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'Even better than the Assassin books. I didn't think that was possible' George R.R. Martin Althea Vestrit has found a new home aboard the liveship Ophelia, but lives only to reclaim the Vivacia as her rightful inheritance. However, Vivacia has been captured by the pirate, ‘King’ Kennit, and is acquiring a keen bloodlust. Bingtown becomes embroiled in a violent political upheaval against the corrupt Jamaillian leader, while the fading fortunes of the Vestrit family lead Malta deeper into the magical secrets of the mysterious Rain Wilds Traders. Beyond Bingtown, enigmatic wood-carver Amber dreams of re-launching the Paragon, The Mad Ship, despite the history of death and despair that surrounds him. Secrets will be revealed – secrets forgotten by sea serpents, hidden by the disfigured Wild Rain Traders, buried deep in wizardwood coffins – secrets with startling, dramatic consequences.

915 pages, Kindle Edition

First published March 1, 1999

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About the author

Robin Hobb

348 books97.6k followers
** I am shocked to find that some people think a 2 star 'I liked it' rating is a bad rating. What? I liked it. I LIKED it! That means I read the whole thing, to the last page, in spite of my life raining comets on me. It's a good book that survives the reading process with me. If a book is so-so, it ends up under the bed somewhere, or maybe under a stinky judo bag in the back of the van. So a 2 star from me means,yes, I liked the book, and I'd loan it to a friend and it went everywhere in my jacket pocket or purse until I finished it. A 3 star means that I've ignored friends to finish it and my sink is full of dirty dishes. A 4 star means I'm probably in trouble with my editor for missing a deadline because I was reading this book. But I want you to know . . . I don't finish books I don't like. There's too many good ones out there waiting to be found.

Robin Hobb is the author of three well-received fantasy trilogies: The Farseer Trilogy (Assassin’s Apprentice, Royal Assassin, and Assassin’s Quest), The Liveship Traders Trilogy (Ship of Magic, Mad Ship and Ship of Destiny) and the Tawny Man Trilogy (Fool’s Errand, Golden Fool, and Fool’s Fate) Her current work in progress is entitled Shaman’s Crossing. Robin Hobb lives and works in Tacoma, Washington, and has been a professional writer for over 30 years.

In addition to writing, her interests include gardening, mushrooming, and beachcombing. She and her husband Fred have three grown children and one teenager, and three grand-children.

She also writes as Megan Lindholm, and works under that name have been finalists for the Hugo award, the Nebula Award, and the Endeavor award. She has twice won an Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Readers’ Award.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,529 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
674 reviews42.9k followers
July 15, 2022
A wonderful sequel filled with spectacular characters’ development but unfortunately, it had a few pacing issues.

Plot-wise, I honestly don’t have a lot of things to say about The Mad Ship. Same as the first book and pretty much all Hobb’s books that I’ve read so far, character developments and relationships took the utmost priority here. There is nothing wrong with it, in fact, I loved it most often than not. However, there are a few pacing issues with this book that made me deduct my rating. Let it be known first that I thoroughly enjoyed reading Hobb’s prose, even when some of the POV’s felt tedious and unnecessary, I found them enjoyable to read due to how great Hobb’s writing is. The fact that I finished reading this 900 pages tome within four days should be evident enough.

“Tomorrow owes you the sum of your yesterdays. No more than that. And no less.”

The pacing issues I had for this book were caused because of the new character, Serilla, and also the returning serpent’s POV. Serilla as a character just bored the hell out of me, she faced a lot of hardships but it all happened way too fast before her personality was fully fleshed out yet and it made my empathy towards her completely desensitized. As for the serpent’s POV, it’s the end of the second book already and their POV remained super vague and weird to read. These are minor issues though, I can’t shake the feeling that Hobb is using this book just as a solid foundation for the rewarding conclusion of the trilogy.

The Mad Ship explore the previous characters relationships and personalities even more than before, this is especially true for Captain Kennit, Wintrow, the Liveships, and Malta; the results were absolutely terrific. Captain Kennit is a very complex character, I really should hate him but I just can’t. He did a lot of questionable things but at the same time, he also did a lot of great things even though almost all of them happened for the wrong reasons. Other than him, it was a pleasant experience reading about every characters’ development, this is pretty much Hobb’s main strength as a writer. However, my biggest praise will have to go towards Malta. Malta is probably one of the biggest surprises in character development I’ve ever had in literature. Reading the first book, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when I say that I absolutely despised her with every beat of my heart, and that’s still true for the first half of this book. Then came the second half of the book where Hobb improved her personality realistically and seamlessly, it was in a word, amazing. Also, I have a feeling that one of the characters in this trilogy is actually a character from the Farseer trilogy, I can’t be completely sure yet but at this point, I’m really sure it’s him.

“Love isn't just about feeling sure of the other person, knowing what he would give up for you. It's knowing with certainty what you are willing to surrender for his sake. Make no mistake; each partner gives up something. Individual dreams are surrendered for a shared one.”

There are also several revelations towards the serpents, the liveships, the Rain Wilds, the dragons that bring even more rich detail towards the world-building in Hobb’s books. It’s pretty obvious that Hobb withholds tons of the remaining revelations for the third book and I hope it all will leads towards a satisfying and rewarding conclusion to the trilogy.

The Mad Ship is a great sequel with very rich characters and world-building developments. It’s too bad that it’s also afflicted with the infamous middle book syndrome but if the third book managed to make all the preparation in this book worthwhile, The Liveship Traders has a chance of becoming one of my favorite trilogy of all time.

You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest
Profile Image for oyshik.
210 reviews664 followers
February 2, 2021
The Mad Ship (Liveship Traders,#2 Realm of the Elderlings,#3) by Robin Hobb
loved the writing style and the story. Book 2 in this series reinforced the idea for me that Hobb has no qualms with really putting her characters through some hardships. It seems like every time I think that things are really going to have to turn around, she manages to squeeze a little more pain into their lives.
Open your eyes. This horrible mess is your life. There is no sense in waiting for it to get better. Stop putting it off and live it.

Amazing book...
Profile Image for Matt's Fantasy Book Reviews.
235 reviews3,080 followers
April 14, 2022
Simply incredible. Somehow improves upon the first book, which was easily a 5/5

Check out my new youtube channel where I show my instant reactions to reading fantasy books seconds after I finish the book.

WOW! I loved everything about this book, and am shocked that it took me this long to get to it. I had no idea how much I needed a fantasy pirate series in my life, and simultaneously saddened that I think I'm probably reading the pinnacle of this type of book that will likely never be topped.

The first book had a much needed slow burn at the beginning to establish the characters, but this book didn't need any of that and gets right into the action. The characters continue to receive more development in a positive direction, and the new locations that are explored are extremely interesting and unique.

It's rare to read a fantasy book that shifts POVs and equally enjoy them all, but that's the case in this book. It's also rare to read a fantasy trilogy and have the middle book deliver in such a positive way, as the book usually has trouble being interesting enough while also serving as a setup for the finale. But this book knocked it out of the park.

I cannot wait to read the final book in this series, and based on the reviews it's clear that it continues this trend of improvement on each book in the series.
Profile Image for ELLIAS (elliasreads).
477 reviews38.2k followers
July 22, 2022

Malta? LOVE HER.

Wintrow? LOVE HIM.

Ronica & Keffria? GROWN.

Althea and Brashen? ...............

Kennit? This girlbossing, gatekeeping, gaslighting bitch has the best luck in the world and I CANNOT wait for his downfall. Literally screaming at how much shit he gets away with.....

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Profile Image for Em Lost In Books.
872 reviews1,759 followers
November 4, 2018
The Mad Ship picked up right where Ship of Magic ended so I didn't have to wait much before I found myself between the action. And by action I didn't mean the pirate battles or some wars but the planning and plotting to win a LivShip's heart.

Hobb did a wonderful job with every story arc that she gave us in first book but here I will talk about my favorite ones i.e. Malta, Kennit, and Paragon.

Malta was the character I hate to love but she changed herself so much here that it was hard for almost half of the book that this was the same arrogant, cunning, vile, and proud girl I met in first book. The change in her was so drastic. For a long time I thought she would changed her colors and be back to same cruel girl but it never happened and with each chapter she paved her way in my heart and it was so hard to hate her. I know she was naive and manipulative but here she showed a depth in her character and understanding of things which some people would say beyond her understanding.

Kennit is a work of art, he beat Malta in manipulation by leagues. He was making everyone on his ship doing things he wanted them to do all the while making them think that he was giving into what they want. All the while he was keeping his secrets hidden from every one else, his motives and his darkest desires. I hated him and yet could not stop marveling at how he turned the tide in his favor. One moment he was on the door of death and bam in the other he was the pirate king. The crippled god who would save the slaves from their cruel masters. But no one knew how ambitious he was and he would not think a moment if he had to kill everyone to achieve his goal.

Paragon was introduced in the Ship of Magic and I kept wondering why he was given a PoV when he did nothing but stand on the shore of Bingtown and behave like some mad man. And perhaps that's why he was called a mad ship, yes now you know where this book got it's title. From refusing to sail again to going on a quest which was a lost cause even before it started. Paragon was not a character that I liked initially but he slowly grew on me and there were many times in this book where he revealed some painful secret from his past which left me sad.

Definitely a very good middle book though slow at times it was slow but in the end I am happy how events in this book made way for the finale.
Profile Image for Ashleigh (a frolic through fiction).
451 reviews6,952 followers
November 22, 2020
While I enjoyed the first one, I didn’t overly adore it and was a tad hesitant going into this one. But this ended up being the book that ensured Hobb’s title as “favourite author” for me, because the level of intricacies and complexity to this book just blew my mind. Seeing the varied plot lines weave together had me in awe, but even more so the character development. Hobb made me change my mind completely about half the cast, before I even realised it had happened because it was just so naturally subtle. I can’t say too much more without spoilers, but this series is headed in a really interesting direction, and I genuinely cannot wait to read the last book to see what the outcome is!
Profile Image for Gary .
200 reviews184 followers
January 29, 2020
This series has drawn me in. These books came along at a perfect time in my life. I have had a chunk of downtime from work, and I have become totally immersed in these characters and this world. I am surprised I didn’t discover this author long ago, but I am also glad. They say everything happens for a reason and maybe it’s true. The timing of my running across this series and the way it worked together with my life has been an amazing experience.

This author’s ability to create living and breathing characters that grow, change, betray, love and die is perhaps unparalleled. It reminds me of my early days in reading long, in-depth fantasy books like Jordan and Goodkind, both of which appeared in my life and left indelible stamps on a time frame. Much the same way as a song can bring nostalgia and can perhaps remind me of a relationship or an era of my life, there have been books (or even a series of books) that have been able to do this for me as well. This is one of those series.

The characters have demanded my undivided attention in order to get the full meaning of the events in their lives and their complicated relationships, which is why I am glad this came along when it did. The books are long, and the next one is nearly 1000 pages. I am both glad and slightly intimidated.

This series reminds me of why I love to read. The immersive world, characters that feel absolutely real, and conflicts that wind and twists through multiple settings and contradictions are making this not just a read, but an experience.. These characters are multi faceted containing both good and evil, selflessness and selfishness, truth and lies, and more – they are much like us.
5.5 stars even though the rating system doesn’t go that high.
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,113 reviews44.4k followers
April 30, 2016
I’m really starting to like Captain Kennit; he’s such a rogue in a most fortuitous situation. He now has control of the ship Vivacia. Who would have though it? He just seemed to be full of false confidence with a heightened sense of unjustified arrogance. But, it turns out, he is actually quite skilful. He reminds me a little of Jack Sparrow in his deceptive uselessness. And now he finds himself competing with his young protégée, Wintrow, for the love and esteem of the vessel. What did you just say, the love of the Vessel? That’s right. Robin Hobb’s ships are alive. Just look at the pic:


Another pirate adventure

Despite all their differences, Wintrow learns a hell of a lot form his most unlikely role model. Wintrow has gone from a soft, humble, priest of Sa to a hardened sailor; he now even has the possibility of becoming heir to the rising power of the Pirate King. He has developed a lot, and, in all honesty, I really didn’t expect to see him come this far. He seemed so physically weak, but Robin Hobb has created a character who has developed so much, that is inner strength has turned into outer fortitude. He’s so well written like most of her characters.

Eventually, and inevitably, he begins to clash with the roguish captain who, though using Wintrow for his own ends, has developed a twisted affection for him. I guess he sees a lot of himself in the boy. However, that is easily overcome by his burning passion to completely possess the Liveship physically and emotionally. So, if it means pushing WIntrow out of the way to get his goal, he wouldn’t think twice. He’s a pirate after all. He wants a ship that will grant him more wealth, reputation and respect. This is far more important to him than his protégée.

A very familiar face


I was hoping for crossovers with the Farseer trilogy, and I really wasn’t disappointed. It was great to see what a certain prophet got up to when he wasn’t with his catalyst. And it was great to see that no matter how far away he is from Fitz, he will always try to remember him and honour him. His chapters were some of the most important because, though his actions may appear simple, they have far reaching consequences. As always his decisions are powerful and influential even if they’re discreet and veiled. The emotion is still there though; it's always there.

"To love another person like that, you have to admit that his life is as important as yours. Harder still, you have to admit to yourself that perhaps he has needs you cannot fill, and that you have tasks that will take you far away from him. It costs loneliness and longing and doubt and...”

One day, a day I’m looking forward too, all these series’ will come together. Their significance in an overall plot will be revealed. Well, hopefully. If this is the case, then I love the way this is being done. This could quite easily have been a separate fantasy universe but it just wouldn’t have been the same. This is a good series, but it lacks the power of the friendship that makes the other series so great. There is a glimpse of it though it isn’t the full feature. This is good, but Robin Hobb would have to go a real long way to top what she does best.

Liveship Traders
1. Ship of Magic- A seafaing 3.5 stars
2. The Mad Ship- A tumultuous four stars.
3. Ship of Destiny- A cresting four stars
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,551 reviews2,937 followers
May 9, 2023
** Re-read in May 2023 - Still lovvvve it and re-learning the secrets of the Rain Wilds and seeing the people I love grow up and change and face challenges, was fabulous!**

Honestly, this is one of the best books I have ever read and certainly will be one of the top books of this year so far for me. I am so happy that after disliking the final Farseer book I continued on with Hobb's work because this book has sealed her as a fabulous and key writer in the Fantasy genre for me. She's a fantastic writer, and I think that the progression between the first trilogy and this one is utterly incredible in the difference.

This is once more the continuation of the Vestrit Family and their lives at a time of turmoil and unrest in their community. The world that they live in is vast, but their section is called the Cursed Shores and few people travel there. In recent times more people have slowly been trickling into their town and threatening the way that they live and the customs they keep, causing discontent and hatred between the New Traders and the Old Traders.

Life is fairly simple in this part of the world. Usually the women stay home with their children whilst the men go to sea and trade in order to gain money and keep their families afloat. The Vestrit family is not exactly 'normal' however because each of the members are their own person, witjh their owl ambitions, goals and flaws. One of the best elements of these books is the characterisation that Hobb manages to make utterly and flawlessly believable. The characters we meet in these books all feel totally realistic and truly undeniable, and we grow to love and hate, worry over and whine at each of them in turn.

Ship of Magic is the first book in this series and I gave it a 5* rating and loved every moment of reading it, but this book is 1,000x better! I didn't even know that Hobb could weave the elements of a story so well together but she has not only done that, but she did it beautifully and timed each and every revelation and build-up so well. The writing is stunning and the intensity and realisation of the world is also stunning, Picturing some of the scenes and places within this book is so easy! Also, some of the characters are fabulous in the way that they act and speak and many times I found a phrase or section of speech or thought which mystified and amazed or awed me with the depth of thought behind it.

This world focuses a lot on Trade and for the best and most efficient Trade having a Liveship (literally a Ship which has absorbed the memories of various family members and had become alive) from the rain Wild Traders is a great way to travel. The ships have their own persoanlities and we get to see them all as they grow and develop with the people surrounding them and the events that they witness or are involved in. The nurturing and care of a Liveship is a delicate balance and when too much treachery or devastation comes into play it can harm the ship and make them go mad.

Some of the characters who I really enjoyed seeing develop in this book included:

- Malta Vestrit - a young, fairly spoilt girl at the start of the series who cares only for material possessions and getting her own way. Whilst she was an irritant to begin with she was a convincing character and her tendencies both shocked and annoyed me because of how real she felt. As the story goes on however Malta develops a lot and the harsh situation that the Vestrit family find themselves in clearly does affect her and the way that she is able to grow up and change.

- Reyn Khuprus - a young man who is a member of the Rain Wild traders. Reyn is the first Rain Wild point of view we get to see and in this book he really gives us a fair amount of clues and insight into who the rain Wilds are and what they believe in. We get to experience the wonder of their home, the customs they follow and believe and see him face some very difficult choices between what he wishes to do and what he can do.

- Paragon - the ship Paragon is known by nearly everyone in Bingtown as the Mad Ship because of how many times he has sailed and killed the crew working aboard him. it's clear that many bad things have happened to Paragon and so he seems unstable and unhappy a lot of the time. He's a liveship, but he no longer sails because people are afraid of him and very few people want to even go near him, let alone risk sailing him. However, despite all that paragon became one of the best characters in my mind whilst reading this because of how funny and sad he could be at times. There were moments I laughed at his bitterness and savage insults, and other moments when he would reveal a secret of such sadness I felt like crying for him.

- Vivacia - is the Vestrit family liveship who is only a very recently awakened ship. Everything she believed would happen before she was quickened (brought to life by the memories) has been challenged and changed since her awakening and she's stuck in a world of wrongness and savagery which threatens to change her forever. She's a young liveship compared to Paragon and so she's more easily influenced by the people on board her and in this book she certainly starts to become something other than what she always believed she'd be.

- Etta - us a whore from Divvytown who is sailing alongside Captain Kennit (a pirate). She's a character who goes through a lot of growth in this book with the help of one of the Vestrit's and she becomes a much better woman because of the help she gets. She's a strong-willed fighter and she resents people looking down on her or helping her, but when she does let someone in she's kind and considerate too. I enjoyed seeing the way that her personality evolved with a little nurturing and help.

- Amber - a woodcarver who has been living in Bingtown and has become friends with Althea Vestrit and the Paragon recently. She;s a fairly mysterious character and as yet her origins are unknown by the reader, yet she brings new advice and perspectives to the traders and she tries her best to help maintain the old ways of Bingtown. Many of the thought-provoking writing came from conversations between her and others in the book, particularly Paragon, and I enjoyed that immensely.

-Sirilla - a Companion to the Satrap (ruler over Bingtown, although much hated there in recent years). She's an intelligent and well-qualified advisor to the Satrap but when the relationship between Jamaillia (Satrap's home) and Bingtown start to deteriorate she sees it as her chance to slip from his clutches (as she hates the Satrap) and run for freedom. Things don't end up going the way she had hoped, but she's a resourceful character and she uses her intelligence to ensure a future for herself, however she needs to.

- The Serpents - as I said in my last review I was unsure exactly how and where the Serpents fitted into the story and what they meant. We see glimpses of their passage as they swim around in search of someone who will help them. The story of the Serpents is mystical and magical, and in this book we begin to see all the strands of the various stories coalesce into a great woven story involving not only this book but also elements from the previous Farseer books. They became a key interest to me particularly in the later half of this book!

On the whole everything in this book just worked out so perfectly and so well for me that I couldn't imagine a better story. I was hooked, captivated and enjoying every moment of the ride along with the characters. We really see them develop, and we believe in them and their actions because of how genuine they feel to us. I'd highly recommend this series to one and all who love fantasy because there's so many cool ideas and the pacing and plot is brilliant. The chaarctaers are stellar, and the book as a whole was fatastc. There's still so much to learn in book 3 (Ship of Destiny - which I have already started as i was too hooked and excited not to) and I cannot wait to see how everything with the families finishes up. A fantastic 5* (although I'd give it more if I could) read and one I highly recommend!!!
Profile Image for Choko.
1,200 reviews2,583 followers
December 27, 2022
*** 4.75 ***

"...“Tomorrow owes you the sum of your yesterdays. No more than that. And no less.”...

An amazing story, beautiful prose, complex characters, but I feel there could have been about a quarter edited out... At least. Sometimes I miss the brevity of the writing in the forties and fifties... I know the more detail the better chance for the reader to connect with the character, but sometimes less is more. Still, this author is a genius of character development and sucks you into the story, never allowing you to veer your attention to the minutia of the outside world. Needless to say, I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series:-)

"...“Everyone thinks that courage is about facing death without flinching. But almost anyone can do that. Almost anyone can hold their breath and not scream for as long as it takes to die.

True courage is about facing life without flinching. I don't mean the times when the right path is hard, but glorious at the end. I'm talking about enduring the boredom, the messiness, and the inconvenience of doing what is right.”...
Profile Image for Sheyla ✎.
1,813 reviews478 followers
July 31, 2021
The second book in this trilogy has the Vestrit family members all over the place.

Althea is in the Ophelia and doing a good job at it but her thoughts are all about recovering her ship Vivacia. She dreams of being able to be back on her ship and sailing her.

Ronica and Kefrria are trying to deal with the loss of their family fortune and keeping their house and holdings the best way they can.

Malta is still behaving like an obnoxious and selfish kid but as the story progresses, I can see hints of a different person emerging.

Wintrow is a captive onboard the Vivacia. He's shocked when he realizes that Kennit has started charming the ship and stirring her into piracy. He also starts believing that Kennit is not all bad.

Amber wants to protect Paragon from getting destroyed. She wants to buy him to avoid the liveship from being chopped into pieces.

Brashen finds himself close to piracy too until he hears that Vivacia has been taken by Kennit. He will go back home to alert the Vestrits of her capture. They all know that they will need help getting Vivacia back and Paragon might be the answer to their prayers.

The Mad Ship sets up a good foundation for the end of the trilogy. All the Vestrits are in danger one way or the other and Hobb never makes things easy for any of them. Although, not as hard as they were for Fitz.

Great character development especially with Malta and an amazing woven and intricate world-building as always.

Cliffhanger: No

4/5 Fang

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Profile Image for Mara.
1,559 reviews3,764 followers
December 27, 2021
This is definitely one of the best fantasy books I have ever read. It's the 2nd/5th book in the series, so it is hard to talk very much about this in much detail but suffice it to say, there is not a single plot line or character arc I was not interested in in this book, which is quite a feat given that we have about 5 threads going with ~20 main characters. Thematically, this is a powerhouse, and I cannot wait to find out how this trilogy ends

CW: slavery, SA
Profile Image for Deborah Obida.
673 reviews602 followers
November 14, 2019
Look forward, not back. Correct your course and go on. You can’t undo yesterday’s journey.

Even though almost nothing happened plotwise, I love it. This book focused mainly on character development and world building. I really love the way things are progressing for the characters even though not all are positive, I love that the characters just refused to give up.

You cannot simply discard parts of yourself because they are painful. Acknowledge them and go on.

The writing is awesome, Robin Hobb's writing style is my favourite thing about her, it compels the reader and draws the reader in, its easy to get in the mind of the characters. Her world building is explicit, I love it.

The friendship in this book is so realistic, I adore the loyalties and dedication of people to what they believe in, do not even get me started on the romance, that was awesome, I love that it didn't overwhelm the plot.

Discover where you are now, and go on from there, making the best of things. Accept your life, and you might survive it. If you hold back from it, insisting this is not your life, not where you are meant to be, life will pass you by. You may not die from such foolishness, but you might as well be dead for all the good your life will do you or anyone else.

There were some revelations in this book that really surprised me, the whole sea serpents POV now makes total sense. I can see how the third book will end. What I can't picture is how Jamilia, Bingtown and Chalceaden will resolve their conflict.This book started just where the first book ended, there was no time jump which I enjoyed immensely, I love all the characters in this book, except Kyle Haven which I loathe, I even like hateful, selfish people user Kennit, he's likeable even though he is evil. Wintrow is becoming a mature and realistic young man, the naive and optimistic monk is almost done, he us still a good person but life has changed him.

‘Love isn’t just about feeling sure of the other person, knowing what he would give up for you. It’s knowing with certainty what you are willing to surrender for his sake. Make no mistake; each partner gives up something. Individual dreams are surrendered for a shared one. In some marriages, one partner gives up almost everything she once thought she wanted. But it’s not always the woman who does so. Such sacrifice is not shameful. It’s love.

Althea is also growing up, she is still somewhat selfish but it isn't as bad as before, oh how I love Brashen, despite everything he's been through he is still so good.

Malta is now a changed person, gone is the spoilt and selfish brat, life has changed her for the better, and I'm loving the new her. Rye is a Rain Wilder that I also like.

‘Half the evil in this world occurs while decent people stand by and do nothing wrong. It’s not enough to refrain from evil, Trell. People have to attempt to do right, even if they believe they cannot succeed.’

Ronica, Keffria and Selden and were also in this, they didn't make much contribution. Serillia is a new character that I don't know what to make of, for now.
Paragon is now my favourite Liveship, Vivacia is getting on my nerves with her new attitude.

The plot focuses on the Vestrits trying to get Vivacia back, Kennit trying to win Vivacia to his side and a few other things.
Profile Image for Ben Kahn.
175 reviews51 followers
June 2, 2023
This was one of those easy 5-star reads where I was gripped from the first to the last page. It's a chunker but one I was glad to spend so much time with, since it never stopped delivering utterly intriguing character developments, lore drops, or epic plot moments.

I've enjoyed all 4 Hobb books I'd read previously, but this is the first one that really had me entranced with maximum immersive engagement and emotional investment the same way my favorite books have. For a Hobb book it moves at a torrentially fast pace with major events continually happening in the different plotlines and locations, yet it still delivers her trademark deep character and theme work wrapped in her understatedly elegant prose. It definitely hit some kind of reading sweet spot for me where all the narrative aspects just worked so beautifully together in terms of plot, setting, character, and theme. The things that happened in Mad Ship particularly related to memories are the kind of epic fantasy elements that make this genre so special.

I'm so eager to continue but also so worried about what might befall all these characters both human and non-human I've come to care so much for.
Profile Image for Kaora.
569 reviews282 followers
April 23, 2015
Another 5 stars for a book by Robin Hobb.

Shocker I know!

The Mad Ship is the sequel to Ship of Magic. The Vestrit family liveship, Vivacia has been taken by the self proclaimed pirate King, Kennit. When Althea discovers that the ship that she should have inherited has been captured, she sets out with Brashen Trell and the Paragon, a ship who has lost 2 crews previously and been beached ever since.

There are so many story lines running through this book I'm not sure how Robin Hobb keeps them straight. There is the point of view of Kennen, Vivacia, Althea, Brashen her mother, her nephew, her niece... The list goes on and on.

Within these characters a found those I liked and those I hated, but the wonderful thing about Robin Hobb's characters is that they are never static. They are changing. And one that you hated in one book, could completely be redeemed in another book.

I found that this is still the case with this book, as Malta fell into my good graces, and Serilla fell out of them.

Great characters combined with the vast world that Hobb has created make these a must read.

This is quickly becoming a favorite series, and I can't wait to see what the final book in the trilogy will bring.
Profile Image for Kylie.
134 reviews148 followers
June 13, 2018
Goodness gracious, this is one of the best books that I’ve ever read in my life. I kept walking around my house last night repeating, “And THAT is how you freaking write a book.” Absolutely fantastic.
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews867 followers
March 4, 2023
“Open your eyes. This horrible mess is your life. There is no sense in waiting for it to get better. Stop putting it off and live it.”

Listen to Mad Ship - The Liveship Traders Book 2 Audiobook Free on Audiobookss.Com

Unlike the previous installment in the Liveship Traders series, Robin Hobb's The Mad Ship immediately gripped me. It is engaging and I was more intrigued by the story of the serpents and how it connected with the fate of the traders. This gave the story even more complexity. With Hobb, I'm never surprised about the depth of the world-building. One thing I did realize is that Hobb doesn't have throwaway characters. Seemingly minor characters have a way of popping up later and taking on important roles. Also, characters evolve in compelling and believable ways. Looking forward to the next installment!

“Everyone thinks that courage is about facing death without flinching. But almost anyone can do that. Almost anyone can hold their breath and not scream for as long as it takes to die. True courage is about facing life without flinching. I don't mean the times when the right path is hard, but glorious at the end. I'm talking about enduring the boredom, the messiness, and the inconvenience of doing what is right.”
Profile Image for Tami.
Author 11 books2,606 followers
March 12, 2021
Meine Güte, dieses Worldbuilding ist das heftigste überhaupt. Mit nichts vergleichbar. Diese Geschichte wird mit jedem Buch krasser, sodass ich fast schon Angst vor Band 3 habe. Wie kann sich ein Mensch sowas ausdenken? Wieso gibt es noch keinen Robin-Hobb-Kult und welche Opfer muss ich darbringen, um eintreten zu dürfen?
Profile Image for Emma.
2,435 reviews828 followers
April 17, 2019
Wonderful. I actually enjoyed this even more than the first in the series. Robin Hobb weaves such a tale..I am completely caught up in the characters and the world she has created. I love the way her characters grow and develop over time.

Re read. April 2019. LOVED it! Amazing, the turn about in Malta through this book and how Wintrow is equally involved in the destiny of the serpents. I really felt for Paragon as he begins to remember who he really is. I was hardly breathing when the wizardwood started to crack open!
Profile Image for Sade.
312 reviews218 followers
July 14, 2019

I've put off writing this review for a while just cos it seemed almost impossible to write something coherent and basically befitting for the 2nd book of this marvellous series.
While i don't have many negative views on this book because awesome... i did feel it was long winded at times especially when it came to the serpents (Like i'm so eager to know what happened but lawd have mercy can we speed it up with all the secrecy?) or when someone was thinking about something, like a long ass never ending dear diary moment albeit with better writing also the whole was seriously underwhelming in my opinion

That aside, i gotta say despite being a fantasy book, Hobb continually creates characters and events that you can relate to in real life and never more so in this book. Everyone here struggles, what's to say your way is right and mine isn't? Sure some characters are more devious than others but then again, Hobb does make you see that things just don't happen in a vacum.

Finally we come to the most important part of this review..While i didn't pay attention to the female: male ratio in the book, cos heck to be honest i hardly notice such things anyways, it was however quite rudely brought to my attention when i read someone's review on this book. In the person's words'

"In addition it felt like Hobb was trying very hard to create a story for Women.. Yes capitalized. I don't mind women being protagonist, or even that they are the majority in the POV-- that's FINE with me....but it seemed as though she were going out of her way to show women in all varying roles and types as they come in, from young to old, from proper to outlandish, etc etc. TOO MUCH"

Well look at that, homeboy is upset women can be more than sex play things in a novel. I'm struggling to understand what part really had this person frothing.. Was it How threatened do you have to be by women to write something like that??
i tweeted about it and i especially love Hobb's response to what the reviewer wrote
And you know what? i'm unapologetically proud that Robin Hobb has been able to create a book where women shine in various roles. One way or the other the women in this book, no matter what their situation was, rallied and took control of their damn lives!!
"If the divine is also female and the female is also divine, then she understands that woman is more than mother, more than daughter, more than wife. Those are the facets of a full life but not single facet defines the jewel"
- Ship of Destiny

Profile Image for Maisha  Farzana (on hiatus).
551 reviews215 followers
March 15, 2022
I can't believe that I finished a 906 pages long book just in 3 days. This is a first. I also have been binge reading this epic high fantasy trilogy. Another first.

Lots of Robin Hobb fans claim "The Liveship Traders" trilogy to be her best work. Never have anything sounded truer than this statement. This trilogy is a gem. I feel like a whole new world has been opened in front of my eyes. I love how character focused, atmospheric, tragic and emotional these books are. If they don't stir all different kinds of emotions in you, I am gonna change my name. It's so good.

I absolutely love the characterization in the series. Both the good and bad characters are unique and shine on their own. The story Hobb has woven is mesmerizing and beautiful. The magic is fantastic. The writing is very immersive.

Book 1 and 2 end with slight cliffhangers, all the three books are inter-connected. I am so in love with these characters that I couldn't help but start binge reading. Very glad that I did so cause I think I have just found my newest addiction.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,133 reviews309 followers
July 30, 2020
An excellent continuation to a gloriously imaginative story.

Honestly, Hobb is amazingly creative and her character development for me ranks up with my all time favourite at characterization, Juliet Marillier. In the last book, Ship of Magic, I was left feeling slightly physically ill every time Malta made an appearance on the page. It's almost unbelievable to me that in The Mad Ship, Hobb managed a believable growth and shift in Malta, so that by the end I was left feeling like she might be a reasonably decent person. Similarly with Keffria and Reyn, both of whom who show more internal fortitude than I had though possible.

The whole complicated mess with Vivacia, Kennit, Wintrow, and Etta, I have no idea how that will be eventually sorted. The same goes for Paragon, Amber, Brashen, and Althea. And the serpents?

So much is happening, and I can't wait to see how it all plays out in the final book of the trilogy, Ship of Destiny.
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