From the author of the classic Farseer trilogy, Ship of Magic begins an epic tale of pirates, sentient ships, magic, sea serpents, slave revolts, dashing heroes and bloody battles.
On the northernmost point of the Cursed Shores lies Bingtown, a bustling hub of exotic trade and home to a proud merchant nobility famed for its extraordinary vessels.
Only Bingtown liveships can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain Wild River and plunder the riches found upstream, but such vessels are made from the most precious commodity in the world – a material with the ability to become sentient – and so are extremely rare.
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. But the fate of Vivacia – and the Vestrits – may ultimately lie in the hands of the dark and charming pirate, Kennit, who lusts after such a ship and has plans of his own . . .
There is a bit of a personal story attached to this novel. I bought a beautiful hardcover version of it back in 1999 and I took it with me when I moved to Greece in 2000. I was about halfway through and reading it on the beach on a day off one day when I left it to go for a swim. When I returned the book was gone, someone had stolen it, they had left my purse, but taken the book. I was gutted and it has taken me 16 years to pick it back up again!
I did start from the beginning, 16 years is a long time and I wanted a complete refresh on the story and I was so glad I did. Ship of Magic is a true example of epic fantasy with each character playing a vital role in the plot. As I sit here writing this review I wonder how I am going to do this book justice.
Vivacia is a liveship. Liveship’s are unique to Bingtown, and the Bingtown traders. They are ships made from a special wood which magically come to life and bond with the family who owns them. Vivacia is owned and part of the Vestrit family and is bonded to Althea who is sure she will be taking captaincy of the ship.
As the story develops we learn there is turmoil within the Vestrit family and we see Althea grown from a naive young girl to a strong woman. We see her tackle family betrayal, life in a man’s world, and her own self-doubt.
We see the world from the point of view of Vivacia, through Althea’s young nephew Wintrow’s eyes a trainee priest of Sa. Then there is the pirate Kennett who is desperate to own a liveship and hunts the seas for them while becoming somewhat of a hero.
This story unfolds slowly but leaves you wanting to read constantly and taking breaks to let the words soak into your entire being. There are some very likeable characters, some not so likeable characters, the book has power struggles, magic, deceit, and by the end you are unsure who to trust, who will win and very sure the next book will probably raise more questions than it answers!
Ultimately this is a book about family, politics, loyalty, betrayal, trust, love, hope, and magic.
This is a beautiful novel and the descriptions of the ships, the lands, and the people are stunning!
If you are a fan of fantasy then you have already read this, if you haven’t though, this is definitely for you.
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Title: Ship of Magic
Series: Liveship Traders
Author: Robin Hobb
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication Date: 9 January 1998
Review Format: eBook
Other Formats: Turtleback, Paperback, Audio, MP3 CD
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