The Liveship Traders by

20 January 2007

Rated :
    Books in series:

  1. Ship of Magic
  2. The Mad Ship
  3. Ship of Destiny

reread with ffseries

She wondered what it would have been like to be perfect.

I really love Hobb’s writing. And while I slightly prefer her Fitz books I do love this Liveship trilogy too.

I can’t say too much about the plot as I don’t want to spoil any of the three books, but essentially it revolves around the Vestrit family. They are one of the Old Trader families in Bingtown, a settlement under the control of the Satrap, but not an integral part of the Empire. In recent years an influx of “New Traders” has been upsetting the balance of power in the town, especially as many have brought their slaves and the slave trade to Bingtown. Althea, the younger daughter of the Vestrits had always thought that she would inherit their ship when her father passed on, but she had never thought it would be so soon. And when the ship instead goes to her older sister and husband Althea is outraged, and promises to herself that she will do whatever it takes to get her ship back. For the Vivacia is not a normal ship, made of wizardwood it quickens after three generations of a family have died aboard and becomes a Liveship, capable of talking, thinking and acting for herself. Althea’s father is the third generation to die on Vivacia’s deck. This is another reason Althea objects to the plans to turn her into a slaver in order to try and make money.

And then there is the pirate Kennit, he has recently started to hunt down slaveships, killing the crews and freeing the slaves, earning himself quite a reputation and a following. He has always wanted a Liveship, and Vivacia looks ideal for his purposes.

The third strand of this storyline is that of the sea serpents. For countless years they have roamed the sea, but now something has changed.

And I haven’t even started discussing Malta, Althea’s neice, or the Wild Rain Traders.

The blurb on the back compares these books to the Aubrey and Maturin series, if they were fantasy novels, and I suppose as two well written adventure series about ships and sailors they have a certain amount in common. I prefer the Liveships though. Mainly because of the characters. You might not always like Hobb’s characters, in fact I’d have doubts over anyone who actually liked Kennit as a person, but there is no doubt that he is an intriguing character. All of the main characters have faults and failings, none are the all conquering hero, and the story is all the better for this sort of reality.

Just be prepared, Hobb never lets her characters have an easy life.

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