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Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders #1)

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  37,245 Ratings  ·  1,340 Reviews

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 r

ebook, 732 pages
Published December 30th 2003 by Spectra (first published January 9th 1998)
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Pipkia This entire series is brilliant and complex--it takes some getting started, and different storylines move at different paces, but both plot and…moreThis entire series is brilliant and complex--it takes some getting started, and different storylines move at different paces, but both plot and character arcs are truly epic. And no, Malta certainly does not maintain this banality throughout the series. Things change.(less)
Nick No way this is a book that a 10 year-old should be reading. The themes are very adult-oriented and there is an abundance of graphic violence. Also…moreNo way this is a book that a 10 year-old should be reading. The themes are very adult-oriented and there is an abundance of graphic violence. Also some sex scenes. Robin Hobb writes about heavy issues and somewhat depressing topics. These are books that even adults have a hard time dealing with. She is an excellent writer, but these are not "feel-good" books by any means.(less)
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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
Bookworm Sean
This was good, but it wasn’t as good as the Farseer books. Fitz is an excellent narrator, and an excellent focal point for a series. This novel uses several point of view characters, which is both good and bad. Altogether they did provide an overall perspective of the events. I did, however, find myself quite polarised in my opinions of certain characters. I think I just prefer Fitz to the dryness of Veronica Vestrit’s narrative. She is a little dull, but the other characters helped to make up f ...more
Apr 04, 2015 Kaora rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Amy (shoutame)
Jun 13, 2016 Amy (shoutame) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
I think this could be the one of the best fantasy books I've read so far this year - I can't wait to see what the rest of this trilogy holds!

This series is set in the same world at the Farseer Trilogy and so far I am enjoying it a lot more! Unlike the Farseer books The Liveship Traders follows a larger group of characters - from land to sea we are given a whole host of exciting people to share adventures with.

One of our main characters is a young lady named Althea. She lives aboard her families
Jun 02, 2015 Kaitlin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-sff-faves
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
Jul 05, 2016 Brad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
It started slow for me until I realized that nothing much was going to happen until the extended family all had their say.

That being said, the plot started weaving and the world started blooming. So many bad things started happening to everyone so slowly that I wondered if I, too, was slowly being boiled alive.

That's the effect this novel had on me. It's very long, and its very detailed. If you like immersive fantasy and especially nautical fantasy, then you'll love this.

Edit 7/5/16

Looking back
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'
helen the bookowl
Oct 04, 2015 helen the bookowl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for a great and original fantasy story with a big set of characters and an amazing world building, then this is it. Robin Hobb is a master at creating suspenseful stories with vivid and interesting characters that you feel a connection to. In this book, you even feel a connection to the ships!
What I especially like about Robin Hobb's books is that she makes fantasy accessible to me. I'm not the biggest reader of fantasy, but when I do read it I want to be enchanted with the wor
Kat  Hooper
Oct 09, 2015 Kat Hooper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
2015 re-read

Originally read in 1995. Still awesome.
Xime García
May 13, 2016 Xime García rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reseñados

Los hombres crean sus propios tormentos.

Después de tantas novelas históricas y de la anormalidad de King, necesitaba una buena fantasía de las que sabía que me iban a gustar. Hobb está dentro de mi top 5 de autores fantásticos (esperen, ni siquiera sé si son cinco. Déjenme contar. Top 4 tal vez).

Tengo cierto prejuicio con las historias de barco (mi cuerpo se estremece todavía cuando en 2010 me obligaron a leer La isla del tesoro en la escuela. Lo siento por los fans de Stevenson, pero lo ú
David Sven
Apr 27, 2013 David Sven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
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
May 02, 2013 Hanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Franco  Santos

Esta autora no deja de sorprenderme. ¡Qué personajes! ¡Qué diálogos! Espectacular trabajo de Hobb. Muy introductorio, le faltó fuerza al final y es espectacular. Lo amé.
Apr 03, 2014 Zayne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Benjamin Thomas
Nov 25, 2014 Benjamin Thomas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-epic
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
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
Apr 18, 2016 Karou! rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No puedo con los feels en este momento. Este libro ha sido perfecto. En serio. Vayan a leerlo todos. Robin Hobb me había enamorado ya con Aprendiz de asesino pero ahora, estoy completamente prendada de sus historias. Las naves de la magia es magia pura. Sus personajes, la trama, el mundo en donde se desarrolla la historia, los elementos sobrenaturales y mágicos se han ganado un lugar especial en mi corazón. Y aún más, los protagonistas por excelencia, las naos redivivas. No pensé que serían un e ...more
Nov 17, 2015 Connor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: epic-fantasy
I am having a hard time rating this. I loved the magic system. The Liveships and rain wild traders were so cool - seemingly very different from the wit and skill from the Farseer books. The characters were so well done. Perhaps too well done, because I have never hated any character more than Kyle and by association, Malta as well. I had to take breaks while reading because I was so mad that no one could see how awful he was to everyone around him. The fact that Robin Hobb could make me feel tha ...more
Jul 23, 2015 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourite-series
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!
Patti's Book Nook
May 06, 2016 Patti's Book Nook rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fantasy
My reviews can also be found on my blog at:

I've been a bit silent on the book reviewing front. Sorry about that! I went through an unusual reading slump after dragging myself through a few books, and took a small break. I wanted to return to a sure thing....and Hobb has proven her excellence time and again. She is truly a master and I can't sing her praises highly enough. If you ever try Fantasy, I recommend her novels as a jumping off point.

I have written re
Jun 29, 2016 Claudia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, z-to-a-hobb
After reading the Farseer trilogy, I said to myself that I won’t be reading anything else by RH, because of how I felt for Fitz. And yet, here I am again. Damn, she really knows how to emotionally drain you through her characters. But at least here there is some sunshine after all, or at least, the perspective of it.

The story is constructed more like a Bildungsroman, weaving three narrative threads: the path of Vestrit family and their liveship, Vivacia, of Kennit, the pirate (a surprisingly lov
Jan 19, 2016 Araceli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, reviewed, 2016
Muchas personas, naturalmente, despotrican y reniegan de la tela que les ha tejido el destino, pero aún así la toman y se la ponen, y la mayoría la viste hasta el fin de sus días. Tú... tú prefieres adentrarte desnuda en la tormenta.

Escribí esto a las 3 de la mañana y me fue difícil ordenar mis pensamientos en torno a esta novela. Creo que es más fácil decir desde el principio que la amé. Robin Hobb, sos mi ídolo.

Durante los primeros capítulos, se me hizo un poco difícil entender todo. ¿S
Jul 09, 2016 Giovanna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddy-read
I think this was my 60th buddy read? And 100th book read this year! :3

Ship Of Magic was a disappointment. I can't hide that, nor I want to. The last book in the Royal Assassin's trilogy disappointed me too, but I had great expectations for this one. Living ships and pirates sounded like a damn good duo to be honest. Sadly, the idea itself satisfied me far more than the book as a whole.

The biggest problem I had with this book was my lack of emotional involvement. I just didn't feel much througho
Jan 04, 2016 Eze rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lo termine.
Es increíble todo lo que me hizo sentir este libro. Llore, reí, me enoje, llegue al punto de hasta tirar el libro en un momento de tanta impotencia. Hace mucho que un libro no me trasmitía tanto. Hobb y sus hermosas palabras lograron tocarme y envolverme en esta hermosa y trágica historia. Hace muchísimo tiempo que no madrugaba con un libro, es q llego a tal punto en el que no paraban de pasar cosas. No lo podía soltar.
Pero bueno vamos de a poco.

La trama sigue las aventuras de vario
Jan 16, 2016 Petra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of nautical fantasy, pirates, headstrong young ladies.
This is by far the best fantasy book I've read this year. And to think I initially had reservations about reading Ship of Magic!

I tend to avoid long, multiple POV book series. They're kind of tricky to pull off. I'm usually afraid of uneven characterization, that I'll just want to skip most chapters to get to the protagonist I actually care about. Also, it's more difficult to keep track of the plot in the novel with constantly shifting perspectives, especially when every novel in the trilogy is
Mar 18, 2016 Angie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Debo decirlo: ¡Por fin terminé este libro!
Okay, ahora sí.

Es una historia muy buena, con tres o cuatro puntos de vista fantásticos que se unen para crear un gran libro. Los personajes me gustaron mucho, sus personalidades, ambiciones, tristezas, etc. siento que fueron personajes que estuvieron muy bien logrados. ¡Ahora a leer Las naves de la locura! Reseña en el blog:
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 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
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Hobb-A-Long Read-...: Chapters 21-25 9 26 Aug 09, 2016 11:16PM  
Hobb-A-Long Read-...: Chapters 11-15 15 37 Aug 01, 2016 12:59PM  
Hobb-A-Long Read-...: Chapters 5-10 31 38 Jul 31, 2016 03:21PM  
Around the Year i...: Ship of Magic, by Robin Hobb 5 14 Jul 26, 2016 11:22PM  
Hobb-A-Long Read-...: Prologue - Chapter 4 16 56 Jul 26, 2016 11:05AM  
The Robin Hobb Co...: Ship of Magic > Chapter Eleven to Fifteen 14 40 Oct 01, 2015 08:57AM  
The Robin Hobb Co...: Ship of Magic > Chapter Six to Ten 26 50 Oct 01, 2015 08:52AM  
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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)

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“For the weakest has but to try his strength to find it, and then he shall be strong.” 39 likes
“Look forward, not back. Correct your course and go on. You cannot undo yesterday's journey.” 38 likes
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