Mad Ship

Posted by : atcampbell | On : August 15, 2000

Mad Ship by Robin Hobb

We had a crowd of eleven for the discussion of Mad Ship. This book is the sequel to Ship of Magic, discussed by our group earlier in the year. Mad Ship is a fantasy novel featuring pirates, slaves, talking ships, and dragons.

We liked Mad Ship a lot. Everyone had found the book hard to put down, and all but one had finished it. (Yours truly got too busy working on ArmadilloCon, but I do plan to finish Mad Ship. Maybe after Cryptonomicon…) Three people had even read the sequel, Ship of Destiny, which came out in hardback the previous week. One person said she loved the book completely, noticed no flaws or extraneous words, and didn’t want to hear anyone find fault with the book. Despite a span of several months since we read the first book, we all were able to pick up Mad Ship and resume the story without a hitch.

We were impressed by the growth of characters from Ship of Magic to Mad Ship, and felt that many of the characters could become heroes. We were almost disappointed that Malta, a teenage girl we’d loved to hate in the first book, underwent a lot of maturation and redemption and eventually became a sympathetic character. Fortunately for those who love to hate villains, Malta’s father Kyle was just as evil as ever.

We liked that this book contained more action, and more answers to its mysteries were developed. Secrets involving dragons and the talking ships were revealed, setting up a potentially great tragedy. We learned a lot more about the pirates and their background. The story was so fascinating that many of stayed up late or reported to work late in order to keep on reading.

We recommend Mad Ship heartily, and all of us plan to read the next book. We think that Robin Hobb is writing some of today’s best fantasy. Expect to read a report on our discussion of Ship of Destiny in about a year.

— A. T. Campbell, III