The Liveship Traders trilogy by Robin Hobb
Read Oct 16, 2016 – July 30, 2017
This review has been a long time coming. I feel like this series has twisted my emotions into knots and then twists those knots into bigger knots. It’s been a while since I’ve read a series the whole way through and had it be so consistently good throughout – at no point was there bad writing or bouts of characters being out-of-character. It was all so consistent and persistent.
This series I buddy read with Zezee @Zezeewithbooks, and we’ve been both going back and forth now for months – we’ve been through a tornado of plot, character development, tragedy, action and emotional trauma. It’s been intense. So many messages back and forth full of nothing but capital letters and incoherent shouts (well… the in-coherency has been mostly me, hawhaw). But it’s been a lot of fun. :”D I totally recommend buddy reads.
The series starts off with the Vestrit family as they all gather around Ephron Vestrit, an elderly man whose life is about to fade away. This is an important event, as he will be the last of the three generations needed to pass away to cause the family’s Liveship – a ship made out of a mystical wood called wizardwood – to ‘quicken’, or come alive. With three generations of lives absorbed by a liveship, the figurehead on the front of it will awaken, retaining all the memories of those who have died on its decks. The Vestrit’s liveship, Vivacia, only needs Ephron’s passing before it can quicken.
So this is where the story opens – the family is rather large with various personalities contained within. Each character at the beginning is honestly a bit grating on the nerves, but each one (with… the exception of one) goes through major character development over the three books. Basically everyone that I loathed I ended up really liking by the end.
The world this series takes place in is the same one that Hobb’s Farseer trilogy does, but you don’t need to read that one to read this one if you don’t want to. The country that Farseer occurs in is mentioned a couple times but no background knowledge on it is really needed to understand what’s happening in this current series.
Otherwise, the world in this series starts out somewhat small-feeling but it quickly grows to encompass multiple cities, a satrapy, and a slew of islands. Each area has its own politics, sometimes ‘politics’, motivations and ways of life. I think the world is one of the strong points of the book – random POVs that seem just that come to light as to why they were even included later in the series. Everything pulls together so, so nicely without anything seeming forced. It’s really cool – really well thought out. I enjoyed it immensely.
The characters, as I mentioned above, feel like real humans. Each one has positive and negative traits – even the characters I loathed I could see their points of view and see their reasoning behind their actions. Most of the time, at least for the characters I hated, I totally couldn’t understand them… but I could at least understand them, if that makes sense. Sympathize vs Empathize, ya know?
Aside from the world and the characters, the most poignant part of this book is just the series of events that happens to these poor characters. This is not a light, fluffy book. Hardship after hardship happens to the Vestrit family and after a while, I found myself seriously rooting for them. Total mental anguish, man. It was so, so worth it though. I’ve said a billion times now that endings make or break a series for me, and this one totally made it.
I think the only thing I have to complain about in this series, the reason why it’s not five stars, is pacing. It’s all good writing but occasionally I found myself wondering why this scene or that scene was included at all. It dragged sometimes, particularly in books one and two. But like I said, it was all good, just… fast, then slow, then fast… then slooooow. A small thing, but once I noticed it I couldn’t not notice it. It was there, gah.
But overall, I generally love Robin Hobb’s writing and I hope it continues to be as wonderful as I continue through her Realms of the Elderlings saga. I plan to continue in September after I’ve had a decent amount of time to emotionally recover from the stress this trilogy put me through. Yikes yikes.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars