The Tangled Lands, this collection of short stories united by a common setting, illustrates the true imaginative power of Bacigalupi and Buckell. While these are short stories, there’s a continuation of history, setting, and the magical undertow of rebellion.
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.
I was so impressed by this book. Bacigalupi and Buckell’s team synergy is only more apparent as the book continues. There’s a distinct sense of when these short stories end, but as a whole the overall story continues. This is a book about the setting, the lands of Khaim, and the people who inhabit this setting. Therefore it’s no surprise that the atmosphere is richly colorful. It embraces you with its magic and its words. The Tangled Lands pulls you into a world of color, spells, and scents.
Related to this, the world building aspect of this book was phenomenal. Each element was not only well described, but also wonderfully important. The stories allowed enough space for development, emotional turmoil, and, most importantly, hope. I can’t even pick a favorite story because each one of them seemed to resonate with me whether it be angry mothers, nostalgic touches of sleeping beauty, or the stories that started it all.
The Tangled Lands is this perfect melding between social justice, rebellion, and hope that is seamlessly interwoven throughout these four stories.
Be sure to find The Tangled Lands on Goodreads.