Title: Ship of Magic
Author: Robin Hobb
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Three Word Description: Fantastic, Magical, Unique
From the author of the classic Farseer trilogy, Ship of Magic begins an epic tale of pirates, sentient ships, magic, sea serpents, slave revolts, dashing heroes and bloody battles.
On the northernmost point of the Cursed Shores lies Bingtown, a bustling hub of exotic trade and home to a proud merchant nobility famed for its extraordinary vessels.
Only Bingtown liveships can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain Wild River and plunder the riches found upstream, but such vessels are made from the most precious commodity in the world – a material with the ability to become sentient – and so are extremely rare.
Do you know that wonderful feeling when you realized that you’ve discovered a new favorite series, no – author? This is my first Robin Hobb book and is the first book in the Liveship Traders trilogy, and I am so happy that I finally took the time to start reading from her. Trust me, don’t let that thick size of the book intrigue you – I practically devoured it (880 pages in two/three days). I haven’t read a thick book so fast since The Final Empire and Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson.
But what is it that makes this book so good? This High Fantasy novel follows multiple p.o.v. as their lives drastically changes. Now, since I hate spoilers and want to be as subtle as possible, I will not say more of what befalls them. But what happens will lead to some great character developments (and this is just the first book) and an intriguing plot that forced me to keep reading it through the night. Hobb doesn’t need wars or a Court setting to create drama in a fantasy world – her writing of the characters’ worry and angst is all that is needed.
Books that manages to get you emotionally invested in the characters and events are, in my opinion, books that have succeeded. I craved to comfort one character, scolding another like a mother scolds her child, or just outright ready to fight one. I always wanted to find out more – what would happen next? What would they do? Once I started reading it, I just couldn’t put it down.
So it is a very character driven book, so you’ll love this if you’re into those. But who are the characters? You’ll meet a young sailor woman who has the ones she cherished the most taken from her. A ship mate with an equally unsettling past as future, an old woman and her daughter who has to fight for her family, a boy forced to live a life he never wanted, a girl who wants to grow up too early, and a pirate who dreams of becoming king. And these are just to mention a some.
This book also touches sensitive and important subjects such as sexism and slavery with in a very good way. How a man can stop important developments and outright ruin things because of his sexist values, but also how it is mostly formed not out of hate for women, but just ignorance and upbringing. Slavery is portrayed as it is – inhumane. The conditions they’re in, but also the mental state of someone without the right of an identity. I really can’t wait to read the rest of the books to find out more about how they’ll fight these injustices.
But one thing to have in mind is that this book may be a bit slow in the beginning. Though I honestly did not notice, but that may be because I read a lot of thick books. I only heard this a lot from others, so I’d take it into account of I were you. Also, like I said about being so invested in characters, you are going to be (very) angry at some characters. But, in my case, it’s all part of the experience.
I whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone, and I’m despairing for not being able to go and buy the next yet. You simply cannot miss this book filled with living ships, pirates, drama, magical creatures, amazing characters and a plot that will force you to stay up all night, just to find out what happens next.