Mad Ship by Robin Hobb

October 27, 2014
Mad Ship by Robin HobbMad Ship by Robin Hobb
Series: Liveship Traders #2
Also by this author: Fool's Assassin
Published by Random House Publishing Group on December 30, 2003
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 857
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Also in this series: Ship of Magic

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As the ancient tradition of Bingtown’s Old Traders slowly erodes under the cold new order of a corrupt ruler, the Vestrits anxiously await the return of their liveship—a rare magic ship carved from sentient wizardwood, which bonds the ships mystically with those who sail them. And Althea Vestrit waits even more avidly, living only to reclaim the ship as her lost inheritance and captain her on the high seas.   But the Vivacia has been seized by the ruthless pirate captain Kennit, who holds Althea’s nephew and his father hostage. Althea and her onetime sea mate Brashen resolve to liberate the liveship—but their plan may prove more dangerous than leaving the Vivacia in Kennit’s ambitious grasp.BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Robin Hobb's Ship of Destiny.   Praise for Robin Hobb and the Liveship Traders Trilogy   “Fantasy as it ought to be written . . . Robin Hobb’s books are diamonds in a sea of zircons.”—George R. R. Martin   “A truly extraordinary saga . . . The characterizations are consistently superb, and [Hobb] animates everything with love for and knowledge of the sea.”—Booklist   “A major work of high fantasy, reading like a cross between Tolkien and Patrick O’Brian . . . one of the finest fantasy sagas to bridge the millennium.”—Publishers Weekly   “Rich, complex . . . [Hobb’s] plotting is complex but tightly controlled, and her descriptive powers match her excellent visual imagination. But her chief virtue is that she delineates character extremely well.”—Interzone

As much as I love all of the Fitz books, I have to admit, this series feels more ‘epic’. I love love the world building in this in a way I never quite did with her other books. Not that I missed it in them, I actually quite liked the world in the other books, but in these, it seems to be more front and center and it is just something unexpected.

And the number of strong female characters is applaudable! I love that their is such an array of “strong women” where they each have their unique ways of making themselves strong. They are not all tomboys or warriors. They look at their position in life, at their abilities and draw strength from where they can. It’s that independent attitude that makes me view them as strong.

Ofcourse, Althea is featured most central. Her liveship that she had bonded with has been taken from her family. She must start a quest to regain what belongs to her, and to the Vestrit family. Her strength can not be questioned. She does everything she can, and breaks out of the roles expected of a woman (even if she has to dress as a man to do so at times). She is strong, but she is not the only one. Althea may climb the rigging and Jek may carry a sword, but Amber, Ronica and even Keffria and Malta stand on their own and make strides for what they believe in. I was quite surprised (happily) by the character growth of both Keffria and Malta in this. Malta reminded me a bit of Sansa, where she at first appears to be an annoying and vapid teenage girl. But when put to the test, she manages to find herself and great store of determination to drive her.

But I don’t want to dwell on just the female characters, because there are amazing characters that are male and also the world building, the atmosphere of Bingtown and the Rain Wilds, the magic of the liveships, the politics coming to light with the Satrap and slavery are all very well done and create a richly formed world.

In true Hobb form, she manages to put her characters through hell. I don’t know if this is what causes us to love her characters so much? The threat of losing them? Or seeing them so close to losing everything? Does it make us love her characters in an effort to give the poor people something, even if its just the love of a reader that they will never know? Hobb is able to pull heartstrings that I didn’t even know I possessed. And I love her books for that. I can’t say I find this book to be quite as emotional as some of the Fitz books, but its still far from and easy life for any character featured in her books.

Wintrow, the poor boy that was taken from his quite peaceful life in a monastery and thrust into the harsh life of a sailor, a life he never expected or wanted is faced with more adversity and challenges. Horrible adversity and challenges even by Hobb’s standards. Kennit, the pirate with a twisted Robin Hood bent, raiding slaveships to free their cargo. His character is rather fascinating, and add to that, I am still quite intrigued by his sarcastic wizardwood charm that speaks to him.

And, the real measure of how much I enjoyed the book. I am continuing to put all my review and book club reads on hold until I complete this trilogy. I don’t want to stop reading even to write this review. I give much higher praise than that.



  • Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum October 27, 2014 at 1:50 am

    Wow, you’re burning through your back list TBR. I want to read this trilogy so badly, but I think the only thing holding me back is how honking huge each book is. I mean, 850+ pages for this one. Maybe I ought to do the audiobooks, that might be the only way I’ll end up getting to these.

    Anyway, great review. This series looks really good (which I kind of already suspected). How is it comparing to Farseer and Tawny Man so far, since you’ve read all of those?
    Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum recently posted…Book Review: Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet MarillierMy Profile

    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) October 27, 2014 at 11:36 am

      Yeah, I had planned/hoped for 1 a backlist book a month, but I can’t put this series on hold. 🙂 I am both readin/listening to it, so am able to get through it a bit faster (the audiobooks are all 30-some hours), but still, about a book a week. So that’s most of my month devoted to it. It’s been a good month 🙂 I will note, the narrator absolutely grated on my nerves in the beginning. I have gotten used to her and just listen to the story and ignore her voice as much as possible.
      Lisa (@TenaciousReader) recently posted…Mad Ship by Robin HobbMy Profile

  • romeorites October 27, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Yeah another Robin Hobb series for the TBR pile methinks

  • Tabitha (Not Yet Read) October 28, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    I actually bought a ton of Robin Hobbs books this year because I’m determined to give her stuff a try. I just need to decide where to start. I will have to look up a chronology chart or something.
    Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…Review: The Immortal Crown by Richelle MeadMy Profile

    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) October 28, 2014 at 5:50 pm

      MUST start with Assassin’s Apprentice (the first in the Farseer trilogy) 🙂 And read them in published order. I followed some advice that I could skip this trilogy before reading Tawny Man trilogy and wish I hadn’t. And none of the Fitz books can be read out of order at all. Enjoy!!
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  • Anne October 29, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    I’ve never read a Robin Hobb book either. I’ll just have to follow your recommendation to Tabitha!
    Anne recently posted…The post in which I don’t talk about books, but catcalling, internet trolls and respecting humansMy Profile

    • Lisa (@TenaciousReader) November 6, 2014 at 9:24 am

      Yep! I highly recommend all of the mentioned trilogies. She has one (Soldier Son) that is completely unrelated, and not quite as well received, so I actually plan on skipping that. At least for now.
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