The Executioness and the Alchemist are shared world novellas by Tobias Buckell and Paolo Bacigalupi. I read them months apart, and the setting is still very memorable. The world is being encroached by a dangerous and deadly bramble, which is compounded by the use of magic. Hence, any magic use affects the bramble, so it only must be used in the direst of circumstances.
These books stand alone, although perhaps the most interesting part is the shared world, which adds depth and credibility to the stories. Published by Subterrannean Press, these novellas are very thought-provoking and readable. Recommended.