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The Liveship Traders Series by Robin Hobb

Review by Mike

Ship of Magic
Mad Ship
Ship of Destiny

Liveship is sort of a sequel to Hobb’s major breakthrough series, The Farseer. A sequel in the respect that it is staged in the same world, but the characters are all different. Or almost all I should say…

The World
Hobb has created a totally new world with no connection to our universe. For those of you familiar with Farseer just look south and there you are. At the centre of the story is Bingtown, a coastal town that was founded by poor but adventurous people from the Jamaillan Empire. Over the years these people, called the Old Traders, have become rich from trade. However, when the new ruler of Jamailla turns out to be more interested in indulging in drugs and other decadent pleasures than ruling his empire, things take a turn for the worse. New traders come to Bingtown and they bring slaves with them. This is a serious threat to the Old Traders business, and they find it increasingly difficult to make a living out of their trading.

Of great importance to the Old Traders are the liveships, ships that have been built from a very special wood with strange properties called wizardwood. Over time a link is forged between the owner family and the ship. When three generations of family members have lived and died onboard the ship it becomes alive. A ship that is aware of itself and its surroundings has of course many advantages over normal ships, and this is the base of the wealth of Bingtown.

The Characters
Mainly we get to follow the Vestrits, an Old Trader family with a liveship (Vivacia) on the verge of awareness. When the old head of the family dies at the same time as the bad times for Bingdown in general start, life gets very tough for the family members. Some of them you admire for the way they face the problems, others you immediately despise for their stupidity.

Then there is the enigmatic Amber, and the pirate Kennit, who is probably the most intriguing bad guy I’ve ever come across in fantasy. The liveships are also pretty cool. Yes Jojo *g*, especially Paragon, a psycho ship that was beached and abandoned long ago.

The Plot
I guess you can say that there several plots here, on different planes. There is the fate of the Vestrit family, the fate of Bingtown and actually something that concerns the whole world as well. Not to mention the fate of the liveships. At first it seems a bit slow, because there are so many threads and so many POVs, but towards the end it all converges quite nicely. One thing I really enjoyed is that some of the stuff that I wondered about in Farseer is explained here.

The Grade
Well, I was a bit sceptical after Ship of Magic, because it was kind of slow, and there were a couple of characters I absolutely couldn’t stand. I thought it was good, but not fantastic. The beginning of Mad Ship was the same, but then I was hooked when things started to speed up, and Ship of Destiny I devoured real quick. So, the moment you’ve been waiting for – if you made it this far that is. I award The Liveship Traders with 4.5 amulets. *

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