Source: purchased (paperback).
Genre: high fantasy.
The Vestrit family’s liveship, Vivacia, has been taken by Kennit, an ambitious pirate. Captain Haven is a prisoner; his son Wintrow, who bears the Vestritt blood, finds himself competing with Kennit for Vivacia’s love as she becomes a pirate ship. Althea Vestrit, in training to become Vivacia’s captain, arrives home to discover her beloved ship lost. Brashen Trell, her old friend and shipmate, proposes that they sail to Vivacia’s rescue in the liveship Paragon, who has lost two previous crews and is believed mad. Malta, Althea’s niece, seeks help from her suitor, the Rain Wild Trader Reyn, whose family is the Vestritt’s major creditor. Meanwhile, the sea serpents who follow sailing ships struggle to remember their history and return to their place of transformation.
Whew! So I finally, FINALLY chewed my way through this massive book. I started reading it more than one year ago, before I even started blogging. I don’t know why it took me so long but once I put it on my “will get to it someday” shelf, it languished there for months before I decided I need to finish more series that I’ve already started before starting any new ones.
Given this is the second book in the series, it will probably contain some spoilers for Ship of Magic. You have been warned.
With so many points of view, it’s hard to really remember where the first book left off and where this one started, especially considering how long it took me to read it. All this griping about the time it demanded isn’t the book’s fault, please don’t misunderstand me, it’s me being distracted by shiny new books all the time.
As with Hobb’s Farseer trilogy, which you should definitely read first, The Liveship Traders trilogy features amazingly well-portrayed characters. They are the power behind this story, and though there’s a lot of action (Piracy! Battle! Dragons!), it’s their colourful personalities that really drew me in. How could I not root for Althea, meditate with Wintrow, plot with Kennit and be annoyed with Malta?
But there are some changes afoot in their stories – and I was so glad to see that as much as these characters are true to themselves (and consistent and all), they are also changing over the course of the narrative, they’re learning things, growing up and becoming different people (I wanted to write “better people” but that might not be the case with some of them, we’ll see).
Most of all, I loved the change in Malta, the young Trader daughter who was a spoiled rich brat for most of the story (I seriously cringed for her and/or wanted to slap her most of the time) but is now learning about responsibility and realizing how petty some of her worries were. She reminds me a bit of Sansa Stark without being the wilting flower type of a girl (I love Sansa and her transformation but she was a bit of a pushover in the beginning but hey, she was 12 at the time, so she’s totally forgiven.).
Ooh but let me tell you about the liveships! I hate boats of all sizes (I get dizzy and I don’t trust them) but I’d brave my fears for a trip with one of these beauties! They are practically worth their weight in gold and let me say right now that the secret to their magic is magical, indeed.
For all of the first book – and a good part of the second – Hobb was teasing us with hints and little snippets of information that finally start making sense here! After I crested that hill, things started moving much quicker in the story and now I’m really curious about the final part of the trilogy.
Have you read The Liveship Traders? How about other books by Robin Hobb?
Would you travel by a ship that has a living, breathing, talking figurehead up front?
And do sea serpents freak you out at all? o_O
I’d love to hear from you! :)