Why did I get it: I love the idea of shared worlds so as soon as I heard about them, I knew I wanted to read this novella by Tobias Buckell and (eventually) The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi.
How I would rate it: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Magic has a price. In Khaim, that price is your head if you’re found using it. For the use of magic comes with a side effect: it creates bramble. The bramble is a creeping, choking menace that has covered majestic ancient cities, and felled civilizations. In order to prevent the spread of the bramble, many lose their heads to the cloaked executioners of Khaim.
Tana is one of these executioners, taking the job over from her ailing father in secret, desperate to keep her family from starvation. But now her family has been captured by raiders, and taken to a foreign city.
So Khaim’s only female executioner begins a quest to bring her family back together. A bloody quest that will change lives, cities, and even an entire land, forever. A quest that will create the legend of The Executioness.
Review: (Note: Contains some spoilers.)
Definitely a well-written novella. I appreciated it being about a middle-aged woman who is dealing with issues that aren’t finding a love interest, but with finding her sons and finding herself. The writing itself was awesome, the world was really cool since everyone living in it is dealing with these lethal thorns that act as a side effect to the overuse of magic. This book has so many strengths that my only complaints deal with the overall mood of the piece and the story’s conclusion.
I really liked Tana, and I was really rooting for good things to come her way because she definitely deserved them… But they never really did. Instead Tana spends the whole book doing whatever it takes for her children including overthrowing a country and learning to be a warrior and she gets nothing for it except more misery. None of this really changed the fact that the novella was engaging and a fast read, but I’m just not a big fan of tragic hero quests. So while I loved that this novella focused on an older woman, I would rather read about older women being happy in fantasy settings.
In conclusion, while this might not have been my favorite novella ever, The Executioness did leave me with a very favorable impression of its author who really has a way with words and told a very, very unique story. I know I will be seeking out more full-length Tobias S. Buckell novels soon.