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The Liveship Traders Trilogy


Ship of Magic: Gripping first instalment of a new series from the author of The Farseer Trilogy. Wizardwood -- a sentient wood. The most precious commodity in the world. Like many other legendary wares, it comes only from the Rain River Wilds. But how can one trade with the Rain River Traders when only a liveship, fashioned from wizardwood, can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain River? A liveship is a difficult ship to come by. Rare and valuable, it will quicken only when three family members, from succesive generations, have died on board. The liveship Vivacia is about to undergo her quickening, as Althea Vestrit's father is carried to her deck in his death-throes. Althea waits with awe and anticipation for the ship that she loves more than anything in the world to awaken. Only to find that her family has other plans for her...And dark, charming Kennit, aspiring pirate king, also lusts after such a ship: he well knows the power of wizardwood, and has plans of his own...

The Mad Ship: High heroic fantasy has rarely paid enough attention to ships and sailors, the lifeblood, after all, of trade and survival in a non-technological world. In her Liveship Traders series, Robin Hobb more than makes up for this with a sequence in which economic survival is the principal objective of the merchant family, the Vestrits, who provide most of her viewpoint characters. The Mad Ship takes up their adventures where Ship of Magic left off, with young would-be priest Wintrow the captive of the pirate Kennit and bonded to the living figurehead of the family ship Vivacia; and his sister Malta caught up in the affairs of the changeling traders of the Rain Wild. Their aunt Althea, who feels she should have had command of Vivacia, is off having adventures as a sailor, and the mysterious Amber is trying to heal and repair the shattered mad hulk Paragon, who killed his crew and lies abandoned in the sand dunes. All this and war and conspiracy too--Hobb gives us a rich portrait of a world and a family in turmoil and raises some interesting questions about what it is to be used and make use of. --Roz Kaveney

Ship of Destiny: Robin Hobb's books combine heroic adventures by land and sea with a passionate urgency about the morality which underlies her character's deeds. Ship of Destiny the third of the Liveship Trilogy, involves us further with the efforts of the Vestrit family to reclaim the fortunes which war and piracy have cost them, and raises interesting questions about the sources of even an attractive family's wealth. It is clear that the live ships Vivacia and Paragon were carved from husks which should have hatched dragons, that the attractive personalities of the figureheads are only pale shadows of the autonomous beings they might have been. Malta has freed the last of the real dragons from an underground prison, and he is not especially grateful. And the slave-liberating pirate Kennit, one of Hobb's richest creations, is ever more drawn to the darker side of his flawed nature in an attempt to hide from the secrets of his past. This is one of the most satisfying heroic fantasies of recent years, simply because it is about difficult choices and complex emotions. Hobb's tight plotting and fast-moving story-telling are fascinating in their own right, but are all the more so because they are actually about something.

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Tags: world, heroic, Trilogy, adventures, books, Liveship, Traders