Book Review: The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi

Product Description

Magic has a price. But someone else will pay. Every time a spell is cast, a bit of bramble sprouts, sending up tangling vines, bloody thorns, and threatening a poisonous sleep. It sprouts in tilled fields and in neighbors’ roof beams, thrusts up from between street cobbles, and bursts forth from sacks of powdered spice. A bit of magic, and bramble follows. A little at first, and then more–until whole cities are dragged down under tangling vines and empires lie dead, ruins choked by bramble forest. Monuments to people who loved magic too much.

In paired novellas, award-winning authors Tobias Buckell and Paolo Bacigalupi explore a shared world where magic is forbidden and its use is rewarded with the axe. A world of glittering memories and a desperate present, where everyone uses a little magic, and someone else always pays the price.

In the beleageured city of Khaim, a lone alchemist seeks a solution to a deadly threat. The bramble, a plant that feeds upon magic, now presses upon Khaim, nourished by the furtive spellcasting of its inhabitants and
threatening to strangle the city under poisonous vines. Driven by desperation and genius, the alchemist constructs a device that transcends magic, unlocking the mysteries of bramble s essential nature. But the power of his newly-built balanthast is even greater than he dreamed. Where he sought to save a city
and its people, the balanthast has the potential to save the world entire–if it doesn t destroy him and his family first.

My Thoughts

LOVED IT!! I just had to read this book after reading The Executioness by Tobias Buckell which is the paired novella to this one. I reviewed Executioness about a week ago.

Like Tobias Buckell, this is my first time reading Paolo Bacigalupi and like Tobias, Paolo has just gained another huge fan. I know of the others work by Paolo, but just have not had time to read the books. After reading this I am going to read through all the works.

I was hooked right away with the storyline. The pain and heartbreak of the opening scene where Jiala has to lose the bed just grabbed me by chest. I never gave much thought to a bed until this story, but I could not imagine having my bed taken from me. This was the key ingredient to me loving this story. Paolo took an item that everyone has and made it relatable to understand what was happening in a few pages.

Having already read the over novella I understood the bramble and the use of magic. This helped me relate to the story even more than if it was my first read of the pairs.

Being a novella, it was short. I do hope and pray they revisit this world and write a full length novel. There is so much that could be developed.

The story just jumped off the pages to me. I was engaged in the events that I was actually angry when certain things developed.

You have to read this novella along with the other one. You will not be disappointed. It might be short on words and pages, but not in story.

This novella was nominated for the Nebula Awards.

I cannot wait to enter the other worlds created by Paolo Bacigalupi.

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