The Executioness is a side-by-side novella paired with The Alchemist by Paolo Bacigalupi. In the forward, much is made of the idea that the Heroine is "different," because she's an older woman. I'm really glad they pointed it out, because there really wasn't anything in the story to establish that by her character, except that she had chidren already, and her father was old. Well, really, those two points don't exactly convince me that Tana is an older woman.So while I really liked this story, I was distracted for the entire novella, watching for character building that really showed that she wasn't just another young warrior woman. I liked the story, I thought it worked just fine as is, and would have worked exactly the same if the stated intent had been to have a young heroine. But supposedly she was "older." I just never saw it. I think if you make a big deal about how your character is supposed to be a certain thing, she should be written so that she has to be that thing, and couldn't possibly be another thing (like 20 years old.) Hrrrmph! Okay, so in spite of that rant, I really liked Tana. I loved that she didn't become the Noble Heroine that everyone was trying to make her out to be. She was a good and brave warrior, but she still let her pain and emotion guide her; she was still a mother. It would be a shame to read one book, and not the other. But unlike The Alchemist, which left me a little sad to turn the last page, this one felt like there really was no more story to tell, the end.