This second (Ship of Magic, 1998) in Hobb’s doorstopper trilogy about the Liveship Traders charts the briny adventures of Bingtown’s Vestrit family. Now, old Ephron Vestrit’s sentient liveship, Vivacia (built of magic wizardwood, she can talk and manipulate objects via her animated figurehead), has been captured by the ruthless pirate Kennit, while her captain, Kyle Haven, along with Kyle’s talented, tormented son, Wintrow, are below-decks prisoners. Althea Vestrit, meanwhile, has teamed up with an old shipmate, captain Brashen Trell, to sail another liveship, Paragon, that may have killed previous crews and is reckoned mad. And Althea’s headstrong sister, Malta, must travel into the magic-filled Rain Wild lands in payment of the debt by which the Vestrits obtained Vivacia. A community of intelligent sea serpents has its own agenda, and there are numerous other complications. Hobb displays a wonderful imagination but has cast aside any remaining inclination toward control. Still, this should delight fans of the first installment.