Liveship Traders 1 : Ship of Magic

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9780002254786: Liveship Traders 1  : Ship of Magic

The first of a new series from the author of the exciting Farseer trilogy. Set in the same world as the Assassin series, it tells of a group of traders, purveyors of rare goods which often border on the magical.

Wizardwood – a sentient wood. The most precious commodity in the world. Like many other legendary wares, it comes only from the Rain River Wilds.

But how can one trade with the Rain River Traders when only a liveship, fashioned from wizardwood, can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain River? A liveship is a difficult ship to come by. Rare and valuable, it will quicken only when three family members, from succesive generations, have died on board. The liveship Vivacia is about to undergo her quickening, as Althea Vestrit’s father is carried to her deck in his death-throes. Althea waits with awe and anticipation for the ship that she loves more than anything in the world to awaken. Only to find that her family has other plans for her…

Others plot to win, or steal, a liveship. The Paragon, known by many as the Pariah, went mad, turned turtle and drowned his crews. Now he lies, blind, lonely and broken on a deserted beach. But greedy men have designs to restore him.

And dark, charming, Kennit, aspiring pirate king, also lusts after such a ship: he well knows the power of wizardwood, and has plans of his
own…

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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 abandoned old liveship believed to be insane. The sentient sea serpents have their own story which is hinted at as well.

Though Ship of Magic is full of action, none of the plot lines is 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

Review:

‘Refreshingly original’
Janny Wurts

‘Robin Hobb writes achingly well’
SFX

‘Assassin’s Quest achieves a bittersweet, powerful
complexity rare in fantasy’
LOCUS

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