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The Liveship Traders 1: Ship of Magic Paperback – 4 Feb 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 880 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; New Ed edition (4 Feb. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000649885X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006498858
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 4.6 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 114,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robin Hobb is a New York Times best-selling fantasy author. She is published in English in the US, UK and Australia, and her works have been widely translated. Her short stories have been finalists for both the Hugo and the Nebula awards, as well as winning the Asimov's Readers Award. Her best known series is The Farseer Trilogy (Assassin's Apprentice, Royal Assassin, and Assassin's Quest.)

Robin Hobb was born in Oakland California, but grew up in Fairbanks, Alaska. She has spent her life mostly in the Pacific Nortwest region of the US, and currently resides in Tacoma, Washington State, with her husband Fred. They have four grown offspring, and six grandchildren.

Robin Hobb is a pen name for Margaret Ogden. She has also written under the name Megan Lindholm.

She published her first short story for children when she was 18,and for some years wrote as a journalist and children's writer. Her stories for children were published in magazines such as Humpty Dumpty's Magazine for Little Children, Jack & Jill and Highlights for Children. She also created educational reading material for children for a programmed reading series by SRA (Science Research Associates.) She received a grant award from the Alaska State Council on the arts for her short story "The Poaching", published in Finding Our Boundaries in 1980.

Fantasy and Science Fiction had always been her two favorite genres, and in the late 70's she began to write in them. Her initial works were published in small press 'fanzines' such as Space and Time (editor Gordon Linzner). Her first professionally published story was "Bones for Dulath" that appeared in the Ace anthology AMAZONS!, edited by Jessica Amanda Salmonson in 1979. A short time later, a second Ki and Vandien story entitled The Small One was published in FANTASTIC in 1980.

During that time period, she and her family had moved from Alaska to Hawaii, and subsequently to Washington State, where they settled. She had various money making occupations (waitress, salesperson, etc.) while striving with her writing. Her husband Fred continued to fish Alaskan waters and was home only about 3 months out of every year. The family lived on a small farm in rural Roy where they raised lots of vegetables, chickens, ducks, geese and other small livestock.

In 1983, her first novel, Harpy's Flight, was published by Ace under the pen name Megan Lindholm. Her later titles under that name included Wizard of the Pigeons, Alien Earth, Luck of the Wheels, and Cloven Hooves.

In 1995, she launched her best selling series of books set in the Realm of the Elderlings. At that time, she began writing as Robin Hobb. Her first trilogy of books were about her popular characters, FitzChivalry Farseer and the Fool. The Farseer Trilogy is comprised of Assassin's Apprentice, Royal Assassin and Assassin's Quest. These books were followed by The Liveship Traders trilogy, set in the same world. The Tawny Man trilogy returned to the tale of Fitz and the Fool. Most recently, the four volumes of the Rain Wilds Chronicles were published: Dragon Keeper, Dragon Haven, City of Dragons and Blood of Dragons.

In 2013, it was announced that she would return to her best-loved characters with a new trilogy, The Fitz and the Fool trilogy. The first volume, Fool's Assassin, will be published in August of 2014.

Other works as Robin Hobb include The Soldier Son trilogy and short stories published in various anthologies. A collection of her shorter works as both Lindholm and Hobb is available in The Inheritance.

She continues to reside in Tacoma, Washington, with frequent visits to the pocket farm in Roy.

Product Description

Amazon 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'Hobb is one of the great modern fantasy writers… what makes her novels as addictive as morphine is not just their imaginative brilliance but the way her characters are compromised and manipulated by politics.'
The Times

Assassin's Apprentice:
'A gleaming debut'

Assassin's Quest:
'Assassin's Quest achieves a bittersweet, powerful complexity rare in fantasy' LOCUS

'Robin Hobb writes achingly well'

Praise for The Liveship Traders series:
'Even better than the Assassin books. I didn't think that was possible'
George R R Martin

'Hobb is a remarkable storyteller.'

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Ms. H. Sinton on 5 July 2004
Format: Paperback
Robin Hobb has managed to achieve the impossible with her Liveship Traders trilogy.In a genre that so often uses the same themes and ideas, Ms Hobb has produced an original work.
The Liveships of the title are very expensive and rare ships built from the mysterious wizardwood only found in the Rain River Wilds. After 3 generations of the owners family have died on board, the wizardwood 'quickens' and the ships become living, sentient beings.
Throughout the book, the author interweaves the story of the liveship traders, the story of the sea serpents who are driven by an instinct to search for their 'beginnings' and the tale of Kennick, a ruthless man determined to be King of the Pirates.
Ms Hobbs shows an extraordinary talent for characterisation. There are no totally black or white characters in her stories but realistic characters who have their good sides and their faults in abundance. At times the reader will feel antipathy toward the heroine and at others empathy for the 'bad guy'.
This is a book that you will find difficult to put down. Highly recommended
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Book Worm on 17 Sept. 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like many others who have reviewed the work of Ms. Hobb, I could not put this work of art down. For me, the mark of a really good book include: The feeling of extreme disappointment when you have been reading for three hours solid and suddenly realise you have nearly finished; characters which make you love, hate, admire and empathise with all at once; a storyline which is so fresh and original with new theories presented in an artful and subtle way; a story which catches you up and doesnt drop you until the very last word of the very last page. This trilogy and this book in particular fulfill all this and more.
The first book of hers I read was the Assassin's Apprentice and I bought it, not realising it was in first person view. So I left it and came back to it a few months later. I only regret not discovering this lady's immense talent earlier. To my mind, no other fantasy author who has been published can come near her for style, strength of her characters, technical ability, plot and originality. She packs more into one book than some authors pack into three or more. A real inspiration to an aspiring authoress and a truly epic book.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A. Craig HALL OF FAME on 5 July 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I started reading Robin Hobb last week in hospital, and now I feel I've become a morphine addict. These are the fantasy novels I've been waiting for all my life - real novels, with characters who grow, shrink, waver and become real in your imagination. I'm desperate for my next fix in the Farseer trilogy, and book 2 of Liveships, but for those who want excellent plot summaries, look at other reviews below. What I want to point up is just how original Hobb is. The sea-serpents are out of Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and CS Lewis's Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but as with her other books she's taken a good fairy-tale idea and given it richness and depth. (That said, I believe that starting with the thoughts of sea-serpents on page 1 was a's the pirate who searches for treasure and prophecy in chapter 2 who gets you shivering with pleasure.) You believe in her strange world of ships that come alive and bond with their human families because every detail is so convincing and complete. Robb is the wife of a marine engineer, and has obviously sailed herself. But then you also believe she could talk to wolves. The idea of a ship's figure-head which can move, feel, respond and even go mad is brilliantly realised. This is a really remarkable writer, working in a genre which the literary world still despises. You need time to chomp through 880 pages, but the compelling nature of her intricate plots and the vivid, vigorous style make this effortless. What I want to know is why they haven't been filmed...
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Lee Chiswell on 8 Jan. 2007
Format: Paperback
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed the Farseer Trilogy I was really looking forward getting around to reading the Liveship Traders. With this in mind and after having read a few good reviews and a personal recommendations, my hopes were high. I was not disappointed! Quite simply, the Liveship Traders is one of the best fantasy series I have ever read.

Robin Hobb's main strength lies in her amazing characterisation. She has the ability to create characters that are interesting and vital to the plot, whilst still making them totally believable. Nobody exists or acts in a specific way just to move the plot along. If a character gets into an unexpected situation, there is no way to predict how they are going to react, and this is part of what makes the story so intriguing.

Characters in the Liveship Traders are not good or evil. They are just people thrust into difficult situations, struggling to regain control of their lives amidst terrible times. The pirate captain Kennit, as an example, is one of the best and most fully realised characters I have come across in a fantasy novel. I suppose he could be considered to be the central 'bad guy' of the series, but the reader is never quite sure if he is really is a 'bad guy' or actually a 'good guy' in disguise! In truth he is probably neither, he is just a character like any other. He, like all the other characters simply makes decisions that are in his best interests. Sometimes (although not towards the end of the series) he is even admirable.

In addition to the great characterisation, the Liveship Traders also has a great plot, and there are always two or three threads of the story moving along at any one time. I will not go into details on the storyline here, since may other people have already done so.
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