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
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.
"[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)
I'd never read or listened to anything by these authors and wasn't sure what to expect. The Alchemist was a good enough story, rather forgettable tho, but the Executioness was fantastic! The narrator had a lot to do with this, she was fantastic and I hope to hear more of her in the future. The story was more interesting - at least to me - as well and I think would expand into a much larger stand-alone book quite easily.
Recommend only for current sci-fi readers.
Puzzled I bought it actually; I usually read classics.
So three stars for me.
No thank you. I only make rare forays into sci-fi and then mostly
BEM (Bug-Eyed Monsters).
The reading was quite well done and allowed me to carve while listening to a story.
I have no idea.
Thank you for your efforts to present this book.
Enjoying audiobooks daily!
Yes. I would recommend this to a fantasy or sci-fi lover.
Both were good narrations from what I remember.
I think I would.
This is a two part book written from the POV of two characters. Interesting.
Two short stories, two authors and two narrators, with one shared fantasy world between them. The first, The Alchemist, shows that the combination of great writing and great narration can make a story much more entertaining than it actually deserves. It also sets up the second story, The Executioness, which I found less entertaining but more thought provoking, showing many parallels to our own world. Both felt shallow though, missing something. Both are good but not great. This would need to get fleshed out into a full sized book, preferably by the Paolo Bacigalupi/Jonathan Davis team.
I felt the stories were a bit short, and both Paulo and Tobias' style seems to be to immerse the reader into the plot without much background. I found myself confused over certain names of places and other components used in the story that framed the alchemist and executioness' setting.
Just too short of a story to get as complicated as they did. That said, I started to get into The Alchemist about 6 chapters in, and finished it. But I could not bring myself to keep paying attention to the Executioness.
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.
The Alchemist and the Executioness never meet. It's a good story, but it lacks a satisfying ending. It left me frustrated.
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!
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.
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