Posts Tagged With: Robin Hobb

Review: Mad Ship by Robin Hobb

Book review of Robin Hobb’s Mad Ship

Mad Ship by Robin HobbShip of Magic was one of my favorite fantasy reads to date, and Robin Hobb has certainly gained in popularity in recent years, so for the second novel in The Liveship Traders trilogy, I had fairly high expectations. To the joy of readers everywhere, Hobb continues in top form with Mad Ship, bringing back many of the memorable characters from the first novel, and introducing a few new ones.

The concept of living, breathing, talking ships is certainly novel, and Hobb continues to explore this inventive theme in Mad Ship. She does so with the same enthusiasm displayed in Ship of Magic, and in Mad Ship takes the idea to a new level. In Ship of Magic Hobb reveals a richer backstory to the liveship theme that lends even further credibility to what was already a logical and believable magic system in Ship of Magic. I won’t get into details and ruin the book for those who have yet to read it, but suffice to say the storyline following the sea serpents, their connection to liveships, and some of the history backing the story are very satisfying.

Hobb brings back a wonderful cast of main characters such as Althea, Captain Kennit and Wintrow, liveships such as Ophelia and Paragon, and introduces or focuses more on supporting characters such as Malta, Reyn, Brashen, Amber, Serilla and Magnadon Cosgo. Also, there is a dragon in Mad Ship. We thrill to see Althea return to Bingtown and struggle with deciding to stay and support her family versus returning to the open sea to save the family liveship, Ophelia. We struggle while Wintrow fights to survive aboard Ophelia, while Ophelia struggles to determine how to handle her kidnappers, pirates lead by Captain Kennit. We are frustrated and occasionally appalled watching Malta quickly mature from a young girl into a young woman, and how she immaturely tries to handle the courting of a Rain Wild man, Reyn. In short, there are characters in Mad Ship you will connect with, and will come to love.

Another aspect of Mad Ship I enjoyed thoroughly is the structure of the chapters, and variety of the story lines. I immediately noticed the similarities with the structure of George R.R. Martin’s novels. In the first eight chapters of Mad Ship, you’ll find six or seven different story lines and point of views. The variety is healthy enough that the reader will never get bogged down in one single plot, but not so much to be overwhelming. The key is how Hobb ties all the point of views together, to weave the beautiful overarching story that is Mad Ship.

Of course, we are presented with Hobb’s powerful writing chops, including fantastic descriptive/introspective passages like this example:

It was like sweeping his fingers across a stringed instrument, save that the chord he awoke was not sound. Kennit’s life suddenly sang with his own. Wintrow reeled with the force of the connection, then sat down hard on the deck. A moment later, he tried to describe it to himself. It had not been Kennit’s memories, nor his thoughts or dreams. Instead, it had been an intense awareness of the pirate. The closest comparison he could summon was the way a perfume or scent could suddenly call up detailed memories, but a hundred times stronger. His sense of Kennit had almost driven him out of himself.

Did I forget to mention there are boats in Mad Ship? There is high seas action aplenty here, and you’ll eat up every moment of it.

Hobb also manages to work in some good advice in her books, and here’s a quote I particularly enjoyed:

“Especially then,” she replied sweetly. “That’s how it’s done, Trell. You break your heart against this stony world. You fling yourself at it, on the side of good, and you do not ask the cost. That’s how you do it.”

Mad Ship is a quality follow-up to a fantastic first novel in The Liveship Traders trilogy, and if you liked the first book in the series, you’ll absolutely adore the sophomore edition. I absolutely devoured this 850-page paperback in record time.

You can purchase Mad Ship over at

Fantasy Book News Ratings

  • Overall: 9 out of 10
  • Plot Originality
  • Setting Development
  • Characterization
  • Dialog
  • Pace

Fan Ratings

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Fantasy Blogosphere: August 29, 2011

An absolute tempest of fantasy fiction this week, with reviews, interviews and top 10’s forming the perfect storm. Reviews of a pair of new novels, and a pair of classics, interviews with a few new authors, and a classic, and top 10 lists from a new author and a classic. At the eye of the storm you’ll find George R.R. Martin and Tad Williams live at the Fox Theater. Batten down the hatches and dig in.

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Fantasy Blogosphere: June 27, 2011

Reviews of books by all-star authors Brandon Sanderson, Tad Williams, Terry Pratchett, the amalgamation that is Robin Hobb/Megan Lindholm, Mark Charan Newton, Peter Orullian, and others. Also first pics from The Hobbit film.

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Fantasy Blogosphere: January 21, 2011

George R.R. Martin news galore this week; everything from new photos from the HBO Game of Thrones series, and first shots of the Game of Thrones: Genesis video game, to a pronunciation guide for ASOIAF characters and word that the big man himself tied the knot this past week. More tv news with Felicia Day starring in a Dragon Age web series, and a few interviews with great authors like Robin Hobb, James Barclay and more.

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Fantasy Blogosphere: December 20, 2010

A few good reviews this week, including Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb, but the real story is the number of quality interviews crossing this week. Patrick Rothfuss, Tracy Hickman, Brandon Sanderson, James Barclay, N.K. Jemisin and Peter V. Brett all offer their wisdom to the fantasy blogosphere this week. The cover for Tchaikovsky’s 7th novel in the Shadows of the Apt series, Heirs of the Blade was released this week, and its gorgeous. News on The Dark Tower movie, Moorcock’s Elric series, and the Frank Frazetta feud. A trailer for the forthcoming The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie dropped this week, check it out below.

Book Trailer: The Heroes by Joe Abercrombie

Caricature of J.R.R. Tolkien

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Fantasy Blogosphere: August 8, 2010

Great reviews of Dragon Keeper and Tongues of Serpents this week, followed by interviews with Brent Weeks, Peter V. Brett, Neil Gaiman, Tracy Hickman, and more. A few interesting moves in the eBook industry this week as well. Finally, I can’t believe Neil Gaiman is about to start receiving royalty checks for my favorite comic book hero.

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Fantasy Blogosphere: May 9, 2010

Pairs galore this week, as we feature two interviews with Jim Butcher, and a review and interview with Tad Williams. Check out the reviews of Guy Gavriel Kay and Adrian Tchaikovsky’s most recent works, and don’t miss the US dates for Robin Hobb’s Dragon Haven tour.

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Fantasy Blogosphere: May 2, 2010

When it rains it pours, and this week we bypass any book reviews for updates from Patrick Rothfuss and George R.R. Martin on their next books, A Wise Man’s Fear and A Dance with Dragons. Big events seem to come in threes, and in a week where we get updates from two of fantasy fiction’s heavy hitters, we also get wind that Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series is to be adapted by Ron Howard as a movie trilogy. There’s other stuff going on, but honestly, these three items take the cake for probably the week, the month, and up until this point, the year. So I’ll stop now, go check ’em out!

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Fantasy Blogosphere: March 21, 2010

Reviews galore, an interview with R.A. Salvatore, an update on Scott Lynch, and news about The Hobbit film. What more could you ask for? Okay, how about an update from Ursula K. Le Guin on her crusade to uphold the rights of authors everywhere in this digital age? You got it.

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Fantasy Blogosphere: February 14, 2010

We kick off this week with a review of A Feast for Crows over at The Wertzone, and follow it up with reviews of books by Daniel Abraham, Mark Chadbourn, R.A. MacAvoy, and Robin Hobb.

We’ve also got some great interviews this week, featuring Robin Hobb, David Drake, and the first sci-fi author interview we’ve ever highlighted with Daniel Suarez. I heard the interview with Daniel Suarez on The Dragon Page podcast this week, and even though we cover mainly fantasy topics, this interview is just too good to miss. I love the idea of an author knowing more about internet security than the federal government, and will likely check out Daemon.

And finally, the e-book market is getting a bit rowdy, with Amazon and Macmillan doing a bit of bickering over prices this week.

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