Monday, July 24, 2017

The Liveship Traders

The Liveship Traders, Robin Hobb

This second trilogy by Robin Hobb was very different to the Farseer Trilogy, for while set in the same world, it’s located in completely different lands. There's no overlap with the Farseer Trilogy, except for hints that this takes place after those events. To me it felt more like what I expect classical ‘fantasy’ to be, a much more different world with less links to our own. Based around the community of traders at Bingtown, we learn that a Liveship is quickened (essentially comes to life), when the 3rd generation of its owners has died. The ownership of a Liveship is a remarkable privilege, bringing the opportunity of great wealth to a family, but also comes at great cost with debt owed to its makers upriver (the Wild River folk) until that is realised.

Althea Vestrit’s family awaits the quickening of their ship Vivacia. Althea has grown up on her father’s ship and assumes Vivacia will one day be hers. Her family is making other plans, with the brother in law due to inherit. At the same time, pirate Kennit desires to be king of the pirate isles, controlling the trade and slave ships in the region, and what better way to do it than by acquiring his own liveship?

This series grew on me. I struggled with the first half of the first book and then I got drawn in. There's  an extensive list of characters, who early on seem unconnected but of course, you come to see how they all intertwine. You start to see the threads of plots as Hobb weaves them together and how they come to overlap. Hints along the way suggest where things must be heading, but she gives away the story so carefully that you feel you are figuring out the links yourself, where in fact, it’s just when she has clearly planned to reveal them.

While I was very happy to recommend the Farseer Trilogy to Mr 14 and did indeed get one of his friends hooked on it, this one I pause to recommend to the same age. There is more swearing and romance as well as general and some sexual violence.  But those are my hesitations, others may not have them.

I have now moved on again to the third trilogy – The Tawny Man, which picks up about a decade after The Farseer Trilogy ends, again with Fitz – yeah!

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