Mad Ship by Robin Hobb. ★★★★
Mad Ship is the second in Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders trilogy of which the first is Ship of Magic. If you haven’t read Ship of Magic, you’ll need to before picking up Mad Ship.
Mad Ship is very much the second book in the trilogy. It continues the events from the first and sets up for the third.
Basically, Mad Ship delivers more of what is expected. The only noteworthy change is that this one has rape. It’s no where near the level of Song of Ice and Fire or the rest of the grim-dark sub genre, but here’s a warning to those would prefer to stay clear. I’m not sure what the purpose of it’s inclusion was. In one case it may be to show how terrible her situation and a male are, as well as possible character development.
I was glad to see that Malta had some character development, and I like her a lot more by the end of Mad Ship. However, her change was pretty sudden, and I think it could have been a bit more gradual.
I don’t like Kennit, but I think Hobb is trying to make him more sympathetic with the fleshing out of some of his past. Despite my dislike of him, Kennit is interesting as a character who’s doing good things for bad reasons.
Robin Hobb’s a must read for any fan of epic fantasy, and the Liveship trilogy is my favorite of all her books so far. Some of the technical aspects – eight or so POV characters centered around one family – might appeal to fans of A Game of Thrones, but while Robin Hobb does not hesitate to put her characters through all sorts of dark places, she doesn’t have the grim-dark feel. Plus, she writes in trilogies, so you won’t be strung along forever waiting for the much brandished fate to finally happen. Anyway, I’d recommend this one for just about any epic fantasy fan, especially those looking for good female characters.