Author: Robin Hobb
Series: Liveship Traders #1
Rating: 5/5 stars!
The Overview: Bingtown is a hub of exotic trade and home to a merchant nobility famed for its liveships–rare vessels carved from wizardwood, which ripens magically into sentient awareness. 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 unjustly denied her–a legacy she will risk anything to reclaim. For Althea’s young nephew Wintrow, wrenched from his religious studies and forced to serve aboard ship, Vivacia is a life sentence. But the fate of the Vestrit family–and the ship–may ultimately lie in the hands of an outsider. The ruthless pirate Kennit seeks a way to seize power over all the denizens of the Pirate Isles…and the first step of his plan requires him to capture his own liveship and bend it to his will…
Robin Hobb has quickly become one of my all-time favorite authors. In my eyes, she can do no wrong, and here’s why: she has mastered every aspect that I consider when evaluating fantasy novel. Her world building, writing, characters, story, magic, and pacing are all phenomenal – and then she adds… something extra. An X-factor of sorts that tips her novels from enjoyable to profound. I am still reeling from her Tawny Man trilogy almost a year later (Fool’s Fate), and have said before that it’s part of the reason why I wanted to start a book blog – it rocked my world and I had to share.
Hobb actually has some of the most slow pacing of any novel that I’ve read – but it works because she makes everything relatable and writes it beautifully. The magic and the remarkable characters within these books make them worth reading in their own right. But it’s the little things – the daily acts done by average people just trying to make their way in the world – that makes them so special and absorbing.
These characters are real – I’m convinced of it. Their behaviors and personalities are so lifelike that they have to be going through these struggles in some distant universe that Hobb just happens to have access to. They are just so human, and so vibrant in that humanity that you can’t help but love them. They are flawed, they make mistakes, and they don’t always say the right thing, but they are real. This trilogy in particular features several different viewpoint characters, and while that can sometimes take momentum away from the story, in this case it only adds to it. You know Hobb chose to tell their perspective for a reason, so it’s only a matter of sitting back and enjoying their journey until their true purpose is revealed.
Overall, if you are interested in the ultimate high-seas adventure in a rich and vibrant world accompanied by excellent characters faced with endless possibilities, this may be the trilogy for you!
Recommendations: I hand this author to anyone looking for a great fantasy series – especially if they mention dragons. When an author has multiple series, you don’t usually need to read them in any particular order. In Hobb’s case, one of the reasons she is so profound is that each series builds off of one another. I would recommend reading them in the following order from left to right (depicted below are the covers for the first books in each series):
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