The Mad Ship by Robin Hobb
850 pages, mass market paperback
Read Feb 23 – May 7, 2016
Book two in the Liveship Traders trilogy
“Tomorrow owes you the sum of your yesterdays. No more than that. And no less.”
Every time I read a Robin Hobb book – this is the fifth one I’ve buzzed through now – I get an emotional hangover. This series in particular, I’d even call it an emotional flu.
Since this is a spoilery blabber, I’m going to assume if you’re here you’ve either read it already or don’t care about being spoiled. I’m also going to assume you already know the premise of the series. I’m also going to just write a bunch of thoughts out – this is not a ‘coherent review’. 😛
This book picks up where the last left off – the returning characters are just as despicable and wonderful as before. I grew to like characters I disliked before… and really really hate characters I already hated. Hah.
So the main theme of this book is obviously character development. Sorely, sorely needed character development. And it was wonderful.
Robin Hobb is really good at writing awful characters. I don’t mean awful as in badly written, I mean awful as in I hate them. They feel like real people but they are not people I would get along with. Kennit for instance. That bastard. Never have I despised a character so much that I actually would get angry while reading from their POV. If that isn’t a well-designed character then I don’t know what is.
I hope in book three, Kennit gets knocked down a few pegs. Seriously. So far he’s managed to manipulate Etta, Vivacia and now even Wintrow to his will. Gaaah I want someone to see through his bullshit so badly. He needs good, solid punch to the face.
Another character that went through a lot of character development, but in a positive direction instead of negative was Malta. It’s unfortunate that the loss of her father was what had to trigger it, but it really woke her up to the world around her. Towards the end of the book especially, I really loved her. Her snaps at the satrap were just fantastic. (I hate him too, so it was lovely). It was such a complete turn-around from her character in the first book, which seriously irritated me. I like Reyn too – he’s a decent fella.
This book I noticed spent about as much time away from the liveships as it did with them – about half the POVs weren’t anywhere near the water – it really lent to the largeness of the plot and all of the interesting subplots that I know are going to come together in book three. I seriously liked this book, especially towards the end. I reached an ‘AHHHHH’ moment and kinda buzzed through the ending (after…. taking a two day break to finish my coding project. You have NO IDEA how hard it is to reach the AHHHH part in a book and then put it down to do important schooly things, bleh)
All the subplots are starting to wind together at this point – we now know why it kept jumping to a bit of eel-y things in the water and why some of them seem sentient and others don’t. There’s a dragon flyin’ around and Paragon, darling Paragon, has developed a sense of multiple selves. Paragon I think is my favorite character in this series – he’s just so amusing, I wanna hug him. Granted, he’d likely either punch me in the face or cry hysterically or hug me back. It would really be up in the air. I think that’s why I like his character so much – he’s so out of character all the time that everything is in character. It’s neato. :”D
I will say though – and it’s a thing that I mentioned above – that this book is tiring. It’s so emotionally saturated that it becomes a chore to read it. Not because it’s bad, but because just so much heavy stuff happens to the Vestrit family, I kinda get worn out just reading about it, yeesh.
Rating: 4/5 stars
So yes, overall I dug this book. Made me feel droopy though. And my thoughts, as you can see, aren’t really coherent, hence a spoilery blabber instead of a non-spoilery review. :”D I’m thinking I”ll do a trilogy review on the whole thing once I finish the third book – that one will spoiler-free and more uh… readable instead of a bunch of tangent-thoughts, hawhaw.