Sentient ships, pirates and serpents…

Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders, #1)
by Robin Hobb

“Far down the rugged coast from Fitz’s home in Buckkeep is the city of Bingtown, home to the Liveship Traders. Liveships are literally named: after three generations of sailors die on their decks, they “quicken,” becoming sentient beings with all the memories of their deceased family. Althea Vestrit was certain that her father would leave their ship, Vivacia, to her—but he doesn’t, passing it on to his elder daughter, Keffria, for her Chalcedean husband Kyle to command.“

https://www.tor.com/2019/06/07/assassins-pirates-or-dragons-where-to-start-with-the-work-of-robin-hobb/

And that is where the trouble starts. Kyle does not understand what a liveship truly is and has antiquated ideas about the role of women.

I approached this book with a lot of trepidation, as I didn‘t finish The Farseer Trilogy. Assassin’s Apprentice was too much of a coming-of-age story, focused on one person. And it was depressing. I finished, but never picked up the sequel. Which is a bummer, as it seems to be Hobb‘s most beloved character. My review

This one here is very much a coming of age story as well, at least for Althea, Wintrow and Vivacia. But I liked the world much better, with its sailors, pirates, conscious ships and the mysterious Rain Wild Traders (already looking forward to the Rain Wild Chronicles). The various port cities were fun to read about. The „whaling“ ship and it‘s trip to its hunting destination was really well drawn. And the descriptions of the slave trade and the slaver ships were fascinating as well. Having the different characters on different paths and plots really gave Hobb ann excellent opportunity to show off the Cursed Shores. 

Althea really is a spoilt brat at first. Things happen. Wintrow was not love at first side either, but he started to grow on me. Those two are probably my favourite characters. Although Kennit, Amber and Paragon developed nicely as well along the course of this doorstopper. I am really looking forward to all of their continued adventures in The Mad Ship. I feel really invested in the liveship Vivacia as well and so hope that she will have a HEA at the end of the third book…

The plot developed slowly, but that is to be expected in a book of nearly 900 pages, followed by two equally hefty tomes… Patience was needed—something in short supply for me when reading books. I want a speedy plot and action. But here it didn‘t really bother me all that much. I knew I was in for the long haul, with 2689 pages across 3 books. And I really became invested in the lives of the characters—as opposed to the Farseer Triolgy, where I didn‘t really care all that much. 

Not so fun:
The questing serpents were really odd parts of the narrative from the start, I enjoyed their chapters the least. But I guess they really are serving some greater purpose.
And Malta really annoyed me. I think I know what is in store for her, including a very rude awakening. I hope it will make her a better person.

The secret of how liveships are made and where their wizardwood comes from will hopefully be revealed eventually. I also hope that something will come of that wooden pendant that Althea received from Amber!

Well done, Ms. Hobb. I can‘t promise to read everything—I might make a wide turn around Fitz—but for now I am at least partially sold… 

Here’s an interesting article by Molly Templeton, on Tor.com, about the different series and where to start (yes, I stole that sentence and link from Hobb‘s homepage). But careful, the article is full of spoilers! I stopped reading it after the first paragraph about the Rain Wild series, as I want to read that after this trilogy. Dragons!?

Swashbuckling fun

Sorry for the long break in posts. I am back from my holiday and the first week back at work was busy. I mostly watched TV in the evenings. I also finished another of my books for the StoryGraph Reading Randomizer challenge. It‘s been a really useful challenge so far, helping me to regularly and easily pick from my TBR pile of owned books.

The Iron Duke (Iron Seas, #1)
by Meljean Brook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Officially marketed as PNR, but much more steampunk-pirates-zombie-swashbuckling fun. 

Alternate history, where the mongol hordes continued their advance through Europe and had something extra to help them along. England was conquered and subdued, until the Iron Duke freed it. Our MC, Mina, is a police inspector at Scotland Yard, dealing with a murder. She crosses his path and together they have to solve a conspiracy and save England again.

When picking this up, I feared that there would be a huge amount of silly PNR, but luckily this was more adventure yarn than silly romance. Don‘t get me wrong, romance can be a lot of fun. But PNR has this tendency of being peopled with especially stupid characters. Anyhow, this was not it. There was some of the required drama at the end and some over-the-top sex with that big member and with slightly dubious-consent issues. I just blinked and kept going. 

Good plot, a speedily told adventure story, good world building, believable characters, a slightly different take on Steampunk keeping it interesting — the nanotech is a nice addition. Loved the parts on the air and sea ships, although this London was well rendered as well.

Excellent brain candy! I had fun.

Normally I would say that I will continue with the next book in the series, Heart of Steel, but it centers around Yasmeen, a character of this book that I didn‘t particularly like and that I am not all that interested in. I would definitely try something else by the author though.

Other books read, containing stories by Meljean Brook

Must Love Hellhounds (Sookie Stackhouse, #9.2; Guild Hunter, #0.5; Kate Daniels, #3.5; The Guardians, #5.5)
by Charlaine HarrisNalini SinghIlona AndrewsMeljean Brook

Read in 2011. I don‘t remember anything of this story, but must have liked this at the time. It‘s part of The Guardian series. Angels were never my thing, even back in the day when I still regularly and obsessively read UF and PNR. Hence I picked another series by the author to explore her writing further.

The job was simple: find her boss’s niece, bring her home safely, and hand out a whole lot of pain to whoever had abducted her. But Maggie hadn’t counted on her boss’s nephew, the hellhound who loved to make her life difficult, or her own past rearing its complicated and ugly head.“ — https://meljeanbrook.com/books/the-guardian-series/must-love-hellhounds/

The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance
by Trisha Telep

Read in 2015. This is what I noted down back then:

Very good, 5 stars:
Paranormal Romance Blues, Kelley Armstrong (vampires, demons) – FUN!
John Doe, Anna Windsor (angels) – I don’t like angels, but this was a positive surprise.
The Tuesday Enchantress, Mary Jo Putney (guardians) – very entertaining, good sense of humour, I might get something longer by this author.
Trinity Blue, Eve Silver (demons, sorceres) – fun! I want to read more of this.
Night Vision, Maria V. Snyder (light bender): fun as well. The heroine is blind in daylight and has absolute vision at night. Refreshing idea.
Pack, Jeaniene Frost (werewolves): excellent werewolve story. Likeable characters. Reads like the first chapter of a book I want to finish reading.
Blue Crush, A Weather Warden story, Rachel Caine (djinn, mermen) – fabulous, loved it. Snark, humour, great characters from the get-go. I was fully immersed in the story right from the start. Taking a break right now to finally read that first book of the Weather Warden series.

Good, 4 stars:
Grace of small magics, Ilona Andrews (revenants, magic battle) – slow build-up, too fast ending, but entertaining.
Temptation of Robin Green, Carrie Vaughn (selkies, vampires, the lot…) – nice, nothing earth shattering
Daniel, C. T. Adams and Cathy Clamp (vampires) – Generally not a bad plot, but the story had a very abrupt ending.
Pele’s tears, Catherine Mulvaney (gods, alternate reality): Instalove, nicely written, characters I could easily relate to, story not terribly exciting, but a nice idea.
Blood Song, Lynda Hilburn (vampires, magical healing powers) – Fun, neat plot idea, a little simplistic, but might be tempted to try more by the author.
The Princess and the Peas, Alyssa Day (fae, fairytales) – complete and utter fluff, with a princess, some fae and a little humour.
In Sheep’s Clothing, Meljean Brook (werewolves) – pretty decent werewolf story. Nothing earth shattering, but I already have one of her books on my shelf to check her out further.

Ok, 3 stars:
Taking Hold, Anya Bast (werewolves) – good plot idea, sounds like it could be an interesting series. Reminds me a bit of Patrica Briggs. But I did not like the tone of the writing very much.
Light through Fog, Holly Lisle (alternate universes) – a little too sweet for my taste.
Once A Demon, Dina James (demons, vampires): nice plot idea, but the characters were a little wooden. Nothing earth shattering.
When Gargoyles fly, Lori Devoti (gargoyles) – the initial idea, a woman waking up a gargoyle, is not bad. But the plot has a twist that feels rushed and not believable. And Instalove is not my thing.
The Lighthouse Keeper and His Wife, Sara Mackenzie (gods, alternate timeline) – the lighthouse keeper gets a second chance.
The Dream Catcher, Allyson James (mind reading, wish fulfillment) – unusual idea, not badly written. But a bit too shallow for my taste, too sweet and characters that are too black and white. Plus Instalove.

Not for me, skimmed, 1-2 stars:
Succubus Seduction, Cheyenne McCray (succubi, faeries) – the plot was daft, the characters were silly, too much saccharine.
How to Date a Superhero, Jean Johnson (superheros) – a lot of talking, not much happening, not interested in those superheroes.
At Second Bite, Michelle Rowen (vampires) – not badly written, but it rubbed me the wrong way. Very cliched. And a man that does not like women has to be gay… Really?
The Wager, A Lords of Avalon story, Sherrilyn Kenyon writing as Kinley MacGregor (Merlin) – ramble, ramble, ramble, nothing happening, DNF. Must remember to never again buy anything by this author. Was underwhelmed by her novels, too.

Last, but not least, have a holiday photo!