Liveship Traders Trilogy
First edition cover of Ship of Magic, the first book in the series.
|Cover artist||John Howe|
|Published||9 January 1998|
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
The Liveship Traders Trilogy is a trilogy of books by Robin Hobb. The trilogy follows the lives of Bingtown Trader families.
The Liveship Trader's Trilogy takes place in Jamaillia, Bingtown and the Pirate Isles, on the coast far to the south of the Six Duchies. The war in the north has interrupted the trade that is the lifeblood of Bingtown, and the Liveship Traders have fallen on hard times despite their magic sentient ships. At one time, possession of a Liveship, constructed of magical wizard wood, guaranteed a Trader's family prosperity. Only a Liveship can brave the dangers of the Rain Wild River and trade with the legendary Rain Wild Traders and their mysterious magical goods, plundered from the enigmatic Elderling ruins. Althea Vestrit expects her families to adhere to tradition, and pass the family Liveship on to her when it quickens at the death of her father. Instead, the Vivacia goes to her sister Keffria and her scheming Chalcedean husband Kyle. The proud Liveship becomes a transport vessel for the despised but highly profitable slave trade.
Althea, cast out on her own, resolves to make her own way in the world and somehow regain control of her family's living ship. Her old shipmate Brashen Trell, the enigmatic woodcarver Amber and the Paragon, the notorious mad Liveship are the only allies she can rally to her cause. Pirates, a slave rebellion, migrating sea serpents and a newly hatched dragon are but a few of the obstacles she must face on her way to discovering that Liveships are not, perhaps, what they seem to be, and may have dreams of their own to follow.
Reviews of the trilogy as a whole have received a mixed reaction. Reviewers have praised the character development and viewpoints. Other reviewers have felt there are too many characters, unconnected until the middle book. Some reviewers have felt the ending of the trilogy is rewarding while some feel after making ill-conceived choices the ending is too neat and convenient. Criticisms of the length of the trilogy have been made.
Some reviewers have speculated on the themes of the Liveship Trader trilogy. One reviewer stated: "There is a theme running through all three books, that of morality. This is not done with a sense of preaching but rather the effect is one that makes the reader think deeply about the issues that are raised and Hobb subtly suggests that a life spent in peace and harmony, a life spent putting others first, may be the way to true happiness." 
- "Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb". Fantasy Book Review. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
- Neal, Elsa. "The Liveship Traders Trilogy – Robin Hobb – Review". Hear Write Now. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
- Orzel, C. "Series Review: Robin Hobb's Liveship Traders". Steelypips.org. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
- Liveship Traders Trilogy series listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Liveship Traders Trilogy at the Internet Book List
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