Book Title: The Tangled Lands
Author: Paolo Bacigalupi & Tobias S. Buckell
Goodreads Link: Click here
Star Rating: – Engaging set of short stories set in a singular world
Disclaimer: I received this book free from Netgalley in return for an un-biased review.
Before now, I’ve never been a fan of short stories. I think that’s a holdover from my high school days. I loved nothing more than getting a nice big novel to read in English class. I was so sad when we, in my opinion, wasted time on an anthology of short stories. Ugh. Disappointment! I want a real book! A Tale of Two Cities! Pride and Prejudice! … wait … no … no, Hemmingway … I take it back, Mr. Cheney!
That aversion to the short story started to change when I picked up a book by Alice Munro. Who knew short stories could be so engrossing and meaningful? Then, a couple of months ago I was approved to be a First Reader for a Sci-fi/Fantasy E-zine called Deep Magic. This means I, as part of a crack story reading team, read TONS of short story submissions and pass the best of the best along to the editors for hopeful acceptance into the magazine. All of this means I’ve learnedto be less prejudiced against the short story genre. Thank goodness, because if not then I’d have missed this little book entirely!
The Tangled Lands is a set of 4 short stories, all of them set in one fantasy world. They are written by two separate authors, but they suit one another perfectly. Khaim is a kingdom in a world that has suffered an immense ecological disaster. In the past, Magic was discovered and used with wild abandon, providing wealth and health to it’s many inhabitants. However, overuse has created an imbalance. Now the slightest use of magic, which people have come to rely on for daily life, causes a poisonous hedge called “Bramble” to spring up everywhere. A person who touches it slips slowly into a coma/deathlike trance. They can never wake up from it. The stuff is insidious and deadly.
So just stop using magic right? Look around us. How easy is it in our own world to convince people of the importance of taking care of the environment? If doing so means less money or power to the rich and powerful then how easily do they abandon it’s use? We all know the answer to that question. It’s no different in Khaim. These stories, however, introduce us to a few unassuming characters of humble origin, these few people are going to make a difference. Women and children as agents of change figure heavily in these stories. You know that makes me happy right!
I enjoyed everything about this book, except it’s length. I wish it could have gone on much longer!! I hope that everyone who reads this review, and loves fantasy will buy this book. Please, give these two authors reason to write another, longer book in this fascinating world. Until then, I’m definitely looking up some of their backlist. I enjoyed their style and look forward to reading more from both of them.
Song for this book: Sign of the Times – Harry Styles