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Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders #1)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  44,140 Ratings  ·  1,703 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 anything t
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published February 22nd 2010 by Tantor Media (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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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
Bookdragon 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
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
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.
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
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 | 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
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.
ṣadé ọmọ Agbaje

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
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
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
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
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
Xime García
Aug 18, 2015 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
Nov 11, 2012 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 s
Laura Syed
review to follow. Right now I'm already on board the Mad Ship! And it's quite the adventure!!!
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.
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.
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fantasy
This book was fantastic. I absolutely love how Robin Hobb writes. There's such richness and depth to her stories. The characters and the world feel real in a way that I rarely experience in books. And this book was just so fun, and pretty intense (never since Professor Umbridge have I hated a character with such vehemence). I loved the ships, and pirates and sea monsters automatically make things more exciting. I just can't praise Robin Hobb highly enough. She's an incredible author. Read her bo ...more
Benjamin Thomas
Sep 05, 2010 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
Mar 12, 2013 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
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
Jul 12, 2015 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
Apr 26, 2016 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
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic characters, gripping plots, quick but thorough world-building – this was SUCH a good read. I was so invested in the story, even down to the side characters and subplots, and felt hatred and love and rage and excitement burn through me the whole time. I can’t believe that now I have to wait over a week for the next installment to come in the mail. It’s going to be torture. Do yourselves a favor and just buy all three books in one go, because if the other two are anything like this one, ...more
Katie Ziegler (Life Between Words)
Amazing. I can already tell that this series surpasses the Farseer trilogy. I loved every second of this absorbing, complex, imaginative novel. Where the Farseer trilogy felt Germanic midieval in its setting, this one felt like Mediterranean renaissance (they both take place in different parts of the same world). There were several perspective following characters from one family (the Vestrits) as well as a pirate - and all the plot lines were riveting. I hardly have words. It was fabulous! I ca ...more
Julie (A Girl and a Book)
This book was absolutely fantastic! I adored all of the characters and I loved how many strong female characters were in this one. I feel like that is something that lacked in the Farseer Trilogy. The setting and story were also just so incredible, I loved every minute of it. I honestly think that I enjoyed this first book more than I enjoyed any of the books in Robin Hobb's first trilogy. I can't wait to pick up the next book and jump back into this world. I already miss it.
Nov 09, 2015 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
Holy shit! What a brilliant book this is. Thoroughly exhilarating read. Liveship is a kick-ass concept to start with and it has been evolved into such a delightful story. I think I'll pick up book #2 right away after the way this one ended.

The characters in this book are some of the best written ones I've ever come across. Almost every single one of the main characters, and God, there were so many. Some were frustrating to the core, some were lovely, some depressing. I totally bought into their
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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)
“Look forward, not back. Correct your course and go on. You cannot undo yesterday's journey.” 44 likes
“For the weakest has but to try his strength to find it, and then he shall be strong.” 41 likes
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