It is a pleasure to read fantasy which has broken free of the conventional medieval European-esque setting and cast its sights a bit wider. In this case by creating an Indian inspired setting which is very refereshing. The work contains an environmental message which thankfully does not detract from the quality of the two stories presented. Previous works by Niven and Pournelle (Burning City et al) have explored magic as a non renewable resource while this work takes a more modern environmental approach and deals with the impact that sustained magic use would have on the biosphere. The description of magic use is very visceral involving more senses than simply sight and sound with a great deal of its impact revolving around its smell and the memories that this evokes in the characters.
The two stories are uneven in both quality of writing and narration with the Alchemist performing excellently on both fronts while the Executioness performs strongly, many parts of it are genuinely good even, but not quite reaching the same level. Both stories are better by far than the bulk of recent mainstream fantasy and the shared world building excercise has created a setting of real value which I hope that either or both of the authors return to.
Importantly the price is right (in both time and money). The risk to reward ratio is very favourable so I urge you to give it a try.
I enjoy reading many books genres. But I love listening to fantasy books.
I bought this audiobook when it was on sale, not knowing what to expect. It was wonderful. Two stories set in the same world with two main characters facing the same social problem. The narrators are perfect too. Highly recommended.
I purchased this title because it was discounted and seemed like it might be entertaining. I am so glad I gave it a try. The world is very well realized and the reading is wonderful with nuance and inflection. I purposely save this to listen too as I use my elliptical machine because it makes me want to exercise just to listen to this story and I frequently go past my allotted time just to keep listening. A very nice change to the standard fantasy that is out there right now, no vampires or werewolves in sight.
Thoroughly enjoyed both stories and the world the authors created. Even though both stories are set in the same world the Point of View of each protagonist expands and develops it. I particularly like the stance Buckell takes with The Executioness. So many stories have middle aged rugged men being heroic and doing what has to be done. The Executionist is a middle-aged rugged woman being heroic and not once does her appearance take centre stage. Hurrah!
These two stories were well written and the readers were quite good. The world the authors created is intriguing and would make a good setting for a longer novel. The only quibble I have was that it was a little unsatisfying that the two stories didn't tie into each other and the first one had such a pessimistic outcome. It would have been fun to see what would happen if the two protagonists met.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
The protagonist in the Alchemist was so naive about the state of the world that I wanted to shake him a little bit. And it was clear that the author wanted you to think that it was a horrible thing that the Jolly Mayor was killing people...
But I guess that's the world we live in - each of us has the right to piss in the water, making it toxic for everyone else. What do we care as long as we make sure we get "our fair share" to use for our own family's benefit and so what if it destroys someone else's family?? We can't see them, we don't care about them.
I guess I'm in the minority... if I live in a world that has a specific set of rules, whether or not I agree with them, I should be expected to follow them and would like to believe that everyone else should have to follow them too.
The Exectioness: Woman seeks revenge for the stealing of her children. Does it matter if her kids were "stolen" for their own benefit, or for the betterment of the world in general? Oh, right, nobody else has the right to interfer with our autonomy, even if that autonomy is destroying other people's lives.
I guess someone will always say, "who gets to choose who is right?"
Both stories are very interesting and well-narrated.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
This book contains two slightly-connected stories set in the same vaguely Near Eastern fantasy world.
Bacigalupi's piece, "The Alchemist", is the real gem of the pair, an eloquent parable on what has to be sacrificed to deal with an environmental catastrophe caused by human short-sightedness. The story is readable for its dark twist and the moral question at its heart, as well as its even-handed, credible character voice. At least a 4 star story.
Buckell's piece, "The Executioness", a story about a middle-aged woman who discovers her inner hero, treads standard fantasy ground. I found it enjoyable enough to justify the purchase, but not especially memorable. More of a 3 star story.
This story was full of wonderfully imaginative ideas; well developed, unique characters; and an overall great plot that sucked me in right away. I highly recommend this download.
A Sci Fi junkie who occasionally goes slumming to read other literature.
Two fun stories set in a world where magic is forbidden and a dangerous bramble has destroyed the land.
I really liked the dilemma of bramble. Bramble sprouts as a result of using magic. Even though everyone knows it, individuals still use it, justifying their needs for magic despite the effect it has on their society. This tension between the needs/wants of the individual and that of society as a whole is such a fascinating element to the story.
Both narrators evoke such emotion in their reading, I was mesmerized by the pictures they painted in my head. I felt that Jonathan Davis read a little too slowly for my tastes, but he still did a great job.
Yes, but I don't want to spoil it for everyone else. I was drawn into the characters as they struggle with their moral quandary- what begins as a very clear right/wrong situation becomes much more complicated as the stories develop. I really wanted the story to continue to explore this. I just wasn't ready for these stories to end, they were that good!