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Ship of Magic (1998)

by Robin Hobb

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Liveship Traders (1), Realm of the Elderlings (4)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
6,0781001,646 (4.07)1 / 175
Fantasy. Fiction. Literature. HTML:

Bingtown is a hub of exotic trade and home to a merchant nobility famed for its liveshipsâ??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 herâ??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 familyâ??and the shipâ??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 hi… (more)

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English (92)  Dutch (3)  French (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (98)
Showing 1-5 of 92 (next | show all)
Excellent epic fantasy by one of the masters of the genre. The worldbuilding is good, but what really makes Hobb's stories stand out is the characters, and the focus she places on their feelings and interactions with each other. I loved Wintrow's, Althea's and Kennit's stories. Other main characters, like Malta and Kyle, are more stereotypical and therefore not as interesting.

This was every bit as good as the Farseer trilogy. The pace was good too. Let's hope the other two books in the trilogy live up to it. ( )
  jcm790 | May 26, 2024 |
My first Robin Hobb, a long time ago, was the Rain Wilds series, which I really liked, probably due to dragons. I couldn't get into the Fitz/Farseer ones, but the Liveship Traders series has begun with a real page turner and left lots of loose ends to make me want to read book 2. Ship of Magic started a bit slow due to lots of characters to introduce, but the many interwoven story lines worked well. Also ties in with a lot I remember from the Rain Wilds books. ( )
  Abcdarian | May 18, 2024 |
Doing some comfort reading. I'd forgotten how confronting some of the content of this book is. The relationship between Kyle and Wintrow is just... harrowing reading. ( )
  punkinmuffin | Apr 30, 2024 |
Despite all the negative reviews I've given Robin Hobb's books in the past, I keep coming back. The only way I can explain it is that, even though I finish every book unhappy and a tad disappointed, I have trouble denying that they are well written (certainly far above the curve for fantasy) and that the plotlines are usually well fleshed out. This book was no exception. Overall thoughts:

PROS:
Strong worldbuilding, story doesn't feel rushed, good characterization, wide array of different, equally interesting plotlines.

CONS:
Formatting! - I don't understand why chapters randomly switch narrators midway through. These should just be new chapters a la GRRM. It's not copying his idea if it's the best way to write third person with multiple viewpoints.
Pace - This is both a pro and a con. I love that the story is not rushed, and that all the characters are analyzed in detail so that they are realistic, but sometimes Hobb's books seem to move at a glacial pace. While I'm not sure if this is really a con, or just a personal frustration with her writing, it definitely keeps me from placing her amongst my all time favorite authors
SADISM - Hobb has this insane fascination with her characters being maimed, killed, or writhing in some sort of agony (either emotional or physical). While it is often realistic in the context of her stories, it makes her books overly depressing to read. To be honest, this book was less painful than the books of hers that I'd read previously, because it is not written in the first person (and thus isnt ALL about a single narrator's pain). I still am frustrated by this aspect of her writing, and really wish, just once, one of her characters would actually be happy for a few chapters.
( )
  mrbearbooks | Apr 22, 2024 |
I'm afraid I'm yet another disappointed "Farseer" reader. In fact, I may be one of the originals. I purchased both, the first book in the Farseer trilogy, Assassin's Apprentice and Ship of Magic the 1st Live Ship Trader book shortly after they were each released. In spite of an uncertain jacket synopsis on Ship of Magic, I’d hoped for a continuation of the well tempered, 1st person character driven action I'd found in the Farseer books. ( I didn’t much like how that series ended, but I loved ‘em while they lasted) Instead, I discovered a potentially good, remotely "Farseer" related story shuddering under the weight of too much inconsequential 3rd person prose and unappealing characters. I put the book aside after only a few chapters. That time.
Fortunately Robin Hobb (apparently AKA Megan Lindholm) who I genuinely think to be a fine writer, continued her Farseer Trilogy. She then drew some of the same engaging characters and quickened pace of "Farseer" into the Tawny Man series, (soon to release it's third book). The 1st book, The Tawny Man, centers on an adult version of the mysterious "Fool" an important secondary "Farseer" protagonist. With the second Tawny Man book, The Golden Fool, I became aware that this same character makes a revealing appearance, in the too slow, too thickly character-ed and plot vacant, Live Ship Traders books.

What's an avid reader to do? I tried again. This time I pushed on through this minutely font-ed book to the "quickening” of the Living ship, Vivacia, a pivotal character herself. If that couldn't engage me as a reader all was lost! ..And so it was. I set the book down for the evening at page 162 and felt disinclined to start the effort again in the morning. I concluded that one might expect the setup of an epic adventure to be somewhat dispiriting at the outset as the challenges ahead are exposed, but Ship of Magic failed to offer what all good adventure send-offs must: impetus for the reader to read on. I think this impetus might have been achieved with fewer characters each offering more interest and dimension in themselves, or perhaps, a possibility of future excitement, or some `Just-plain-fun-Dammit!'

I have to admit, I find Hobb to be such an imaginative story teller that I'm sure there is something good in this book. Somewhere. But it has taken far too much wading through Dreck and Drear with too little gratifying adventure to continue through the next 647 pages of, Ship of Magic, and the subsequent books in the Live Ship Traders series. While, I am regretful that I can't glean enough interest in these characters to troll through and find that good; I have abandoned ship.

To learn more about the mysterious "Tawny man" as I await the third book in that series, I've taken the expedient of reading AMAZON reviews of the Live Ship Traders for synopsis, hints & spoilers. (Thank you, all who've provided clues to the "Amber" character.)

Having read these reviews, I know other, happier readers will chide me; "if you'd just read on, you'd have found the appealing charters, mystery's clues and `Just-plain-fun-Dammit!' you’d sought." To those readers, and Robin Hobb, herself, I say - Thank You; No. Two attempts are enough.
( )
  djambruso | Feb 23, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 92 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robin Hobbprimary authorall editionscalculated
Howe, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Youll, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
This one is for
The Devil's Paw
The Totem
The EJ Bruce
The Free Lunch
The Labrador (Scales! Scales!)
The (aptly named) Massacre Bay
The Faithful (Gummi Bears Ahoy!)
The Entrance Point
The Cape St John
The American Patriot (and Cap'n Wookie)
The Lesbian Warmonger
The Anita J and the Marcy J
The Tarpon
The Capelin
The Dolphin
The (not very) Good News Bay
And even the Chicken Little
But especially for Rain Lady, wherever she may be now.
First words
Maulkin abruptly heaved himself out of his wallow with a wild thrash that left the atmosphere hanging thick with particles.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
In the french edition, the book was divided in 3 volumes.
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Blurbers
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Fantasy. Fiction. Literature. HTML:

Bingtown is a hub of exotic trade and home to a merchant nobility famed for its liveshipsâ??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 herâ??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 familyâ??and the shipâ??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 hi

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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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