The Alchemist and the Executioness

  • by Paolo Bacigalupi, Tobias S. Buckell
  • Narrated by Jonathan Davis, Katherine Kellgren
  • 5 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

It is a world where magic is forbidden – yet practiced in secret every day. But each small act of magic exacts a dreadful price – for it brings the bramble, which chokes farmland, destroys villages, and kills with its deadly thorns. In this world, an alchemist believes he’s found a solution to the curse. But will the cure be worse than the disease? And a woman is forced to take up the mantle of her father, the Executioner. But it will not be the only death that she faces.
Available exclusively in audio, The Alchemist and the Executioness is the unique collaborative effort of two leading science fiction authors, Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell. Working together for the first time, the authors stepped out of their comfort zone (both primarily write science fiction) to delve into fantasy, producing these linked stories that share the same captivating world.
About the Authors
Paolo Bacigalupi is the author of the Nebula Award-winning novel The Windup Girl. His short fiction has been honored with the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award as well as nominations for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.
Tobias S. Buckell is the New York Times best-selling author of Halo: The Cole Protocol, Ragamuffin, and other novels. He is also a contributor to the Audible production of METAtropolis.
BONUS AUDIO: Includes an exclusive introduction written and read by the authors.


Audible Editor Reviews

Two acclaimed science fiction authors bring us two separate stories about magic and its consequences in the shared fantasy world of Khaim.
Magic exists and is available to all, but every use of it produces the dreaded bramble, a poisonous plant that kills any human who touches it. In the bramble-choked lands of Khaim and Lesser Khaim magic is outlawed, and anyone caught practicing it does so at the risk of facing the executioner. The people live in poverty and fear — fear of bramble, of the Jolly Mayor who controls the people with the executioner's axe, and fear of the raiders of Paika, who slaughter their men and kidnap their children.
The Alchemist, written by award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi and narrated by the estimable Jonathan Davis, grounds us in this shared world with the story of Jeoz the Alchemist, who has committed his life to finding a way to eradicate the bramble once and for all. Through 15 years, the death of his wife, and his daughter's illness, Jeoz has persevered. He experiments in secret, lest he be caught bringing Bramble inside the city walls. If he succeeds in his trials with his invention, the balanthast, he will surely be a hero. But power and politics may stand between the balanthast and humanity's salvation.
Those familiar with Jonathan Davis' narration will not be surprised by his evocative performance here. The desperate but gentle Jeoz, his charming daughter Jiala, the pitiless Magister Scacz — Bacigalupi's varied cast is voiced with Davis' usual convincing care.
Best-selling novelist Tobias Buckell gives us The Executioness, the story of Tana, the executioner's daughter — a middle-aged mother of two whose entire life is thrown into upheaval with the swing of an axe. When she is forced to stand in for her father she earns the title of the Executioness, a name which will follow her when her children are taken by Paikan raiders and she alone must find them.
Narrator Katherine Kellgren brings an exotic flavor to her performance of Tana's tale with a fantasy dialect, perhaps inspired by the spice road that the Caravan travels. Kellgren's performance makes the dialog ring true in a way that a less creative narration might not.
The two stories are vastly different in tone. The Alchemist is a darker fantasy, where magic is so prominent it is nearly a character in the story, while The Executioness eschews magic and intrigue in favor of action and adventure. Both are rich tales performed by gifted narrators. You won't find The Alchemist and The Executioness in print--it is an exclusive, and one you'll want to listen to again. —Christie Yant


What the Critics Say

Audie Award Nominee - Best Original Work, 2011
"[Bacigalupi's] bite-sized tale is charming, lyrically written, and thematically rich....Fantasy fans will love [Buckell's] lush narrative and... endearing and unconventional heroine." (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Not What I Expected...

I’ll be honest the reason I bought this story was because I figured if it was bad, it was still cheaper than seeing a bad movie and the premise seemed rather intriguing too. Well, it didn’t disappoint; I enjoyed “The Alchemist” immensely and wanted to listen to it again right after I finishing it. However, I didn’t want to listen to “The Alchemist” again without listening to “The Executioness” story at least once, unfortunately I was dredging that part. The first part of the story mentions executions a lot and all I could think was “Great, now I have to listen to someone deal with all the killing they have done”. As you listen to “The Alchemist” you cannot imagine how one is supposed to be enthused for the upcoming story, but I continued to listen and to my astonishment the story turned out exceptional. I can’t say much about the story without ruining… things (that may not be the right wording for it, but naming it anything else would spoil it); if Audible will not tell you much then neither will I. Jonathan Davis and Katherine Kellgren do a fine job of narrating the story and I especially enjoyed Katherine Kellgren who seemed perfect for this narration. Both stories are wonderful in their own way and equally evocative.
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- Rand

Great story!

I would recommend this audiobook for several reasons. If you've never read these authors, this is a good chance to see if you like their writing style, the price is right, and the narrators are excellent (Katherine Kellgren is one of my favorites). But they are also excellent adventure stories (fantasy/sci-fi?). After listening to the entire book in one sitting, I've added these authors to ones I'll definitely read again.
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- Betty

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-06-2010
  • Publisher: Audible Studios