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50 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flawless Fantasy
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...
Published on 5 July 2004 by Ms. H. Sinton

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This is not a very exciting book
I bought this book after searching for something to follow on from the sword of truth series, this is not it

Essentially this falls under the fantasy banner because the key ships are made of "wizard wood" and are alive but in reality it is about a merchant family trying to stave off bankruptcy and scratch a living from their "live ship" whilst newcomers to...
Published on 21 Sep 2008 by Andrew Michnik


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50 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flawless Fantasy, 5 July 2004
By 
Ms. H. Sinton "dragondrums" (Ingleby Barwick. U.K.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never has a book evoked such reactions in me., 17 Sep 2005
By 
Book Worm (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars hooked, line and sinker, 5 July 2005
By 
A. Craig "Amanda Craig" (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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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 mistake...it'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
5.0 out of 5 stars True magic, 8 Jan 2007
By 
Lee Chiswell - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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. Suffice to say that what starts out as a fairly straightforward story rapidly becomes more and more complex and takes all manner of unexpected twists and turns.

This first volume in the trilogy gets things off to a fantastic start and maintains a great pace throughout. The second book, 'The Mad Ship' also starts well, but slows slightly in the middle before picking up again at the end. The final instalment, 'Ship of Destiny' brings the trilogy to its spectacular conclusion in almost unbearable page-turning intensity. With so much adventure and invention crammed into three books, the reader is left breathless and begging for more. Other authors would do well to take a leaf out of Hobb's book in this, and learn than even in epic fantasy there is a time for brevity.

If you are looking for a fantasy series that is well written, epic in scope and full of style, you really won't get much better than this.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the start of a promising trilogy, 28 Sep 2003
This is the first Robin Hobb book that i've read and i was so impressed midway through this book that i bought the next two installments right away. You rarely see fantasy books about ships so I thought that this would be original and I was proved right. The book combines fantasy, action and suspence quite easily with economics, politics, family quarrels and human emotions. This is one of the few books that i've read which doesn't have a lead character and one would assume that a book would suffer from that but it does the opposite as it keeps the story fresh and all the main characters are different in the way they think and the way they react to situations around them, meaning when it is their turn to fill the pages it is usually very exciting.
In addittion Hobb seems to make even the so called "bad guys" very charming: Captain Kennit the pirate who on the surface one would assume would be devious and cunning is just that but Hobb throws his smart mind and slight insecurity into the picture making him a well rounded character. Indeed this is just one example, of all the "main" characters none are completely noble and good, just as none are wholly evil making all the main characters interesting to read about. It is good to see Robb has avoided the trap of the predictable good versus evil.
Although each character has their own separate part to play in the book, most cross paths and interact throughout the story in a realistic way.
The ending sets the story up to only get bigger and i don't doubt more exciting, i can see why the Farsser books got such an excellent responce, i'll definitely read them after this series, even just to appreciate the subtle refereneces that Hobb has included about them in this book as The Cursed shores where these books are set are just south of the lands where the Farseer books where written about.
The critisims about this book are small in number and minor in detail however there are still some. The book is a massive 880 pages long and in truth it could have lost about 150 of those and not detracted from the story line.
If you are a fan of fantasy books and are looking to broaden your selection , this is good collection which i highly recommend.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robin Hobb - always great!, 29 Aug 2002
By 
By far my favourite author, the characters become part of your life and the world she creates feels like a second home - I can't praise her writing highly enough. BUT word of warning, ***if you're new to Robin Hobb read the Assassin series first.*** Although the trilogies are two distinct, self-contained stories there is a crossover. Having read them in the wrong order I'm now re-reading this series and there are so many subtle references to the Assassins series that I'm enjoying it ten times more.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New to Robin Hobb or not you will love this trilogy., 9 April 2004
By A Customer
I must confess that having finished the Assassin's Trilogy I was both eager and wary to read this book. True, Hobb is an excellent author and this in part was my fear - could this strange tale about ships that came alive even come close to the quality of that of the Farseer Trilogy? Thankfully my concerns were unfounded.
The reader is taken to a different part of the world where the Six Duchies is only a passing comment. Bingtown is brought to the forefront. Initially my scepticism made me believe that there was no where other than Buckeep that I would care about. Again I was proven wrong.
To begin with it is a little confusing. As is Hobb's style the reader is introduced to many of the main characters from very early on - although some of the minor ones turn out to be exceptionally important. The story then weaves between independent plots that, somehow, still manage to create the larger tale: one of a changing world, the threat of attack, of the unknown and of disinheritance.
Details of the actual plots are irrelevant - people will prefer some of them over others. However, despite my love of the narrative I feel that the best praise I can give this book is in its independence to the Farseer Trilogy whilst forming links. I had read about Fitz before taking this book up and so I could appreciate the small references thrown in by the author. However, if this is your first read of any of Hobb's work then you will still get a great read - you certainly won't feel like you are 'missing out' on anything.
If you are already hooked on Fantasy then no doubt you will love this book - especially the narratives that follow the lives of those both on and under the ocean. However, even if you are not a big fantasy buff I honestly believe you will enjoy this book. Unlike some it is not fantasy-centric; there is magic but it is so overwhelmed by the human element of the stories that it you often have to remind yourself that it is there!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hobb rules the waves!, 21 Feb 2004
Can fantasy get any better than this? I don't think so. Robin Hobb is one of the best writers out there and she vastly proves it in this trilogy. The idea of mixing seafaring high adventure (pirates included!) and fantasy is just another example of Hobb's mastership. The setting is spectacular: the world is, in general, ample terms, that of the Farseer trilogy; but while this latter's story is set in a medieval-like group of kingdoms and fiefdoms, the Liveship Traders trilogy is set far to the east of these, in the lands controlled by the city-metropolis of Jamaillia. This city is a kind of Byzantium or Rome, an ancient, sophisticated metropolis with a very complicated (and corrupt) political system, and several very rich colonies-satellites. Bingtown, where the main characters of the story come from, is one of these colonies and its commercial elite has survived the harshness of the dangerous setting by sheer strength, sharpness and will power...and by an extremely accute sense of honour that has always made them be true to their word and pay their debts (in "gold or blood"). This pride in their sense of honour has allowed them to keep strong links with their metropolis, while trading in the most precious and costly of merchandise, a merchandise that hides a well-kept secret that has made them rich but for which a terrible price has had to be paid. The moral issues arise from the conflicts that the characters have to face in their changing and corrupt society, but the author is too good to hit us with these issues on the head -as so many fantasy authors do nowadays. And this is what is really glorious about the author: she manages to present her themes without writing an overly simple pamphlet about what is right and wrong. Because in times of change, they are not so easy to see.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing change !, 2 Feb 2001
By A Customer
I have really enjoyed making Robin Hobbs' acquaintance. She has a fantastic imagination, creates a wholly believable world and never cheats, i.e. her characters always behave in accordance with the characteristics she has given them, even when that means that they sadden and disappoint us. Also I appreciate the rare concentration on character and plot instead of sex and violence. Can't wait for the third volume.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Without doubt one of the best fantasy reads this decade., 31 Mar 1999
By A Customer
Robin Hobb gave us a good read with 'The Farseer Trilogy', but that was mere apprentice writing compared with her new work. Set in a land to the south of the 6 Duchies, it tells of the Bingtown Trader Families and their magical wizardwood liveships which only 'quicken' after the deaths of three generations of family members on board. The characterisations are strong, the plot is totally gripping--in fact unputdownable. Althea Vestrit is a heroine many women will relate to--and the book's whole attitude to women will make it attractive to female readers. This is certainly one of the most original fantasies to be published in the last decade--totally believable stuff from a writer who just keeps on getting better.
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Ship of Magic (The Liveship Traders, Book 1)
Ship of Magic (The Liveship Traders, Book 1) by Robin Hobb (Paperback - 23 April 2012)
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