This is the first volume in The Liveship Traders Trilogy.
The Vestrits are a family of traders whose fate is tied to a liveship: a magic ship with thoughts and its own personality.
I read the Farseer and the Tawny Man trilogies about 10 years ago, when I was still a teen in High School. Beyond the fact that Fantasy produces more crap than most genres, Robin Hobb has in many ways ruined the genre for me. Her books are so elegantly written, imaginative, and emotionally intense, that it has been difficult for me to appreciate the dreadful non-Robin Hobb realm of fantasy, where only George R.R. Martin seems to shine.
Ship of Magic is the perfect installment to a great Fantasy trilogy. It takes its time introducing complex characters, and fills the reader with wonder. The rest of the story gets even better.