Ship of Magic, Liveship Traders Trilogy Book 1 by Robin Hobb

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACategory: Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
Author: Robin Hobb

Now, I’d heard several book tubers say this trilogy is possibly the best of the 5 series set in the Realm of the Elderlings, and it undoubtedly feels like it will live upto that! While the first Farseer trilogy follows Fitz and the Fool and is set in this place called the Six Duchies up north, this story is set south in the trading port of Bingtown. Robin Hobb introduces a whole new cast of characters, and the writing style is from multiple points of view which in itself is so interesting!

The book is so atmospheric, and the setting is so unlike anything I have encountered in fantasy. Firstly a significant portion is set in ships and the sea, which in itself just feels so interesting. The very concept of ‘Liveships’ where the figurehead of the ship comes to life when 3 generations of the ship’s captains die on its deck (this is not a spoiler, it’s known right at the start) is just so incredibly unique. The figurehead takes a male or a female personality based on what it has been carved as. The Liveship figureheads are some of the best characters I’ve ever read. There’s so much that happens in this book, that though its a beast spanning 880 pages, not a single page is redundant.

Robin Hobb fleshes out her characters to perfection which was another aspect I loved. There are kickass female characters as well as male, which is not seen too often in epic fantasy. Her characters are not perfect, they are flawed, completely real and believable. Beyond just great storytelling, Hobb tackles some really interesting social issues as well on slavery, relationships between communities, gender roles, family dynamics, politics in trade and so much more. If the next two books in the trilogy hold the same momentum, this, hands-down would be the best fantasy series I’ve ever read.

My reading tends to predominantly lean towards literary fiction, and if you are similar reader, Hobb’s books is that perfect sweet spot within fantasy. Her skilled & descriptive writing, combined with her character driven, slower narratives, in my opinion would really appeal to any reader who enjoys literary fiction but is wary of trying fantasy.

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