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


I don't think I've really had an actual favourite author until last year when I met Robin Hobb's work. Of course, I like other authors. I'm a Potterhead and a big fan of Middle Earth's stories, I have read all six books of A Song of Ice and Fire and read almost all Isabel Allende's work, to name a few. However, I've never respected and loved an author's work in the way I do with Robin Hobb. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me talk you first about Ship of Magic and show you why her works have been auto-buys for me since I read her Farseer trilogy.

Ship of Magic is the first in the Liveship Traders trilogy and is a story about traders and pirates and ships who can talk. If you're not convinced with that, I don't know what will. These talking ships are build from wizarwood, a senient wook: 

"Rare and valuable a liveship will quicken only when three members, from successive generations, have died on board. The liveship Vivacia is about to undergo her quickening as Althea Vestrit’s father is carried on deck in his death-throes. Althea waits for the ship that she loves more than anything else in the world to awaken. Only to discover that the Vivacia has been signed away in her father’s will to her brutal brother-in-law, Kyle Haven..."

And so the drama ensues. 

We follow not only Althea's journey and her many struggles but also Wintrow's, her nephew who is abused by his father, the infamous Kyle Haven (who I hate with all my heart) aboard the newly awaken Vivacia. The ship is such a character in herself that you feel for her as much as you do for the other human characters. We also follow the struggles of the rest of the Vestrit's family, Althea's mother and sister. And her niece. Oh my days, how much I hate this girl. Malta's her name and she is a spoiled VERY stupid girl of thirteen years old who I would love to punch in the face several times every time she opens her mouth or does something stupid which is all the freaking time. Among the main characters we also have Brashen Trell, a once nobleman turned sailor. Brashen... Oh, Brashen, what should we do with you? My poor heart bleeds for him. He doesn't always takes the best decisions but he's not a bad guy. He only needs some love and someone to help him redirect his life into a better place. And last but not least, Captain Kennit. The lucky pirate who is indeed very cruel and greedy but somehow finds himself becoming some sort of hero.

I feel very strongly about this characters, guys. 

Hobb knows how to create well developed characters who make you feel empathy, rage, tenderness and all kind of emotions that invest you so much in the story. They are complex and they are full of contradictions. She creates strong female characters who also have a lot of flaws. Her characters are, in fact, very human. They all make bad decisions and good decisions and you root for your favourites when things look tough and cross your fingers when things seem to get slightly better but you know it's not going to last long because that's the way Hobb writes, she likes to make her characters and her readers suffer.

There's so much more about this trilogy that I won't be able to tell you in a review because the worlds she builds, as her characters, are very complex. I haven't told you about the Rain River Wilds, for example, and its mysterious inhabitants, the magic in these lands and the curse that, apparently, affects everyone who lives there. I haven't told you about the issues that she presents like, for example, sexism. We see it clearly in the form of Kyle Have, the most abusive, sexist bastard I've read of in a long time. But we are also presented a some sort of regressive society who once saw women and men as equal that is changing into a very sexist place.

Also, Hobb's not afraid to get dirty talking about the infamous situation of the slaves, how they are treated like objects, worse than sheep and how that affects them as humans or to be kind of explicit about illnesses, wounds or even amputations. And as for the way she describes life aboard a ship... I know nothing about sailing so I have no way to know if what she explains is accurate but she sure looks like she knows her stuff.

Overall, I would say that this is not a book for everyone. It's quite action-packed but it's not your typical fast read and sometimes, all the drama that the characters have to face are a bit overwhelming and the topics can get a bit depressing. Still, I enjoy so much this book. I'm usually a very character driven reader and so I have loved worrying about them, rooting for them and following Althea and the others in their journey.

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