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Summary

From the author of the classic Farseer trilogy, Ship of Magic is the first part of the Liveship Traders. Set in a land bordering the Six Duchies, Robin Hobb begins her epic of pirates, talking ships, magic, sea serpents, slave revolts, dashing heroes, and bloody battles.

Wizardwood, a sentient wood. The most precious commodity in the world. Like many 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.

©2012 Robin Hobb (P)2012 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Hobb is one of the great modern fantasy writers…what makes her novels as addictive as morphine is not just their imaginative brilliance but the way her characters are compromised and manipulated by politics." ( The Times)
"Even better than the Assassin books. I didn't think that was possible" (George R R Martin on the Farseer series)
"Hobb is a remarkable storyteller." ( Guardian)

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    161
  • 4 Stars
    114
  • 3 Stars
    43
  • 2 Stars
    9
  • 1 Stars
    16

Performance

  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    108
  • 4 Stars
    81
  • 3 Stars
    55
  • 2 Stars
    21
  • 1 Stars
    36

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    187
  • 4 Stars
    74
  • 3 Stars
    30
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    2
Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Eli
  • stockholm, Sweden
  • 15-11-12

great story, disappointing narration

I love Robin Hobbs books, I have read them all and Ship of magic is no exception. However, the narrator does not do it justice. Maybe its a technical flaw in the recording or she simply swallow the ending of words but repeatedly through the reading the last letters in a word just disappears. Also, the "voices" she uses leaves me untouched, and sometimes annoyed. But the story is great and because of that i give it 3 stars; 1 for narrator and 4 for the story.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • henry
  • LONDON, United Kingdom
  • 05-04-13

Amazing story. Poor narration.

I love Robin Hobbs writing style, and this book is a beautiful addition to the lush magical world she’s created. Certainly recommend to anyone looking to get into a new fantasy epic. But the narration was trying throughout and impossible at times. After the farseer trilogy being read by Paul Boehmer so movingly, Anne Flosnik was a huge step back. If I had any other option I would have read the live ship trilogy to avoid this narrator. Appalling voices, jarring pacing, and now I have to listen to her again in the next book.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Ms
  • 17-11-12

Good book, poor narration

Like the previous reviewer, I like Robin Hobb's books. Her style is flowing and characters accessible. However, the narrator is not a good match. There is little emotion in her reading, which sounds like a newsreader at times. I've not finished yet, and I'm open to her style growing on me, but at the moment it's actually getting in the way of the words. I suggest starting with one of Hobb's other series on this site.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Bonnie
  • Norwich, United Kingdom
  • 30-11-12

Good book but the ends of words are clipped off

I love Robin Hobb's writing and the story in this book is as good as others I have read, but I agree with previous reviewers that a good book is let down by the narration. I am not keen on the reading style or the character voices, but that is a matter of personal taste and you can get a flavour of that from the sample, what caused me to stop listening after several hours is the way the ends of words are missing, you forgive the first few as a technical glitch, but it keeps on happening and each time it is more grating. Where have the ends of the words gone? I tried downloading the full quality version but the problem was the same. This is a poor quality audiobook for a good quality site such as Audible, wish I had read the reviews before buying.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Terrible narration

Any additional comments?

Having enjoyed the Farseer trilogy audiobooks I was shocked at the quality of narration. The narrator has a very odd and distracting cadence and the character voices are not great either. It made it completely impossible for me to get beyond the 1 hour mark in a book I know I like.

I will definitely avoid anything from the same narrator in future. Its the first thing I've regretted purchasing from audible and the first time I've felt driven to post a review.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Truly awful narration. Such a shame.

I've just finished listening to the farseer trilogy which were brilliantly written and well read by Paul Boehmer. I was therefore really looking forward to the next trilogy by Robin Hobb. Unfortunately after only 45 mins of attempting to listen to 'Ship Of Magic' I found myself forced to return this audio book. At first I thought I was listening at the wrong speed - but no! I spent the next 20 mins trying to decipher if the narrator was a real person or a computer generated voice. I was so fixated on the narrators lifeless delivery and in some instances bizarre pronunciation, that I was completely unable to follow the story. By far the worst narration I have encountered from Audible (and I have downloaded a lot of books). Robin Hobb deserves better. Mystifying decision to change narrators, and even more mystifying to allow this narration to be put into production.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Excruciating narration

I hadn't read any of the reviews of this production, or listened to the sample before purchasing. BIG mistake! Anne Flosnik's voice grated from the start, with a strange unnatural rhythm and unbelievable voices. Perhaps English is not her native tongue, but Audible could easily have found a far better narrator from amongst the many it can choose from. I hope that I can return this title, as I will never listen to it again.
Sadly I was forced to allocate one star for 'Performance. Too high in my opinion.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Poor!

I love all of robin Hobb's stories but the lady reading put me off. It was like having mystic meg reading, so much so only did about an hour and realised I wasn't following rewound a couple of times but still couldn't get into.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • alc
  • england
  • 31-10-13

If only they had a better reader

These books are great stories but this reader is the worst I have ever heard. She needs to be sacked, her voice seems to be on slow speed and in an effect voice that you can not tell the difference between the different people. Cone on Audible you have mush better readers than this....Just look at the other books by Robin Hobb.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Maybe the paperback is better?

This was my first contact with the Liveship Traders and sadly, it's probably going to be my last. The narration was awful - I just couldn't follow the scene breaks and was horribly confused within the prologue alone. I also found the narrator's tone and pronunciation odd (at best)

I am so frustrated with the narration that I didn't get very far through the book at all. Robin Hobb has always been someone I wanted to try, but this experience has really put me off trying other books.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nicola Beveridge
  • 19-08-14

Annoying Voice

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Great book, Great Story, Great Writer, Pity about the narrator. It would be nice if they stuck to one Narrator for an author, I would have been very pleased to continue with Paul Bohemer, and I am disappointed with the change, I will make sure I listen to samples before I buy any more books from audible.

Would you be willing to try another one of Anne Flosnik’s performances?

No.
Anne Flosnik has an incredibly annoying voice, she seems to lisp, slur, speaks her words around the sides of her tongue and is almost sounds like she is trying to cast a spell with every sentence. I had intended to work my way through the Liveship traders series before I started the Tawny man series, but I have decided that since I read the series about 10 years ago, I will pass on buying the other two books and skip forward.

Any additional comments?

It has just occurred to me that there are other sites that do audiobooks, I have been happy having Audible as my sole provider, but I really don't want to listen to Anne Flosnik butchering any more of these books so I will have to look to see if this book is availiable from anyone else with a better Narrator.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Aimi
  • 26-07-17

Excellent book let down by an abysmal narrator

Would you be willing to try another one of Anne Flosnik’s performances?

Hell no. Not if you paid me.
She is slow, monotone and entirely boring as a narrator

Any additional comments?

Speeding the audio up to 1.1x speed improves things significantly but this would be best fixed with a better narrator.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Mr Marcus B Kenny
  • 08-03-17

Tip for those who don't enjoy this narrator

Try increasing the playback speed. I listened to this book at 1.10x and it made a world of difference. That is a tip to remember for any audiobook that you are not enjoying, try increasing the playback speed before giving up on the book.

As for the trilogy, I'm now well into the second book in this series, and it's ok. It's not as gripping as the farseer trilogy, but it is good enough to listen too. I look forward to returning to Fitz & the Fool, but this is proving to be entertaining enough, and the magical ships are wonderful.

It is frustrating how even when someone has been proven to be wrong in this book, they still stubbornly refuse to change their mind/opinion about something. (Very true to life though, just look at politics.) Like the whole Vestrit family, none of them ever seem to change their mind. It does make it a struggle for me to like any of the characters very much.

Anyway, give the series a go, the ships are wonderful, and if you find the narrator difficult to listen too, try increasing the speed. I honestly wonder if someone messed up the recording, and it's playing slower than it should.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Richard
  • 27-09-12

The playback skips words

Would you try another book from Robin Hobb and/or Anne Flosnik?

The story is engaging, however the recording skips words continually...
It looses meaning in some sentences

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Kindle Customer
  • 08-08-13

Worst Narrator Ever!!!! Slow, Monotone, Bland

I am sure the book is quite good but I will be asking for a refund for this one. The Narration is just terrible. I am really sorry Anne Flosnik but this is not your calling.

There is no depth to the characters, she is incredibly slow even at 1.25 times the speed. its very mono tone so the book doesn't develop any real feeling as to what is going on. The spacing between sections in chapters is almost non existent and its really hard to follow from one part to the next. And all the characters sound the same boy or girl, old or young.

Looking at other reviews of this narrator this is a common feeling so its really disappointing that the entire series is read by this one lady. She just doesn't give the book justice.

Will be reading this one myself thanks!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Tracey
  • 25-03-13

Interesting concept

After reading the Farseer trilogy, I really wanted to skip The Liveship Traders and go on to the Tawny Man Series but all the reviews I read indicated these books should be read in the order they were written because some of the characters from here are brought into the Tawny Man. While not directly connected to the Farseer story, it is set just outside the boarders of the Six Dutchies.

I liked the characters and the idea of the liveships but dont understand what is going on with the sea serpents. It has taken quite a long time to start enjoying the story as I don't care for the narrator's voice/accent. We have Trader families in debt to RainWild families for their liveships, children used as bargaining chips, pirates, slaves and politics and an interesting mix up of characters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-03-13

Truly awful narrator

Would you try another book from Robin Hobb and/or Anne Flosnik?

I'd certainly read a book from the same author, but not the narrator unless for a very specific reason.

Was Ship of Magic: The Liveship Traders, Book 1 worth the listening time?

The story is good, the narrator almost made me give up.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Sofie Hildegard Ryen
  • 21-03-18

Not for me

Neither the story nor the narrator was for me, I think. Other people who enjoy such books as the Song of Ice and Fire series will probably love this. Too much sexism and violence in the story's society for my liking. I only cared for three of the characters, Althea, Ophelia, and Vivacia, and I strongly disliked the rest cast. I would ho as far ad to say I hated the other named characters. The narrator put a strange melody to the sentences when she read, it sounded a bit like how we speak in Norwegian, but I didn't care for it in English at all. It made most sentences sound like questions, and there were a lot of strange, long pauses. I'm sure other people might love it, though!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Atle
  • 19-08-17

You get used to the narration

The story is good, would not recommend skipping it and go directly to the next fitz trilogy like I did. Many things has import for the next fitz chapters.

It's slow to begin with. Took me almost three weeks to finish the first twentyish chapters. Then suddenly it picked up and I finished the last third of the book in a day! The slow parts are necessary though, to get to know the characters for the last part to be exiting.

The preformance of Anne Flosnik is ridiculous to begin with and it seems impossible that it will become bearable, but it does. It is even good at some points! Bottom line is, I recommend this book to anyone wondering if it's worth it.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jamilah
  • 14-08-17

Do not buy! Horrible reading!!

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Another reader would make all the difference. Anne Flosnik tries to do I do not what. I have read and re-read the books. The stories are wonderful.

What did you like best about this story?

The narrative is very good.

Would you be willing to try another one of Anne Flosnik’s performances?

No way.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment. I love the books, but Anne Flosnik's reading just kills them.

Any additional comments?

Horrible.