Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders Series #1)

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Overview

Demonstrating world-building finesse, Robin Hobb begins the climatic story of a seafaring clan and its tangled destiny. Though expected to inherit her family's newly quickened liveship, Althea Vestrit loses the honor to her scheming brother-in-law, who plans to use it as a slave ship. The ruthless pirate Captain Kennit also sees a captured liveship as his key to success. Soon Althea is forced to fight both men to regain the animate, intelligent liveship, her family's most ...
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Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders Series #1)

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Overview

Demonstrating world-building finesse, Robin Hobb begins the climatic story of a seafaring clan and its tangled destiny. Though expected to inherit her family's newly quickened liveship, Althea Vestrit loses the honor to her scheming brother-in-law, who plans to use it as a slave ship. The ruthless pirate Captain Kennit also sees a captured liveship as his key to success. Soon Althea is forced to fight both men to regain the animate, intelligent liveship, her family's most treasured possession.

Possessing the scope and vision of Assassin's Apprentice and Royal Assassin, the first two books in Robin Hobb's debut trilogy, here is the final and perhaps most satisfying volume of this unique epic adventure.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Kathleen Hutchins
A liveship, made of mysterious wizardwood, can sail like no other. Each ship, built for one specific family, will only respond properly under a family member's direction. The liveship Vivacia should be making the fortune of the Vestrit family, whom we first meet shortly before Captain Ephron dies while aboard, quickening the ship to her full potential. It appears the family will be able to repay its huge debt with Althea, Ephron's second daughter, sailing the ship. However, politics and policies interfere. Acting captain Kyle, Ephron's first daughter's husband, bans Althea from her own ship. Shocked, she flees her family and society's expectations in a desperate bid to regain the Vivacia. Because he is not a Vestrit by blood, Kyle calls for his son Wintrow, a priest of Sa, who has no knowledge of sailing or desire to leave his vocation. Attempting to escape his fate, Wintrow flees the ship. Wintrow's sister Malta is made of sterner stuff, like most Vestrit women, but she is very young and selfish. Her shenanigans immerse the family into worse political and financial problems. As the Vestrit family struggles to make its fortune, so does the pirate Kennit. His two overwhelming desires are to become King of the Pirates, and to own a liveship. The Vestrits's adventures are skillfully interwoven with those of Kennit and his pirate crew and issues of human rights, religion, politics, and tradition versus innovation. The reader is constantly drawn along in this complex but well-knit plot, anticipating resolution but often surprised by a new twist of events. As this first book in the Liveship Traders series nears its conclusion, several new elements are introduced but not resolved. This rollicking tale will leave readers hungering for the next installment. VOYA Codes: 3Q 2P S (Readable without serious defects, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Library Journal
The untimely death of Old Trader Ephron Vestrit deprives his daughter Althea of her inheritance and places her ambitious brother-in-law Kyle in command of the live ship Viveca and the family fortunes. The author of the Farseer trilogy (Assassin's Apprentice, LJ 3/15/95; Royal Assassin, Bantam, 1996; Assassin's Quest, Bantam, 1997) launches a new series set in a world of sentient ships, merchant traders, ruthless pirates, dangerous treasures, seagoing dragons, and a mysterious elder race. Hobb excels in depicting complex characters; even her villains command respect, if not sympathy, for their actions. Most libraries should purchase this exotic, nonstandard fantasy.
Wayne MacLaurin
Ship of Magic is the newest from Robin Hobb...pirates, talking ships, magic, sea serpents, slave revolts, dashing heroes, bloody battles and lusty maidens...Robin Hobb weaves an intricate web of sword play, intrigue, family conflict and personal struggle all the while dropping delicious hints of darker secrets and unknown magic throughout the novel. She is a delight to read and has a knack for keeping a reader guessing at what is happening between the pages of the written novel.
SF Site
From the Publisher
"The characterizations are consistently superb.... Kudos to the author and encore!" —-Booklist Starred Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553575637
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/28/1999
  • Series: Liveship Traders Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 832
  • Sales rank: 140,287
  • Product dimensions: 6.88 (w) x 4.16 (h) x 1.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Robin Hobb

Robin Hobb is the author of four well-received fantasy trilogies, the Farseer trilogy, the Liveship Traders trilogy, the Tawny Man trilogy, and the Soldier Son trilogy.

Anne Flosnik is an accomplished multi-award-winning British actress who has garnered two AudioFile Earphones Awards, an ALA Award, and three Audie Award nominations. Her narration of Little Bee by Chris Cleave was chosen as one of the Best Audiobooks of the Year 2009 by AudioFile magazine.

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Read an Excerpt

Althea longed for a fresh-water bath.  As she toiled up the companionway to the deck, every muscle in her body ached, and her head pounded from the thick air of the aft hold.  At least her task was done.  She'd go to her stateroom, wash with a wet towel, change her clothes and perhaps even nap for a bit.  And then she'd go to confront Kyle.  She'd put it off long enough, and the longer she waited, the more uncomfortable she became.  She'd get it over with and then damn well live with whatever it brought down on her.

"Mistress Althea."  She had no more than gained the deck before Mild confronted her.  "Cap'n requires you."  The ship's boy grinned at her, half-apologetic, half-relishing being the bearer of such tidings.

"Very well, Mild," she said quietly.  Very well, her thoughts echoed to herself.  No wash, no clean clothes and no nap before the confrontation.  Very well.  She took a moment to smooth her hair back from her face and to tuck her blouse back into her trousers.  Prior to her task, they had been her cleanest work clothes.  Now the coarse cotton of the blouse stuck to her back and neck with her own sweat, while the trousers were smudged with oakum and tar from working in the close quarters of the hold.  She knew her face was dirty, too.  Well.  She hoped Kyle would enjoy his advantage.  She stooped down as if to re-fasten her shoe, but instead placed her hand flat on the wood of the deck.  For an instant she closed her eyes and let the strength of the Vivacia flow through her palm.  "Oh, ship," she whispered as softly as if she prayed.  "Help me stand up to him."  Then she stood, her resolve firm once more.

As she crossed the twilit deck to the captain's quarters, not an eye would meet hers.  Every hand was suddenly very busy or simply looking off in another direction.  She refused to glance back to see if they watched after her.  Instead she kept her shoulders squared and her head up as she marched to her doom.

She rapped sharply at the door of the captain's quarters and waited for his gruff reply.  When it came she entered, and then stood still, letting her eyes adjust to the yellow lantern light. In that instant, she felt a sudden wash of homesickness.  The intense longing was not for any shoreside house, but rather for this room as it once had been.  Memories dizzied her.  Her father's oilskins had hung on that hook, and the smell of his favorite rum had flavored the air.  Her own hammock he had rigged in that corner when he had first allowed her to start living aboard the Vivacia, that he might better watch over her.  She knew a moment of anger as her eyes took in Kyle's clutter overlaying the familiar hominess of these quarters.  A nail in his boot had left a pattern of scars across the polished floorboards.  Ephron Vestrit had never left charts out, and would never have tolerated the soiled shirt flung across the chair back.  He did not approve of an untidy deck anywhere on his ship, and that included his own quarters.  His son-in-law Kyle apparently did not share those values.

Althea pointedly stepped over a discarded pair of trousers to stand before the captain at his table.  Kyle let her stand there for a few moments while he continued to peruse some notation on the chart.  A notation in her father's own precise hand, Althea noticed, and took strength from that even as her anger burned at the thought that he had access to the family's charts.  A Trader family's charts were among their most guarded possessions.  How else could one safeguard one's swiftest routes through the Inside Passage, and one's trading ports in lesser-known villages?  Still, her father had entrusted these charts to Kyle; it was not up to her to question his decision.

Kyle continued to ignore her, but she refused to rise to his bait.  She stood silent and patient, but did not let his apparent disinterest fluster her.  After a time he lifted his eyes to regard her.  Their blueness was as unlike her father's steady black eyes as his unruly blond hair was unlike her father's smooth black queue.  Once more she wondered with distaste what had ever possessed her older sister to desire such a man.  His Chalcedean blood showed in his ways as much as in his body.  She tried to keep her disdain from showing on her face, but her control was wearing thin.  She'd been too long at sea with this man.

This last voyage had been interminable.  Kyle had muddled what should have been a simple two-month turnaround trip along Chalced's coast into a five-month trading trek full of unnecessary stops and marginally profitable trade runs.  She was convinced all of it was an effort on his part to show her father what a sly trader he could be.  For herself, she had not been impressed.  At Tusk he had stopped and taken on pickled sea-duck eggs, always an uncertain cargo, and barely made dock in Brigtown in time to sell them off before they went rotten.  In Brigtown, he'd taken on bales of cotton, not just enough to fill the empty space in the holds but enough to make a partial deck load as well.  Althea had had to bite her tongue and watch her crew take their chances as they scrambled over and around the heavy bales, and then they'd had a late gale that had soaked and most likely ruined the portion of the load on deck.  She hadn't even asked him what the profit had been, if any, when he'd stopped to auction it off in Dursay. Dursay had been their last port.  The wine casks had yet again been shifted about to allow for a whim cargo.  Now, in addition to the wines and brandies that had comprised their original cargo, the hold was stuffed with crates of comfer nuts.  Kyle had held forth endlessly on the good price they'd bring, both for the fragrant oil from their kernels for soap and the lovely yellow dye that could be made from their husks.  Althea thought that if he crowed once more about the extra profit this would wring from the voyage, she'd throttle him.  But self-congratulation was not in the gaze he turned on her.  It was cold as seawater, lit with tiny glints of anger.

He neither smiled nor bid her be seated.  Instead he simply demanded.  "What were you doing in the aft hold?"

Someone had run to the captain and tattled.  She kept her voice steady.  "I re-stowed the cargo."

"You did."

It was a statement, almost an accusation.  But it was not a question, so she did not need to make any answer.  Instead, she stood very straight under that piercing gaze.  She knew he expected her to babble out explanations and excuses, as Keffria would have.  But she was not her sister, nor his wife.  He suddenly slammed his palm down on the table before him, and though the sudden impact made her flinch, she still did not speak.  She watched him waiting for her to say something, and then felt an odd sense of victory when his temper snapped.

"Did you presume to tell the men to change how that cargo was stowed?"

She spoke very softly, very calmly.  "No.  I did not.  I did the work myself.  My father has taught me that aboard a ship, one must see what needs doing, and do it.  That is what I have done.  I arranged the casks as father would have had them done, were he here.  Those casks are now as every shipment of wine has been stowed since I was ten years old, bung up and bilge free, fore and aft, ends wedged off in the wings.  They are secure, and if they have not already been spoiled by jostling, they will be marketable when we get to Bingtown."

His cheeks grew pink.  Althea wondered how Keffria could stand a man whose cheeks turned pink when he was angry.  She braced herself.  When Kyle spoke, his voice was not raised, but the longing to shout the words was clear in his clipped accent.

"Your father is not here, Althea.  That is precisely the point.  I am the master of this vessel, and I gave commands as to how I wanted that cargo stowed.  Yet again you have gone behind my back and countermanded those orders.  I can't have this interference between me and my crew.  You sow discord."

She spoke quietly.  "I acted on my own, by myself.  I gave the crew no orders at all, nor did I even speak of what I intended to do.  I have done nothing to come between you and the crew."  She clamped her jaws shut before she could say more.  She would not tell him that what stood between him and his crew was his own lack of expertise.  The sailors who would have gone to their deaths willingly for her father now spoke openly in the forecastle of finding another vessel when next they shipped out.  Kyle was in danger of destroying the hand-picked crew that her father had spent the last decade assembling.

Kyle looked furious that she would contradict him.  "It is enough that you went against my orders.  That is all it takes to challenge my authority.  Your bad example on this ship makes the crew restless.  Then I am forced to clamp down the discipline.  You should be ashamed for what you bring down on them.  But no.  You don't care one whit for that.  You're above the captain.  Althea Vestrit is probably above almighty Sa!  You've shown the entire crew your complete disregard for my orders.  Were you truly a sailor, I'd make an example of you, one that would prove my orders are the only orders on this ship.  But you're nothing but a spoiled merchant's brat.  I'll treat you as such, and spare the flesh of your back.  But only until you cross me again.  Take this warning to heart, girl.  I am captain of this vessel, and my word on this ship is law."

Althea did not speak, but neither did she look aside.  She met his gaze levelly and kept as much expression off her face as she could.  The pink spread to Kyle's forehead.  He took a breath and reached for control.  He speared her with his eyes.  "And what are you, Althea?"

She had not expected such a question.  Accusations and rebukes she could deal with silently.  But in asking her a question, he demanded an answer, and she knew it would be construed as open defiance.  So be it.  "I am the owner of this vessel," she said with as much dignity as she could muster.

"Wrong!" This time he did shout.  But in an instant he had mastered himself.  He leaned forward on the table and near spat the words at her.  "You are the daughter of the owner.  And even were you the owner, it wouldn't make a whit of difference.  It's not the owner who commands the ship, it's the captain.  You're not the captain, you're not the mate.  You aren't even a proper sailor. All you do is take a stateroom to yourself that should be the second mate's, and do only the chores it suits you to do.  The owner of this vessel is Ephron Vestrit, your father.  He is the one who gave the Vivacia over to my command.  If you cannot respect me for who I am, then respect your father's choice to captain his ship."

"But for my age, he would have made me captain.  I know the Vivacia. I should be her captain."

As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Althea regretted them.  It was all the opening he had needed, this voicing of what they both knew was true.

"Wrong again.  You should be at home, married off to some fancy boy as spoiled as yourself.  You haven't the faintest idea of how to captain a vessel.  You believe that because your father has allowed you to play at sailoring you know how to command a vessel.  You've come to believe you're destined to captain your father's ship.  You're wrong.  Your father only brought you aboard because he had no sons of his own.  He as much as told me so, when Wintrow was born.  Were not the Vivacia a liveship, requiring a family member aboard, I'd never have tolerated your pretenses for a moment.  But bear this in mind.  A member of the Vestrit family is all this ship requires; it needn't be you.  If this ship demands a Vestrit aboard her, then she can bear one that has Haven for a surname.  My sons share as much of your sister's blood as mine, they're as much Vestrit as Haven.  And the next time this ship leaves Bingtown, one of my boys will take your place on her. You'll be left ashore."

Althea could feel she had gone white.  The man had no idea what he was saying to her, had no idea of the depth of his threat.  It only proved he had no true concept of what a liveship was.  He should have never been allowed authority over the Vivacia.  If only her father had been well, he would have seen that.

Something of both her despair and defiance must have shown in her face, for Kyle Haven's mouth grew tauter.  She wondered if he fought down a smile as he added, "You are confined to your quarters for the remainder of this voyage.  And now you are dismissed."

She stood her ground.  As well have it out then, now that the lines were drawn.  "You have declared that I am not even a sailor aboard this vessel.  Very well, then.  If that is so, then I am not yours to command.  And I have no idea why you fancy that you will command the Vivacia on her next voyage.  When we return to Bingtown, I have every expectation that my father will have recovered his health and will resume his command.  And hold it, until such time as ship and command are both mine."

He fixed her with a flat stare.  "Do you really think so, Althea?"

She puffed up with hatred, believing for an instant that he mocked her faith that her father would recover. But he went on, "Your father's a good captain. And when he hears what you've been up to, countermanding my orders, sowing discord among the men, making mock of me behind my back—"

"Making mock of you?" Althea demanded.

Kyle gave a snort of disdain. "Do you think you can get drunk and witless and throw wild words about Dursay town and not have them come back to me? It only shows what a fool you are."

Althea raced frantically through her scrabbled memories of Dursay. She had got drunk, yes, but only once, and she remembered vaguely that she'd bemoaned her situation to some shipmates. Who? The faces blurred in her memory, but she knew it had been Brashen who'd rebuked her, daring to tell her to shut her hatch and keep private problems private. She did not recall just what she'd said, but now she had a fair idea of who had tattled.

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Althea longed for a fresh-water bath. As she toiled up the companionway to the deck, every muscle in her body ached, and her head pounded from the thick air of the aft hold. At least her task was done. She'd go to her stateroom, wash with a wet towel, change her clothes and perhaps even nap for a bit. And then she'd go to confront Kyle. She'd put it off long enough, and the longer she waited, the more uncomfortable she became. She'd get it over with and then damn well live with whatever it brought down on her.

"Mistress Althea." She had no more than gained the deck before Mild confronted her. "Cap'n requires you." The ship's boy grinned at her, half-apologetic, half-relishing being the bearer of such tidings.

"Very well, Mild," she said quietly. Very well, her thoughts echoed to herself. No wash, no clean clothes and no nap before the confrontation. Very well. She took a moment to smooth her hair back from her face and to tuck her blouse back into her trousers. Prior to her task, they had been her cleanest work clothes. Now the coarse cotton of the blouse stuck to her back and neck with her own sweat, while the trousers were smudged with oakum and tar from working in the close quarters of the hold. She knew her face was dirty, too. Well. She hoped Kyle would enjoy his advantage. She stooped down as if to re-fasten her shoe, but instead placed her hand flat on the wood of the deck. For an instant she closed her eyes and let the strength of the Vivacia flow through her palm. "Oh, ship," she whispered as softly as if she prayed. "Help me stand up to him." Then she stood, her resolve firm once more.

As she crossed the twilit deck to the captain's quarters, not an eye would meet hers. Every hand was suddenly very busy or simply looking off in another direction. She refused to glance back to see if they watched after her. Instead she kept her shoulders squared and her head up as she marched to her doom.

She rapped sharply at the door of the captain's quarters and waited for his gruff reply. When it came she entered, and then stood still, letting her eyes adjust to the yellow lantern light. In that instant, she felt a sudden wash of homesickness. The intense longing was not for any shoreside house, but rather for this room as it once had been. Memories dizzied her. Her father's oilskins had hung on that hook, and the smell of his favorite rum had flavored the air. Her own hammock he had rigged in that corner when he had first allowed her to start living aboard the Vivacia, that he might better watch over her. She knew a moment of anger as her eyes took in Kyle's clutter overlaying the familiar hominess of these quarters. A nail in his boot had left a pattern of scars across the polished floorboards. Ephron Vestrit had never left charts out, and would never have tolerated the soiled shirt flung across the chair back. He did not approve of an untidy deck anywhere on his ship, and that included his own quarters. His son-in-law Kyle apparently did not share those values.

Althea pointedly stepped over a discarded pair of trousers to stand before the captain at his table. Kyle let her stand there for a few moments while he continued to peruse some notation on the chart. A notation in her father's own precise hand, Althea noticed, and took strength from that even as her anger burned at the thought that he had access to the family's charts. A Trader family's charts were among their most guarded possessions. How else could one safeguard one's swiftest routes through the Inside Passage, and one's trading ports in lesser-known villages? Still, her father had entrusted these charts to Kyle; it was not up to her to question his decision.

Kyle continued to ignore her, but she refused to rise to his bait. She stood silent and patient, but did not let his apparent disinterest fluster her. After a time he lifted his eyes to regard her. Their blueness was as unlike her father's steady black eyes as his unruly blond hair was unlike her father's smooth black queue. Once more she wondered with distaste what had ever possessed her older sister to desire such a man. His Chalcedean blood showed in his ways as much as in his body. She tried to keep her disdain from showing on her face, but her control was wearing thin. She'd been too long at sea with this man.

This last voyage had been interminable. Kyle had muddled what should have been a simple two-month turnaround trip along Chalced's coast into a five-month trading trek full of unnecessary stops and marginally profitable trade runs. She was convinced all of it was an effort on his part to show her father what a sly trader he could be. For herself, she had not been impressed. At Tusk he had stopped and taken on pickled sea-duck eggs, always an uncertain cargo, and barely made dock in Brigtown in time to sell them off before they went rotten. In Brigtown, he'd taken on bales of cotton, not just enough to fill the empty space in the holds but enough to make a partial deck load as well. Althea had had to bite her tongue and watch her crew take their chances as they scrambled over and around the heavy bales, and then they'd had a late gale that had soaked and most likely ruined the portion of the load on deck. She hadn't even asked him what the profit had been, if any, when he'd stopped to auction it off in Dursay. Dursay had been their last port. The wine casks had yet again been shifted about to allow for a whim cargo. Now, in addition to the wines and brandies that had comprised their original cargo, the hold was stuffed with crates of comfer nuts. Kyle had held forth endlessly on the good price they'd bring, both for the fragrant oil from their kernels for soap and the lovely yellow dye that could be made from their husks. Althea thought that if he crowed once more about the extra profit this would wring from the voyage, she'd throttle him. But self-congratulation was not in the gaze he turned on her. It was cold as seawater, lit with tiny glints of anger.

He neither smiled nor bid her be seated. Instead he simply demanded. "What were you doing in the aft hold?"

Someone had run to the captain and tattled. She kept her voice steady. "I re-stowed the cargo."

"You did."

It was a statement, almost an accusation. But it was not a question, so she did not need to make any answer. Instead, she stood very straight under that piercing gaze. She knew he expected her to babble out explanations and excuses, as Keffria would have. But she was not her sister, nor his wife. He suddenly slammed his palm down on the table before him, and though the sudden impact made her flinch, she still did not speak. She watched him waiting for her to say something, and then felt an odd sense of victory when his temper snapped.

"Did you presume to tell the men to change how that cargo was stowed?"

She spoke very softly, very calmly. "No. I did not. I did the work myself. My father has taught me that aboard a ship, one must see what needs doing, and do it. That is what I have done. I arranged the casks as father would have had them done, were he here. Those casks are now as every shipment of wine has been stowed since I was ten years old, bung up and bilge free, fore and aft, ends wedged off in the wings. They are secure, and if they have not already been spoiled by jostling, they will be marketable when we get to Bingtown."

His cheeks grew pink. Althea wondered how Keffria could stand a man whose cheeks turned pink when he was angry. She braced herself. When Kyle spoke, his voice was not raised, but the longing to shout the words was clear in his clipped accent.

"Your father is not here, Althea. That is precisely the point. I am the master of this vessel, and I gave commands as to how I wanted that cargo stowed. Yet again you have gone behind my back and countermanded those orders. I can't have this interference between me and my crew. You sow discord."

She spoke quietly. "I acted on my own, by myself. I gave the crew no orders at all, nor did I even speak of what I intended to do. I have done nothing to come between you and the crew." She clamped her jaws shut before she could say more. She would not tell him that what stood between him and his crew was his own lack of expertise. The sailors who would have gone to their deaths willingly for her father now spoke openly in the forecastle of finding another vessel when next they shipped out. Kyle was in danger of destroying the hand-picked crew that her father had spent the last decade assembling.

Kyle looked furious that she would contradict him. "It is enough that you went against my orders. That is all it takes to challenge my authority. Your bad example on this ship makes the crew restless. Then I am forced to clamp down the discipline. You should be ashamed for what you bring down on them. But no. You don't care one whit for that. You're above the captain. Althea Vestrit is probably above almighty Sa! You've shown the entire crew your complete disregard for my orders. Were you truly a sailor, I'd make an example of you, one that would prove my orders are the only orders on this ship. But you're nothing but a spoiled merchant's brat. I'll treat you as such, and spare the flesh of your back. But only until you cross me again. Take this warning to heart, girl. I am captain of this vessel, and my word on this ship is law."

Althea did not speak, but neither did she look aside. She met his gaze levelly and kept as much expression off her face as she could. The pink spread to Kyle's forehead. He took a breath and reached for control. He speared her with his eyes. "And what are you, Althea?"

She had not expected such a question. Accusations and rebukes she could deal with silently. But in asking her a question, he demanded an answer, and she knew it would be construed as open defiance. So be it. "I am the owner of this vessel," she said with as much dignity as she could muster.

"Wrong!" This time he did shout. But in an instant he had mastered himself. He leaned forward on the table and near spat the words at her. "You are the daughter of the owner. And even were you the owner, it wouldn't make a whit of difference. It's not the owner who commands the ship, it's the captain. You're not the captain, you're not the mate. You aren't even a proper sailor. All you do is take a stateroom to yourself that should be the second mate's, and do only the chores it suits you to do. The owner of this vessel is Ephron Vestrit, your father. He is the one who gave the Vivacia over to my command. If you cannot respect me for who I am, then respect your father's choice to captain his ship."

"But for my age, he would have made me captain. I know the Vivacia. I should be her captain."

As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Althea regretted them. It was all the opening he had needed, this voicing of what they both knew was true.

"Wrong again. You should be at home, married off to some fancy boy as spoiled as yourself. You haven't the faintest idea of how to captain a vessel. You believe that because your father has allowed you to play at sailoring you know how to command a vessel. You've come to believe you're destined to captain your father's ship. You're wrong. Your father only brought you aboard because he had no sons of his own. He as much as told me so, when Wintrow was born. Were not the Vivacia a liveship, requiring a family member aboard, I'd never have tolerated your pretenses for a moment. But bear this in mind. A member of the Vestrit family is all this ship requires; it needn't be you. If this ship demands a Vestrit aboard her, then she can bear one that has Haven for a surname. My sons share as much of your sister's blood as mine, they're as much Vestrit as Haven. And the next time this ship leaves Bingtown, one of my boys will take your place on her. You'll be left ashore."

Althea could feel she had gone white. The man had no idea what he was saying to her, had no idea of the depth of his threat. It only proved he had no true concept of what a liveship was. He should have never been allowed authority over the Vivacia. If only her father had been well, he would have seen that.

Something of both her despair and defiance must have shown in her face, for Kyle Haven's mouth grew tauter. She wondered if he fought down a smile as he added, "You are confined to your quarters for the remainder of this voyage. And now you are dismissed."

She stood her ground. As well have it out then, now that the lines were drawn. "You have declared that I am not even a sailor aboard this vessel. Very well, then. If that is so, then I am not yours to command. And I have no idea why you fancy that you will command the Vivacia on her next voyage. When we return to Bingtown, I have every expectation that my father will have recovered his health and will resume his command. And hold it, until such time as ship and command are both mine."

He fixed her with a flat stare. "Do you really think so, Althea?"

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 122 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(60)

4 Star

(40)

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(14)

2 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 124 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2008

    What A Surprise...

    To be honest, I was originally going to read straight from the Assassin's series to Tawny Man series but after researching, I discovered to fully understand Tawny, it was strongly recommended to read the Liveship series. One word. Amazing. I was stunned how the story enraptured me with its layered plots and settings. It was also great to understand and feel familiar with the lands, considering it is part of the same lands from Assassin's trilogy. Strongly recommend yet realize the book is not an actual continuation of Assassin's but an individual story that complements the whole series from different aspects and timelines.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2000

    Exquisitly Imaginative

    Robin Hobb has a gift of transforming you into a completely different world. In Ship of Magic, Robin describes a world of magic and intrique, where an animal fights to find She-Who-Remembers and a family fights to recover after their world is shattered by a death. Wonderfully written. One hundred thumbs up. I recommend this book to anyone wishing to get away from this world. CAUTION: This book is addicting. I could not wait to get my hands on the second!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Ship of Magic....it is just that...Magic

    I throughly enjoyed this book...I liked it much better than it's predecessors. This trilogy was well written, held my interest and couldn't wait to find out how it all ended. The characters were well defined and interesting. I most heartily reccommend this series. I had picked this series up because I couldn't find anything else.. I was tired of Robin Hobb after reading the first six books of this saga. She changed gears in the Liveship Traders, not tragedy after tragedy, bleakness or stubborn stupidity in her characters. She brought to life characters that are real, people you could actually relate to. So, well done Robin Hobb.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2011

    great series

    after having read the farseer trilogy and the tawny man trilogy, i was happy to start in on this one. i thoroughly enjoyed this series as well, it seemed to have a bit less of the dark emotionality of the other trilogies. I would say this series is more of a simple "fun read" than the other books were.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2000

    Excellent Reading

    This is an excellent book. Interesting, exciting and magical. Unique characters. I couldn't put it down until it was finished.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Don't normally read Fantasy books

    I'm not sure why I picked this book up except that I love the sea, ships and stories of Pirates. I normally read suspence novels and wasn't sure at all that I would like this. Well, I LOVED it. I have purchased the second book in the trilogy and can't wait to start it. This author really reels you in. I admit it took a few chapters before I got the swing of things, but after that I was enthralled. I love and admire Althea and hate her brother-n-law that practically stole the ship from her. Paragon -the ship is one of my favorite characters. The individual liveships have their own unique personalities and you start to see them as humans with feelings. I'm anxious to see what happens to Malta-Althea's niece as she is young and reckless for this day and time. The descriptions of the serpents are amazing and you can feel the fear of the sailors when one is spotted. Please give this book a try. I know you will get hooked as I did!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 16, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Ships that are "alive"!

    A wonderful beginning to the second series of books by Robin Hobb both my husband and I are reading. The most unusual part is we are both reading them and find them fascinating. The writing and characterizations are very good in all of the books we have read in the Assassin Series and in these as well. Looking forward to reading more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2008

    Liveships were not the only wooden characters...

    After the wonderful Farseer Trilogy - perhaps the best story in 2 decades, I was eager to read more books by Robin Hobb. Unfortunately, this book - and the 2nd - bordered on boilerplate. Even after investing the time to read the first two books - hoping for improvement - I wasn't inclined to read the 3rd - that's how bad they were. The author failed to convince me to care about any of the characters and their troubles were merely depressing. Better by far to skip this series and read the Tawny Man series instead. Barnes & Noble's recommendation must be considered suspect when the Annotation in the Overview clearly belongs to 'Assassin's Quest', not 'Ship of Magic'. Perhaps they will have corrected this by the time you read this review.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2005

    good

    most fantasy novels don't have ships as one of the important settings, so this was an interesting change. the characters are good, and develop well throughout the series.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2005

    Magical Story Filled with Adventure and Suspence

    This was an excellent book. I loved all the scenes on Vivacia, and all of the other ships. I love sailing myself, and felt a personal connection there. There was no part that I didn't enjoy. The story unfolded in many new layers and twists, but it was easy to follow. I read it in a short period of time, since I just couldn't put it down (I was on a very long plane ride). Definitly read this book as soon as possible!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2005

    entertaining

    While at first, this book is hard to get into, with all the new names, and the whole background story, however, it'll soon have you hooked. The emotions within this story are very well written, enough that you'd want to cry out for the injustices, or strangle the characters for their idiocy. If you're looking for a story full of witty sarcasm, emotion, and enchanting histories of living ships, this is an excellent book to try. -also, Robin Hobb does a good job at keeping her character's story straight, unlike so many authors out there that have hard times transitioning from one character to another.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2001

    Wonderful saga

    This was the first true 'couldn't put it down' book I've read in months. Of course, it took me a week to read even though I didn't want to put it down because it is LONG! Otherwise, the characters were three-dimensional and unique, the story was fascinating, and the action was often enough to keep you reading on into the night. I rolled right into Book 2 as soon as I finished this one. I already have Book 3 waiting for me too.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2000

    WOW!

    An absolutely brilliant book with great ideas and lots of characters interweaving. I've read all of Hobb's books, so there, I suppose I'm a fan!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2014

    I thoroughly enjoyed the Farseer series and looked forward to th

    I thoroughly enjoyed the Farseer series and looked forward to this. So far I've made it to page 91, and have encountered least half a dozen points of view and most of the pages are on characters I don't care about. I'm wondering if the book is ever going to make any progress. I might pick it up sometime in the future if I get really desparate, but for now, I'm done.

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  • Posted August 23, 2013

    Great read!

    I read the follow up series first and enjoyed them enough to want more from Robin Hobb, so I found this series. I would highly recommend these books to all fantasy/dragon story readers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2013

    Ship of Magic Book 1

    It was hard getting into the first few chapters, but perseverance won out! After getting to know the characters and getting into the story, I couldn't put the book down. Can't wait for Books 2 & 3

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2013

    A great read!!

    Another thread to the Apprentice and Fool series. Enjoyable!

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  • Posted July 20, 2012

    Misery

    Painful. Written for masochists. If you are looking for a triumph of Good over Evil, look elsewhere. You won't find it in this book. The hapless characters stumble from one calamity to another, never learning from their mistakes, never heeding the advice of those wiser than themselves. Misery abounds. The ending is abrupt, with numerous loose ends untied.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2012

    Very Bored

    While I don't mind a lot of discriptions in books I usually expect the plot to move along fast enough to reach some sort of conclusion by the end. None of the plot lines were wrapped up by the end and I am not invested enough to read the next book.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    An interesting read...

    Althea Vestrit has always considered herself heir to the family liveship, Vivacia. So when her father dies, awakening the ship at last, Althea is shocked at the string of family politics which rips her legacy from her, handing it to her unwilling nephew, Wintrow, instead. Of course, Wintrow is displeased with events as well since his family has taken him from the priesthood where he was happy and forced him to sail the ship with his father until it can be completely handed over to him. The newly awakened liveship, Vivacia, of course detects all this anguish and pain and must struggle to discover who she is through the division of desire without going insane. And on top of all of this, the rather unlovable pirate Kennit is trying to capture a liveship of his own to boost his plans of seizing control of the Pirate Isles.

    Pros:
    This book starts a bit slow, but once the Vivacia awakens, Althea's family members turn against each other with a viciousness that is both unsettling and exhilarating to read. Characters who seemed rather set in their courses must shift with the violent winds that now mark their path in order to salvage anything of what they once dreamed. Watching the pirate Kennit do his vile work while everyone around him ascribes more virtuous motives to his actions also begins to draw you in, waiting on somebody to finally figure out that this man is not anybody's friend (and his perceived kindness is more often the result of the manipulative awakened wooden charm at his wrist than any words of Kennit's).

    The worldbuilding is also quite fabulous-poisonous sea serpents trailing slave ships like dogs waiting for scraps, the mysterious and malformed Rain Wild Traders and their connections to the trade of objects that seem to have souls of their own, the original Bingtown Trader families and their struggle to hold on to the promises made generations ago. So much wonderful worldbuilding and politicking here.


    Cons:

    Unfortunately, this is the sort of trilogy in which the first book does not end with a feeling of any sort of completeness. So many threads are left hanging, that it is not possible to read this book alone and feel satisfied. This isn't a bad thing if you have the time to immediately read all three (and as a note, I have not read books 2 and 3, so I cannot speak for how well they complete their stories and the overarching story), but if you are looking for a book that you can occasionally just pick up and enjoy for itself, this is probably not going to work out in the end.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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