I have read a lot of fantasy in my time and it is rare to come across a story that is truly original. The world Robin Hobb has created in this series ..Show More »is unlike any I've seen, the magic is subtle and the characters are alive. After reading the Farseer trilogy (also by Robin Hobb), I couldn't wait to get my hands on more of her books. This one was as good, if not better. The characters Robin creates are real people, they don't always behave the way you expect them to, they make mistakes and they evolve based on what has happened to them. None of the characters are completely good or completely evil, and they don't fit into classic stereotypes. This series is actually placed in the same world as the Farseer trilogy and there are a few subtle ties to that story (which is fun if you've read it). If you find you like Robin Hobb's style, you should really consider listening to her works in order. Each trilogy stands alone, but is made better if read in the right order. Start with the Farseer trilogy, next is the Liveship Traders, then the Tawny Man, and finally the Rainwild chronicles. If on the other hand, you are only going to read one set...read this one. It is impossible to stop listening until you've reached the end.
In my review of Ship of Magic, I wrote that it was "80% set-up and 20% interesting fantasy." This book really springboards off of that set-up work and..Show More » brings the interesting fantasy to the forefront. All of the various threads start to weave together and the connections keep the story moving.
Once again centered on the Vestrit family, this book skips most of the tiring squabbles that dominated book one and instead brings the fantasy world to life. The details of the Rain Wilds, the future of Bingtown, and the fate of the dragons dominate the story telling and keep things entertaining. Once the facts start to be revealed, you will not look at the liveships in the same way anymore.
All the main characters are back including Malta. Although she was selfish and immature in book one, she abruptly morphs into a young adult with a decent understanding of how the complex world around her works. I feel she changed far too abruptly, but it was a welcome change since the family fighting really dragged down the first book.
Anne Flosnik is once again the narrator and provides more of the same. Like her or not, I see no reason your opinion of her narration from book one will change with book two. If you finished Ship of Magic and wanted to know more about the characters, as well as the dragons, serpents, and liveships, then you should definitely pick this one up. Of course, being the middle book of a trilogy much is left unresolved at the end, so you will need to go one step further for true resolution.
Now this is purely a personal view, and many people may have a totally different perception, but for me, Anne's voice nearly prevented me from listeni..Show More »ng to the trilogy. The first 10 minutes of book 1 and I was nearly up the wall with the swishy voice, just listen to a sample and you will see what I mean.
By the second book I found I didn't notice it most of the time, and by the third book I played a sample for my daughter (in her late 20's) and she exclaimed in dismay that she could never listen this series.
OK, just MHO. The books themselves are so incredibly brilliant that the narrator was worth putting up with.
This is a fairly easy book to recommend because if you are reading this review then chances are you found the first 2 books entertaining. Know that th..Show More »is is the best of the three and you can pick it up without hesitation. If you haven't read the first 2 books then you should not start here as many things will not make sense to you.
Overall I enjoyed the series, especially the story surrounding the dragons, wizardwood, and the live ships. It was definitely interesting and unique fantasy fare. The first book started a little slow and introduced many disjointed story threads. The second book picked up the pace and started to bring the threads together. And finally, the third book converged all of the story lines to end an age and usher in a new one. It all concludes nicely at the end so continuing on to Robin Hobb's next series about the Rain Wilds is purely optional.
Anne Flosnik is still the narrator and her performance here is consistent with the first 2 books.