Review :: The Mad Ship
The Mad Ship
In Ship of Magic, the breathtaking first volume in her new fantasy trilogy, Robin Hobb wrote of the Liveship Traders of Bingtown. Now a new tide of glory and terror sweeps forward the story of the proud Vestrit clan, their priceless liveship Vivacia, and all who strive to possess her.
This is a tale of the Old Traders of Bingtown and their rare magic ships – carved from sentient wizardwood that bonds them mystically with those who sail them. Theirs is an ancient tradition, but one that is slowly eroding under the harsh realities of a cold new order.
For these once proud Traders, it is a humbling lesson to learn that the foundations of their world, which had seemed immutable, are resting on shifting sands. Their corrupt ruler is deeding away their ancestral lands to upstart newcomers, and a growing traffic in human flesh is eroding the boundaries of civilized society. A plague of sea serpents and pirates off the coast is destroying the established trade routes, and ancient fortunes are dwindling. Old debts are coming due, and talk of rebellion is growing. And added to this uneasy mix, ancient powers are stirring on the banks of the mysterious Rain Wild River.
At the center of the conflict lies the Vestrit clan and their liveship Vivacia. The Vestrits long for the Vivacia to make port, certain that her arrival will restore the family fortunes. And Althea Vestrit, beautiful and dauntless, yearns more deeply than any. For she lives only to reclaim the liveship as her lost inheritance and captain her on the high seas.
But unknown to Althea, the lovely magical vessel has been seized for a slave galley and a privateer by the ruthless pirate captain Kennit, and now the Vivacia sails, her decks washed with blood, through the perilous southern passages of the Pirate Isles. Held captive onboard is Althea's nephew, Wintrow, who has made a desperate bargain: he has promised to heal Kennit of a mortal wound using arts learned in his monastic boyhood – or forfeit his life and that of his father.
Meanwhile, in Bingtown, Althea finds her onetime sea mate Brashen still struggling to redeem his wild past and out to prove himself a ship's master. Though wary of each other since their brief, ill-fated flare of passion, they now make common cause in a quest to find the Vivacia. But should they risk all they possess to rescue a liveship who may not want to be rescued? For the Vivacia is far from unhappy in her new life – and for Althea and Brashen, the method of Vivacia's liberation may prove more dangerous than leaving her in Kennit's ambitious grasp.
Mad Ship is a rich, tapestried epic of enchantment that will set your imagination ablaze, proving that Robin Hobb is a writer not only working at the top of her form, but constantly surpassing it.
Hobb covers portrayed here are from UK editions, by John Howe.
Robin Hobb is alias for Margaret (Megan) Lindholm Ogden. She also writes as Megan Lindholm.
Hobb was born in 1952 in California, US. She is married with sailor Fred Ogden and they have four children and grandchildren. She lives in Tacoma, Washington with her cats and youngest child.
For most of her teen years Hobb lived in Fairbanks, Alaska. She majored in Communications at Denver University, Colorado. She worked as a journalist in Kodiak and wrote fairy tales to children's magazines. She has always been a keen reader and already knew as a child that she wanted to be an author. She sold her first story when she was 18. In 1971 she started writing as Megan Lindholm. Her first