High heroic fantasy has rarely paid enough attention to ships and sailors, the lifeblood, after all, of trade and survival in a non-technological world. In her Liveship Traders series, Robin Hobb more than makes up for this with a sequence in which economic survival is the principal objective of the merchant family, the Vestrits, who provide most of her viewpoint characters. The Mad Ship
takes up their adventures where Ship of Magic
left off, with young would-be priest Wintrow the captive of the pirate Kennit and bonded to the living figurehead of the family ship Vivacia
; and his sister Malta caught up in the affairs of the changeling traders of the Rain Wild. Their aunt Althea, who feels she should have had command of Vivacia
, is off having adventures as a sailor, and the mysterious Amber is trying to heal and repair the shattered mad hulk Paragon
, who killed his crew and lies abandoned in the sand dunes. All this and war and conspiracy too--Hobb gives us a rich portrait of a world and a family in turmoil and raises some interesting questions about what it is to be used and make use of. --Roz Kaveney
'Hobb is one of the great modern fantasy writers… what makes her novels as addictive as morphine is not just their imaginative brilliance but the way her characters are compromised and manipulated by politics.'
'A gleaming debut'
'Assassin's Quest achieves a bittersweet, powerful complexity rare in fantasy' LOCUS
'Robin Hobb writes achingly well'
Praise for The Liveship Traders series:
'Even better than the Assassin books. I didn't think that was possible'
George R R Martin
'Hobb is a remarkable storyteller.'