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The Executioness (Khaim Novellas)

3.47  ·  Rating Details ·  786 Ratings  ·  117 Reviews
Magic has a price. But someone else will pay.

Every time a spell is cast, a bit of bramble sprouts, sending up tangling vines, bloody thorns, and threatening a poisonous sleep. It sprouts in tilled fields and in neighbors' roof beams, thrusts up from between street cobbles, and bursts forth from sacks of powdered spice. A bit of magic, and bramble follows. A little at firs
Hardcover, Deluxe Trade Edition, 102 pages
Published January 31st 2011 by Subterranean Press
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No fooling folks...a middle-aged MOM kicking some serious fantasy rump and raining pain and destruction on the assbozos that stole her children...can you say

Now, if that doesn’t sound like an appealing (and long overdue) premise to a fantasy story than may I please take a moment to remind you of the following:
Jul 12, 2011 j rated it liked it
One day, Tobias Buckell and Paolo Bacigalupi decided to write a pair of novellas set in a shared world. They obviously put a lot of thought into this fictional landscape, a place where magic exists, but its use carries a terrible price -- every time a spell is cast, a shoot of cursed bramble sprouts from the ground; one prick of its poison thorns will send you into a deep sleep from which no mere prince's kiss will awaken you.

It's a neat idea, rife with juicy metaphorical implications to go alo
Feb 23, 2015 Elspeth rated it it was ok
I am not having the best of days, and words are failing me at the moment. This was well written, but it was also dark, bleak, and just too high a price for the short story it was.
Oct 24, 2011 Nikki rated it liked it
The Executioness is a fun novella set in a shared world fantasy. I haven't read the other book, by Paolo Bacigalupi, yet; I'm not sure if this is the best order to read them in. I guess I'll report on that later, because I do have the other one too!

Anyway, apparently the seed of the idea was in having a middle-aged female protagonist, and all the different motivations and problems that would give her. I can only think of one other like this, and that's Boneshaker, but both of them do have the wo
Mar 03, 2011 Tatiana rated it liked it
Recommended to Tatiana by: Stephen
Shelves: fantasy, 2011
2.5 stars

Nothing remarkable here except that the main character is a middle-aged woman, a widow and a mother, who wields an executioner's axe and unwittingly becomes a legend and a symbol of resistance. The rest is not memorable, even though world-building and story are decent.
The Executioness is a side-by-side novella paired with The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi. In the forward, much is made of the idea that the Heroine is "different," because she's an older woman. I'm really glad they pointed it out, because there really wasn't anything in the story to establish that by her character, except that she had chidren already, and her father was old. Well, really, those two points don't exactly convince me that Tana is an older woman.

So while I really liked this story, I
Ranting Dragon
Dec 31, 2010 Ranting Dragon rated it really liked it
Shelves: james

Any time a spell is cast, bramble will sprout up somewhere in the world. Bramble that cuts and promises a poisonous sleep to any who don’t give it a wide enough berth. There’s no way to predict where the vines might pop up, it might sprout on your house or a thousand miles away. This bramble has slowly wrought decay upon the world, overrunning cities, destroying farms, and killing people.

Tara lives in this bramble-filled world and has recently taken up her
Jan 11, 2011 Wealhtheow rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
After Tana's father and husband are killed and her children taken by raiders, she goes on a one-woman mission to regain the remnants of her family. Her courage and will inspire others, and soon she comes to the attention of an army commander. He tells her that they have to wait the raiders out, but Tana is impatient. She raises an army of women, armed with peasant weapons (and the occasional arquebus), and they march on the raiders' city.

I really wish this had been twice as long, because there's
May 10, 2016 Jockum rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lite härlig fantasy i rätt längd och inte alltför komplicerad läsupplevelse, för en trött resenär. Har haft den liggande på läsplattan och nu med en resa var det ett enkelt val i rätt längd att börja läsa.

Boken är en par novell, tillsammans med "The Alchemist" och utspelar sig i samma värld. Världen är fylld av växande, magiska, törnbuskar, som håller på att sluka landet. Törnbuskarna växer i relation till magianvändandet hos människorna.

I föregående novell, så fick vi följa en far som försöke
Paige Ellen Stone
Feb 22, 2016 Paige Ellen Stone rated it really liked it
This is the companion volume to Paolo Bacigalupi's novella, "The Alchemist" which I have reviewed separately. This is set in the same world as "The Alchemist" and it doesn't matter which one you read first. Where "The Alchemist" focused on getting rid of the "bramble", the thick thorny vines that increase their presence and their suffocating and isolating effect the more that practitioners us magic, this volume focuses on the story of Tana, daughter of an executioner and along with Tana, the onl ...more
Feb 16, 2011 Lexie rated it really liked it
I read both this book and its companion novella The Alchemist side by side (almost) because they follow two different paths that give a wider view of the world. The Executioness follows Tana as she leaves Lesser Khaim (the more or less 'poor folk' district) while The Alchemist follows Jeoz as he fights to save Khaim from the Bramble.

In his introduction Paolo mentions that part of the genesis for this combined world came from a writer's friend's lament that there were not more middle-aged women p
The story follows a mother of two who was first forced by circumstance into the role of a one-time executioner, and then forced by other circumstances into a conqueror, bearing the blown-up reputation of an "executioness". *blink* *blink* Yes, that the transition.

I think perhaps this short story would really have been better off as a longer novel. The actual idea, and the rather strong female lead, was pretty good. Things just seemed to escalate a little too quickly and I haven't quite lost that
May 27, 2011 Alice rated it really liked it
This is a shared-world novel with Paolo Bacigalupi's The Alchemist, and I'm glad I read the latter, first. Had I read this one, first, I might've been disappointed in The Alchemist. I wouldn't say it's better, exactly, but it is more epic in scope, with a heroine I can relate to better than in Bacigalupi's story.

The Bramble plays less of a role in this story; it's more of a setting than an antagonist. But that's understandable; Tana, the title character of Executioness, has plenty to deal with w
Sep 03, 2013 Melissa rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, novella
Amateurish, lazy, unimaginative writing. The plot never even bothered with causality. Instead the main character (who is a boring, empty two-dimensional shell) is acted upon. The story itself suffers from an identity crisis: what could very well be a coming-of-age story is instead covered up by a tacked-on "women's empowerment" story that comes off as shallow and clichéd. There are no real obstacles in the story; opposition (both external and internal) is dealt with in a few sentences and then i ...more
May 15, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it
This is a novella-length work, and shares a world with another novella by Paolo Bacigalupi, a world in which magic is outlawed, as its use leads to the spread of deadly bramble. It’s a great setup, as is the premise of the story: Tana’s home is attacked by a neighboring power. Her husband and her father (an executioner) are killed, and her children taken. So she takes up her father’s axe and hood and sets out to save them, beginning a quest “that will change lives, cities, and even an entire lan ...more
Mar 07, 2011 Jenn rated it liked it
Reading the introduction, I think I was hoping for more. So often, women are sidelined as heroes, that it is great to see an author deliberately addressing that. However, it is disappointing that so often when this happens, it is framed as reliant on their status as a mother and undertaken very reluctantly. That isn't to say that Tana is not a formidable and interesting hero, I just wish that women were allowed the same latitude of reason for their heroic journeys.

Having first read "The Alchemis
Aug 19, 2012 Autumn rated it really liked it

A group of " I drank too much kool aid " (so sick of that) extremists kidnap Tana’s two sons to show them the "right" way to live. Wrong move. She hunts the kidnappers down with an executioner's ax and brings with her an entire mob of equally protective mothers that have lost their children to the same cause. Lesson learned: Do not mess with a woman’s offspring.

More than that, this short is story well written and should appeal to the Sci-Fi crowd. The only disappointment for me is the length. I
Aug 10, 2015 Wolfkin rated it really liked it
At least this time I was prepared for the short length of the novella. Still I think I preferred this book to it's companion novella. The surprising aspect to me was how little the characters interacted. This could have been two stories in an anthology. outside of a vague reference to "a blue city" and the acknowledgement of a bloody execution in The Alchemist, there's not much that links the stories together. I would love too see a third story link the main characters our even take a new charac ...more
Kat  Hooper
Aug 12, 2011 Kat Hooper rated it really liked it
The Alchemist and The Executioness caught my eye as soon as it went up at (Both novellas are now available in print from Subterranean Press.) Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias Buckell offering linked fantasy novellas that take place in a shared world? Bacigalupi's story read by Jonathan Davis? What could be more promising? (It turns out that had I been familiar with Katherine Kellgren, who read Buckell's story, I would have been even more excited about this one!)

In this shared world, the
Oct 05, 2016 Nat rated it really liked it
A short novella with a powerful female lead. Feels somewhat nihilist, but we'll written
Patrick W
Sep 04, 2010 Patrick W rated it liked it
Shelves: in, fantasy, 2010, novella
This review was originally posted on my review blog (Stomping on Yeti) at A Few Words: The Alchemist and The Executioness showcase two rising stars in the the genre but aren't completely successful in fully realizing the inherent potential in their shared fantasy world.[return][return]Pros: [return]1) Fast, fun stories that work both in print and audio formats[return]2) The Alchemist is a fantasy version of pitch perfect Bacigalupian exposition[return]3) ...more
Nice concept, but written blandly.
Jun 16, 2011 James rated it really liked it
Any time a spell is cast, bramble will sprout up somewhere in the world. Bramble that cuts and promises a poisonous sleep to any who don’t give it a wide enough berth. There’s no way to predict where the vines might pop up, it might sprout on your house or a thousand miles away. This bramble has slowly wrought decay upon the world, overrunning cities, destroying farms, and killing people.

Tara lives in this bramble-filled world and has recently taken up her father’s mantle as an executioner out o
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This novella takes place in a world where the use of magic has had dire consequences. Whenever someone uses magic, a deadly, unstoppable, invincible plant called the bramble feeds off the magic and begins to grow. Not only is bramble taking over the world, but it is also deadly. The plants are covered with sticky filaments that contain a deadly venom that is absorbed into the skin when touched. The poison quickly results in a coma that often leads to death. Since there is no way to stop the bram ...more
A wonderful compliment to The Alchemist, The Executioness is even more ambitious, striking out from the main city in its companion novella and exploring the rest of the continent, showing readers what life is like elsewhere.

After raiders have burned her town and stolen her children, Tana chases after them, sending her on a journey that will not only affect her, but thousands and thousands of others. And while The Alchemist was about finding hope and beating back the bramble, which makes life har
Carbunkle Flux
Aug 17, 2015 Carbunkle Flux rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Denise "Mika" Hutchins
This wasn't a terrible book; it was easy to read, mostly easy to follow, and had a plot interesting enough to keep me going steadily until the end. I really liked the idea of women becoming reluctant heroes, joining and leading an army of resistance and revenge instead of languishing in sorrow, proven again and again to be warriors just as (or perhaps even more) skilled and deadly as their male counterparts.

That being said, this wasn't a great book either. Aside from the minor annoyance of a ha
Jan 04, 2017 Geoff rated it it was amazing
This is a shared world story between Tobias and Paolo Bacigalupi, who both wrote these novellas at the same time for an audio project for Audible. "The Executioness" is Tobias's story.

The most glaring aspect of this fantasy world is the bramble. The bramble is a choking plant that is taking over the world by covering it. Why it is happening, is because magic causes it to grow. The citizens have fled cities that have been consumed by the bramble, and in this story the current city in this crisis
Marcelo Sanchez
Novela gemela del Alquimista de Paolo Bacigalupi (No Coelho). Sin embargo, dista bastante del tono de la primera.
Igual es un cuento corto extendido, por sobre un novela corta.
Aunque esta novela, también incluye referencias a la tragedia de los comunes, no son como en el alquimista. Aquí la magia no aparece ninguna vez. Y la visión del mundo, y de la elección del bien común contra el bien propio es mucho más optimista. La protagonista elige el bien comun en varias oportunidades, aunque la cantida
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Born in the Caribbean, Tobias S. Buckell is a New York Times Bestselling author. His novels and over 50 short stories have been translated into 17 languages and he has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, Prometheus and John W. Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Author. He currently lives in Ohio.
More about Tobias S. Buckell...

Other Books in the Series

Khaim Novellas (2 books)
  • The Alchemist

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