Ship of Magic sweeps us into a world of pirates and sailors, traders and sea serpents. Don’t let the length of the story frighten you: There’s hardly a dull moment in this novel, the first installment of Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders trilogy.
It’s crafted with so much care, I found it difficult to tell who the villains were—and harder still to dislike them. These characters grow with each plot twist. One of the book’s strengths is characterization. We feel by the end that we’ve gotten to know them personally, even the pirate and the liveships.
The centerpiece detail of the series, liveships are vessels with talking figureheads crafted from wizardwood. They can be unpredictable and difficult to control. Some are wild with unsettled pasts, others are social and love to gossip. These ships are characters, a concept I found very cool!
Though most of the chapters were gold, I struggled when we switched to the sea serpent’s point of view. Those scenes seemed too out of place, rarely revealing anything. Eventually I started to skim them, something I may regret when I start book two.
Overall it was beautiful, the characters rich with depth—like a pirate who wants to be pirate king, and an abandoned liveship named Paragon. He suffers the way a human would if left in utter solitude.
Ship of Magic will satisfy the reader who longs for adventure at sea. I cannot wait to start the next one.