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Mad Ship (The Liveship Traders, Book 2) Hardcover – April 6, 1999

4.6 out of 5 stars 239 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Liveship Traders Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Robin Hobb returns to the sea with Mad Ship, the second book in a projected trilogy set in the same world as her famed Farseer series. Many unresolved questions from Ship of Magic are answered in this tale of sea serpents and dragons; living ships made of wizardwood; the Bingtown Trader families who sail the ships; and their disfigured cousins, the Rain Wild Traders, who build them.

The Vestritt family's liveship, Vivacia, has been taken by Kennit, an ambitious pirate. Captain Haven is a prisoner; his son Wintrow, who bears the Vestritt blood, finds himself competing with Kennit for Vivacia's love as she becomes a pirate ship. Althea Vestritt, in training to become Vivacia's captain, arrives home to discover her beloved ship lost. Brashen Trell, her old friend and shipmate, proposes that they sail to Vivacia's rescue in the liveship Paragon, who has lost two previous crews and is believed mad. Malta, Althea's niece, seeks help from her suitor, the Rain Wild Trader Reyn, whose family is the Vestritt's major creditor. Meanwhile, the sea serpents who follow sailing ships struggle to remember their history and return to their place of transformation.

Each volume in this series is a major undertaking, but those who enjoy original, epic fantasy, characters who grow and change believably, and fine writing will not want to miss The Liveship Traders. --Nona Vero

From Publishers Weekly

The second book (after Ship of Magic) in Hobbs's Liveship Traders trilogy solidifies the series's promise as a major work of high fantasy, reading like a cross between Tolkein and Patrick O'Brian. Protagonist Althea Vestrit is neither unrealistically beautiful nor mindlessly dauntless. She is a very human character who has her share of doubts as she undertakes to assemble a motley crew of allies (including her former lover, Brashen Trell) to take the blind, insane liveship Paragone to sea in search of the Vestrit family's liveship Vivacia. Meanwhile, Vivacia is enjoying a prosperous career as the flagship of pirate Captain Kennit. In spite of his peg leg, Kennit is a charismatic leader, with a genius for manipulation that his mistress Etta and his prisoner Wintrow Vestrit (Althea's nephew) seem ready to mistake for virtue. And in Bingtown, Wintrow's bratty sister, Malta, finally starts growing up when her family and town face ruin and she must take refuge in the Rain Wild forests. This second installment in the trilogy reveals the connections among liveships, the wizardwood used to build them, the sea serpents and the legendary Rain dragons. Apart from an overly long subplot concerning the feckless young Satrap, the novel is tightly written, with few passages not devoted to characterization, world building or action. Again, Hobb gives high fantasy a salty nautical spin that will please a great many readers. (Apr.) FYI: Robin Hobb is a pseudonym for Megan Lindholm.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Liveship Traders, Book 2 (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; First Edition edition (April 6, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553103334
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553103335
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (239 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #592,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
WOW... i enjoyed Ship of Magic so much that i didnt think it could possibly be surpassed by book two of the series, but i was wrong. In retrospect, book 1 was merely an introduction/set-up book. This book took the plot threads that were introduced in the first book, and completely twisted them in directions you wouldnt have guessed. In addition, it introduced a LOT (and i'm not kidding here) of new plot threads. Just when you finished reading a chapter and said to yourself "that must have been the major event of the book", you read the next chapter only to encounter an even BIGGER event! The whole last half of the book was like this.
Like the first book, the characterizations are superb. These characters really change with the ebb and flow of the story. The focus on main characters has shifted a little as well: Malta plays a much bigger role (i was put off by this at first), as well as Amber and Paragon. Kyle is nearly insignificant. Even Althea and Kennit have slightly different focus. Nevertheless, Hobb writes so well that you feel connected to each of the characters, even the so-called "bad" ones.
Before i picked this book up, i just assumed it would follow the logical path of the first book. Not so! By the time i finished this book, i was so blown away that the first book seemed insignificant (not in a sense that i enjoyed book 1 less however). A few things are resolved, but so many are left hanging that reading the conclusion is a must. Who knows where that book will take you (i'm not going to try and guess this time). I highly recommend that if you read the first book and enjoyed it, you immediately read this book.
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By A Customer on June 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Promises offered in the first installment are realized in this second part of Ms. Hobb's storyline. Admittedly, I was highly sceptical concerning reading about pirates and magic ships, yet I went ahead and read the first book based upon the strengths of her previous story-The Farseer Trilogy.
Set within the same microcosm and slightly to the south of The Six Duchies; the Liveship storyline is filled with characters who act for purely Human motivations. Simple altruism and done-to-death stereotypes have no place within Ms. Hobb's worlds. Characters grow, misery is suffered, death is doled, joy is fleetingingly achieved. Suffice to say, Ms. Hobb has created a world in where her populace has achieved a depth of reality yet to be rivalled.
As for the story itself; no bare bones with skeletal fleshing out for this one. No, sir. The storyline is so rich it's fairly portly with the opulance of her imagination. The details embedded within this complex tale connect the dots between all of the far-flung characters.
In short, what Ms. Hobb has provided for we- poor, suffering, blighted readers of science-fiction/fantasy-is a feast for our souls. One decadent in all aspects of character, setting and plot. My highest praise goes out to her.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of those books where you just want to bang a couple of characters upside the head and shout, "Will you two just hop into the sack and get it over with!" Other than a certain frustration with the romantic pace, "Mad Ship" is hypnotic reading. Even for someone who has to wear an anti-nausea patch on her neck on a slow old tub of a ferry and who would certainly not care for weevils in her biscuits, author Robin Hobb makes me want to sing: "Whate'er the final harbor be /'T is good to sail upon the sea!"

There are no final harbors in "Mad Ship" as it is the second book in the trilogy "Liveship Traders." All of the characters who survived "Ship of Magic" are further developed, even (or most especially) the sea serpents who finally sort out who they are, but not where they're going---they don't actually figure that out until Book III. As I said, there are no final harbors in the middle book, just lots of pain and suffering and personal development. The main character from Book I, Althea Vestrit develops the least, merely bangs about on the high seas in an attempt to return to her liveship, Vivacia with whom she had mystically bonded. Vivacia herself falls in love with the pirate king ('it is it is a wonderful thing...') Kennit who has captured her. The pirate is also holding Althea's nephew, Wintrow (the somewhat wimpy would-be priest) hostage, along with Wintrow's hateful father (who doesn't develop at all, just remains despicable through all three books).

Althea's niece Malta, who was an absolute bitch (she could have played one of the Plastics in "Mean Girls") in Book I grows remarkably interesting in "Mad Ship," mainly through losing her father, her family's fortune, and (almost) her life.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the things I lament about good books is that they seem to end to soon, not so with this book. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed this book, and one of the reasons for this is because it ended so well. Althogh I am anxiously awaiting the next book in the series, I feel that reading this book was a good and satisfying reading experience. I highly suggest this book to anyone who wants to read a new author with a fresh perspective on the old fantasy regime. Good work robin, keep the books coming as quickly as you can.
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