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The Tangled Lands

(Khaim Novellas #1-4)

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  1,491 ratings  ·  256 reviews
From award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias Buckell comes a fantasy novel told in four parts about a land crippled by the use of magic, and a tyrant who is trying to rebuild an empire—unless the people find a way to resist.

Khaim, The Blue City, is the last remaining city in a crumbled empire that overly relied upon magic until it
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published February 27th 2018 by Saga Press
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Cindy Yes, it includes both. All four novellas are inter-related and definitely look to be continued.…moreYes, it includes both. All four novellas are inter-related and definitely look to be continued. (less)
Nighteye Work for both I would say, mostly read adult and really like this and it was written as adult the first two if I understood right but it dosn't really…moreWork for both I would say, mostly read adult and really like this and it was written as adult the first two if I understood right but it dosn't really matter.(less)
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Average rating 3.60  · 
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 ·  1,491 ratings  ·  256 reviews

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Feb 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
The Tangled Lands by Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell is a fantasy read that is done a bit differently than normal books. When it was said in the synopsis that it takes place in four parts I wasn’t quite expecting four completely different stories. This really makes the book feel like reading a collection of novellas that all feature different characters but take place within the same fantasy world.

The four stories take place in Khaim, The Blue City, where a tyrant known as The Jolly Mayor
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

A couple things I didn’t realize when I first picked up The Tangled Lands: one, the world featured here was in fact introduced back around 2011 in the Khaim Novellas series, consisting of The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi and The Executioness by Tobias S. Buckell. Two, this book actually turned out to be an anthology of sorts, containing four short stories which include the aforementioned two novellas. All four pieces
Some of this I've read before. Good and interesting. But too dark for me to be completely enjoyable. Torture both physical and mental and usually fairly unnecessary. The world is fairly well thought out and the magic system feels consistent. Pretty strong use of female characters as well.
The Captain
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Ahoy there me mateys! I have loved Paolo Bacigalupi ever since I read the windup girl. So when I heard that he had co-written a book, I knew I had to pick it up. Just be aware that this is not one complete story but rather four interrelated short stories set in the same world. I am glad that me matey, Millie @ milliebotreads, warned me of this so I was prepared.

That said, I absolutely loved this book. The world and its magic is so very fascinating. Brambles are taking over the world and
Shelby M. (Read and Find Out)
I received a copy of this book for review from Wunderkind PR. All opinions are my own.

3ish stars overall. I'm not sure why it took so long for me to get back to this for review... Probably because I felt fairly neutral about it.

Here's the star break-down for each novella:

The Alchemist: 3 stars. This was my introduction to this world and the city of Khaim. I found the concept of the magic to be interesting, as well as the political machinations that we learned about. Though I liked the ideas, I
Alex Can Read
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This review first appeared on my blog.text

The Tangled Lands is made up of four distinct short stories, tied together by a common land and a common problem.Calling The Tangled Lands a novel is a bit misleading and left me somewhat disappointed in the end result. The four stories are loosely tied together by place and problem, but not character. Each story has distinct characters, and while each story was very good, the overall novel doesn't seem to have accomplished much. At the end of the book,
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
4 stars for incredible world building and writing. I’d read a review saying the story was ‘dark’ and indeed it is. It could also be dismissed as pessimistic or even a ‘simple’ story about people’s inability to stop polluting the earth-a common theme of this author. But it is more than that- about family ties, loss of ones land and livelihood, and cruelty to a person that then changes that person. The ending was hard and if the rest of the story (really 4 novellas by two authors) hadn’t been so ...more
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I liked this “green fantasy” / “eco fantasy” setting as a nice change from Bacigalupi’s usual “eco-dystopias”. In this world, magic is a resource and if you use it, you create pollution. Pollution that takes the shape of an invasive plant species that poisons humans into an endless sleep.

Nice idea. The 4 different short stories taking place in this world, however, were too repetitive. I enjoyed the old 2, back when I first read them. This book includes 2 new ones, which unfortunately were just
All Things Urban Fantasy
Review courtesy of All Things Urban Fantasy.

THE TANGLED LANDS is less a novel, than four interrelated novellas. Each part focuses on different characters working within Khaim, a city covered in deadly thorns and vines due to the overuse of magic. Khaim acts as the main character, setting, and antagonist throughout each novella. In Khaim, magic is deadly but corruption isn’t just found in tangled roots. It’s in the men the who wield power and that people who follow orders unconditionally.

Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting concept, but definitely very underwhelmingly executed. This book is actually four standalone novellas, which don't really build on each other or expand the extended story, which I really wanted them to do. By the end it was actually pretty frustrating, as I felt the first one was by far the most interesting and the only one which actually seemed to *affect* the world. I was then waiting for the characters/threads from this to weave back in, but it never happened. The second ...more
Mar 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
This was just ok for me. When it says a story in four parts it actually means four story’s in the same world. There are two stories from each author and the book read like a collection of novellas. They were all of a good standard but I can’t help but wish it was one narrative set in this world. I feel like it would be so much better this way.
The Brambles were really interesting though and a little bit creepy. And I liked the overall message the book conveyed.
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Tangled Lands comprises of four parts which I guess you could call short stories/novellas which are interconnected to form the story.

It is a tale of magic and the environmental consequences that result from the use of it and the lengths people go to stop said use as well as the growth of the bramble.

I received a sample of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I obtained the first part of the book which is called The Alchemist written by Paolo Bacigalupi. This book is
Mar 01, 2018 rated it did not like it
I am not impressed.

This is not really a novel - it's four novellas happening in or around the same city where magic causes bramble to grow. This bramble causes deadly sleeping sickness in people and cannot be destroyed. Ergo, magic is forbidden and its use punished (or, as we all know, only higher-ups get to use it without fear of consequences).

If this was a novel, it might have been interesting with some more work put into it. But as it is, the novellas are too short to do any real
Samm | Sassenach the Book Wizard
This wasn't exactly what I was expecting but I really enjoyed this! Lots of different POVs and consistent writing between the two authors. I was expecting them to try and solve the toxic magic stuff destroying the town but that's not the point of the book. Really cool and fast read and A FANTASY STAND ALONE!

I must read more short stories. I must get used to the small format conveying the same emotion and build and creativity as the long form novel. But these four stories feel disconnected and cold and unwelcoming, cutting the reader off in a very dispassionate way. Which may be due to the bleak content: all four stories are relentlessly dark and nauseating.

It's a relatively quick read, but that might have been me skimming frantically over another description of maggots and rats trying to
Sep 27, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is perhaps more a 2.5 for me. It’s a really interesting world and concept but I was disappointed by the lack of any real conclusion/accomplishment of the book. Before reading it I didn’t realise that the 4 parts of the book were written as 4 separate novellas set in the same world. I kept hoping that it would come back and tie all the characters together to make this more of an actual novel rather than just 4 separate short stories, but it didn’t. Will more novellas be written in this ...more
Paul Ataua
'The Tangled Lands' is made up of four standalone novellas tied together by a common land and a common problem. The overuse of magic has given rise to a bramble that is encroaching on the cities and destroying everything in its path. The worldbuilding is beautiful . It allows the stories to breathe. The people and their predicaments are also interestingly presented. It’s a good read, but never goes beyond a good read. I enjoyed all four stories, but none of them really stood out.
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Those of us living through the trump administration will certainly see some familiarity in these cautionary tales of a fantasyland. And what a well built fantasyland this is! This quartet of stories is a rich enticement to hoping for further novels set in this class driven world. The two authors stories blended easily together and the strong feminism represented was a welcome viewpoint.
Larissa (Book Bosomed Blonde)
Actual rating: 1.5
You can also find this review here on my blog.

Oh boy, how to write a review for this book… The Tangled Lands was one of my most anticipated reads of last year and then i never got to it. So i had time to get myself hyped up about how cool I thought the synopsis sounded that when i did finally start it, i was let down nearly instantly. This is a book i definitely regret the time spent reading it.

The writing style is just odd. You are thrust into this world instantly and it feels
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
* * * *
4 / 5

~mini review~

The Tangled Lands isn’t the kind of book that I normally pick up: it’s a collection of four short-ish (approx. 70 pages each) non-intersecting stories set around the city of Khaim. The world has been beset by brambles. Each time a spell is cast, new brambles sprout, and a single touch is enough to send a person to sleep for eternity. Cities have been swallowed by the bramble, farmland is abandoned, and refugees are paid a pittance to hack down the pervasive, devilish
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2018
4 Stars

The Tangled Lands is another great Bacigalupi novel which I really enjoyed even though I am not really a fan of the short story novel format.

Like other Paolo Bacigalupi novels, this is a fast and incredibly enjoyable story that both adults and young adults will enjoy. I could read his novels every day. There is something raw and real about his end of the world scenarios that just touch you the right way and make you feel like there is still a glimmer of hope in humanity. His writing
Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Four independent short stories set in the same world. Four different perspectives on a common problem - a world overgrown with bramble caused by the use of magic. Strict laws, cruel governing. Unequal social structures.
Strong characters stand up against a cruel system, for their families. Changing the world. Becoming legends, or just becoming free.
These stories were good but nothing spectacular. Very little connection between the stories but they all follow a similar formula of a 'normal' person dealing with the oppression caused by the control of magic in the world.
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It had some really great moments, but it just couldn't handle it's own story. Overall, it lacked a sense of hope. Reads like a first draft of a series.

Novella 1: Excellent setting up. When I'd finished what I did of the whole book, I was wishing they'd have just stuck with the plot of this one.

Novella 2: Particularly gripping, but the flow of time was inconsistent in a way that was just too convenient to be satisfying.

Novella 3: This one could have been excellent, but the authors used the most
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fantasy lovers
Recommended to Nighteye by: Otto
Shelves: own-but-read
Fantastic to reach into the reatches and vasts of Khaim in the original two short stories published by Subterranean Press 2010 and now those two followup stories. I ended this with a happy smile to revisit this brutal but fashinating world. Just hope they will continnue writing about it.
The themes is still familiar from the first two: ordinary persons that get cheated or played by the harsh or unjust magi-wielding rulers. Still sorrowfull, tragic but oh so good stories.
Tim Hicks
May 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Authors can do what they want, but I think this might have worked better as a novel.

A pair of stories from 2010, then a pair from 2018? Feels a bit like a publisher going back to the well.
Speaking of publishers, could you not have hired a copy editor? Someone who knows about [it's vs. its] and [lead vs.led] and [censer vs. censor]?

First story was interesting enough, but what happened to the balanthast afterward? I suspect the authors realized that if it develops further, the story is over. So
LAPL Reads
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine a world where magic is not only real, but it is available to anyone, allowing them to do almost anything. However, when that magic is used, there is a cost. When a spell is cast, regardless of the reason behind it or whether it is for a great or a small thing, someone, somewhere will fall into a deathlike sleep and never awaken. If you knew this, and had lived with the consequences of others’ spells, or had loved ones that had, would you still cast that spell? This is the compelling ...more
Joy Pixley
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite kind of speculative fiction: the kind that posits some specific and interesting way this world is different than ours, and then fully explores the implications for that difference in terms of how it affects social institutions and individual people. In the best such SFF stories, I not only get caught up in the immersive setting, but also come to care deeply for richly portrayed characters. This is one of those "best such" stories.

The idea is about how magic works. Anyone can
The fact the 4 stories were set in the same world/city was really interesting. The fantasy world building was creative (not a surprise for me with Bacigalupi) and had a nice Sleeping Beauty vibe, completed with magic, alchemy and an environnemental disaster. The tales were dark and violent, with poverty, deaths and abuse from people in power. The points of view chosen were interesting and helped to understand the world, while addressing the fact being a serf is a difficult place. The oppression ...more
Jo Ladzinski
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley
Read as an eARC from Netgalley

This collection of four novellas surprised me in a few ways. I am a fan of stories about cities, the people who inhabit them, and the way one's evolution influences the other's. Khaim, the Blue City, has been afflicted by bramble that sprouts from overuse of magic and leaves people who get too close in a comatose state.

The Alchemist tells the story of the man who invented a device that could destroy bramble, but his good intentions are twisted for corrupt ends. I
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Paolo Bacigalupi is an award-winning author of novels for adults and young people.

His debut novel THE WINDUP GIRL was named by TIME Magazine as one of the ten best novels of 2009, and also won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Compton Crook, and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards. Internationally, it has won the Seiun Award (Japan), The Ignotus Award (Spain), The Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis (Germany), and the Grand

Other books in the series

Khaim Novellas (3 books)
  • The Executioness
  • The Alchemist
“I've seen the remains of wars. And the men never seem to remember the women running from the sword as they guided the army's packhorses to the frontline, and they always forget who bandaged the wounded through every skirmish. When the songs are sung about great battles. the women who helped sustain, feed, and build the army, who donated their husbands to the cause: they are always somehow forgotten. You forget that they are just as good at war as men. They fade in your memory only because they didn't share the glory of the front line, even though they often shared the losses and deaths.” 0 likes
“I think of philosophers as drug-addled dreamers who see only the reflections cast on their blackboards. The shadows of the world as it really exists around them. They say there is no such thing as good and evil. They talk about choice and flux, intersections and perspectives and situations ..... They may well be correct. Who am I, an old peasant mother, to question those who spend their lives poring over these questions?” 0 likes
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