The previous books I reviewed by the author are as usual linked to the covers below. The review show how I happened to start reading the author’s books and where I am at in terms of emotional commitment before you venture onto this review. I did enjoy writing the review of the first book in the series Ship of Magic and I highly recommend you jump to that one (also linked below) before checking this one out. I have conveniently made sure that it opens on to a new page so that it would be easier to navigate if you are interested in coming back.
This book is all about the characters, the people and their ever-changing facets. I began the book stubborn in my belief that my prejudices due to their earlier behaviour will see me through the entire book. I was proved wrong on multiple counts. I had to mentally apologize to these fictitious characters for under or over estimating them as well as personally maligning their character (although their behaviour early on had given me enough fuel for this tirade in the first place)
In order to do something at least slightly different and in order to let me talk at length about each of these people without giving away too much of the story I will deal with them individually.
First and foremost has to be Malta. The niece, daughter and granddaughter of traders, she has never felt the burden on her shoulders like in this installment. I went from wanting to throttle her to sing her praises.She is probably one of the few people who move from background to foreground pretty decidedly. Do watch out for her. Her brother Selden also does grow and I now have high hopes for him in the next book (I may never learn from my mistakes)
Her mother and Grandmother: Both of these women, as a unit as well as individually play pivotal roles in building the ambience for the future to actually exist in their own lives.
Wintrow: He is probably the most wretched of the lot which is saying something (we will be moving to his aunt Althea soon). His is a story best left for the pages to tell.
Kennit is a man I changed opinions on multiple times in this book, the aspiring pirate king is bonding with the liveship and that may not be in anyone’s best interests.
Althea,Brashen and Amber each take very different routes to land up with the Mad Ship-Paragon. He may not be mad after all because the serpents reveal more to us in this second part. There are more references to the Elderlings and dragons (throwback to the third book of the farseer trilogy) but that was to be expected. There are so many vitally important people lined to each of the above mentioned individuals but that just shows how tightly the intricate webs are woven and how reliant this story is on the textured and vibrant people who strive towards their own goals in their own ways but sometimes coexist in the same frame.
I loved the first book and this second brought back the feeling on the first. This does not mean that there is smooth sailing (sailing..get it?) throughout. There are brutal people who behave abominably and some of the physical trauma is too descriptive for my taste but it is a story of pirates and plunder so maybe it was to be expected. I would not recommend this to anyone who cannot stomach such details because it would throw a pall over the rest of the book.