“Maulkin abruptly heaved himself out of his wallow with a wild thrash that left the atmosphere hanging thick with particles.”
– Ship of Magic, opening line –
If you had told me that I would ever start a new reading year with three five-star books in a row, I would have laughed and said you were crazy. That much amazingness just doesn’t strike all at once.
Well, this year, it did. I absolutely adore this series, beyond the bounds of normal adoration 🥰 Of course, this may not come as a big surprise, seeing that I already love the Farseer Trilogy so much. But, despite me loving it, I can’t deny that the Farseer Trilogy also has its flaws. The romantic subplots drove me to absolute frustration, and the ending wasn’t exactly overwhelming, either.
But The Liveship Traders? One word: Perfection. The series consumed me, heart and soul, and I see no faults with it whatsoever. I simply loved everything! The characters were amazing, and I have rarely come across character development done as well as it was done here. The complex political and moral questions that the story explored left me glued to the pages, so that I somehow ended up more sleep-deprived on January 6th than on January 1st. The world was so cool and unique, and I love how much of the plot took place on ships!
(Did I ever mention that, when I was in elementary school, the neighborhood kids, my siblings, and I used to play pirates on our back porch almost every day? Well, that major obsession came back vividly while I was reading this 🤩)
Plus, we finally got some answers to my Elderling questions! Of course, those have given me new questions in return, but I’ll take that any day! After all, I still have quite a few Robin Hobb books do get to, and it wouldn’t do if I didn’t have anything to look forward to, right?
Some Basic Info:
Series: The Liveship Traders (second trilogy in The Realm of the Elderlings)
Author: Robin Hobb
Page Count: 880 (Ship of Magic) + 906 (The Mad Ship) + 903 (Ship of Destiny) = 2,689, and I would gladly have read thousands more if Robin Hobb had given them to me 🤗
Publication Date: March 2nd, 1998 (Ship of Magic), November 19th, 1998 (The Mad Ship), August 1st, 2000 (Ship of Destiny)
Date Read: December 29th, 2021 – January 6th, 2022
Rating: 5/5 stars obviously, to all three books!!! I’m serious, guys, this is one of my new favorite series 🥰 Even though it doesn’t have Kaladin, I think I might be even more obsessed with it than with the Stormlight Archive! (After all, we still got our depressed and brooding character in the form of Paragon, whom I shed quite a few tears over in book three, so what’s not to like? 😇)
Anyway, with that out of the way, let’s get into some of my more detailed thoughts. And I’m warning you – IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THESE BOOKS AND ARE SOMEHOW STILL HERE IN SPITE OF THE TITLE OF THIS REVIEW PROMISING MAJOR SPOILERS, THIS IS YOUR CUE TO LEAVE!!! Seriously, you will be spoiled. The same goes for people who haven’t read the Farseer Trilogy. Go away, read the books, and then come back if you still wish to endure the chaos that I’m about to throw at you!
The Liveship Traders Review, Part One: The Calm Before the Storm
(A Few of My More Ordered Thoughts Post Reading the Trilogy)
What makes or breaks a book for me are usually always the characters. I appreciate an engaging plot and beautiful writing, but if the characters are boring and one-dimensional, it is sure to turn me off a novel almost immediately. So, of course, it should come as an absolute surprise to no one that the biggest reason I loved the Liveship Traders so much were its characters and how they were developed.
Multi-perspective series are always a huge risk for me, because more often than not, I will get extremely attached to one or two of the characters and become bored when I’m reading from the perspective of characters I don’t like as much. There’s a reason why I never continued on with A Song of Ice and Fire, or why I like Way of Kings and Words of Radiance so much more than the other books in the Stormlight Archive…
With the Liveship Traders, though, this did not happen. Sure, I did have my favorites (Althea, Brashen, and Paragon 😍) but all of the characters had so much to offer that I was glued to the pages no matter who was involved. Kennit was fascinating because he did so much good despite having horrifyingly selfish reasons, because I was obsessed with his past and his wizardwood charm, and because we learned so much about the political workings of the Pirate Isles through him. Wintrow was someone you couldn’t help but agonize with as the future he had dreamed of was torn away from him. In spite of the horrors he faced and although he lost a lot of his boyish innocence along the way, he still found his place and the path he believed Sa had destined him for. Malta drove me close to tearing my hair out in books one and two, but somehow, by the time Ship of Destiny came around, I had also grown to love her – which is a first. I don’t think any other author has ever managed to make me love a character I once despised as deeply as I did Malta. Ronica, Keffria, and Serilla were all determined women in such different ways, and I loved how their various strengths came together in the end to reshape Bingtown. Reyn‘s scholarly interest in the Elderlings immediately made it hard for me not to like him, even though he did inexplicably fall for Malta when she was still the most obnoxious brat ever. Tintaglia was the dragon I had always dreamed of reading about, and getting her, Maulkin, and She Who Remembers‘s perspectives put everything I had read about in the Farseer Trilogy into such a different light. And, of course, the liveships! While I love the Paragon most of all, I’m not going to pretend that the Vivacia and the Ophelia didn’t also worm their way deep into my heart 🥰
And then there were the side characters. Kyle, whom I detested so much that his death was one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever read about. Etta, who initially drove me nuts with her blind adoration of Kennit, but whom I grew to respect very much by the end of the series. Amber, whom I absolutely adored and whose presence in this book led me to some of the wildest speculation I have made in a while. (Look, guys, if Amber isn’t the Fool, I must be going crazy! I swear that she/he carved Fitz’s face onto Paragon, and there is absolutely nothing you can say to convince me otherwise!) Grag Tenira, whom I somehow couldn’t hate even though I desperately wanted to because he wasn’t Brashen. (You know how I said Robin Hobb couldn’t really write romance after finishing the Farseer Trilogy? Well, I unashamedly admit I was wrong. It’s been a long while since I’ve rooted for a relationship as much as I did for Brashen and Althea’s, and even a week after finishing the series, I am still mooning over them – both individually and as a couple.) Selden, the almost forgotten sibling who eventually became a dragon minstrel. The Satrap, whom I might have wanted to slap even more badly than Malta. Igrot, who was always lurking mysteriously in the background as the reason so much horribleness happened in the first place. And so many more…
In addition to great characters, though, The Liveship Traders also had a great plot. It had exactly the kind of slow build-up that I always love to see, and there were so many interesting themes packed into the story that I’m not even going to attempt to cover them all. Instead, I’m just going to
briefly touch upon some of my favorites.
By now, you probably know that I love my fantasy to be political, and The Liveship Traders is as political as it gets. We’re thrown into a world where different factions are vying for power, a town whose unique geographical location has always given it a sense of independence, and a community with deep-rooted traditional beliefs that are being threatened by changes in the surrounding areas. In the North, we have Chalced trying to impose their ultra-patriarchal values and a booming slave trade industry, and in the South, separated by a barely navigable maze of islands and plunderers, Jamaillia, a former ally that has fallen into the hands of nobility seeking to exploit a weak ruler who is only interested in the pleasures of the flesh. Bingtown is a place where all kinds of different cultures clash and merge, and it was fascinating!
Apart from Bingtown’s regional politics, however, one thing I particularly appreciated about this trilogy was its portrayal of slavery. Rather than something purely evil that only the cruelest of humans could perpetuate, we got to see it as an inhumane, but profitable undertaking that everyone, including those who meant well, contributed to. Even though the majority of Jamaillians spoke ill of “those awful Chalcedeans and their cruelty”, Jamaillia itself had a thriving slave market where the only reaction to a woman dying needlessly after childbirth was anger at not getting at least another day of work out of her. Just like the Chalcedeans, the Jamaillians stuffed the holds of their ships as full of slaves as they would go, so that profits would be higher. And even the Vestrits, though they claimed to abhor slave trade and reacted with outrage when they learned what had happened to Rache and Clef, did not put their foot down when Kyle Haven decided to use their family liveship as a slaver, or when their closest friend became actively involved in the business and kept his own slaves (whose names he didn’t even bother to learn).
We got to see the despicable conditions slaves were kept in, slavery tearing families apart, and freed slaves still being treated as second-class people. But we also got to see how hard it was to defy a system already in place. Was it really that bad to be a well-treated slave when being free also meant being penniless and starving? Was it worth defying a practice that everybody else already accepted, when not using slaves meant you would be catapulted into poverty and not have a say at all anymore?
Let’s be honest: The only reason we actually saw someone taking a stab at dismantling the system is because Kennit saw personal profit in it, and unfortunately, I thought that was extremely realistic. If there’s nothing in it for us, why would we take action against something that is tolerated or even celebrated by everybody else? Especially when doing so might put us in danger? Needless to say, this particular aspect of Cursed Shore politics got me thinking a lot, and I really appreciated it!
Similarly, I loved how these books explored the concept of power in so many different forms. We got to see incompetent rulers like the Satrap abusing theirs, grateful subjects blindly assigning power to those who had helped them, mistreated scholars like Serilla letting their sudden power go to their head, and schemers like Kennit and Malta using their power to manipulate everyone and everything in their path. We had men like Kyle and the Chalcedean captain, who thought their gender and position gave them the right to treat everyone around them like shit. Tintaglia, who thought everybody should be bowing down to her dragonness and wasn’t at all pleased when she realized she would have to negotiate to get what she wanted. Quietly stoic women like Ronica and Keffria who kept their households running while their family members were away at sea. We saw that, as a woman, how much power you had very much depended on where you lived and what people you were with. And I thought it was all super interesting!
Speaking of power and the misuse of it, though – let’s talk about rape. I doubt anyone would argue with me that there’s always a very narrow line to walk concerning its portrayal in fiction. On the one hand, we can’t ignore that these kinds of things happen. Maybe some circumstances, such as the isolation and rowdiness associated with sailing culture, even make it easier for perpetrators to get away with it. Which means shedding light on the matter and giving victims a voice is important. On the other hand, there’s always danger of straying into torture porn territory and insensitively treating the subject as a plot device to add more drama and thrill to your story.
In my opinion, however, Robin Hobb did the topic justice. Instead of focusing on the sexuality of the act itself, she showed how violating it was and how devastatingly it could alter the course of a person’s life. We saw it drive Ankle mad. We saw it destroy Serilla’s self-confidence and instill her with fear that she ultimately took out on those around her. We saw it make Althea nearly lose her will to live and cause her to shrink away in fear from the man she loved. And we saw it turn Kennit into a monster, because he couldn’t face the pain of what had been done to him and decided to inflict it on someone else instead. All of the rape scenes in this book may have been extremely hard to read, but I do think they were handled brilliantly.
Since I don’t particularly want to end this section on such a traumatizing note, though, let’s turn to something happier! Or something fascinating, at any rate 🤗 Because guys, we finally learned more about the Elderlings!
I desperately need Reyn to get back into those old cities and start digging, because everything we already discovered is so interesting and I need more! I must admit, knowing that the Elderlings were humans who were irrevocably altered by their proximity to dragons is a lot more satisfying than them being these weird supernatural beings who simply vanished without a trace and left their dragon companions behind as statues. The dragons in the Farseer Trilogy were honestly so underwhelming that I’m really relieved they’re not the real thing. Tintaglia is so much more interesting!
Speaking of, those senses that allowed Tintaglia and Reyn to locate and contact Malta remind me eerily of the Skill. Does this mean that the Farseers and anyone with the ability to Skill is a descendent of the Elderlings? And if so, what is the Wit? Is that also something people gained from dragons? Or is it an older force, one that people had before they formed bonds with the dragons? Is it so feared because the dragons themselves were scared of it and did not want their human companions to possess something they did not understand? And what about the Fool and his powers? Where do those come from? Tell me everything, Robin Hobb, I want to understand!!!
Also, can I just say that the whole metamorphosis thing of serpents cocooning into dragons is so freaking cool?! 🤩 Though this also makes the fact that the liveships’ dragons were killed before they were allowed to complete this process even sadder. Honestly, humans, why do you always have to exploit everything before you understand it? Still, I can’t deny that I absolutely love the liveships and that they have a right to exist, too. Like, when Bolt took over the Vivacia? I was so mad!
Still, the big question is – why did all of this end? Why was there this major apocalypse event that caused the Elderlings to take the dragon cocoons inside? Was it natural, or did it happen because of some sort of magical imbalance? And why didn’t the serpents change for so long? Was it really only because She Who Remembers was locked up? Is there only one She Who Remembers? That would be the biologically dumbest thing ever, so probably not 🤔 But then, where did the others go? And why did the Others (with a capital O this time) lock She Who Remembers up? Is it just because they knew it would give them prophetic powers, or was there a bigger reason that has since been forgotten? I feel like there is so much more to this than we’ve already gotten, and I can’t wait to discover it!
But yeah, fine. Me-from-the-present will shut up now, because I’ve already rambled on for long enough and you probably aren’t interested in reading an entire literary dissertation on The Liveship Traders. However, since me-from-the-past did actually take notes while reading for once in her life, I am not going to withhold those from you, either. So in case those of you who haven’t fled of boredom yet are interested, the next section consists of all of my live reactions to the trilogy!
The Liveship Traders Review, Part Two: The Chaos
(My Very Rambly Thoughts While Reading the Trilogy)
I. Ship of Magic
🚩 Huh? What is going on?
🚩 I’m sure this Kennit dude is interesting, but I miss Fitz and the Fool and Nighteyes and Verity and Kettricken so much that it’s making it very hard to become invested in new characters.
🚩 Scratch that, I already love Brashen and Althea. Wintrow’s pretty cool, too.
🚩 I hate Kyle.
🚩 Why is Althea’s family stabbing her in the back like this? What is wrong with her mother and sister?
🚩 I totally ship Althea and Brashen. Though with Robin Hobb’s previous relationship development skills, I’m skeptical whether we’re gonna get what I want 😅
🚩 I HATE Kyle. How did Keffria ever marry this mansplaining idiot, and how in the whole wide world did anyone manage to convince Ephron Vestrit that it was a good idea to put him in charge of his ship???
🚩 I’m totally falling in love with Paragon, too. Why is it always the tortured souls that get to me? And now he’s letting Brashen sleep on board 😭
🚩Actually, I kind of like Ronica and Keffria, too. Even though they have horrible decision-making skills. How could they have been this blind to Kyle’s obsession to control everyone and everything in his path?! Just because you don’t want your daughter running around as a sailor, Ronica, you cannot seriously think that Kyle is the better option! Though, admittedly, it must be hard staying home and single-handedly keeping your family afloat while your husband and daughter run off to sea and your other daughter is too meek to ever suggest anything…
🚩 Yes, Althea! Go get your ship back!
🚩 Althea loves Paragon, too! I’m done 😭 I am bursting with love for this ship, and Althea, if you and Brashen decide to steal the Paragon and go after the Vivacia that way, I would not condemn you for piracy.
🚩 Even though I don’t like Kennit all that much, I do like Sorcor. Also, can I just say that Kennit’s charm is super interesting, and that I love all the politics we’re getting to see because of Kennit?
🚩 I like Amber. She reminds me a bit of the Fool.
🚩 Honestly, every time Kyle opens his mouth, I want to kill the man. How did his DNA ever produce anything as pure as Wintrow? I just love how Wintrow never loses his faith and keeps talking back to his father calmly, even though it is obviously absolutely pointless.
🚩This book has such amazing commentary on slavery. You get to see it all – the horrifying living conditions, the inhumanity of slave trade, and the greed that allows it to endure nonetheless. And I must admit: Although I think Kennit is absolutely ruthless and selfish, I can’t find fault with what he’s doing. I only disagree with his reasons for doing it.
🚩 Seriously, Kyle??? Now you’re openly going against your wife’s decisions and wisdom to give spoiled bratty Malta what she wants, while simultaneously forcing your son to a future he absolutely detests? How is it possible that you make me hate you even more with everything that you do???
🚩 The Rain Wilds have me super intrigued. What is going on there? Why do they have magic when no one else does? And why was Ephron so worried about trading with them?
🚩 I’m glad Ronica has come to her senses and decided to stand by Althea.
🚩 Are we really getting the girl-disguises-as-boy trope here? 🤩🤗🤩 It’s like this book was written for me!
🚩 Also, I must admit, at first I thought Althea and Brashen would take the Paragon after the Vivacia, but this is good, too. I always love seeing characters gradually get better at things, so Althea not being an immediate prodigy at sailing is so satisfying!
🚩 I wouldn’t have fought the bear either, Wintrow. Don’t blame yourself for having common sense!
🚩 Reading from Malta’s POV is one of the most taxing things I’ve ever done. I’ve always been vehemently against corporeal punishment of children, but her behavior is seriously making me rethink my stance on this. I’ve never wanted to strangle anyone so badly, much less a child!
🚩 Ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh!!! These finger chopping descriptions! This is not suitable reading material for someone who nearly faints at the sight of blood!!!
🚩 We’re getting what I wanted! 🥰 Though the fact that they’re having sex so soon and that both of them are slightly under the influence right now probably doesn’t bode well… Still, if they’re going to be all iffy about this afterwards, I’m not complaining. Please drag out the slow-burn thing, Robin Hobb, and don’t give us another Fitz-and-Molly situation!
🚩 I can’t. The Vivacia’s pain at letting Wintrow go 😭 And yet she does it anyway, because she loves him so much 😭😭😭
🚩 Etta’s blind adoration of Kennit is so annoying. Etta, if you want me to like you, start having a personality separate from this man! You don’t want to turn into a less-sex-abstinent pirate version of Bella Swan!
🚩 Wintrow 😭😭😭
🚩 Malta is annoying the freaking crap out of me. She’s like a miniature Kyle, and I’ve never wanted to slap anyone this badly in my life.
🚩 Of course that idiot captain wouldn’t give Althea a ticket. And of course it led to Althea and Brashen saying exactly the wrong things to each other. But hey, I’m not complaining. Give me that slow-burn romance where they can eventually no longer ignore the true depths to their feelings!
🚩 Did I mention how much I love Paragon? 🥰
🚩 Don’t open the box, Malta! Though, quite honestly, if I were a family member of Malta’s, marrying her off to get rid of her doesn’t sound like a half-bad idea.
🚩 Of course she opened the box 🙄
🚩 Kyle just tattooed his son into slavery?! How did I think this man had even a shred of soul left? I HATE HIM. Honestly, I’m just waiting for Kennit to take the Vivacia away from him already, because she’d probably be in much better hands. Even if he is a pirate.
🚩 The Ophelia’s nosy mom/gossip-girl personality is actually quite endearing.
🚩 Of course the people who died in that slave revolt were the ones I was staring to like, while idiot Kyle is somehow still alive.
🚩 Ugh, I do not like the possibility of something happening between Althea and Grag Tenira. Althea needs to be with Brashen!! Also, Brashen, please don’t turn into a drug addict because you’re mooning over Althea, you’re better than that!
🚩 And now Wintrow, bless his pure soul, is bargaining to save his father 🙄
🚩 Are the sea serpents baby dragons? And who is She Who Remembers? These chapters are still confusing the heck out of me!
II. The Mad Ship
🐉 We’re starting with a super sad Paragon chapter, so of course, I’m already in love with this book.
🐉 Kennit and his stupid pride 🙄 Start listening to your charm, you idiot! Also, Wintrow is still the most precious person ever, and someone should really consider locking up Sa’Adar with Kyle. Their personalities seem perfectly suited to one another.
🐉 EWWWWWWWWWW!!!! I already thought the finger was bad, but that was nothing compared to this!!!!!
🐉 There’s no way Kennit is actually dead. I’m willing to wager my own leg on this.
🐉 Stop pushing Grag Tenira at Althea, Ophelia!
🐉 He wants to marry her?? Already? 😳 No, no, no, Althea, you have to refuse! I mean, I like Grag, but he’s not Brashen, and you clearly do not love him!
🐉 The Satrap is horrible. No wonder we’re having one political disaster after another; he’s got to be the most incompetent ruler ever. He’s like a male Malta, but worse 🙄 I think I like Serilla, though.
🐉 Malta is still insufferable.
🐉 Davad Restart’s blindness to social cues is truly embarrassing. And his nonchalance regarding slavery is horrifying. Someone needs to get this idiot to use his brain!
🐉 Yup, I get to keep both legs. Kennit isn’t dead.
🐉 “A boy struggled and yelped in pain as a seven-pointed star was needled into his hip.” Waaaaaaaiiiiit – You mean a seven-pointed star like the one that JUST SO HAPPENS TO BE CARVED INTO PARAGON?? You can’t just drop a bomb like that about my favorite ship of all time, Robin Hobb!!! Did Kennit grow up on the Paragon? Is he a Ludluck?! He did know Paragon’s real name when everyone else only knew him as the Pariah, and he sure as heck knows a lot about liveships and Trader families. Does he relate to Wintrow so much because he also grew up on a ship steered by a cruel father, who was also a pirate? Is Igrot Kennit’s father? Does Kennit want a liveship to remind him of the one that went mad when Igrot tortured it with all the brutal memories of pirate slaughter???!
🐉 Okay, look. Maybe this is completely crazy, but I’ve just had another mind-blowing theory that I can’t unsee: WHAT IF AMBER ACTUALLY IS THE FOOL? I mean, there is all this business involving prophesies and dragons in the Six Duchies, and even though I thought it was utter rubbish at the time, Starling did go on and on about the Fool being a woman. Which means he could probably easily disguise himself as one!
🐉 Clueless “Athel” listening in the servants’ scandalous gossip about Malta is beyond entertaining 🤣
🐉 Now that I’ve become convinced that Amber is the Fool, I’m also beyond curious as to who Jek is. Do we know her?? Please don’t tell me that the comment “She’s going to be disappointed when she finds out you’re a woman” is a hint that that she might be Starling 😅
🐉 Stop whining, Malta.
🐉 Althea refusing to even acknowledge any of Malta’s nonsense is the best thing ever.
🐉 Oh, Brashen 🥰 Him trying so hard to stay calm while ferreting out more information about the Vivacia’s whereabouts has me even more in love with him. That boy simply wears his heart on his sleeve!
🐉 We’re getting more and more stuff about Kennit seeing his younger self in Wintrow. This is totally confirming by tragic Kennit & Paragon theories 😎
🐉 The Satrap did NOT just do this. Serilla is going to get out of this somehow, right???
🐉 I AM SO UNCOMFORTABLE!!! What the heck, Malta???? If I were Brashen, I would already be running out of there, or slapping some common sense into that child! Also, how dare she tell him Althea is in love with Grag Tenira! 😤
🐉 Cerwin not kissing Malta has got to be the soundest decision that boy has made in a while.
🐉 “I know about pirates. They kill and kill and kill on your decks. The blood soaks in, deeper and deeper, until your wood is so full of lives you cannot even find your own. Then they chop up your face and open your seacocks and you go under. The worst part is, they leave you to live.” 😭😭😭 Oh, Paragon 😭😭😭 And if this doesn’t confirm my Paragon & Kennit theory, I don’t know what does!
🐉 I am getting more and more intrigued by this mystery dream dragon. Can Malta forget about her boy troubles for a minute and look into this, please?
🐉 Okay, so Kennit’s mom is back on an island where he apparently had a soppily happy childhood and was doted on by both parents, so I take back what I said about Igrot being Kennit’s father. Instead, I will amend that to Igrot commandeering Kennit’s family ship (**cough Paragon cough**) and keeping Kennit on board so that a family member would be there.
🐉 “The heart of a liveship was true. Igrot had proved that, many years ago.” THIS IS PROOF, GUYS! My theory has to be right!! Also, did Paragon become so damaged because he tried to protect young Kennit? I am about to cry 😭
🐉 Out of all the manipulating Kennit is doing, him flirting with the Vivacia is creeping me out the most. Why can’t you see past this façade, Vivacia? 🙄
🐉 It’s interesting that Althea and Malta seem to have grudging respect for one another. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually want more of the two of them together! Also, I love how political things have gotten in Bingtown.
🐉 They’re going to take the Paragon after the Vivacia after all!!!! I have literally been waiting for this since book one!!! Also, I’m living for this tension between Brashen and Althea 😁
🐉 I already like this slave boy that Althea rescued from Davad. And the fact that he wants to go with Brashen goes to show that he has great taste in people, too.
🐉 The Vivacia’s bloodthirstiness and obsession with hunting slave ships is creeping me out. When did this poor ship go so astray? Oh, right, when they put that idiot Kyle in charge of her 😤 (But I also think pirate-Vivacia is kind of cool, I’m not gonna lie…)
🐉 I hate Amis Ludluck 😡 How DARE she say something like that to Paragon?!! He’s part of your family, and he has suffered so much!
🐉 Great, now Kennit is sleeping with Etta to make the Vivacia jealous 🙄 Etta, please realize that Kennit is only using you as a tool! Do you realize that he always refers to you as “the whore” in his head? This man might be doing good, but he does not love you!
🐉 Ewww!! Did I understand this correctly? Kennit wants to manipulate Wintrow and Etta into sleeping with each other so that he can have a new Vestrit baby for the Vivacia? 🤮
🐉 I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Malta is actually starting to grow on me.
🐉 I’m so glad Grag decided to tell Althea that she is not to blame for having sex with Brashen because it was purely Brashen’s fault. First, because it finally made Althea see that Grag, no matter how nice he is, is not an option 😊 Second, because she is now forced to come to terms with the fact that she does not blame Brashen, either 🥰 You want that boy, Althea, and you’d better stop hiding from it!
🐉 Oh no, Serilla didn’t escape… Reading this chapter is making me sick to the stomach, and my heart goes out to Serilla so much 😢 Don’t you ever give up, Serilla, you are not to blame for what this Chalcedean monster did to you!
🐉 I love how Serilla is channeling her anger into manipulating the “dying” Satrap to give her control over the Bingtown negotiations. You rule, girl!
🐉 The sea serpent POVs are finally starting to make sense! Am I crazy, or is wizardwood made out of cocooned sea serpents that were supposed to turn into dragons?
🐉 I’m not crazy, this was literally confirmed two pages later 🙈 How did I not see this coming? I already suspected the serpents of being baby dragons and I knew about the dragon encased in wood that kept talking to Malta and Reyn; it would only have been a few more steps from there!
🐉 I actually quite like Reyn, and if I didn’t think it was creepy that a twenty-year-old man had set his sights on his future wife when she was only twelve, it might be possible to convince me to ship this relationship.
🐉 I am loving this blossoming friendship between Wintrow and Etta! Both of them being so proud when Etta realized she could read was everything, and Etta teaching Wintrow to fight in return, completely oblivious that what Kennit actually wanted her to familiarize Wintrow with was sex, was golden 😄 Please, Etta, go ahead and dump Kennit already!
🐉 “Sometimes I am. But a fortune teller is not a fortune maker. We all make our own fortunes.” Look me straight in the eye and tell me that this isn’t exactly the kind of stuff the Fool would say.
🐉 Oh no, Wintrow, why are you idolizing Kennit now, too? 🙄
🐉 Lord help me, I think I’m actually starting to like Malta. And to ship her with Reyn 😅
🐉 Even though I admire the Vestrits for not abandoning Davad Restart despite their differences in opinion, I can’t say I’m particularly sad about him dying…
🐉 My Brashen and Althea shipping heart is in heaven 😍
🐉 Yes, Wintrow, free that serpent! Why is this so oddly satisfying? Oh my gosh, it’s She Who Remembers, isn’t it?!!
🐉 Nooo, noo, Wintrow, you can’t die now!!
🐉 We’re getting to see Trehaug!!! Finally!
🐉 Oooooh, Malta is going to free the dragon! And we’re getting so much Elderling information!! 🤗
🐉 Of course, now that things are already shitty, we’re getting an Earthquake. But Reyn has teamed up with Selden, Tintaglia is free, Malta is stuck with her male counterpart (a.k.a. the whiny Satrap), and I’m loving every second of it!
III. Ship of Destiny
🐍 Oh yes, Malta is finally getting a taste of her own medicine 😇 This is the best thing ever!
🐍 I just want to give Keffria a hug and tell her everything will be okay!
🐍 Really, Serilla? You’re gonna pull the “I have studied you so much that I know what’s best for you” card? I thought I liked you!
🐍 Can I just mention that Ronica Vestrit is absolutely awesome? She’s smart, she won’t take any nonsense, and she is willing to risk everything for the town she loves. And the way she talks to Serilla as though she were her granddaughter 🤣
🐍 There’s no way Wintrow is going to die. But when he wakes up, I don’t even want to know how the Vivacia is going to react to finding out she’s a dead dragon.
🐍 Hurry the fuck up and rescue Reyn, Selden, and Malta already, Tintaglia!
🐍 Althea and Brashen scheming together on how to get the Vivacia back is giving me life!
🐍 Serilla is turning into such a brat. Stop playing the power-hungry colonizer!
🐍 I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The politics in this series are beyond awesome! And I’m also really enjoying the deeper bond that is starting to form between Ronica and Rache.
🐍 NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Vivacia! 😰 Maybe the dragon was there before you, but that doesn’t mean you don’t get to live!
🐍 Wait, are this the city and the road from Assassin’s Quest? I desperately need to know! How far and how quickly can a dragon fly? Please describe your surroundings in more detail, Tintaglia!
🐍 I did want Malta to face a few hardships that would finally drive her silliness out of her, but Robin Hobb is really layering the horribleness on thick… Why are you confronting Malta with death and Chalcedean war galleys now, when I’m finally starting to like her? Now I can’t even take pleasure in Malta’s pain but have to suffer along with her!
🐍 Kekki is a lot less stupid than Serilla gave her credit for. I love how she’s trying to look out for Malta, despite her degenerating condition.
🐍 Amber having mysterious collapsing fits aboard the Paragon is doing absolutely nothing to dissuade me from my Fool theory.
🐍 Oh boy. You may have meant well, Brashen, but Althea will never forgive you for implying that she should hold herself back in battle. I sense a lot of upcoming relationship drama, and I am thrilled!
🐍 And now Paragon has gone on a murderous frenzy because pirate-dude implied Kennit always dreamed of having his own liveship (**and is thereby not loyal to his true liveship, Paragon** 😇). There’s just no way I am wrong about this theory, guys! You might as well bow to my ingenious plot twist guessing skills now 😎
🐍 I want the Vivacia back! 😫 Bolt is so freaking annoying, and Kennit’s interactions with her are even more nauseating than his interactions with Vivacia 🤢
🐍 Paragon and Brashen having a guy talk about Althea is everything I never knew I needed.
🐍 And oh my gosh, Paragon just promised not to kill Brashen 😭🥰 Did I mention that I absolutely love this ship?
🐍 We’re getting even more Elderling background!
🐍 Yes, yes, yes!!! 🥰 This is the Brashen & Althea scene I’ve been dying to read! However, the fact that we’re not even halfway through the book at this point has me extremely worried about Robin Hobb has in store for them…
🐍 And here I am, shedding even more tears over Paragon 😭 Whatever happened to Kennit on that ship, I am very sure it involved rape.
🐍 Things aren’t looking too good for Malta, either…
🐍 It’s super interesting how all the different factions in Bingtown are finally having to work together, and how much prejudice this is revealing.
🐍 Ronica not taking any nonsense from people is wonderful. And Keffria is such a strong person, too. I’m honestly not too thrilled at the idea of anyone ever bringing Kyle off that island again, because everyone seems so much better off without him. Malta in particular – she’d have become the snobbiest bitch ever with her father around, but now, I’m actually beginning to like her cunning political instincts and her determination to help her family.
🐍 Althea and Brashen are so giddily in love with each other that something horrible is sure to happen any minute now. It’s Robin Hobb, so I just know.
🐍 Wow, big surprise: Paragon was the liveship Igrot stole. Who would ever have thought, right? Now I just need confirmation that Kennit is a Ludluck 😇
🐍 Stop whining and putting your future in the hands of other people, Wintrow.
🐍 Yes, this dragon is definitely more like the dragons I wanted! Tintaglia’s self-centeredness and love for flattery is giving me Smaugian vibes, and I absolutely love it. I’m glad those weird carved things in the Farseer Trilogy didn’t turn out to be the real thing.
🐍 Sure, Kennit. You have no first-hand knowledge of Paragon. You just happen to like yelling at your charm in anger…
🐍 Jek sure is behaving a lot like Starling. Still, she doesn’t look like Starling and is turning out to be way nicer, so I don’t think it’s her. I hope.
🐍 I can’t help it. I ship Reyn and Malta 🙈
🐍 What does it say about the Satrap that the only way to get him to do things is to talk to him in the same flattering tones needed to woo a dragon? 🤣 I really love Malta now, though. Hers is some of the best written character-development I’ve ever seen.
🐍 What Tintaglia is doing seems a lot like Skilling. And since the Elderlings apparently got their powers from the dragons, does that mean everyone with the Skill is descended from the Elderlings? Is the Wit connected to them, too? Tintaglia can sense animals, right?
🐍 Noooo, Kennit! You can’t seriously be turning on the Paragon, abandoning all pretense of even caring for Etta, and having creepy thoughts about Wintrow at the same time! Don’t do this!
🐍 Oh Paragon 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭 But I was right!!! I predicted this!!!! I am so proud of myself right now.
🐍 Why is Wintrow in love with Etta? 😳 They were so much better off as just friends! Though I guess I can kind of see how it happened. Wintrow has rightfully come to admire Etta’s strength and determination, and she’s the only woman he’s ever really talked to much. And honestly, Wintrow would be a hell of a lot better for Etta than Kennit.
🐍 Oh, I love how the serpents, Amber, Brashen, and Paragon’s dragons are all ganging up on him to save him 🥰
🐍 Tintaglia and Reyn’s relationship is really starting to grow on me, too.
🐍 “I have been called a fool as often as I have been called a prophet.” If that isn’t Amber revealing to Paragon that she/he is the Fool, I don’t know what it is!
🐍 Brashen just found out that Althea is still alive and my heart can’t take it. I’m a sobbing mess, you guys. And now Paragon has also sworn allegiance to Brashen and said he would take them to Key Island 😭
🐍 And now, Althea thinks that Brashen, Paragon, and their crew are all dead because of her and my heart can’t take that, either 😭😭😭
🐍 NO. No, Kennit, you are not seriously about to do this.
🐍 This has got to be one of the most well-written rape scenes I’ve ever read. I think I’m going to be sick. And while I wasn’t a huge Kennit fan before, I now truly hate him.
🐍 Reading about Kennit trying to justify himself to his charm is making me even more furious. Nothing Igrot did to him, no matter how horrible, can ever excuse what he just did to Althea.
🐍 Wintrow is acting more like Kennit by the second, and I’m starting to seriously want to slap him.
🐍 Vivacia is back! And please, please, please, Althea, you have to convince both of you that you want to live!
🐍 Cosgo is finally starting to show at least an inkling of sense.
🐍 You did NOT just say that, Wintrow. Seriously, that is such an obtuse male perspective that I really want to punch you in the face.
🐍 And this is the moment in which I’ve finally come to love Etta 😇 At least if I couldn’t punch Wintrow, she did it for me.
🐍 “‘Fuck you, Wintrow,’ she retaliated savagely. ‘Because you’re exactly what I’d expect of Kyle Haven’s son.'” AMEN!
🐍 Am I crazy, or did Amber just carve Fitz’s face onto Paragon? Because Fitz is the one person the Fool truly loves? I can’t take this 😭
🐍 I am enjoying this “family reunion” way too much. And Malta is awesome.
🐍 At least Wintrow is apologizing. But I don’t think I can ever fully forgive him.
🐍 Or actually, it’s Kyle and Kennit I will never forgive, for robbing Wintrow of so much of his innocence. Their actions were what hardened him into the type of person who would look the other way and blame a woman’s rape accusations on her “fragility”. And thankfully, Wintrow seems to be starting to see that.
🐍 I’m normally not a huge fan of the miscommunication trope, but I love it here. Malta has come so far from the empty-headed girl she used to be, and both her and Reyn thinking that the other does not want them due to their appearance is killing me.
🐍 That was exactly the kind of unspectacular end that Kennit deserved 😌
🐍 Oh, but this last scene with Paragon! 😭🥺😭 Although now I am imagining Paragon with Fitz’s face and Kennit’s eyes and it’s seriously creepy.
🐍 Kyle died? Whoopsie 🤷♀️ Part of me is kind of sad that he didn’t survive long enough to see all the women in his family no longer put up with his shit, but part of me is also so satisfied. I hated him nearly as much as Umbridge, and that’s saying something.
🐍 I’m about to cry again at Althea’s inability to tell Brashen what happened. And Brashen thinking she’s about to leave him makes things so much worse.
🐍 I’m super interested in who this pirate-king-baby is going to turn out to be.
🐍 Oh, Brashen’s happiness when he realizes Althea is staying! 😊
🐍 I approve of this new Bingtown. And of Serilla’s place in it.
🐍 I love Malta and Reyn together. They’re the ultimate nerd-and-conniving-politician power-couple, and I’m digging it. And I suppose I can get behind Wintrow and Etta, if it is for the sake of this fabled baby.
🐍 This can’t just be me seeing things, right? Please tell me that I’m not the only one who thinks Amber is the Fool!
🐍 Oh Brashen 🥰 You’re the purest man ever, and I’m so happy Althea has you.
🐍 Reading about these serpents cocooning is so satisfying. Despite me not particularly caring for Maulkin’s POV in the beginning, I must admit that I’ve become quite attached to his tangle. Thank god it only takes a year for these dragons to emerge, because maybe that means we’ll get to see him in dragon form in future books?
🐍 Why is this series over? 😭
To sum it all up: I absolutely love The Liveship Traders, which is why I was unable to shut up about it and gave you this endlessly long review 😅 (I’m sorry! I swear I tried to cut stuff, but it just kept getting longer and longer instead…) Needless to say, I am beyond excited to start The Tawny Man Trilogy!!
And if you somehow made it through all the rambling above and ended up here, I assume you probably have similar feelings. So please – chat with me in the comments! What did you think of The Liveship Traders? Who was your favorite character and which twist took you by the most surprise? Do you agree with my crazy theory that Amber is the Fool? Where do you think the Skill and Wit came from? I would love to know!