Mad Ship (The Liveship Traders)

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9780006498865: Mad Ship (The Liveship Traders)

The second volume in this superb trilogy from the author of The Farseer trilogy continues the dramatic tale of piracy, serpents, love and magic. Althea Vestrit has found a new home aboard the liveship Ophelia, but she 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. Meanwhile in Bingtown, the fading fortunes of the Vestrit family lead Malta deeper into the magical secrets of the mysterious Rain Wilds Traders. And just outside Bingtown, Amber dreams of relaunching the Paragon, The Mad Ship...

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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 the Inside Flap:

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.

"If Patrick O'Brian were to turn to writing fantasy, he might produce something like this," raves Booklist, and truer words have never been spoken. 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.

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