Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders, #1)” as Want to Read:
Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Ship of Magic

(The Liveship Traders #1)

by
4.14  ·  Rating details ·  55,022 ratings  ·  2,286 reviews
Bingtown is a hub of exotic trade and home to a merchant nobility famed for its liveships--rare 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 her--a legacy she will risk anythi
...more
Paperback, 809 pages
Published February 2nd 1999 by Spectra (first published March 1998)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ship of Magic, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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…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 T. 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…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)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  55,022 ratings  ·  2,286 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Petrik
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Character driven fantasy fans
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
...more
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
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
...more
Em Lost In Books
4.5*

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 faithful Hobb fan. So it was time to start Liveship Traders, everyone's favorite Hobb books. I knew I will not be disappointed and she delivered in best possible way, giving us the talking ships, and characters who are trying very hard to prove themselves.
...more
Marie
Nov 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
❄️Nani❄️
4.75 ⭐

THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD IT’S INSANE!!!

Greatness. Absolute greatness.
...more
Lema
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fantasy
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
...more
Kaora
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
...more
Mpauli
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.
Kaitlin
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
Bradley
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
...more
colleen the convivial curmudgeon
12/21/10

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
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 is
...more
Amy | shoutame
May 04, 2016 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
...more
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.
ijeoma Agbaje
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
...more
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.
...more
Anthony
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.
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
...more
Kat
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
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!

4.5*'s

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
...more
Kylie
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've finished it. What do I do now? I feel so lost and I don't own the other two yet so I will just have to wait. I feel like I have been waiting my whole adult life to read this trilogy. Obviously 5 stars.
David Sven
Aug 27, 2012 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
...more
Emma
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
Laura
Mar 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
review to follow. Right now I'm already on board the Mad Ship! And it's quite the adventure!!!
Hanne
Nov 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy

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 s
...more
Ferdy
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
...more
Emily
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
...more
steph // bookplaits
4.5 stars. Absolutely loved this! I didn't really get into it at first; I kind of struggled with the number of characters, but once the story got going and I got to know the characters better, I loved it. Can't wait to finish the series once I've read my other book for book club. :)

Reread 2018: Absolutely LOVED this reread and I'm bumping it up to 5 stars on Goodreads. I think the writing is even better than the Fitz books (which obviously I still love) and there are so many complex characters t
...more
Unabridged Bibliophile
4.5 stars. I am enjoying this a lot more than I did The Farseer Trilogy.
Benjamin Thomas
Sep 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)
  • Luck of the Wheels (Windsingers, #4)
  • Hidden Warrior (The Tamír Triad, #2)
  • Watcher of the Dead (Sword of Shadows, #4)
  • King's Dragon (Crown of Stars, #1)
  • Sky of Swords
  • The Dragon Revenant (Deverry, #4)
  • The Lady of the Sorrows (The Bitterbynde, #2)
  • Revelation (Rai-Kirah, #2)
  • Myrren's Gift (The Quickening, #1)
  • The Curse of the Mistwraith (Wars of Light and Shadow, #1)
  • Demonstorm (Legends of the Raven, #3)
See similar books…
76,741 followers
** 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)
“Look forward, not back. Correct your course and go on. You cannot undo yesterday's journey.” 60 likes
“For the weakest has but to try his strength to find it, and then he shall be strong.” 46 likes
More quotes…