The price for a liveship is substantial, with families often committing further generations to fulfill the repayments. If a family is unable to pay, then a member of the liveship family might be surrendered to the Rain Wild Traders. This begets the phrase, "In blood or gold, the debt is owed."
The figurehead of a liveship "quickens," or comes to life, after three succeeding generations of the owning family have died on its decks. The memories of those who had died coupled with the ship's will and skill to sail flawlessly make the liveships matchless against other ships. A liveship always has to have a member of her family aboard, to keep the family traits showing instead of those of a dragon.
Liveship Traders series