Sentient ships, pirates and serpents…

Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders, #1)
by Robin Hobb

“Far down the rugged coast from Fitz’s home in Buckkeep is the city of Bingtown, home to the Liveship Traders. Liveships are literally named: after three generations of sailors die on their decks, they “quicken,” becoming sentient beings with all the memories of their deceased family. Althea Vestrit was certain that her father would leave their ship, Vivacia, to her—but he doesn’t, passing it on to his elder daughter, Keffria, for her Chalcedean husband Kyle to command.“

https://www.tor.com/2019/06/07/assassins-pirates-or-dragons-where-to-start-with-the-work-of-robin-hobb/

And that is where the trouble starts. Kyle does not understand what a liveship truly is and has antiquated ideas about the role of women.

I approached this book with a lot of trepidation, as I didn‘t finish The Farseer Trilogy. Assassin’s Apprentice was too much of a coming-of-age story, focused on one person. And it was depressing. I finished, but never picked up the sequel. Which is a bummer, as it seems to be Hobb‘s most beloved character. My review

This one here is very much a coming of age story as well, at least for Althea, Wintrow and Vivacia. But I liked the world much better, with its sailors, pirates, conscious ships and the mysterious Rain Wild Traders (already looking forward to the Rain Wild Chronicles). The various port cities were fun to read about. The „whaling“ ship and it‘s trip to its hunting destination was really well drawn. And the descriptions of the slave trade and the slaver ships were fascinating as well. Having the different characters on different paths and plots really gave Hobb ann excellent opportunity to show off the Cursed Shores. 

Althea really is a spoilt brat at first. Things happen. Wintrow was not love at first side either, but he started to grow on me. Those two are probably my favourite characters. Although Kennit, Amber and Paragon developed nicely as well along the course of this doorstopper. I am really looking forward to all of their continued adventures in The Mad Ship. I feel really invested in the liveship Vivacia as well and so hope that she will have a HEA at the end of the third book…

The plot developed slowly, but that is to be expected in a book of nearly 900 pages, followed by two equally hefty tomes… Patience was needed—something in short supply for me when reading books. I want a speedy plot and action. But here it didn‘t really bother me all that much. I knew I was in for the long haul, with 2689 pages across 3 books. And I really became invested in the lives of the characters—as opposed to the Farseer Triolgy, where I didn‘t really care all that much. 

Not so fun:
The questing serpents were really odd parts of the narrative from the start, I enjoyed their chapters the least. But I guess they really are serving some greater purpose.
And Malta really annoyed me. I think I know what is in store for her, including a very rude awakening. I hope it will make her a better person.

The secret of how liveships are made and where their wizardwood comes from will hopefully be revealed eventually. I also hope that something will come of that wooden pendant that Althea received from Amber!

Well done, Ms. Hobb. I can‘t promise to read everything—I might make a wide turn around Fitz—but for now I am at least partially sold… 

Here’s an interesting article by Molly Templeton, on Tor.com, about the different series and where to start (yes, I stole that sentence and link from Hobb‘s homepage). But careful, the article is full of spoilers! I stopped reading it after the first paragraph about the Rain Wild series, as I want to read that after this trilogy. Dragons!?