Good Evening Book Friends!
So, following on from last weeks post; Why The Dragonbone Chair By Tad Williams Is A Masterpiece & Why you Should Read It, I wanted to continue with that theme . I’m going to talk about another classic Trilogy to come out of the 90s, albeit, the very late nineties!
Liveship Traders is, in my opinion, the best instalment for the Realm of the Elderlings by the phenomenal Robin Hobb. So, I’m going to give you a brief overview and then hopefully I would like to think I can inspire some readers to continue the series and just maybe help some to overcome some of the obstacles you face when dealing with a series of this magnitude. I don’t want you to miss out on this outstanding nautical masterpiece!
I think the one thing that makes this is a stand out trilogy from that era, is that you won’t find those usual tropes that would be typical from series from this era…no chosen one, no orphaned farm boy, no battle against a malevolent force, this is a very different tale and I think this is where its brilliance lies!! This a hugely character driven story.
“Hobb literally delivers flawless prose, astounding character work and technical brilliance that surpasses the likes of Sanderson!!”
I think if you were pitching this book to someone there is every chance that they would look at you a bit mystified, there are ships made of sentient wizard wood that contains the souls of dragons that can communicate with the ships masters….You might be a bit bewildered by that statement but i’ll give you more context below that should peak your curiosity.
With this story you follow a family called the Vestrits, an old and noble family, who amongst others in Bingtown are a trading family and are privileged to own one of the limited number of ships made out of wizard wood named Vivacia, which gives them access to Rain Wilders and there elusive goods.
After the death of the head of the family, you meet Althea, who has dreamed of taking the helm of the Vivacia since she was girl. But as fate would have it, her dreams were crushed, her legacy unjustly ripped from her grasps, the Vestrit family become fragmented, betrayal, envy and greed seek to tear this once happy family apart. After senior members of the Vestrit family play their roles as pragmatic decision makers, other members of the family suffer, the young nephew and one of our main protagonists Wintrow is ripped from his studies and made to join his father Kyle Haven on a voyage to regain the Vestrits former glory and save them from oblivion. Wintrow once dreamed of a life of a scholar and a holy man, to be thrust into servitude of his ruthless father, to lead a life of suffering that no boy could even imagine possible.
Other members of the family adjust to life under harder less privileged circumstances, while the senior members of the family scrabble around trying to secure the future of their family’s interests. What seems like a usual tale of hardships, family strife, has one major threat, which comes in the form of a pirate named Kennit whose ambition for power and unimaginable wealth leads him to have designs on the family ships Vivacia and so the story begins!!
Yes, there are dragons, sea monsters and the magical people of the Rain wilds, their history intertwines with the magic of this world, it’s at the core of the fantasy elements to this tale, there are many secrets hidden in the murky depths. You’ll get some of the most well staged battles the seven seas have ever witnessed and to be frank you’ll be like pirates of the who……
The connection between bing town and the Rain wilds is as you would expect,is the trading of exotic goods and they’re bound by and ancient covenant. The liveships are the only ships capable of traveling the to the rain wild rivers to procure those elusive goods. But you will get small doses of local politics as the old ways being forgotten….
As this is a very character driven novel I won’t do a deep dive into the characters, so not to drop spoilers.
As with most epic fantasy I’ve barely scratched the surface on the sheer scope of this story.
Let’s talk about the character work…
To begin with this is an incredibly character driven novel with some of the best character development that I have ever read within the fantasy genre. Hobb in this trilogy really writes the most captivating, relatable characters, that you form a connection with very quickly, in such depth, you’ll find yourself unable to put this book down. The majority of the characters don’t really conform to the usual stereotypes, and it can be said that there are many morally grey character’s within this series down to the plain out evil, especially our main protagonists. Other themes include morality, seeking refuge, family, class, race, gender roles and expectations, tradition and obligation. But Hobb doesn’t smash you over the head with any of these, they’re all relevant when crafting this type of character work. As the characters are so complex, you’ll find yourself second guessing their reactions as you would with a complex plot, which keeps those pages turning. The relationships within this book go from everyday to very toxic, to dark human relationships, but they are skillfully handled in a way that doesn’t tarnish your view of the series, but what they will do is provoke a strong reaction, so sensitive readers brace yourself as Hobb doesn’t dodge those more extreme scenes. So for character driven readers this will surpass your expectations like no other!!!
As I mention later on, I won’t do a deep dive with all the characters.
However I must do a special mention on the pirate King Kennit. With this character Hobb has crafted one of the most complex Villains you will ever find within the fantasy genre! You’ll be taken in by his devilish charm, inspired by his courageous efforts to liberate suffering, you’ll come to love him and loathe him, understand him and hate him for the villain he is….. You will not forget this character for as long as you live…this character work is a selling point in itself !! Could you do a character study on this one character, absolutely yes….
Why do people struggle to get to this series?
After reading people’s reactions from this series as a whole, what I have noticed is that there are some mixed reactions, which of course is what you’d expect. It does present obstacles for some to get onto the Liveship Traders.So when people approach this series, the most common qualm people have is with the final book of the Farseer Trilogy Assassins Quest and is usually why they don’t get onto Liveships! I can agree that the ending of the final book really did let the series down, in terms of how the conclusion of this book was executed. So it’s a shame for some there journey ends with the first trilogy.
Do not fret those of you that may of struggled with Farseer!! As previously mentioned Hobb literally delivers flawless prose, astounding character work and technical brilliance that surpasses the likes of Sanderson!! So step aboard and experience the masterpiece that is Live ship Traders!
It would literally be criminal to miss out on this series, because every aspect of this novel is improved upon in this series from its predecessor.
From my perspective, regardless of those flaws, Farseer has has huge following. I personally would give it 4 ⭐ I loved it. But what I think you can take away from the Farseer Trilogy is the huge potential of Robin Hobbs character work and without question her incredible writing style. For me, like so many, I could see that potential and pushed forward and discovered a masterpiece that is The Liveship Traders.
Can I read The Liveship Traders without reading Farseer?
The answer is yes in my opinion, it may be beneficial to watch some spoiler free reviews for farseer, to get a basic understanding of the farseer world, but there aren’t strong enough connections to this series for it to be problematic. The reason for making this point, may be fairly obvious, in that, if you want to jump into this Trilogy, go ahead. Do not miss this unforgettable series!!
It is a big Trilogy, yes indeed, but once you get into this novel you won’t want to stop!!
Thanks for taking the time to read this post, I hope I’ve inspired some of you to read it. If you have any questions, topics you’d like to discuss, you’ll find me lurking in the depths of Twitter somewhere😂
Happy Reading !!