After reading the new FitzChivilary Farseer novels which I enjoyed tremendously, I decided to read more of Hobb and picked up a new trilogy set in the same world as the Farseer novels. These books (Ship of Magic, Mad Ship, Ship of Destiny) did not disappoint! Hobb is masterful in realizing her characters, and setting them in worlds that although magical are nevertheless grounded in reality. Her books pulse with life, and as the plot unfolds in this far away place, it still teems with all the moral ambiguity, hard choices and difficult relationships that we encounter in our own lives.
Bingtown is a small trading outpost, across the sea and far away from the seats of power, ruled by a merchant nobility known for its ownership of rare and unique ships. The liveships, as they are called, are vessels made from a rare wizardwood which over a period of time becomes an aware and sentient being bonded to the family who owns it.
The Vestrit family, one of the most respected trader families in Bingtown owns such a ship named Vivacia. Althea Vestrit, believes the Vivacia, recently awakened after the death of the patriarch of the family, is her rightful legacy. But her mother, unwilling to entrust their fading family fortunes to her untried daughter, entrusts the ship instead to her older daughter’s husband, Kyle. Needing a blood relative to bond with the ship, Kyle, who always wanted to his son to “become a man,” wrenches his son away from his studies at the monastery in order to bond with the ship. But all the careful planning of the Vestrit family to restore their fortunes may ultimately be for naught, and instead their fate determined by a ruthless outsider named Captain Kennit whose goal is to become King of the Pirate Isles by seizing a liveship and bending it to do his will.
Hobb has an extraordinary range and ability as a writer. Although her earlier works were set on land, this series is mostly about sailing ships and the hazards encountered on the high seas, and yet the details and the realistic portrayal of life at sea and the interactions on board ship are all captured so effortlessly that you are immediately there. Her plots are rich and complex and the pacing keeps you interested throughout. Her writing is descriptive but purposeful. Her real gift, however, is bringing her characters to life and giving them a complexity and range that is realistic and engaging. The character’s motivations and perceptions are entwined and molds the plot, rather than the plot molding the characters, which is a hallmark of a good writer. These books were a joy to read!
Brenda’s rating: **** (4 out of 5 Stars)
Recommend these books to: Lauren and Marian
Book Study Worthy: sure!
Read in ebook format.