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Publisher's Summary

Bingtown is a hub of exotic trade and home to a merchant nobility famed for its liveships---rare vessels carved from wizardwood, which ripens magically into sentient awareness. The fortunes of one of Bingtown's oldest families rest on the newly awakened liveship Vivacia. For Althea Vestrit, the ship is her rightful legacy unjustly denied her---a legacy she will risk anything to reclaim.

For Althea's young nephew Wintrow, wrenched from his religious studies and forced to serve aboard ship, Vivacia is a life sentence. But the fate of the Vestrit family---and the ship---may ultimately lie in the hands of an outsider. The ruthless pirate Kennit seeks a way to seize power over all the denizens of the Pirate Isles...and the first step of his plan requires him to capture his own liveship and bend it to his will.

©1999 Robin Hobb (P)2010 Tantor

Critic Reviews

“The characterizations are consistently superb.... Kudos to the author and encore!” ( Booklist, Starred Review)

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There is no feeling quite like falling in love with a great fantasy listen, doing a little digging, and joyfully discovering that the author has an extensive catalog of audiobooks for you to dive right into. Fantasy as a genre is particularly blessed with a wealth of diverse authors writing all different kinds of stories. From classic epics to standalone novels that were published in the last few years, it's the perfect genre for losing yourself in a full day’s worth of listening. These brilliant fantasy authors will transport you to another world—whether a parallel universe or a post-apocalyptic version of Earth.

What listeners say about Ship of Magic

Average Customer Ratings
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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    1,533
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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • 3 Stars
    227
  • 2 Stars
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  • 1 Stars
    48

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

Takes a little getting used to

The story is excellent, many unique elements that keep driving little mysteries throughout the story. Interesting characters, no all of whom are human. The narration takes some getting used to, her voice is slow and occasionally ponderous, This is the first book that I listened to at 1.5 speed, and I found it didn't lose any comprehension at the faster speed. I'm looking forward to the next two in the series.

39 people found this helpful

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

Something altogether new

I have read a lot of fantasy in my time and it is rare to come across a story that is truly original. The world Robin Hobb has created in this series is unlike any I've seen, the magic is subtle and the characters are alive. After reading the Farseer trilogy (also by Robin Hobb), I couldn't wait to get my hands on more of her books. This one was as good, if not better. The characters Robin creates are real people, they don't always behave the way you expect them to, they make mistakes and they evolve based on what has happened to them. None of the characters are completely good or completely evil, and they don't fit into classic stereotypes.
This series is actually placed in the same world as the Farseer trilogy and there are a few subtle ties to that story (which is fun if you've read it). If you find you like Robin Hobb's style, you should really consider listening to her works in order. Each trilogy stands alone, but is made better if read in the right order. Start with the Farseer trilogy, next is the Liveship Traders, then the Tawny Man, and finally the Rainwild chronicles. If on the other hand, you are only going to read one set...read this one. It is impossible to stop listening until you've reached the end.


46 people found this helpful

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

Lots of family drama with some interesting fantasy

I did not dislike this book or hate the narrator as some of the other reviewers do, but I can see why many people would not stick this one out to the end. If your daily life is full of whining kids, family disagreements, and unfair decisions by those around you with power then you better be in the mood for more of the same if you plan to read Ship of Magic.

I really enjoyed Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy and that is what led me to Ship of Magic. In this series many of the main characters are female and thus it makes sense to use a female narrator. Anne Flosnik does take some time to get used to and her pace is slow. Combine her narration style with bratty kids, over-bearing parents, and a heavy dose of family squabbles and I can see why some readers walk away from this book before they finish.

I did not walk away and although there was little payoff by the time it ended, I can see how things are primed to come together in the subsequent books. Events towards the end of Ship of Magic start to tie together some of the story lines and the last couple hours of the book were definitely the most enjoyable. I did find myself wanting more at the end.

There are certainly interesting fantasy concepts in this book – liveships, wizardwood, and the mysterious Rainwilds all make you want to learn more about them. While this book takes place in the same mythos as the Farseer Trilogy, the Six Duchies are just minor references and this trilogy stands on its own.

Most people have enough parent/child arguing in their lives and although some may deem it “realistic” for a book to contain such strife throughout, I felt like it went on for too long. I read fantasy to get away from the doldrums of everyday life and Ship of Magic didn’t really take me that far away. This book is 80% set-up and 20% interesting fantasy; however, I do feel like the investment will pay off in the rest of the trilogy.

30 people found this helpful

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

whining, whining, whining

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

I'd try another book by Robin Hobb but I wouldn't listen to another book narrated by Anne Flosnik.

What could Robin Hobb have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Make the characters not whine so much.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Her attempt at giving characters a unique ways of talking failed and I think it my have ruined the book for me.

Any additional comments?

I don't recommend listening to this book as long as it is narrated by Anne Flosnik.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • CP
  • 10-07-10

Horrible Narrator

I normally love Robin Hobb books, but this is by far the worst narrator I've ever listened to. I'd only make it 3-4 sentences before I'd be spacing out. I've started and given up on this book about 10 times... She draws out her words, speaks with NO emotion, completely monotone. This is definitely a book to read not listen to.

80 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Struggling with the Narration.

I read this trilogy a few years ago and it became my favorite series. My heart jumped when I saw it finally came to Audible. I couldnt download it fast enough. However; I can't listen to the narrator. I don't like it and I can't get very far without turning it off. I wish it was narrated by someone else. I am so disappointed.

52 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

I agree

I respect the efforts that the narrators put forward, but i agree that this narrator brought me to a halt. I devoured the farseer books and they werent short! Went through them all almost non stop.
This latest narrator halted my addiction on the first 5 minutes. Shes got an unnatural way to modulate her voice for a smoky dramatic effect that isnt needed or wanted. The genuine and honest way the other narrator read was part of what made things so enjoyable. Is satisfaction guaranteed? I'd like to put that credit toward another book, i cant seem to concentrate trying to make out what shes saying.

50 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Ship of Magic

I had never heard of this trilogy, but I like it so far. The reader is really bad. Her inflection is enough to drive you batty, but the book itself is REALLY GOOD.
I hope that they put the rest of these books on audible ... WITH A DIFFERENT READER!!!!!!!

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointed

I've really enjoyed the Robin Hobb books and have been devouring them. I think I'd like this one but the reader is, I'm sorry to say, just awful. She has this weird way of stretching out words, even in fairly straightforward descriptive sections and her efforts to be dramatic just grate. I think I'll give up on the audio version and buy a paper copy of the book and see if I (probably) will like it as much as I have the rest of Hobb's books.

35 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • D
  • 11-12-17

Wonderful book, unbearable narrator

To go from Paul Boehmer's vitality and variation of character voice, attitude, and emotion in the Farseer audibooks to Flosnik's cringey drawl was a pretty big disappointment. I was so looking forward to a female narrator for a book with many women characters, but I think Flosnik has only one character voice: slow and theatrical and silly. I often thought to myself, who talks like that? She could never properly show a character halting over their words or speaking in haste and anger, which is something that Boehmer did really well. And the slowness was just too much for me, even after I sped things up. Flosnik over-enunciates so thoroughly that speeding up the audio made it sound too strange. She sounds like what people who are reading aloud spooky children's books to children do.

I usually pair my audiobook with a physical copy of the book, so that I can listen while at work and read while at home, but I finally just gave up about half-way in and resolved to just stick with the book. There's not much to say there except it's marvelous.

4 people found this helpful