Ship of Magic – Book Review

Ship of Magic – Book Review


Ship of Magic is a critically acclaimed fantasy novel written by Robin Hobb. It is the first book in the Liveship Traders Trilogy, following the lives of the Vestrit family and their interactions with sentient ships. This gripping tale of adventure, mystery, and magic is a must-read for all fans of the genre.

Plot Summary

In the world of Ship of Magic, liveships are rare and extraordinary vessels that possess a consciousness of their own. These ships are made from wizardwood, a magical material obtained from the Rain Wilds. The story primarily revolves around the liveship Vivacia, owned by the Vestrit family.

The book opens with the death of Ephron Vestrit, the patriarch of the Vestrit family. The fate of Vivacia, the family’s liveship, hangs in balance as it requires a new captain to survive. The ship is eventually handed over to Althea Vestrit, Ephron’s daughter, much to the disapproval of her sibling, Wintrow.

As Althea takes charge of Vivacia, she faces numerous challenges and conflicts. The ship’s consciousness begins to awaken, and Althea learns how to communicate with her. Meanwhile, Wintrow is forcefully sent to become a priest on the pirate ship, Paragon, where he finds himself entangled in a treacherous world.

As the story progresses, deeper mysteries and hidden agendas unfold. The liveship Vivacia becomes a pawn in the struggles between power-hungry traders, pirate captains, and the enigmatic Rain Wilds creatures. Althea must navigate these complex dynamics to protect her family and their legacy.

Awards and Accolades

Ship of Magic has received widespread critical acclaim and has garnered several accolades. It was nominated for the 1999 British Fantasy Award for Best Novel and the 1999 Aurora Award for Best Long-Form Work in English. The book has captivated readers and critics alike with its rich world-building, intricate plotlines, and well-developed characters.


Althea Vestrit

Althea is a determined and strong-willed young woman who is determined to prove herself as a captain of the liveship Vivacia. She faces numerous challenges throughout the book, testing her resilience and resourcefulness.


Kennit is a pirate captain who plays a significant role in the story. His charismatic and cunning nature makes him a formidable and complex character, blurring the lines between hero and villain.

Wintrow Vestrit

Wintrow is Althea’s brother who becomes entangled with the pirate ship, Paragon. He undergoes a journey of self-discovery and finds himself torn between conflicting loyalties.


Vivacia is the liveship owned by the Vestrit family. Throughout the book, she gradually awakens and develops her own thoughts and emotions, becoming a central character in her own right.

Critical Reception

Ship of Magic has received rave reviews from both critics and readers. It has been praised for its intricate world-building, well-drawn characters, and compelling narrative. The book’s exploration of themes such as family, power, and sacrifice resonates with readers across different age groups.

Robin Hobb’s exquisite storytelling and attention to detail have garnered a loyal fan base, eagerly anticipating each installment of the Liveship Traders Trilogy.


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