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Ship of Magic

(The Liveship Traders #1)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  66,016 ratings  ·  2,766 reviews
From the author of the classic Farseer trilogy, Ship of Magic is the first part of the Liveship Traders. Set in a land bordering the Six Duchies, Robin Hobb begins her epic of pirates, talking ships, magic, sea serpents, slave revolts, dashing heroes and bloody battles.

Wizardwood, the most precious commodity in the world, comes only from the Rain Wilds. But only a liveship
Paperback, 880 pages
Published September 10th 2015 by Harper Voyager (first published March 1998)
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Vivienne Hart The majority of 13 year old girls are pre-occupied by boys and clothes, just like Malta. However, as misfortune and hardship beset herself and her fam…moreThe majority of 13 year old girls are pre-occupied by boys and clothes, just like Malta. However, as misfortune and hardship beset herself and her family, she matures into a fascinating and uncompromising young woman. The development of her character is one of my great joys in the next 2 books. Then again, I loved the first book wholeheartedly but accept that I cannot like all the characters ... just like in real life.(less)
Nick Borrelli 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 som…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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Average rating 4.13  · 
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Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Truly one of the best books I have ever read
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Character driven fantasy fans
Shelves: favorites
4.5/5 stars

Color me impressed, just the first book in the Liveship Traders trilogy alone is already better than the entire Farseer trilogy.

Don’t get me wrong, the Farseer trilogy certainly has its charm but the third book of the trilogy, Ass Quest, was a massive disappointment for me. Fortunately, that didn’t stop me from giving Hobb another try because this was just utterly fantastic.

Ship of Magic, the first book in the Liveship Traders trilogy—which is also the second out five subseries within
Muhtasin Oyshik
Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders,#1 Realm of the Elderlings,#4)
As a big fan of Hobb's writing, I wasn't disappointed by this book at all!
Ship of Magic is not just one of the best fantasy books I've read but one of the best fiction books I've ever read. I was reluctant to leave Fitz after finishing the first trilogy. But it turns out that I enjoyed Ship of Magic even more. As this is only the first book of a trilogy, it makes for even higher praise. Now I would surely look forward to finishing t
Em Lost In Books
**Reread - Loved it more this time around specially all those small things that I let slip first time enhanced the reading experience. And there were so many moments "Ah! You shouldn't have done this, you fool!! Now be ready to face consequences."**


I can't believe she wrote this masterpiece after that messed up Farseer finale...

I read Assassin's Quest back in 2016 and lost every hope of getting back to Realm of Elderlings. But then I wrapped up Twany Man in August this and now I am a faithfu
Sean Barrs
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 4-star-reads
This was good, but it wasn’t as good as Robin Hobb's Farseer books.

Fitz is an excellent narrator, and an excellent focal point for a series, though this uses several point of view characters. Some are great and some are, unfortunately, as dry as dust.

Wintrow was by far my favourite character in this series. He is torn between two lives. As a young boy he was sent away from home and raised as a priest; it’s a life he has gotten used to, but circumstances demands that he returns to his former li
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
This book was awesome! I love the concept of the liveships!!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
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
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is now one of my all time favorites. Hobb was already an accomplished writer when she produced her last trilogy, and the characters of Fitz and the Fool rank with some of the most engaging and rounded characters I have seen in literature.
Then along came this book. Wow. The books in this trilogy run around 200 pages longer than those in the last series, and the author needs every single word. Typically, when something is this large there are at least some segments I skim. (I have deve
4.75 ⭐️


Greatness. Absolute greatness.
James Tivendale
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
The Liveship Traders is the second trilogy in Robin Hobb's The Realm of the Elderlings saga. After a couple of false starts, I ended up loving The Farseer Trilogy. I adored the tale of The Fitz and the Fool so much that I carried on following their narrative, probably incorrectly as this chronologically is set before those events. I read The Tawny Man trilogy next and I don't imagine that I am the only person who has followed this route. I was then ready to jump straight into the final The Fitz ...more
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
Step aside Pirates of The Caribbean, Robin Hobb is the crowned queen of maritime fiction and she's here to stay!
Allow to say that I can't believe I've been putting off starting Robin Hobb's work for the last couple of years just because it's a little bit on the heftier and slow burning side. OH MY GOD I'VE BEEN SUCH AN IDIOT! Well, better late than never and all that rot..
I was thinking about saying that getting to this book was worth the time it took me to read through the Farseer trilogy, but
Mar 01, 2014 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
Deborah Obida
The man who worries about what will next be happening to him loses this moment in dread of the next, and poisons the next with pre-judgement.

If there was ever a book that exceeded my expectations due to its uniqueness its this book, this book is one of those books you didn't know you needed till you read it. There is a praise by The Times written on the cover of this book As addictive as morphine, and I couldn't agree more.

I know its wrong to compare but I just cannot help myself, this book
May 25, 2015 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
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.
colleen the convivial curmudgeon

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
Oct 26, 2014 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
Amy | littledevonnook
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Victoria Rose
JEEBUS I love you Robin ❤️ Full review to come when I have the time to flail properly!

Reasons to love Ship of Magic:
+ Talking ships
+ Mean, handsome pirate captain who sets his skin on fire for angst reasons
+ Almost cried 20% in
+ Character development like a boss
I just cannot COMPREHEND how Hobb is able to make each and every character so multi-faceted?! Like even vile Kyle is doing what he thinks is right.
Kat  Hooper
Mar 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
2015 re-read

Originally read in 1995. Still awesome.
Helene Jeppesen
Jul 27, 2015 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
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

It will never cease to amaze me how writers can take words, spin it and make you care about characters that exist only in books, make you care about the words these characters utter, how because of words on a page, you're rooting for a character to be better, stronger, braver. It's awe inspiring and just amazing.

Robin Hobb is one of those writers that weaves magic with her words. and it's curious, it's not like her books at least the few i've read have an insane amount of gore or are especially
Another master class given by Robin Hobb in characterization, pacing, plotting, stakes, and emotional truth, all delivered in her clear, brutal, graceful prose. I marvel at the skill with which she pivoted from a first-person narrative in The Farseer Trilogy to that of this novel, which is told with multiple viewpoints, all convincingly and humanely brought to life, even the most despicable or complex of them. It had been a while since I was this satisfied with a book, and I am grateful.
Scott  Hitchcock
Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Scott by: Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
Shelves: epic-fantasy
A big thanks to Niki and Bill who convinced me this was worth reading in spite of the Farseer trilogy which while well written drove me crazy but Fitz might be the worst protagonist, EVER!


This book had all the elements I love in fantasy. Smart and real characters who weren't black and white. They all had motivations which led them to both good and bad decisions.

Different types of magic and magical creatures and you weren't just told about them, you were made to feel them. What they were
2.5 stars

Not as good as the Fitz books, mainly because bar a few characters there was hardly anyone to properly root for or to even feel mildly connected to. There were way too many characters and POVs, and it felt like ages before things really kicked off, it was a really slow start.

Pretty much everyone was unlikeable, even the characters that were meant to be likeable were mostly unlikeable. And they were quite a few boring characters as well, mainly Wintrow, Althea and Brashen.. they did get
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
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
***4.5 stars

This was a buddy read with a group from Epic fantasy books.

I went into this book expecting to enjoy it because I enjoyed the Farseer trilogy. Hobb’s writing is great. In this book even when events weren’t moving along quickly the writing was so good that it kept me wanting to read. There were parts when I was ready for the plot to move along. Looking back I realize that Hobb was using that time to develop the characters so it doesn’t bother me anymore. The plot was interesting with
I've been looking forward to this book and returning to the world of the Farseer Trilogy. Imagine my surprise at how completely different this story was. Oh, there was a reference to the appearance of dragons at some point in the recent past, but there was otherwise no overlap.

The Liveships are a wonderful idea—with their frames made from wizardwood, they eventually gain some level of sentience & personality. Once quickened, the ship is able to assist its captain and crew. As the book progresses
Even better on a reread! This is the trilogy that some Hobb fans put off reading. I did myself for a long time. But it really does have a magic all of its own and of course this time round, understanding how it all fits together in the Realm of the Elderlings, means the foreshadowing is easier to spot. Such a cast of characters! And character depth and development for them all- through this book and the trilogy
I have very mixed feelings about this book. At this point, I'm invested - to the tune of 800 pages - and I liked the world and the general direction the series seems to be going in. Even with 800 pages, though, it felt like Hobb ran out of room to truly develop the world, and because this is a trilogy the characters end up at (what I hope is) the nadir of their fortunes at the end of the book. All of it feels a little incomplete. I'll end up reading on, but before I do:

Things I Really Liked
- The
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Play Book Tag: Ship Of Magic-5 Stars (POLLS) 3 14 Jan 30, 2020 04:20PM  
Favorite Robin Hobb trilogy? 12 90 Jan 14, 2020 11:46PM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: "Ship of Magic" Full Discussion *Spoilers* 47 293 Aug 07, 2019 04:02PM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: "Ship of Magic" First Impressions *no spoilers* 98 330 Aug 07, 2019 10:11AM  
Fantasy Buddy Reads: Ship of Magic [May 25, 2019] 117 69 Jun 17, 2019 01:23PM  

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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

Other books in the series

The Liveship Traders (3 books)
  • The Mad Ship (Liveship Traders, #2)
  • Ship of Destiny (Liveship Traders, #3)

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