The Tangled Lands, Paola Bagicalupi, Tobias S Buckell – Readalong

Hello Humans! I’ll admit, I was feeling a little defeated after my last readalong, I was heading dramatically slumpwards with no real feeling for what I wanted to read next. Enter the fabled TBR jar which prompted me to read The Tangled Lands. This was the perfect book for me to read as it is just the right length for a slump breaker, and actually contains four short stories all set in the same world, as opposed to being one short book! So here are my thoughts on the four parts of this little book!

The Tangled Lands

Goodreads Summary:

Khaim, The Blue City, is the last remaining city in a crumbled empire that overly relied upon magic until it became toxic. It is run by a tyrant known as The Jolly Mayor and his devious right hand, the last archmage in the world. Together they try to collect all the magic for themselves so they can control the citizens of the city. But when their decadence reaches new heights and begins to destroy the environment, the people stage an uprising to stop them.

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The Alchemist

Am I right in thinking this is four novellas? [Editing Judith here: I am right.] If so, and if this is how they all are, I think this might be a great book. I LOVED this first story it was phenomenal. Managing to do the ‘im a father trying to save his daughter but everything is going wrong’ without feeling sexist and annoying. This setting, the balance between brambles and magic is profoundly beautiful and the kind of thing I wish I had come up with. It reminds me a little of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, but slightly less…human?

The Executioness

Ok, do I love women learning to wield their own power more than pretty much anything else? Why yes I do. I think the first story was better in terms of world building but this has such strong character development it’s almost painful how good it is. This reminds me a little of Stronger Faster and More Beautiful – that building of a world through distinct stories – but this is a lot better. If the next story is another time jump that’ll be even more clear. I wonder if everything joins together at the end? I’m loving this and it’s the perfect short book to read after the marathon that was His Dark Materials.

The Children of Khaim

OOOHKAY this one goes pretty dark and I’d advise a heck of a lot of reader discretion because you’ll regret reading it if rape is a trigger for you. It’s a wonderfully written story though, adding another layer to the world these two authors are creating. I can’t believe it took me this long to fathom the sleeping beauty connection with the bramble walls…I’m feeling something of a plonker at this stage. But yes, phenomenally written, not the easiest concept to digest – equally it’s incredible plausible because humanity is trash.

The Blacksmith’s Daughter

I think this is probably the weakest of all four stories, which is a shame to end on, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles I guess. I think I just didn’t connect so much with the main character in this one in the same way as I did the previous stories and I wasn’t sure it ‘ended’ as such. I was left wanting another four stories showing how things developed, which I kind of hope there will be one day, as opposed to feeling sated. But perhaps that’s a good thing, leaving me wanting more?

Final Verdict

If you like unique world building and magic and short stories then I would say this is absolutely a book to go for, it has so much going for it, I’m surprised I haven’t heard people talking more about it? I had a wonderful time while reading it and it has definitely pushed me out of my slump – who could ask for more?

My rating: 4/5 stars

I bought this book myself, all opinions are my own.

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What will the TBR jar choose next?

The Goblin Emperor

Oooh it’s one of my newest acquisitions The Goblin Emperor. I was told to read this by a friend and I couldn’t resist the shiny cover…stand by for this readalong coming soon!

What say you? Have you read The Tangled Lands? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!


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