My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What a great read. I need to sit and dwell on the series then I will review. I’m actually a little sad, not because of how it ended, but because I was so engrossed in the story that I don’t want to come back to reality. I want to stay aboard the ship.
Updated Review – Review of all three books in the Robin Hobb The Liveship Traders Trilogy 3 Books Collection Set.
I’ve read the The Farseer Trilogy and throughout the years since I read it parts of the story would keep coming back to me and I couldn’t quite remember what book I was recalling it from. Then I would remember it was the Farseer Trilogy and think “I must re-read that someday.” That is how this latest trilogy, Liveship Traders, will stay with me as well.
I don’t think there was anywhere in the trilogy where the story lagged in any way. I was never bored, never skipped sections and unless interrupted by my kids, did not re-read any sentences or paragraphs. Each chapter was engrossing. Each chapter ended with a cliffhanger moment that made you want to skip ahead to find out what happens, but the next chapter was just as good that you forgot all about skipping ahead. The point of views throughout the books changed often and while I like stories told from one or two point of views, there was so much going on and so many connections in this story that I actually enjoyed the multiple POV’s. I was so invested in each of the characters that I wanted to hear each and every one of their points of view. Robin Hobb did not disappoint and the various POV’s ran seamlessly together never leaving a gap or leaving you stumped. On the edge of your seat? Questioning? Yes, absolutely. Every unanswered question gets answered; every piece of the puzzle comes together nicely at the end.
When I started this series I wasn’t sure how I would feel about reading a story of ships but it was that and so much more. I commend Robin Hobb on her writing. It is so detailed but no overly so that you become lost. She writes like your eyes see things if that makes any sense. It’s like watching a movie when you read her books. I even heard the exciting music you hear in movies (LOL) during some of the scenes and goosebumps broke out on my arms. The little details that I think many authors overlook, like how the rain washes over their faces and brings their hair to points on their head, drips running from their eyelashes and chin. Amazing. The other thing I loved about this book; when you think that you know how it’s going to end, Robin Hobb takes you in another unexpected direction. You think it’s going to be predictable and it’s not. Oh, and there are dragons. Very cool dragons and a buried city where once dragons reigned.
The book begins by introducing you to the little town of Bingtown and the Vestrit family. The Vestrits are Traders and have been for a long time. They trade with the River Wilds and their family ship, a Liveship, originates from the River Wilds. The Vestrit’s ship has not yet quickened. The ship does not quicken until three generations have died on their decks and along with their deaths, their memories. Althea Vestrit’s father, Ephron, is the captain of the Vivacia and the third generation. Althea has been raised on the ship alongside her father and has a strong connection to the family ship. The story starts with Ephron’s death and the quickening of Vivacia. Quickening in a short sense is the figurehead on the ship coming alive. The Liveships can only be guided with a member of their family on board and so it is that Althea believes she will be the next captain of her family ship. Only that is not how it goes. It is then that you are taken on a very long journey that weaves through the lives of many and connecting them all in a way that can only be destiny.
I could not possibly outline every aspect of the story that follows, even if I were to do it in short snippets. First, it would do it no justice and second the story is too long and so good you need to read it for yourself, if you haven’t already. The books cover a rather short period of time, maybe 2-3 years from my interpretation. I absolutely cared about almost every character and even the ones I despised (not because of the writing but because of their portrayal), I still was completely invested in each of them. My list of characters I despised is not a long one. I despised Kyle Haven. Not much else to say there, you will agree with me if you read the book or you will agree with me when you read the book. Towards the end, I despised the pirate, Captain Kennit. Kennit and I had a love/hate relationship. While he had some qualities and made decisions I didn’t like, for the most part I understood him and somewhere deep down I felt there was good in him and I liked him. Then he does something that made me hate him and I couldn’t wait for him to meet his end. Luck was on his side it seemed for a long time but it caught up with him eventually. Finally the Satrap Cosgo I really didn’t like but again, not because of the writing or anything the author did. I didn’t like him, a whiny, weak, child of a man which is exactly what the author intended for that character. Well done.
The rest of the characters (in no particular order), Althea, Brashen, Wintrow, Etta, Ronica, Keffria, Grag, Amber, Paragon, Vivacia, Tintaglia, Reyn, Jani, Selden, Malta, Sorcor and all the other fine people in this story, I adored and I will miss them. This was the kind of book that you wanted to just keep going so you could live their lives. I want to keep reading to see where their lives will take them, but I can’t and as they say all good stories must come to an end. While this came to an end for me, it will live long in my memory. Even a re-read I am not sure would be as good as the first time around, where everything was unknown and captivating.
The only negative I could find with this book, and I use the term negative loosely, were the serpents and their tangle. The serpents in the beginning and at least through the first book, maybe the second, I didn’t entirely understand what they were doing, what their terminology meant (the Lack and the Plenty) and what their purpose in the story was. Sometimes, when I got to the chapters with their POV’s I felt less engaged in the book. I blame that on my lack of understanding. By the end, however, it all fit together nicely and it all made sense and takes away from the negative I found in the beginning book. Truly, this was the only negative I could find.
Well, that about wraps up my review. I could keep sitting here typing all the things I loved about this story and about the writing. However, I find myself a little melancholy as I come to grips that the story is over and I need to let these characters dissolve in my memory. Truly grateful that these three books grace my shelves. I will be reading a lot more of Robin’s books.