The Liveship Traders Trilogy by Robin Hobb (Books 1-3 in the Series)
The 3-book set of mass market paperback novels includes the below titles:
Ship of Magic (ISBN 9780553575637): 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. Now 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. For Althea’s young nephew, wrenched from his religious studies and forced to serve aboard the ship, the Vivacia is a life sentence. But the fate of the ship—and the Vestrits—may ultimately lie in the hands of an outsider: the ruthless buccaneer captain Kennit, who plans to seize power over the Pirate Isles by capturing a liveship and bending it to his will.
Mad Ship (ISBN 9780553575644): As the ancient tradition of Bingtown’s Old Traders slowly erodes under the cold new order of a corrupt ruler, the Vestrits anxiously await the return of their liveship—a rare magic ship carved from sentient wizardwood, which bonds the ships mystically with those who sail them. And Althea Vestrit waits even more avidly, living only to reclaim the ship as her lost inheritance and captain her on the high seas.
But the Vivacia has been seized by the ruthless pirate captain Kennit, who holds Althea’s nephew and his father hostage. Althea and her onetime sea mate Brashen resolve to liberate the liveship—but their plan may prove more dangerous than leaving the Vivacia in Kennit’s ambitious grasp.
Ship of Destiny (ISBN 9780553575651): As Bingtown slides toward disaster, clan matriarch Ronica Vestrit, branded a traitor, searches for a way to bring the city’s inhabitants together against a momentous threat. Meanwhile, Althea Vestrit, unaware of what has befallen Bingtown and her family, continues her perilous quest to track down and recover her liveship, the Vivacia, from the ruthless pirate Kennit.
Bold though it is, Althea’s scheme may be in vain. For her beloved Vivacia will face the most terrible confrontation of all as the secret of the liveships is revealed. It is a truth so shattering, it may destroy the Vivacia and all who love her, including Althea’s nephew, whose life already hangs in the balance.