Ship of Magic: The Liveship Traders, Book I

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9780002254786: Ship of Magic: The Liveship Traders, Book I

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 to reclaim. For Althea's young nephew Wintrow, wrenched from his religious studies and forced to serve aboard ship, Vivacia is a life sentence. But the fate of the Vestrit family-and the ship-may ultimately lie in the hands of an outsider. The ruthless pirate Kennit seeks a way to seize power over all the denizens of the Pirate Isles...and the first step of his plan requires him to capture his own liveship and bend it to his will.

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Review:

Robin Hobb, author of the Farseer trilogy, has returned to that world for a new series. Ship of Magic is a sea tale, reminiscent of Moby Dick and Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series in its details of shipboard life. It is also a fantasy adventure with sea serpents, pirates, and all sorts of magic. The liveships have distinct personalities and partner with specific people, somewhat like Anne McCaffrey's Brain ships and their Brawns, though these are trading ships and have full crews.

Hobb has peopled the book with many wonderfully developed characters. Most of the primary ones are members of the Vestritts, an Old Trader family which owns the liveship Vivacia. Their stories are intercut with those of Kennit, the ambitious pirate Brashen, the disinherited scion of another family who served on the Vestritt's ship, and Paragon, an old liveship abandoned and believed mad. The sentient sea serpents have their own story hinted at, as well.

Though Ship of Magic is full of action, none of the plotlines get resolved in this book. Readers who resent being left with many questions and few answers after almost 700 pages should think twice before starting, or wait until the rest of the series is out so that their suspense won't be too prolonged. But Hobb's writing draws you in and makes you care desperately about what will happen next, the mark of a terrific storyteller. --Nona Vero

From the Publisher:

Praise for the Farseer trilogy by Robin Hobb:

Assassin's Apprentice
"A richly detailed debut. Highly recommended."
--Melanie Rawn

"A gleaming debut in the crowded field of epic fantasies and Arthurian romances."
--Publishers Weekly

Royal Assassin
"Hobb continues to revitalize a genre that often seems all too generic."
--Locus

"I've been waiting for this one ever since last spring.... The Farseer saga is destined for greatness--a must-read for every devotee of epic fantasy."
--Sense of Wonder

Assassin's Quest
"An enthralling conclusion to this superb trilogy, displaying an exceptional combination of originality, magic, adventure, character, and drama."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"This is fantasy as it ought to be written."
--George R.R. Martin

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