In this collaborative novel told in four parts, the people of a fallen empire struggle to survive and stop the growth of a toxic bramble that envelops the land, fed by the use of magic that has been outlawed but continues to be practiced in secret by many.
Bacigalupi and Buckell build their world so precisely that everything feels natural and inevitable. Instead of seeming alien, their fantasy world gives the reader the sense that they are strolling into a world they already know ... all four stories are beautiful, subtle and well worth every moment spent reading them. Their writers understand not just how to give readers what they want but also how to write stories that couldn’t have happened any other way.
Conceptual, morally ambiguous, and incredibly timely, The Tangled Lands explores well-wrought narratives of feminism and environmental justice in a beautifully-crafted fantasy world that drips with rich lore and details at every turn ... The Tangled Lands is a profoundly enjoyable read — I would have been happy if it were at least twice as long ... I highly recommend The Tangled Lands for readers who enjoy high-fantasy whirlwind journeys through strange worlds, all the while maintaining a complex, nuanced, and profound connection to our own.
Buckell and Bacigalupi imagine the melancholy remnants of a once-grand empire, where magic-using citizens once lived in comfort ... The bramble—a writhing, insatiable growth of cruel vines and deadly seeds—was attracted to magic ... By the time The Tangled Lands begins, bramble covers the land, and people are forbidden from using magic ... by its final pages, The Tangled Lands occupies an awkward middle ground: It’s not quite significant or unified enough to feel like a novel, yet its parts aren’t independent or far-ranging enough to have the appeal of a story collection.