Book Review: Liveship Traders – Ship of Magic

Robin Hobb - Liveship Traders - Ship of Magic

Title: Ship of Magic
Series: Liveship Traders Trilogy
Author: Robin Hobb
Published By: Bantam
Published Date: 1999
ISBN: 0-553-57563-5
Length: 809 Pages
Purchased From: Amazon @ $7.99

The Story:

Ship of Magic is the first book in the Liveship Traders Trilogy. This series of books takes place shortly after the Farseer Trilogy (Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin, and Assassin’s Quest) comes to a close and also takes place within the same world.

Bingtown is a city along the Cursed Shores and is home to an old line of traders that travel by ship to exchange goods between merchants in other towns and cities. What makes this group of people so special is there bond with another sect of society, the Rain Wilds Traders, and their use of Liveships. These ships are made of a mysterious and wildly expensive wood which quickens and comes to life.

The book revolves around one trader family in particular and their Liveship. The Vestrit family falls on hard times and has their Liveship perused by pirates. Along the way, Althea, finds herself in a massive family dispute and does all she can to prove herself worthy of being the captain of the Vivacia.

My Thoughts:

While this book was enjoyable, I did not find myself bonded to it nearly as tightly as I was the Farseer Trilogy and the Fitz character. I appreciate that this series takes place within the world I am familiar with and makes references to events and lands that I have experienced through the viewpoint of Fitz.

The ending of this book was a little strange. The reason I say that is because the resolution that I was waiting for was not one from a character that I expected. It ads a nice twist to the ending but I felt like something was missing.

I’ve become very fond of Robin Hobb’s books and intend to continue on with this series. Once finished, I’m planning on diving into the Tawny Man Trilogy to see how Fitz has made out since the last time we heard of him in Assassin’s Quest.


Hi There, My name is Walt White and as the name of this blog suggests, I am a Pennsylvania resident. In addition to having numerous hobbies that I discuss on my blog - Iā€™m also the father of three little girls and a pitbull.

8 thoughts on “Book Review: Liveship Traders – Ship of Magic

  1. Sounded a bit drab, but it could just be me. I did not hear anything about changing into dodo birds or maybe a salmon since there is a ship involved šŸ™‚


    1. Mike,
      There is more than a ship involved, the entire storyline revolves around a group of ships which have come to life. Most of the storyline is set at sea with sea monsters and pirates.

      I was skeptical but pleasantly surprised.

  2. Hi Walt,
    I sure I have said this before but I really loved these books, in fact I would have to say that with the benefit of time since I have read them and having read most of Hobbs’ books, this series for some reason is the one I hold most dear.

    1. Perhaps I’ll come to like this series more as it progresses. As of right now I just miss the Fitz character and can’t wait to get back to his story.

      On a side note, I think I just hot the sweet spot in Mad Ship (Book 2) and things just got very, very interesting. Around page 400 there are talks of sailing the Paragon, I can’t wait! LOL

      Thanks for the comment.

  3. Very good review of the book, well done!!
    I’ve read the entire story and I found it very very interesting and good even if not as good as the Fitz one which was just incredible!!!

    1. Litie,
      I’m glad you enjoyed my thoughts on the first book of the Liveship Trilogy. I’m about 75% of the way through Mad Ship and the story has gotten far better as the story unfolds.

      After this series I’ll be back to the Fitz saga with the Tawny Man Trilogy. Despite not hearing great things about the Soldier’s Son Trilogy, I may pick it up and give it a shot.

      One of my favorite aspects of Robin Hobb’s writing is her character development. In the case of Mad Ship, I went from hating Malta with a passion to warming up to her.

      Thanks for the comment

      1. It’s funny because I have felt exactly the same about Malta, first she seems quite superficial but the more you read, the more you appreciate her.

        I have found again this feeling in The Soldier’s Boy Trilogy.
        That’s true that this trilogy is quite different from the others, I think this is due to the fact that the story does not occur in he same world, notably. That is disturbing at the beginning as we are used to the Six Duchies but then like for every Robin Hobb’s book, you just can’t stop reading!
        It is worth the reading, I recommend it!

        1. Litie,
          it is amazing how good Mad Ship became after the half-way point. I just wrapped up the book last night and can’t wait to get started on Ship of Destiny.

          I wasn’t aware that Soldier’s Son Trilogy was set in a different world. Between the Six Duties, Bingtown, and the Rain Wilds, I was getting rather comfortable with the world. When I saw the latest Hobb Novel (Rain Wilds Chronicles I think it was titled), I just assumed everything was kept in the same world.

          More on Malta, by the end of Mad Ship, I had much more respect for her character and began to look forward to her parts of the book. Towards the start of the novel, I couldn’t stand her (same went for her Father, Kyle).

          Thanks for the comment.

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