In the second breathtaking volume of Robin Hobb's Liveship Traders trilogy, a new tide of glory and terror sweeps forward the story of the Vestrit clan, their liveship Vivacia, and all who strive to possess her.As the ancient tradition of Bingtown's Old Traders slowly erodes under the cold new order of a corrupt ruler, the Vestrits anxiously await the return of their liveship--a rare magic ship carved from sentient wizardwood, which bonds the ships mystically with those who sail them. And Althea Vestrit waits even more avidly, living only to reclaim the ship as her lost inheritance and captain her on the high seas. But the Vivacia has been seized by the ruthless pirate captain Kennit, who holds Althea's nephew and his father hostage. Althea and her onetime sea mate Brashen resolve to liberate the liveship--but their plan may prove more dangerous than leaving the Vivacia in Kennit's ambitious grasp....
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December 31, 1998
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Excerpt from Mad Ship by Robin Hobb
The Liveship Ophelia
Althea's watch was over; her time was now her own. She was tired, but pleasantly so. The spring afternoon had been almost balmy. It was rare for the season to be this kindly and Althea had enjoyed it. The Ophelia herself had been in an expansive mood all day. The liveship had made the sailors' tasks easy, moving northward toward home with a will. She was a ponderous old cog, now heavy with goods from a successful trading journey. The early evening wind was gentle rather than brisk, but Ophelia's sails caught every breath of it. She slid effortlessly through the waves. Althea leaned on the forward rail, watching the beginning of the sunset off the port bow. Home was only a few days away.
"Mixed feelings " Ophelia asked her with a throaty chuckle. The buxom figurehead gave her a knowing glance over her bared shoulder.
"You know you are right," Althea conceded. "About everything. Nothing in my life makes sense anymore." She began to tick her confusions off on her fingers. "Here I am, serving as first on a liveship merchant vessel, about the highest post a sailor can aspire to. Captain Tenira has promised me a ship's ticket out of this. It's all the proof I need that I am a competent sailor. With that credential, I can go home and press Kyle to keep his word, and give me back my ship. Yet, oddly enough, I feel guilty about it. You have made it so easy. I worked three times as hard when I was serving as ship's boy on the Reaper. It just doesn't seem right."
"I could make your tasks harder if you wish," Ophelia offered teasingly. "I could develop a list, or start taking on water or . . ."
"You wouldn't do that," Althea told her with certainty. "You're too proud of how well you sail. No. I do not wish my tasks to be harder. Nor do I regret my months aboard the Reaper. If nothing else, they proved to me that I could scramble. Serving aboard that hulk made me a better sailor, and showed me a side of sailing I had never seen before then. It wasn't a waste of time. It was time away from the Vivacia; that is where the rub is. Time lost forever." Althea's voice trailed away.