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Mad Ship, by Robin Hobb Book Review | SFReader.com
Mad Ship, by Robin Hobb Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Spectra Published: 2000 Review Posted: 7/1/2013 Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 8 out of 10
Mad Ship, by Robin Hobb
Book Review by Joshua Palmatier
Have you read this book?
I finished Mad Ship on my way back from Kansas City this past week. It's the second book in the Liveship Traders series by Robin Hobb, and yes, that means I'm woefully way behind in my Robin Hobb reading. But I'm making inroads.
This picks up the story from the first book, Ship of Magic,
pretty much right after the ending of that book. Really, this isn't so
much a trilogy as it is one long extended book, so I'll be doing a
little bit of comparison between it and this one. First off, I felt
that this book was much more solid in terms of plot. The first book had
the feel, in spots, that things weren't connected and the author was
simply trying to find something for a particular character to be doing
while the rest of the important stuff was happening elsewhere. Not so
with this book. Here I felt that all of the various character threads
were interwoven and were heading toward a central conclusion. That
conclusion doesn't really happen in this book, but many of the threads
do come together at the end for a relatively satisfactory ending. There
are still some massive dangling threads, and we do have some
"cliffhangery" types of details, but the ending was still solid.
Another thing that I felt was carried off better in this book was the
characterizations themselves. In particular, we get to see Malta--a
spoiled brat in the first book--mature and change completely and in
utterly believable fashion. That was the strongest characterization
here. But attention was paid to Malta's grandmother and a few of the
others. There were a few characters that didn't seem to change much,
but I feel that this is mostly because of what is going to happen in the
In this book, we get many revelations regarding exactly what was set up
in the first book. We find out what the serpents are, learn many
intriguing details about the Liveships themselves, and we get to see
exactly how the Rain River Wild people live. All of these were
interesting pieces in the first book that left me wanting to read more,
so the fact that they haven't been kept secret "until the very end" is
nice. Instead, we get even more intriguing things to think about here.
I like how the plot lines are all progressing, and like some of the
rather dramatic changes we see in the world itself (one of my pet peeves
of fantasy novels is that often the world doesn't seem to change much,
just naturally nor in reaction to the events of the novel). So not only
are the characters changing significantly here, the world is reacting
The only reason this isn't getting a higher rating is because, as in the
first book, I once again feel that the writing itself is a little
unnecessarily dense. There are a lot of words here, and I don't feel
that they are all needed to get the point across. Some of the details
of the world, minor and not needed for the plot, are exceptional and
really place me in the world. These I like. However, too many of them
becomes overwhelming, and in many situations the reader gets "reminded"
of events that have happened before to a particular character a little
too often, even when referring to events that have happened in this
book. I think this is a consequence of the fact that there are so many
characters and plotlines to follow, so the author feels the reminder is
needed because we may not have read about that character in over 150
pages. I'm a fairly slow reader, but I didn't feel the reminders needed
to be so prevalent.
So, a much better book than the first in the series in my opinion, with
much clearer plot and some interesting developments in character and
world. I've already moved on to the third book in the series (where
some of those cliffhangery things are still trying to get resolved).
I'd certainly recommend this series to people who aren't afraid of a
thick fantasy novel with perhaps some extra and unnecessary padding.
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