Love this series!! The Mad Ship... what a personality!
Do read them in order, however, for the full effect. And don't wait too long between books; this isn't a series that will burn you out and have you glad to be done with it.
Robin Hobb is one of my favorite authors and although I prefer the Fitz trilogy and the Tawny Man trilogy to this one (Liveship trilogy), that doesn't mean that this isn't a good book. In fact, I don't usually like ship-type books and sailing on the high sea, but that didn't matter to me in this book. I loved the characters and there are lots of surprises in store for the reader (especially those familiar with the other two trilogies because there is a connection).
I initially picked up this series because I was at the airport and needed reading material for the plane ride. It was just my luck to have picked this up. All of Robin Hobb's book are addictive. I get so caught up that I can't stop reading them.
In this second installment of Hobbs Liveship Traders Trilogy we are returned to the Cursed Shores and learn even more about these mysterious Liveships. Althea and Brashen team up to form a dangerous plot to retrieve the Vestrit family Liveship that has been captured by the vicious pirate Captain Kennit. While they hatch their plans Wintrow, who has also been captured along with the Liveship is slowly slipping under the influence of the vivacious pirate as he too hatches his own scemes.
And while everyone else schemes and dreams, the ever-present serpents struggle to complete their destiny and understand their reason for being
I picked up Mad Ship almost immediately after finishing the prequel Ship of Magic. I ended up having mixed feelings about Mad Ship. While the feelings edge towards the positive, there is still a feeling of oddness to it I just cant seem to shake when I think back on Mad Ship as a whole.
On the positive side, Hobb of course did not disappoint. Mad Ship was full of what Ship of Magic gave me a taste of and kept my appetite perked for more. The characters were well-rounded and really came into their own more in this book than in Ship of Magic. Schemes and plots came to light and others were dashed completely.
I also commend Hobb for keeping her second book true to the original story she started with in Ship of Magic. She did not pull a George Martin and introduce so many characters my head started to spin. The characters she did introduce were minimal and added to the story as opposed to hindering the plotline.
On the flipside there was a slight bit of cheese. Nothing a good Chardonnay couldnt compliment, but it was still there nonetheless. Towards the end of Mad Ship we begin to understand more about what a Liveship actually is and we understand why there are entire chapters dedicated to the serpents that in Ship of Magic at least, were seemingly insignificant to the plot.
Without giving anything away I found the reasons Hobb gave for the serpents being to be a little far-fetched. Yes I know its fantasy and anything can happen, and yes, I know: I couldnt believe I found myself griping over mythical characters either butI dont know I found her explanations to be a little corny.
Now, I will gladly eat my words if once I read the third book Ship of Destiny her reasons turn out to be justified. I love nothing more than when I have to eat my words.
I think I need to classify Mad Ship in the same category as The Empire Strikes Back. Not my favorite, but necessary to the storyline.
3 ½ stars.
This is a review for the entire Liveship Traders Trilogy (Ship of Magic, Mad Ship, Ship of Destiny) because I find it almost impossible to rate them as individual books.
This series falls in the gap between The Farseer Trilogy and The Tawny Man Trilogy. One or two characters overlap between the series (namely Amber, although her real identity is never truly revealed, only alluded to quite strongly...) and the rest are totally original but no less enjoyable.
This was also a very well written and complex series. I did not think I would find the subject matter of pirates and nautical tales as interesting as her other books, but I was more than pleasantly surprised.
Hobb does a masterful job of creating yet another living, thriving, complicated world that is full of characters so well drawn that it is hard to remember that they don't actually exist.
The issues of politics, self-government, slavery, piracy, inheritance, gender roles, higher callings, dragons, serpents, blood oaths, luck, destiny, hidden secrets, forgiveness and self-discovery provide a glimpse of what these books are about. Oh yes, and there are lots of ships as well.
All three have the typical pacing of a Robin Hobb book: not particularly fast-moving, but undeniably compelling and emotionally draining. By the end of the series, you will feel that you have actually lived it. You will be exhausted. Then you will want to read it again.