Ship of Magic (The Liveship Traders, Book 1)

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9780553103243: Ship of Magic (The Liveship Traders, Book 1)

Robin Hobb's acclaimed Farseer trilogy--Assassin's Apprentice, Royal Assassin, and Assassin's Quest--wove a spellbinding tale of magic, passion, and glory.  Now, in the first book of a new trilogy set in the same world, she tells the magnificent story of a proud seafaring clan and the enchanted ships that carry them on far-flung, ferocious tides....

Not far from the Six Duchies lies Bingtown, 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.  Bingtown's Old Traders, their wealth eroded by northern wars and the rapacity of southern pirates, now face an influx of upstart merchants who bring change to a complex society.

The Vestrit family's only hope of renewed prosperity is the Vivacia, a liveship they have nurtured for three generations.  Now, as old Captain Vestrit lies dying in Bingtown, the Vivacia cuts homeward through the waves, about to quicken into a living being.  The ship carries Vestrit's daughter Althea and the conniving son-in-law he has named as the Vivacia's next captain.

But lovely, wild-spirited Althea, sailing the Vivacia with her father since childhood and sharing its half-awakened memories and ocean secrets, has bonded with the ship in her deepest soul.  Joined by Brashen--her father's first mate, now demoted by the Vivacia's new commander--she will stop at nothing in a bitter quest to claim its captaincy.

Meanwhile, in the rocky cays known as the Pirate Isles, a ruthless man lusts after his own kind of power.  The pirate captain Kennit, in his scheme to be king of this outlaw realm, has vowed that he will wrest a liveship from its owners and turn it to his own use.  His twisted ambition will bring him into a strange partnership with a boy-priest turned seaman--and into violent conflict with the wizardwood magic of Althea and Brashen.

From the peculiar magic realm of the Others to the bawdy, raucous lair of the pirates, Ship of Magic sweeps a dazzling cast of characters into an epic of terrible beauty and mysterious sorcery.

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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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