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4.5/5 starsColor me impressed, just the first book in the Liveship Traders trilogy alone is already better than the entire Farseer trilogy.Don’t get me wrong, the Farseer trilogy certainly has its charm but the third book of the trilogy, Ass Quest, was a massive disappointment for me Fortunately, that didn’t stop me from giving Hobb another try because this was just utterly fantastic.Ship of Magic, the first book in the Liveship Traders trilogy—which is also the second out five subseries within Hobb’s gigantic Realm of the Elderlings series—is a completely different book from Fitz’s first trilogy It contained a new storyline, revolves around a completely new cast, new magic system, and the story took place on a completely different area from Fitz’s storyline In fact, other than a few familiar places and event mentioned, such as Six Duchies and Red Ship War, there seems to be absolutely no correlation between this book and the Farseer trilogy Taking place south of the Six Duchies, Ship of Magic focused around a variety of casts with their own agenda and motives in the conflicts of persevering faith, family, and gaining the liveship, a rare ship that can be quickened (brought to life) only when three family members from successive generations have died upon their deck The different location also provides a great expansion to the worldbuilding element for the series that Hobb has created previously in the Farseer trilogy “The man who worries about what will next be happening to him loses this moment in dread of the next, and poisons the next with prejudgement.” It took around 100 pages for me to get used to the characters and the flow of the story but after that, everything ended up being a smooth sailing experience Same as Hobb’s previous trilogy, this is still a totally character driven book and the main plot moved at a really slow pace with the characters development taking the highest priority What differs this book greatly from the Farseer trilogy however is the fact that it’s written in third person multiPOV Whether you love him or not, Fitz is a wellwritten character and Hobb did a spectacular job in fleshing out his and all the major side characters’ personality even when the narrative was told solely from Fitz’s perspective However, as great as Hobb did, if we truly want to know all the characters’ true thoughts and feelings, multiPOV is always the best plot device to do it Hobb is truly a brilliant author, it doesn’t matter whether it’s first person or third person perspective, she knows how to write and make her characters felt realistic, complex, and compelling to read; even when some of the characters were despicable as dog shit (Malta) I forgot the exact numbers but readers get to follow the storyline from the perspective ofor less thirteen characters and I found them all highly engaging and addictive to read (including Malta’s) It was hard to choose a favorite POV here (excluding Malta) when they are all superbly wellwritten, but I think it’s safe to say that out of all of them, Wintrow was definitely my favorite one Every character had a magnificent character development, in personalities and relationships between the cast, but Wintrow’s storyline simply excelled above all the others Just from the first book alone, I already love his POVthan Fitz’s “I’ve just been living from day to day Waiting for something or someone else to change the situation.” His eyes studied her face, looking for a reaction to his next words “I think I need to make a real decision I believe I need to take action on my own.” Pirates, amazing ensemble cast, serpents, sentient ships, great actions (when it’s there), Ship of Magic is a superb start to a trilogy At this point, if someone told me that Hobb is actually a psychologist, I will believe them due to how great she is at characters studies I absolutely can’t wait to continue to the sequel and I highly recommend this to anyone who’s looking for a great character driven fantasy books.Picture: The Liveship Traders by Marc SimonettiYou can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy SciFi reviews at BookNest (((E-PUB))) ⇲ Ship of Magic ⇥ Robin Hobb's acclaimed Farseer trilogyAssassin's Apprentice, Royal Assassin, and Assassin's Questwove 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 farflung, ferocious tidesNot far from the Six Duchies lies Bingtown, hub of exotic trade and home to a merchant nobility famed for its liveshipsrare 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 societyThe 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 soninlaw he has named as the Vivacia's next captainBut lovely, wildspirited Althea, sailing the Vivacia with her father since childhood and sharing its halfawakened memories and ocean secrets, has bonded with the ship in her deepest soul  Joined by Brashenher father's first mate, now demoted by the Vivacia's new commandershe will stop at nothing in a bitter quest to claim its captaincyMeanwhile, 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 boypriest turned seamanand into violent conflict with the wizardwood magic of Althea and BrashenFrom 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 **Reread Loved itthis time around specially all those small things that I let slip first time enhanced the reading experience And there were so many moments Ah! You shouldn't have done this, you fool!! Now be ready to face consequences.**4.5*I can't believe she wrote this masterpiece after that messed up Farseer finaleI read Assassin's Quest back in 2016 and lost every hope of getting back to Realm of Elderlings But then I wrapped up Twany Man in August this and now I am a faithful Hobb fan So it was time to start Liveship Traders, everyone's favorite Hobb books I knew I will not be disappointed and she delivered in best possible way, giving us the talking ships, and characters who are trying very hard to prove themselves.Story follows three main characters Vivicia the ship, Wintrow, and Althea Althea was ignored in favor of her elder sister to be the captain of the Vivicia Since the elder sister is married, the responsibility was given to her husband Kyle, who was an arrogant fool, greedy, and cruel Althea leaves her home to prove to her family that she was the worthy captain for Vivicia Kyle brought his eldest son, Wintrow, who was in a monastery to be raised as priest, aboard Vivicia to train him as a sailor and bond with the Livship But Kyle’s plan backfired when he soon realized that Wintrow was not what he wanted him to be, thus forcing Wintrow in to a life of hard ship on the ship Vivicia, a newly quickened ship, tried her best to bond with Wintrow but the boy always maintained his distance and soon there was a wall between them, and a lot of pain, sadness There were tons of other characters too but their story was intertwined with Vivicia, Althea, and Wintrow in one way or the other.The first thing that I noticed about this book was multiple PoVs I had a difficult time getting used to these sudden switches initially but once I got to know the characters, the ride was smooth Hobb always put her characters in difficult situations so that they learn and when the time comes they were not helpless and readers get something spectacular in their stories to admire and adore And I have to say there was only misery in this book; perhaps in next book or the book after it, all the hard work, learning, regret, pain, struggle would pay off For now it was all tears and anger.Just like Fitz’s story, Hobb here has woven a web with secrets, lies, desperation, madness, and magic that is very tangled and complicated for now It will be interested to see all these knots coming undone and perhaps we will get a happy ending Hell I want one for Vivicia! As a big fan of Hobb's writing, I wasn't disappointed by this book at all!Ship of Magic is not just one of the best fantasy books I've read but one of the best fiction books I've ever read I was reluctant to leave Fitz after finishing the first trilogy But it turns out that I enjoyed Ship of Magic evenAs this is only the first book of a trilogy, it makes for even higher praise.Superb Book😊😊😊 This was good, but it wasn’t as good as Robin Hobb's Farseer books Fitz is an excellent narrator, and an excellent focal point for a series, though this uses several point of view characters Some are great and some are, unfortunately, as dry as dust Wintrow was by far my favourite character in this series He is torn between two lives As a young boy he was sent away from home and raised as a priest; it’s a life he has gotten used to, but circumstances demands that he returns to his former life: it is one of sea faring hardship, which is something he is not remotely accustomed to He never had the chance to become a sailor, though he would have if he wasn’t taken away He is now ineffectual and scribe like His hands are soft and stained with ink He is not a hardened sailor, so when his farther orders his return he is forced to toughen up and become something he is not Wintrow is, naturally, reluctant to accept his new life; however, when he begins to discover his magical bond with his ancestral liveship, he realises he may have some mettle after all: “For the weakest has but to try his strength to find it, and then he shall be strong.” Conversely, Althea views the life on the sea as a thing of wonderment Unlike Wintrow, she longs for the open ocean and planks beneath her feet She wants to be aboard her family’s liveship, but the chance has been taken away from her, and handed to the young Wintrow Resentment quickly forms But who can blame her? She has spent her life longing to take control of the magical vessel that would make her a fortune on the open sea.This is both painful and soul destroying because in the wood of the ship is a magic that speaks to her blood; this is no simple attachment, but something powerful and innate: it calls to her and beacons her aboard The liveship’s bond to their owners in a deep and magical way; thus, when she is separated from her ship, Althea goes on a long a perilous journey to get back what was rightfully hers to begin with Let the adventures begin! Some good characters Althea and Wintrow were two very different characters; they contrast well and the dynamic between the two is tense On the other hand, Veronica Vestrit (Althea’s mum) is a dreadfully dull point of view character Her life is, simply put, boring She is not badly written; she is just mundane and uninteresting Her narrative is vital for the overall story, but her chapters are tiresome I found myself skimming entire paragraphs because of their triviality For example, the rest of the characters were undergoing an identity crisis or they were in extreme danger, meanwhile Veronica was evaluating her household budget.Everything else worked really well I think the idea behind the liveships is great, and it really adds some depth to this fantasy universe I love the way Robin Hobb has written a new trilogy set far away in her already existing fantasy world This book was a good opener to the trilogy and it really sets the tone for what is to come Of all of Hobbs books, I do think this one would make the best television drama The Liveship Traders 1 Ship of Magic A seafaing 3.5 stars 2 The Mad Ship A tumultuous four stars 3 Ship of Destiny A cresting four stars This book was awesome! I love the concept of the liveships!! Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾 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 coversthere's a blog post in there somehow), and not even the cover copy Although Althea is my middle name But normally not even that Thank goodness for my friend, because this book seems to have marked a change in the books I'm readingafter a streak of at best mediocre reading, I'm enjoying it again! (That can't be attributed entirely to this book, but did contribute to the exhilaration of my reading experience.)Althea Vestrit is the younger daughter of a liveship trader family In essence, the elite of colonial Bingtown Liveships are just that: living ships But you don't just build a ship that's alive, or buy one, it has to be built first of wizard wood, and 'grow': that is to say, quicken A liveship, though, will only quicken after three of its family members die ondeck, through which they gain knowledge and awareness And a liveship will only respond to a member of the family, especially once it is alive.And I haven't even gotten to the story yet Continued in vaguely topical order:World buildingRobin Hobb has built an incredible, complex world, much of which is gradually revealed throughout the story, naturally and through the characters' perspectives The worldbuilding is crucial to the story's success, because in many ways, its core theme is the clash of worlds, old and new There isn't one simple conflict between good and evil or even two families Bingtown is a colony, only now, they're being settled again by people who don't understand the land and customsand worse, Bingtown has started following the customs of the mainland, even those that just a generation ago would have been too horrifying to contemplate Now, the newcomers may not understand the reasons for Bingtown's customs, but the locals won't explain them either ( on that later).The conflict of cultures is so important Worldly Jamaillia is decadent, rich, slaveowning And the slaves can be anyone: the educated call for particularly high prices Bingtown once had equal relations to men and women: they've borrowed the madonna/whore complex from Jamaillia and now are looking to slavery But Bingtown has a strange relationship with magic and the people up the river who make it Back to Althea Because she's the natural daughter of the Vestrit's, who own a liveship just one death away from quickening, Althea fully expects to be the next captain After all, she's been sailing with her father for years, and her older sister is married: settled with children But as the summary states so baldly, Althea doesn't get Vivacia, her brother in law does Ways in which Ship of Magic exceeds A Game of Thrones:*The characters matter The majority of characters in A Game of Thrones are AT BEST observers, and often not even good at that; all the characters (especially viewpoint characters)in Ship of Magic have agency: they are making things happen, everything they do affects the plot, the story In A Game of Thrones the plot is happening around the characterswhen they could make a difference, they don't, because characters get in the way of the plot That could work, but only if the reader has a sense that characters caused the plot in the first place Ship of Magic only takes place because of decisions made generations ago, and how the current people are trying to live around and with those decisions There is a deep, complicated back story that at no time takes over what's happening now, but only makes it possible Can I say how much I've missed this?*A Game of thrones suffered from odd, arbitrary chapter breaks that always followed only one character (ideally, and when Martin didn't abruptly drop into omniscient when he forget what he was doing) and didn't follow the same characters in a row BECAUSE The chapter breaks and POV changes in Ship of Magic are based on the timeline and pacing And they don't just skip the big scenes to sum up later.*The characters in Ship of Magic are so much better In fact they're so awesome, I'll have to get back to this.*The women are just as complex as the men! and just as active! and compelling! and have equal textual representation in a sexist world! and there's no creepy, overdone euphemisms for genitalia! and no glorified, underage, fetishized rape scenes! uhhhh.I feel like I shouldn't have to expect such things, but I am comparing it strictly to GoT here.*This is also a vaguely historicallybased world with only rare magic Only here it's embedded from the beginning, and while not understood and distrusted by the inhabitants of the world, it doesn't follow the pattern of: 100 pages of ambiguity 1 sentence maybe? (x3) 100 pages ambiguity fullon firewalking and suckling dragons!PlotLike A Game of Thrones, Ship of Magic has several major plot threads (approximately eight, some embedded in the 'world' arcs), all given roughly equal treatment, and a great many POV characters (at least eight) I wonder if there's something to those numbers and Martin is praised because he's willing to kill off 'anyone', which just makes me suspect a paucity of decent literature in the fantasy section Ship of Magic made me care about the characters, even without ever having a POV of their own, and then they died CharacterGetting intospoilery territory, I loved the conflict between Ronica (Althea's mother) and Kyle (her brotherinlaw).Kyle really seems like just your standard subboss evil In most novels (The Name of the Wind), he'd be petty and cruel, and basically the antagonist until the confrontation with the real bad guy happens In some ways, Kyle is all of those things But his main threat is in how he threatens, and represents the threat, to the liveship trader way of life And Ronica loathes him for it But he's been her soninlaw for 15 years, IIRC, and no one in the family has tried to make him understand these traditions and why things are the way they are in Bingtown There's a lot of hidden history that's gradually being revealed, but the locals don't discuss it amongst themselves, much less outsiders like Kyle At least once, the truth has been actively hidden from him These are cultures clashing because their people (on any side) cannot understand comprehend a way of life different from their own.Wintrow, Althea's oldest nephew, lived with the priests since infancy, because in Bingtown, it's an honor Wintrow can't wait to be a priest But since Kyle captains the Vivacia, he needs a familymember by blood on board, especially now that Vivacia is conscious Wintrow's struggles: to stay safe, to stay sanemy heart BLED for him Btw: Hobb has built an incredible, convincing fictional religion Kennit is about as villainous as a villain can be As I said in a forum: [he] knows he’s not a good guy, goes around plotting like mad, but is just going after what he wants in any way he can He knows he’s not a good guy, but doesn’t care: he just wants power He also goes around going good deeds, but evillyHe’s a pirate freeing slaves because then they’ll voluntarily be his army to help him take over the world And he’s surrounded by people who are unbearably loyal to him: even his sentient charm fashioned in his image hates him and doesn’t think he deserves what he has.One thing that Hobb does beautifully that Martin fails entirely, is have a focus to her narrative Althea's story is central to the unifying thread All of these characters have very important stories of their own, but Althea's is going to be right in the middle of it all.Slut ShamingOne note about the characters: sometimes they aren't all good Or bad (Unless it's Kennit) They can be whiny, infuriating, annoying, ignorant, justplainstupid, and often wrong For instance, Althea's quest to retake the Vivacia? Well, first she has to learn that she wasn't qualified to captain a vessel on her own, that when she traveled with her father, she was playing at sailoring So she goes off on her own to learnand learn she does Slowly Which is possibly the best part.Now that I've been working on this for two hours, I want to touch on a subject I know is important to many of my GR friendsand the reviewers I follow who have no idea who I am: slut shaming.THERE ISN'T ANY!First you have Malta, Althea's niece, all of thirteen years old, *IIRC O Good Lord, Malta She takes the place of Martin's Sansa: obsessed with boys, rather stupid Only Malta specifically wants sex Preferably before babies and marriage, because she doesn't want to end up with an icky husband Is she too young for this? Hell yes, she's spoiled rotten, doesn't understand how her own society works, and despite her interest, completely ignorant of what said sex would actually mean Sansa, I just hated, but while I wanted to smack Malta upside the head, I also ached for her She is so completely unaware of how vulnerable she isand she does have to work at ignoring it too Unlike Althea, she retreats from what scares her, what's hard (although Althea has her moments), and Keffria (her mother) and Ronica are only just learning how much they've neglected to teach her.As for AltheaSpoilers! Please click carefully, because this section is so important to her character development! It wouldn't ruin the book, but it would color the reading experience.(view spoiler)[After Althea goes off to learn sailing while disguised as a boy (explained in text) she sleeps with Brashen (well, okay, it's clear he's a love interest from the cover copy) while both are impaired She's concussed and they're both drunk and high, I think He might be concussed too It turns out, despite being 'upper class' in this society, and their expectations for women, she's had sex before The first time when she was fourteen under skeevy circumstances When she goes home to tell her sister, Keffria makes her get a charm to prevent pregnancy and STDs, assuming her sister is easy It's the betray of trust that Althea has a problem with, she doesn't think of herself that way In fact, she's NOT damaged by the experience, and she knows it's supposed to be pleasurable, so she seeks it out herself, occasionally But it's not a flaw of her character that she's sexually active, and while other characters may not like it, it's never a view condoned by the text Thought you guys might like that (hide spoiler)] This book is now one of my all time favorites Hobb was already an accomplished writer when she produced her last trilogy, and the characters of Fitz and the Fool rank with some of the most engaging and rounded characters I have seen in literature Then along came this book Wow The books in this trilogy run around 200 pages longer than those in the last series, and the author needs every single word Typically, when something is this large there are at least some segments I skim (I have developed a theory that authors sometimes become disinterested in their own story, and this shows through in those section I skim, but I digress) Out of the 885 pages in this book, at no time did I find myself skimming Rather, the story switches to a different plot thread with a different set of characters each equally, or , engaging than the last I have seen this technique used before, but normally I wind up patiently waiting for the new plot threads to evolve so I can transition back to the other characters that I am really interested in, all the while hoping these threads eventually merge That was not the case here Each new group of characters had a plot that I knew was drawing inexorably together with the others, and this left me with the tension of a drawn bowstring I am glad I had a chunk of time to read this apart from my daily life, because I have been thoroughly immersed in this story and the lives of these characters They are battling shades of moral ambiguity, and often evil seems good and good seems evil, or there is such a complex combination of this twined in the build of these characters (and perhaps fate itself) that the characters seemlifelike and the storyimmersive and realistic.Perhaps I am raving a bit too much about this book But I don’t think so.Five stars because that’s the highest rating I can give a book. 4.75 ⭐️ THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD IT’S INSANE!!!Greatness Absolute greatness. Step aside Pirates of The Caribbean, Robin Hobb is the crowned queen of maritime fiction and she's here to stay!Allow to say that I can't believe I've been putting off starting Robin Hobb's work for the last couple of years just because it's a little bit on the heftier and slow burning side OH MY GOD I'VE BEEN SUCH AN IDIOT! Well, better late than never and all that rot..I was thinking about saying that getting to this book was worth the time it took me to read through the Farseer trilogy, but I would be lying I didn't go through that trilogy, I freaking loved it and enjoyed every dragged out second So getting to Ship of Magic was not only a reward but a continuation of the wonderful journey I started in the Assassin's Apprentice, and it only gets better and better with every book.First of all, let's be clear that I am not a fan of the sea, I hate ships (urgh just the memory turns my stomach), I don't care for stories with sailors, I do love pirates but maybe once every blue moon I would go out of my way to read a story about them specifically Well, Robin Hobb just changed my opinion 180 degrees! However, I'll probably still won't think much about them unless those stories were written specifically by her The atmosphere, the world, the characters, the plot, everything! It's so just immersive so that you feel you are experiencing every setting, feeling and hardship yourself Bit of warning, it's not a story about pretty ships and hearty adventures in the wide blue ocean, this novel deals of lot of heavy topics regarding family dynamics, inheritance, subservience to the man of the family, slavery, free will, sexism, rape and abuse and manythat are so true to our world's issues today It's not as flashy as my other favorite fantasy books I've read by Sanderson, Tucker, Gwynne, and others. Yet it has some of the complexity characteristic of ASIOAF by GRRM, the same darkness I saw in The First Law Trilogy by Abercombie, it's a little quieter andlow key (that'strue of Farseer actually rather than this one) but has the same punches as the best of them Why I loved it so much? Why, the Characters of course!Captain Kennit probably takes the trophy here, a heartless bastard and a pirate to boot who just happened to do the right thing at the right time, reluctantly and out of sheer dumb luck His conniving and coldness just serve to make himinteresting, and his interaction with everyone around him is always intrigueguaranteed, and that ending man! Althea Vestrit is another great character that comes to mind Spoiled privileged girl who thinks she can do anything because she spent her childhood sailing with her father abroad their family liveship the Vivacia, only to be hit with the cruel reality of life Her journey and growth were just amazing, she still has a lot to go and I can't wait to see how she'll progress Speaking of the Vivacia, I've never read about a live ship before, like ever, and that was quite the experience I'll leave it at that!WINTROW! can I hug that precious child and hide him from the world? Is it blasphemy that I think he's much muchinteresting and awesome than Fitz ever was? Boypriest forced into becoming a sailor by has asshole of a father, his arc has probably one of the best character development I've ever read! Vivacia and Wintrow by SephinkaOf course there's a tonload of other great characters that will make you love life or make your skin crawl and then there are a couple that will make you want to bitchslap some sense into them (friggin' Malta that stupid brat!), or just plain smack them into the waiting mouth of a seaserpent (yes we have those too!!) I was surprise by the strong emotions that Hobb had awakened in me during my read, I won't lie to you it was bloody exhausting! Not to mention all the unsolved mysteries!OK that's enough rambling on my part, every minute I spend babbeling and gushing here is keeping me away from starting Mad ship, so farewell ye scallywags!