Series Review – Liveship Traders Trilogy


Series: Liveship Traders Trilogy by Robin Hobb
Seperate Titles: Ship of Magic / The Mad Ship / Ship of Destiny
Release Years: 1998 / 1999 / 2000
Tags: Fantasy / High Fantasy / Dragons / Serpents / Pirates / Traders / Ships / Trigger Warnings / Rape / Slaves / Physical Abuse
Seperate Ratings:  4 stars / 5 stars / 4 stars
Other books by this author I reviewed
Farseers 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 Wilders, when only a liveship fashioned from wizardwood can negotiate the perilous waters of the Rain River? Rare and valuable a liveship will quicken only when three members, from successive generations, have died on board. The liveship Vivacia is about to undergo her quickening as Althea Vestrit’s father is carried on deck in his death-throes. Althea waits for the ship that she loves more than anything else. in the world to awaken. Only to discover that the Vivacia has been signed away in her father’s will to her brutal brother-in-law, Kyle Haven…
Others plot to win or steal a liveship. The Paragon, known by many as the Pariah, went mad, turned turtle, and drowned his crew. Now he lies blind, lonely, and broken on a deserted beach. But greedy men have designs to restore him, to sail the waters of the Rain Wild River once more.



After binge reading the Farseers trilogy this trilogy didn’t come to me quite as easy. To be fair, each of them is over 900 pages. The Farseers books weren’t quite that big. Even so, after having finished this trilogy I favor this one a bit more over the Farseers book, though there is no replacing Fitz.

The Liveship Traders trilogy is set in a different part of the Realm of Elderlings. It starts us off in Bingtown, a city settled away from Jamillia City though they officially still fall under the rule of the Satrap. Bingtown relies heavily on trading and does this with their ships. In the midst of these ships are however liveships. These ships are made of a different kind of wood, can go faster and have a sentient being inside them that becomes awake after three people from the family have died on its decks. They truly become family ships. In Ship of Magic we see such a awakening of a liveship happen when the head of the Vestritt family passes away on the deck.  Unfortunately this is amidst drama.

This is only such a small taste of what these books are about however. While we start with the Vestritt family we soon move onto a pirate captain who has grand dreams and later meet the Rain Wilders who are the ones who build the Liveships. And from there on out Robin Hobb continues to build and build this world. But most importantly, there are dragons.


The Mad Ship didn’t completely sell me on the trilogy initially. It is slow and we dive very deeply into various things where I wondered how everything would end up coming together. There are also some unlikeable characters whose point of view we got that I didn’t quite enjoyed. However in The Mad Ship this changed considerably. We still get the same characters but we see the changes in them. Their growth. Something that is very much so concluded in Ship of Destiny.  There are also characters that get a role to play that I didn’t even think they would get, that had been more to the side throughout the other books but then came out to play. Because they had not been forgotten.

I did dock a star of Ship of Destiny for the rape that happens in this book and how it was dealt with. It completely put me of and put a foul taste in my mouth as I finished the book. It was a shame and completely unnecessary. But if you do add in rape at least deal with it properly.


Character wise I ended up falling hard for some of these characters. Of course I could not dislike Wintrow, even as he sprouts his priest wisdom at everyone with ears at the start of this journey. He was precious and needed to be protected at all costs.  Althea was interesting as she was clearly the rebel of the family who refuses to listen to others. She created a lot of dynamic but could never quite make it to my favorite characters. I fell for Brashen hard from the start, loveable idiot.

Malta is one of those characters I could not imagine myself every liking. So incredibly selfish and snobbish. And yet by the end she became one of my favorite characters. She grew so much and showed her true potential when it mattered. And I am so happy who she ended up with.  Reyn I liked but thought was creepy for liking such a young girl, haha.

Kennit starts as a true pirate and ends as one. I think he did have the least character grow as he was so set in his ultimate goal of becoming pirate king. As he became layered I did grow fond of him but more than that it really wasn’t.



12 thoughts on “Series Review – Liveship Traders Trilogy

  1. Forgot how long this one is. The next trilogy, Tawny Man, is even longer. But we go back to Buck for that one and be ready to get on an emotional roller coaster for that – the likes of which you probably won’t feel again until Fitz and The Fool trilogy.

    The one that really took me a while was Rain Wild Chronicles; 4 books in that one and not particularly fast.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, these are tomes! 😱

    I keep seeing bloggers who have similar tastes to mine raving about Robin Hobb, and I follow her reviews on Goodreads because she has similar thoughts on books to mine. I figured that I would also like books she likes that I haven’t read. Gosh *sighs* I guess I should probably try something of hers. I’ll have to look and see if there is something less daunting, than the two series you read, to read. Thanks for sharing your review. It was well thought out. 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that The Farseers trilogy is probably less daunting. Like 1800 in total versus 3000 haha. But I felt that the Farseers trilogy read a lot faster because in that you mostly follow Fitz where as here there are so many more plot lines to follow.


  3. I’ve never heard of these, but they seem interesting. The rape scene makes me a little reluctant to read it, but I’d hate to let that be the one thing that stops me. Maybe I’ll try it soon. Excellent review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think these are still super worth the read. But I think that it is best to start with The Farseers trilogy that is set in the same world as this. 🙂


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