The Mad Ship (The Liveship Traders, Book 2): 2/3 Paperback – 23 Apr 2012
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
'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'
'Even better than the Assassin books. I didn't think that was possible'
George R R Martin
'Hobb is a remarkable storyteller'
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Top Customer Reviews
As this novel progresses it all begins to look distinctively bleak for the Vestrit trader family. In the first book, "Ship of Magic", their liveship Vivacia was captured by the pirate king Kennit. As their family fortunes are tied up in this ship it is imperative that they retrieve her. But does she want to be reclaimed or is the pirate life all that she ever dreamed of?
Meanwhile, the Vestrits themselves are struggling not to be drawn ever deeper into poverty. As their funds begin to dwindle and all that can be sold is, they begin to consider the ultimate form of payment for their ship, the hand of their youngest family member Malta in marriage to the son of the trader family to whom they must continue to pay for Vivacia.
While all of this is going on in the foreground of the novel, in the background the reclusive Amber is living in the captain's cabin of the beached liveship Paragon. While all others in Bingtown fear the mad ship that 'turtled', killing his entire crew, Amber looks forward to the day when she will make him sail once again.
Amongst all of this, the tale of the serpents that seemed totally separate from the events in the last novel slowly becomes clear, and their importance and relationship to everyone and everything else in the novel is established.
All in all, this is an astounding book. Robin Hobb writes so astonishingly well that you cannot help but be transfixed by every written word in this novel.
Contrary to the title though, this is not Paragon's story- the myriad sets of characters once again vie for the reader's attention and never does one group hog the limelight- always it is an ensemble piece, which I've discovered is just as attention-grabbing as stories that opt for a main character alone. Despite these continued unique perspectives though, I was slightly dissappointed Paragon was not given more in this book. I personally find the character fascinating and felt somewhat cheated that many of the aspects of this character, demons that so obviously bubble just under the surface, were not hinted at more. But doubtless I will get to know everything and more in the final installment of the trilgy- 'Ship of Destiny', which I'm now itching to read after just finishing this tremendous tale!
If you havn't already, I hope this review immediately stirs in you the need to pick up 'The Mad Ship' without delay, because book 2 in the liveship saga does not disappoint. The best compliment I can give this book is that it's an effortlessly enjoyable read, while at the same time not ashamed to tackle bigger philosohpical, religious and moral issues. Simply superb.
I'm going to have to ask him how this is possible. I was engrossed by the characters and the plot and it's been a long time since I read a book as entertaining as this one. The revelations on Liveships, sea-serpents, dragons and the Others were astounding, so I will reveal no more than that the "dragons" in the Farseer Trilogy were not dragons at all. They are mentioned briefly towards the end, more to explain how they fit in with the true dragons, but the book concerns itself more with philosophical questions about whether the means can justify the ends and the nature of slavery, even when it's only memories that are held slave.
The Rain Wilds Traders and the Jamailan Satrapy are dealt with in greater detail than previously, and the interactions between the Old and New Traders are a wonderful study, but the interacions between serpents, dragons, Liveships, Bingtown Traders and Rain Wilds Traders are the focus of the book.
If you're a fan of high fantasy, read this and you won't be disappointed. I have to get the next one now.
Is this a bit of Hokum to boost Amazons profits?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
You need to read the first book in the series first (The Ship of Destiny) where the main characters are introduced. Read morePublished 21 days ago by Amazon Customer
Love these books now on the third instalment and the story is coming together nicelyPublished 1 month ago by mand139
The three books of the Liveship Traders can really only be taken as a whole starting reading at book 1. More or less unputdownable! Read morePublished 1 month ago by Tim W