could, but if I had it to do over, I would read them in published order. I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant to read this for fear that I could never love it as much as love the stories involving Fitz. But, happily, that is not a problem. While I may not have quite the same level of attachment to Althea as I did Fitz, it’
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
Althea Vestrit, wrongly denied her inheritance of the beautiful Liveship Vivacia, leaves Bingtown in order to prove herself as the true sailor she is and claim back her beloved ship from her brother-in-law's greedy grasp.

For Wintrow, Althea's nephew, Vivacia is nothing more than a slave ship wrenching him away from his religious studies so his father can have his son aboard his ship to inherit and keep Althea from coming into her inheritance.

But no one counted on Captain Kennit, a ruthless pirat
That's it. I am definitely going to read every Robin Hobb I can get my hands on after this fantastic book - starting with the next book in this trilogy that I'm starting immediately.

A fantasy sea adventure starring liveships - sentient ships crafted from wizardwood and each bound to a blood member of the families that own them - I wouldn't have thought I'd find myself feeling so strongly for what are, essentially, a bunch of boats but that's where I find myself (especially poor, tragic Paragon)
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.
This is a fantasy set in the same universe as Hobb's Farseer trilogy, but it stands alone, with only a very few references to the events in those earlier books. I like the writing very much, and the book was a page-turner.

It's composed of several interweaving stories and boasts living ships, ruthless pirates, cruel slavers, mysterious sea serpents, and plenty of magic - but not too much for my taste. It's not a happy book, although it ends on a more upbeat note than I expected from Hobb.

This is
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.
It's been a while since I've read a robin Hobb book and i put this series off until on holiday, when I'd be able to give it the best of my attention. I'm so glad that I did. With a series that drew me in from the first chapter, this seem to me even better than the previous Farseerer Trilogy. I'm living every minute in my dreams and can't get over how a far fetched fantasy book can feel so real...amazing!
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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
More about Robin Hobb...

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
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