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The Mad Ship (2008)

The Mad Ship (2008)

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4.17 of 5 Votes: 3
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0006498868 (ISBN13: 9780006498865)
harper voyager

About book The Mad Ship (2008)

It's ridiculous that as a sedate middle-aged woman I find myself in the role of a twirling and fluttering fangirl, yet, here I am, ensorcelled by Robin Hobb's imagination to the point of wanting to shout out my adoration in forms that belong to readers far younger than I am -- gifs, OMGs and WTFs, and 'I just can't', and lots emoticons. If I believed it would make anyone read these books -- assuming I ever figured out how to find and insert a gif into a review -- I would do it. Just pretend they're here if that's your sort of thing. Honestly, it what would be most effective in my campaign to bring new readers to these books would be if Random House reissued the series in trade paperback format in the US. I hate, hate Mass Markets, the print's too small for anyone over 45, and they feel stupid in your hands. Plus, the covers while suitable for standard fantasy fare, are too ridiculous to attract crossover readers. As a result, we haven't stocked them at the store where I work, which means I don't sell them. DEAR RANDOM HOUSE -- I COULD SELL A LOT OF THESE IF THEY WERE PRINTED IN DECENT EDITIONS.Now with that out of my system, let me move along to actual statements about the books. I thought The Farseer Trilogy was wonderful (I still do), but The Liveship Traders is far better. While I love Fitz and his compatriots, human and animal, I found the first set of books were often repetitive and sometimes slow, There were too many character inserted and then dropped without giving me the sense that their stories were really done, even if Fitz with done with them. Two books in I am finding The Liveship Traders to be more confidently and tightly plotted, and the third person, multi-POV narration less indulgent. In addition, the characters and the story are even more alive than the sailing vessels that lend their names to the series. As the books open you get a beguiling seafaring adventure tale, with required pirates, novice priests, magic oracles, romance and, yes, those magnificent talking ships. As you read on you realize Hobb is really focused on the intricacies of family relationships and long lasting legacies -- the persistence of memory is a central theme for all of the characters, human or otherwise. In addition, Hobb grapples with issues of slavery, politics, economics, feminism, culture and identity. There is a lot to sink you teeth into these books that goes far beyond the non-stop and never stale action. This broader look at Hobb's world beyond the Six Duchies introduced in Assassin's Apprentice, is richly detailed and hints at even greater depth to come. While her world building is satisfying, the real standout here is in the rich characters and the tight meshing of characters and action. Hobb's genius as a storyteller that she can make you despise a character like Malta, yet have her credibly grow into someone you want to support. It's not that she's shifted our perspective on Malta, showing us we were mistaken in how we saw her. She's done more than that, she's actually used the forward momentum of the story to give Malta experiences that transform her. There are a lot of literary fiction writers who could learn a lot about crafting dynamic characters from reading Hobb's work.I am antsy to get to the third volume, but have a few (a lot of) books I need to tackle before I can allow myself the luxury of heading back to sea and into the Rain Wilds with Althea, Brashen, Malta, Kennit, Etta, Selden, Reyn, Amber (if you've read The Farseer books pay close attention to Amber, a close reading of her character will reward you mightily), and of course, Vivacia and Paragon.If you don't read Hobb's because you don't like fantasy, hold your nose and dive in so you don't miss some of the most compelling and enthralling reading out there. Forget about binge watching whichever show you are spending your vacation consuming, pick up the first volume of this series, Ship of Magic and sail away.

Excellent character development, evenly paced plot, interesting world building and some jaw dropping revelations. As a storyteller, Robin Hobb really knows how to engage the reader and make them care deeply for her characters.This book continues straight on from the previous without missing a beat. Its the second book of a unified trilogy so in that regard it does suffer a little from being the middle book in that it doesn't have the same novelty as the first nor the resolution of the last. Having said that, by no means does this book simply tread water while we wait to read the third book. The plot is advancing, the characters are continuing to grow and develop, and the lore of the world, especially the dragon lore, is being expanded. We visit the Rain Wilds, we see the Elderling cities, and we learn of the relationship between the serpents and dragons and liveships and we even learn more of the dragons of the Farseer Trilogy.As the title would suggest, the liveship Paragon gets more of a focus this book. We get glimpses of why he is the way he is and we get some clues of what may have happened to tip him over the edge. Everything is not as it seems.Malta's character was a surprise. She starts off as naive and rather shallow but out of all the characters she probably grew the most as the events in the larger world eventually threaten to swamp her hopes and dreams and childhood fancies.As any who has read the Farseer Trilogy and the first book of this trilogy may know, Hobb likes to pound her characters on the anvil of adversity. Development for her characters comes at a cost that often has me wincing. Last book she took a finger and a leg, and this book there are more losses and sacrifices to be endured. George RR Martin may like to kill off his characters to keep the suspense real, but Hobb does the same by letting them live - not that all will live of course.Thoroughly enjoyableA solid 4 to 4.5 stars.

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Towards the end of the previous book I was completely hooked, and when I started this one the story just kept getting better. The characters got more interesting, and even the ones I hated eventually grew on me.It's astonishing how the world keeps expanding in this book, and we now realize how little the Six Duchies' people knew about this land, its history and its magic. I find it fascinating that as we learn more about the Elderlings, we realize how wrongly some of the characters have interpreted history with the facts they thought they had.I have no more words to describe how much I loved this book, so I'll just pick up Ship of Destiny right now and go on reading xD

She only gets better, that's for sure!And you're right about the characters and the pace. I find the later books actually slow down a bit, but by that time you're already in love with her writing so it doesn't matter.
—Andrew Obrigewitsch

This is the second book in the Liveship Traders trilogy and the story is really starting to come together now. There are so many different threads running at the same time and so many established characters but somehow it all seems to make perfect sense, things don't get overly complicated or perhaps it's because this is my third time of reading the series. There are little nuggets of information (essential for future books!) hidden away in the Liveship series and I really believe it's essential reading after the Farseer series and before Tawny Man. Favourite quote of the series so far.“Everyone thinks that courage is about facing death without flinching. But almost anyone can do that. Almost anyone can hold their breath and not scream for as long as it takes to die. True courage is about facing life without flinching. I don't mean the times when the right path is hard, but glorious at the end. I'm talking about enduring the boredom, the messiness, and the inconvenience of doing what is right."~Amber”

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