‘The Mad Ship’ by Robin Hobb

My rating: 4 stars

Set in a world where the figureheads of ships become alive, wood has magical properties and pirates have great aspirations, The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb, the second instalment in The Liveship Traders Trilogy, continues to explore the characters presented in the first book, Ship of Magic (which I won’t be spoiling), while also introducing new ones. As the plot progresses, not only do we learn more about the characters, but we also start to uncover the connection between some of the fantastical elements in the story. However, the more we learn, the more curious we become about the intricacies of their correlation.

As the book starts, many of the familiar characters are dealing with complicated situations. Althea continues to try to prove herself worthy of captaining a liveship. Her interactions with Ophelia, the sassiest of liveships, are riveting. While Wintrow tries to find a way to help his family, Vivacia’s loyalty seems to be increasingly more divided, thanks to what she has been subjected to. Paragon is still being shunned by his family. And the sea serpents continue their quest to find the One Who Remembers, in order to being able to recall who they truly are.

It’s not only the more personal lives of the characters that are in turmoil, though. The Old Traders of Bingtown are not pleased with the way they are being treated by the current Satrap of Jamaillia nor with the new fees imposed on them. The conflict between them introduces two new characters to the story – the Satrap himself, who is a spoilt, irresponsible young man, and one of his advisors, Serilla. Continue reading

‘Ship of Magic’ by Robin Hobb

My rating: 4 stars

Ships and pirates don’t usually play a significant part in the fantasy genre. That is not the case of the first book in The Liveship Traders Trilogy by Robin Hobb, though. Told from different perspectives, Ship of Magic introduces readers to a world where the figureheads of ships can become alive. Throughout the book, various exciting and fleshed out characters seem to be put in the right place for a couple of questions to be answered in the rest of the series. How did liveships truly come about? Why are serpents following some ships and attacking their crews?

Kennit is the captain of one of many pirate ships. He had legendary good luck, and no one could have any doubts about it. For that reason, he kept it a secret that he owned a charm, a carved face of wizardwood, to avoid being subject to enchantments. He aspired to unite and be king of the Pirate Isles. He would then offer safe use of the Inside Passage up to the coast of Bingtown and Chalced to the merchants and traders, but for a fee of course. In order to know if he would be successful, he went to Treasure Island to offer valuable objects to the Others, a species with magical powers, in exchange for an answer. The general reply was yes.

The old Bingtown Traders own liveships, the only type of vessels that can sail the Rain Wild River. They are made of wizardwood and quicken when three family members from successive generations die on their decks. When that happens, their figureheads become alive, being able to talk and experience emotions. They have a special bond with the members of the family that bought them from the families that live in the Rain Wilds, the only place where wizardwood can be found. Continue reading

Plan to Read Robin Hobb’s Books in Order

Under the pen name Robin Hobb, Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden wrote five book series set in the Realm of the Elderlings. When I finished my first book by Robin Hobb, I was inclined to only read the series that have Fitz as a central character. I’ve changed my mind, though! The last book in The Farseer Trilogy (the first published series set in this fictional world and that comprises Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin and Assassin’s Quest) left me eager to read all subsequent series as soon as possible, since it features elements that I feel will be further explored later on.

I’ve decided to draw a plan to read the remaining four series in order of publication until the end of 2023. This is not a fixed goal. It’s more of a guiding strategy that I may change at any time to suit my reading wishes. The dates mentioned are not set in stone.

 

The Liveship Traders Trilogy

Set in a land bordering the Six Duchies (the main location of The Farseer Trilogy), The Liveship Traders Trilogy is full of pirates and talking ships. These special ships are made of wizardwood, a material that can only be found in the Rain Wilds. To get there, one has to sail the Rain Wild River, something only a liveship has the power to do. My plan is to read the three books in this series until the end of the year: Ship of Magic in August, The Mad Ship in October and Ship of Destiny in December. Continue reading