Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders, #1)
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Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders #1)

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  22,946 ratings  ·  722 reviews
From the author of the classic Farseer trilogy, Ship of Magic is is the first part of the Liveship Traders. Set in a land bordering the Six Duchies, it tells of a group of sea traders, purveyors of rare goods which often border on the magical.

Wizardwood, a sentient wood.
The most precious commodity in the world.
Like many other legendary wares, it comes only from the Rain Ri...more
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...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'...more
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...more

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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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.
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...more
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...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
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...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...more
This series is a guilty pleasure, really, as the books are most decidedly flawed.
But it's a ripping yarn nonetheless, mainly because of the excellent way she has envisaged dragon culture, hierarchy and history.
The humans can be VERY irritating, especially the Vestrits mimble wimble on and on and on.
But she has a very solid grip on all her plots and subplots, her characters are well fleshed out and she is deft at leading to their final destinations in the third book, with some very good dropkicks...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...more
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...more
Andrew O
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.
3.5-ish stars. Was a bit slow, and I didn't form as strong a connection to the characters as I did with the Farseer and Tawny Man trilogies. I am still definitely looking forward to seeing what happens next, especially to Wintrow, Vivacia, Paragon, Amber, and Althea.

The concept of sentient wood was very interesting and really helped bring a unique feel to the world. The whole concept took a while to get used to, but I soon found myself liking all the sentient wood characters!

There were definite...more
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)...more
Dec 22, 2011 Paul rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: farseer fanatics
As you'd expect, Robin Hobb delivers some fully fleshed out characters. She also puts some nice conflict in. I disliked the situation they all find themselves in, which is a good thing: it means the author did a good job creating some story elements that need resolving.

The book feels a bit long, and it's not a page-turner: it's on the slow side. Still, it was interesting enough to finish, and I have a desire to read about everything that happens in the same land as the Six Duchies, even if - as...more
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
After the "Farseer" trilogy, I made the mistake of trying to read Robin Hobb's SHIP OF MAGIC, and I'm hard pressed to come up with a more annoying protagonist. I somehow managed to labor through this, but lost all interest in reading anything by Hobb. Even the wonderful "Farseer" books couldn't salvage my former zeal for this writer. It's been almost 10 years though, and a copy of SHAMAN'S CROSSING sits unread on my shelf, gathering dust. At some point I'll pick it up, I think, and hopefully ren...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...more
Ship of Magic is one of the best fantasy stories I've read in a long time. I've picked some up occasionally, but have been disappointed in them.

This book was highly satisfying and well written. Loved the idea of a Liveship, and the process of the "quickening" made sense to me. Although the cover looks like a Romance writer's cover, it has more to do with adventure and betrayal than romance. There was much that applies to this world, with the sense of character and meaningful life being betrayed...more
I was intrigued by this book. I got about two thirds of the way through it before things really started to bug me. Robin Hobb's writing is still good, and readable, but the way this story is put together is really quite flawed, in my opinion. It's in the characters, the way the plot is put together, the pacing.

I'll post my full analysis of why it's "broken" for me on the last book of the trilogy.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kevin Xu
I dislike this book so much. I expect Robin Hobb to write in first person, which this was not, and I read about 150 pages, and almost nothing happened.
M.A. Ray
I am wowed. This was so great I couldn't put it down. I read it all in one day. Good setting and fabulous characters. I must have more.
4* for the whole series. This series had me neglecting real life. I love that! The world build is amazing, the woman are amazing. The men really come second in this family. Strong independent woman, just like my mama taught me to be. And then we have Kennit, a man that wants to be king. Dont they all...
This review is going to be short because life is calling.
But the only thing that i didnt get is why the author didnt let Kennit go there with Wintrow, we know that he wanted that boy. Why not let...more
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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...
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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