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The Alchemist and the Executioness | [Paolo Bacigalupi, Tobias S. Buckell]

The Alchemist and the Executioness

It is a world where magic is forbidden – yet practiced in secret every day. But each small act of magic exacts a dreadful price – for it brings the bramble, which chokes farmland, destroys villages, and kills with its deadly thorns. In this world an alchemist believes he’s found a solution to the curse. But will the cure be worse than the disease? And a woman is forced to take up the mantle of her father, the Executioner. But it will not be the only death that she faces.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Two acclaimed science fiction authors bring us two separate stories about magic and its consequences in the shared fantasy world of Khaim.

Magic exists and is available to all, but every use of it produces the dreaded bramble, a poisonous plant that kills any human who touches it. In the bramble-choked lands of Khaim and Lesser Khaim magic is outlawed, and anyone caught practicing it does so at the risk of facing the executioner. The people live in poverty and fear — fear of bramble, of the Jolly Mayor who controls the people with the executioner's axe, and fear of the raiders of Paika, who slaughter their men and kidnap their children.

The Alchemist, written by award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi and narrated by the estimable Jonathan Davis, grounds us in this shared world with the story of Jeoz the Alchemist, who has committed his life to finding a way to eradicate the bramble once and for all. Through 15 years, the death of his wife, and his daughter's illness, Jeoz has persevered. He experiments in secret, lest he be caught bringing Bramble inside the city walls. If he succeeds in his trials with his invention, the balanthast, he will surely be a hero. But power and politics may stand between the balanthast and humanity's salvation.

Those familiar with Jonathan Davis' narration will not be surprised by his evocative performance here. The desperate but gentle Jeoz, his charming daughter Jiala, the pitiless Magister Scacz — Bacigalupi's varied cast is voiced with Davis' usual convincing care.

Best-selling novelist Tobias Buckell gives us The Executioness, the story of Tana, the executioner's daughter — a middle-aged mother of two whose entire life is thrown into upheaval with the swing of an axe. When she is forced to stand in for her father she earns the title of the Executioness, a name which will follow her when her children are taken by Paikan raiders and she alone must find them.

Narrator Katherine Kellgren brings an exotic flavor to her performance of Tana's tale with a fantasy dialect, perhaps inspired by the spice road that the Caravan travels. Kellgren's performance makes the dialog ring true in a way that a less creative narration might not.

The two stories are vastly different in tone. The Alchemist is a darker fantasy, where magic is so prominent it is nearly a character in the story, while The Executioness eschews magic and intrigue in favor of action and adventure. Both are rich tales performed by gifted narrators. You won't find The Alchemist and The Executioness in print--it is an Audible.com exclusive, and one you'll want to listen to again. —Christie Yant

Publisher's Summary

It is a world where magic is forbidden – yet practiced in secret every day. But each small act of magic exacts a dreadful price – for it brings the bramble, which chokes farmland, destroys villages, and kills with its deadly thorns. In this world, an alchemist believes he’s found a solution to the curse. But will the cure be worse than the disease? And a woman is forced to take up the mantle of her father, the Executioner. But it will not be the only death that she faces.

Available exclusively in audio, The Alchemist and the Executioness is the unique collaborative effort of two leading science fiction authors, Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell. Working together for the first time, the authors stepped out of their comfort zone (both primarily write science fiction) to delve into fantasy, producing these linked stories that share the same captivating world.

About the Authors

Paolo Bacigalupi is the author of the Nebula Award-winning novel The Windup Girl. His short fiction has been honored with the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award as well as nominations for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

Tobias S. Buckell is the New York Times best-selling author of Halo: The Cole Protocol, Ragamuffin, and other novels. He is also a contributor to the Audible production of METAtropolis.

BONUS AUDIO: Includes an exclusive introduction written and read by the authors.

©2010 Paolo Bacigalupi, Tobias S. Buckell (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Audie Award Nominee - Best Original Work, 2011

"[Bacigalupi's] bite-sized tale is charming, lyrically written, and thematically rich....Fantasy fans will love [Buckell's] lush narrative and... endearing and unconventional heroine." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.6 (735 )
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3.8 (354 )
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4.0 (355 )
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Diane Burbank, WA, United States 10-12-10
    Diane Burbank, WA, United States 10-12-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
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    363
    13
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    1
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    Overall
    "How bad can a book be?"

    I have 125 audiobooks from audible and have to tell you, this is by far the worst. I've been disappointed in books before but never like this. It's mindless babble. This is not writing, it's typing. Wish I had my money back. Don't waste yours.

    1 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daniel J. Baldwin Rialto, CA United States 09-06-10
    Daniel J. Baldwin Rialto, CA United States 09-06-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    18
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Needs an ending"

    The Alchemist and the Executioness never meet. It's a good story, but it lacks a satisfying ending. It left me frustrated.

    0 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean West Palm Beach, FL, United States 08-23-10
    Sean West Palm Beach, FL, United States 08-23-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    18
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    8
    4
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    Overall
    "Not good"

    I hate to disagree with all the nice reviewers, but I found "The Alchemist" unlistenable. Basically, the main character has as much common sense as a horse's patoot. Maybe he improves later in the book, but I can't sympathize with him.
    Also, the author took a chapter to say what most could say in a couple of paragraphs. Bah!

    1 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Codearray USA 10-10-10
    Codearray USA 10-10-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
    ratings
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    47
    5
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    0
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    Overall
    "Not my kind of book"

    I'm not sure why I bought this, I guess a change of subject. You might like this book if your into this.

    0 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Heather Angwin, CA, United States 10-05-10
    Heather Angwin, CA, United States 10-05-10 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    12
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    Overall
    "Disjointed"

    Basically these are two stories that take place in the same world but the two stories never connect to each other. The Alchemist is a pretty pointless story and doesn't really come to a conclusion. You'll think they will come back to the ending - they won't. The writing isn't very good either. The Executioness was exciting and well-written. It doesn't really have an ending either but much more acceptable than the first book. It's neat to hear a bad ass woman fighting story. So if you really want to enjoy it, just skip to the second book. Honestly, you'll find so much better fantasy out there than this book though. Oh yes, and the second book's narrator is much better too.

    0 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane 09-24-10
    Diane 09-24-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    170
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    153
    105
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    Overall
    "Too Make Believe for me"

    This book seemed like it should be an abridgement because it was so difficult to understand that I was certain I was missing part of the story. It's really odd. Two authors got together, I think, and just went so make believe that I couldn't connect. I didn't like it but I typically like science fiction but this was not well written - seems thrown together and not easy to understand.

    0 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Esther Tumon, GU, United States 09-16-10
    Esther Tumon, GU, United States 09-16-10 Member Since 2009
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    1
    Overall
    "Not impressed"

    I appreciate the fact that the authors tried to create a female hero but the story was not impressive. I had to force myself to finish listening, and came to conclusion that it was just a waste of time. The fantasy was deflated and I was glad when it was over.

    0 of 7 people found this review helpful
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