Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Wintrow’

Ship of Magic by Robin HobbThe Mad Ship by Robin Hobb begins where book one of the Liveship Trader’s trilogy, “Ship of Magic” left off. Althea Vestrit, daughter of the late captain Vestrit, continues on a personal journey to retake Vivacia, her stolen live-ship. Wintrow still resides aboard that ship, which is now over-taken by  pirates. Malta remains determined to find and save her father Kyle, whom was also was left aboard the Vivacia; Keffria is struggling to take control of the family; and as before, everything is essentially collapsing and crumbling around the once solid family. Though the hope that once existed for the Vestrit’s has been, for the most part, extinguished, the family unit still struggles to prevail and restore itself. This all, of course, leads to yet another lengthy series of drama, politics, live-ships, and yes, self discovery. This time, however, the fate of not only the Vestrit’s hang in the balance, but the whole of Bingtown itself.

To begin, I have to say that this novel was a mixed bag for me – and in many ways (and for several reasons), was quite a disappointment. Although Mad Ship began with a bang and had quite a compelling and engaging start, I felt that it all quickly tapered off into an abyss of repetition. Upon approaching around the midway mark, things became bogged down and heavy. The characters kept saying the same things over and over – the writing became redundant – the natural flow and evolution of the story, for me, came to a halt. There were times when Hobb would go on and on about a particular topic, stretching out what could have been said in two paragraphs into a few chapters. Because of the overall slowness of the plot and story, there were several occasions where continuing felt more like a duty, rather than an enjoyment.

Another issue I had, was the imbalance of time given to each character. Through-out the novel, chapters would switch between characters and their situations, giving the reader a lot to take in. This was great – until suddenly a character and their story would simply vanish. By the time the character was mentioned again (many chapters later), my interest level had dropped. This really killed the experience. Another fault, was the disjointed story. For instance, while the conclusion was actually quite interesting and enjoyable, it lacked a connection with the rest of the novel. Looking back at the majority of Mad Ship, the reading experience was quite strange. About three quarters of it was this long, drawn out soap opera (complete with bitter, whiny characters), and yet suddenly, there was this intriguing fantasy piece pasted in at the end. It was all a bit odd, and for me, the flow of the novel felt broken.

Finally, at least in the complaint department, was the lack of description. Though I admit, I am a sucker for lush, flowery, poetic writings that paint surreal and vivid pictures, I don’t really think that’s the issue here. As a person whom’ is familiar with Hobb’s work (and enjoy most of what I’ve read), I didn’t come in expecting floods of archaic depictions. Instead, I expected the comfortable, Hobb-esque styled writing that I’ve grown to enjoy. Unfortunately however, the further I progressed into the novel, the stronger my disappointment grew with the actual writing itself. For whatever reason, it seemed as though Hobb had acquired a severe case of “tell rather than show” when writing Mad Ship, and instead of describing the events – and describing the situation and surroundings – actually painting the picture – it was all very simplistic and dull. Person A did this; person B did that; this happened; that happened. I’m not sure what was going on here, but the style was so dry that I actually felt like falling asleep. Where was the artistic element?

Though my experience with Mad Ship, wasn’t nearly as positive as expected, I can’t say that all was a amiss. While I certainly didn’t enjoy the characters as much as I did with the Farseer trilogy, there was still a great deal of unexpected development – especially from characters I never really cared for from the previous installment. For instance, there was Malta, who’s evolution was both realistic and intriguing. Hobb did an excellent job transitioning her from little girl to young woman, and by the end of Mad Ship, I began to feel a sort of sympathy for her – one that I could never quite obtain because of her childish, bratty attitude.  Reyn (Malta’s destined husband), was also a pleasant surprise, as he began to show a new, more relateable side. Lastly, but certainly not least, was Kennit. Though he had already grown on me by the end of “Ship of Magic,” the growing continued through-out this entire novel, and strangely, Captain Kennit has gradually evolved into one of my favorite characters of the series thus far. His complex and conflicting personality was a refreshing element that added a much needed realism (and humanity, though a darker form) to the novel.

With that said (and I hate to say it), Mad Ship for me, was an overall disappointment. While there were a handful of moments, especially toward the end, there was far too much filler, and the slow moving plot made reading this 800 + page novel more of a chore than anything. From the disjointed story, to the lack of description, to the over-all lack of progression — Mad Ship failed to ever really pull me in. Though I truly consider myself to be a fan of Hobb, and will forever adore her Farseer trilogy, I plan to take a break from her later works to read something a bit lighter of heart — for there’s only so much one can take in the realm of misery and politics (at least for me). When going into a fantasy novel, I expect certain things — and in this case, almost none of those things were met.

Though Mad Ship for me was clear a disappointment, I can’t and won’t say that it should be avoided, especially if one has already connected with the characters. Besides, my opinion is just that, and in the grand scheme of things, we all know what they say about opinions! So, with that said, if you’ve read the first installment and enjoyed it — then by all means, continue on. The characters are still here; the idea is still in place; the live-ships and serpents are aplenty. But if you’re looking for the same heart, soul, and intrigue that graced the pages of “Ship of Magic,” then there’s a fair chance that you won’t find it here — at least to the same extent. Instead, you may find the same bleak, gray, slow moving world I discovered when delving into this tome sized novel. Overall, this experience wasn’t a positive one. I was expecting so much more, and Mad Ship simply failed to deliver.



(2 out of 5)

Read Full Post »

“Ship of Magic” by Robin Hobb is the first novel in the Liveship Traders –  a trilogy that follows the plight of the Vestrits, a family of Live Ship traders in the fictional city of Bingtown. The story begins slowly, progressively weaving a tale of the struggles a once solid family must face after the death of Captain Vestrit. After his passing upon the decks of his beloved Vivacia,  the ship has suddenly reached its completion and is “quickened” – or in other words, is brought to life. Here lays the real drama of the story, as upon hearing the Captains will, daughter Althea is stunned to discover that the Vivacia has not in fact been passed to her as once assumed – but to her arrogant and selfish brother-in-law, Kyle. Horrified for the Liveship and the fate of everyone on it, Althea sets out on a mission to regain what she had lost. Her Liveship. This then leads to an adventurous story of betrayal, death, politics, and a whole lot of drama.

Upon reading the description of “Ship of Magic,” I wasn’t exactly sold on the idea of a Liveship – a ship of which is indeed alive in almost all aspects.  This includes speaking, moving, thinking, etc. So in other words, it’s a talking ship. I’m not entirely sure why, but the idea itself was a bit of a turn off, as I assumed it would seem rather corny. Shortly after however, I began to ask myself, “why is that? I enjoy fairies and elves..and almost any other type of mythological creature, why not a talking ship? Surely if I can enjoy hobbits I can enjoy this? ”  After getting into the novel, and within just a few chapters, the idea of a Liveship became perfectly acceptable and the the ship itself became a fascinating character. That of course, I thought to myself after coming to this realization, is the magic of Robin Hobb. Not only does she have a true talent for creating characters, but she even has the power to turn a ship –  a boat made of wood into a relatable and interesting persona. That didn’t really surprise me.

As well as the Vivacia, each other character in this novel was unique and believable. From the determined Althea, daughter of captain Vestrit; to Wintrow son of Kyle who was sent away to live as a priest – all of their stories and situations drew me in and held my interest, at least for the most part. While I connected with each character by the end, and Hobb once again truly shined when it came to creating and developing real-life characters, I had a bit of trouble when it came to Captain Kennit – a pirate on a search for a live ship. For whatever reason, connecting with his character was difficult, and I often had  little desire to even read the chapters focused on him. His character and story simply didn’t interest me. Luckily however, once I hit the halfway mark his situation changed drastically, and I was able to fully grasp his role as a character. At this point, I began to enjoy him as much as the others. Out of all the characters however, I have to say that Wintrow was by far my favorite. Not only was his back-story interesting, but the conflict of being both a priest and a sailor was incredibly realistic, and I felt myself connected to his character on an emotional level.

Aside from the unique characters, I also enjoyed the story itself – but that isn’t to say it is without problems. The biggest issue for me was the pacing. For the first 300 or so pages, I was completely immersed within the story, and couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next. The family element alone had me – and the conflicts the characters were facing completely drew me in. However, over time it began to wear a bit thin, and I started to crave for more. In truth, I in no way expected a traditional slash em’ up type of fantasy from Hobb – I’m familiar enough with her work to know better – but at a certain point it all became a bit tiring. Though I will say, my experience was a bit strange. Nearly each time I had a chance to read more, I was excited to continue – but in many cases ended up feeling a sense of disappointment.  So in other words, this novel relied heavily on anticipation,  but it took a long time getting to where it was going. Once everything panned out it was well worth it, and as I reached the end I was completely glued to the pages, but there were definitely a handful of slow areas.

Overall, this was an interesting read. The plot was unique, the characters were incredibly realistic, and the story (while slow in areas) was well worth my time. Not only did I enjoy the route the story took, but the ending, much like her previous work, changed everything for the characters. After reaching the final page, I was completely impressed by how things turned out – and while it certainly didn’t end on a joyous note, I’m happy to report that it wasn’t nearly as depressing as her previous work in the Farseer Trilogy. I also found it quite interesting to look back at all the small decisions that the characters, and how they were affected by them. Everything in the end fit fit together, and every small detail that had happened created a sort of “perfect storm.”  All in all, “Ship of Magic” by Robin Hobb is a good start to a trilogy I’m looking forward to completing. While I can’t necessarily recommend this to just anyone – even fantasy fans in general, I can say that if you like personal drama along with great writing, or if you like ships,  you may enjoy this.  If you also enjoyed the Farseer Trilogy, then you’ll probably like this as well.  Just keep in mind however, that if you’re looking for something full of sword fighting action, you won’t find it here.


(3 and 1/2 out of 5)

Read Full Post »