on January 6, 2011
Regardless of his size, Jebel Rum has always wanted to be the successor of his father as the executioner for his tribe, a profession that is somewhat honored and entertaining. It doesn't help when you have two older brothers who would be better fitted for the job. To make things worse, Jebel's dreams are quickly crushed when his own father does not see him as a contender.
What is Jebel's solution to this problem? Find the god who will give him the power of invincibility, which will ultimately help him win the tournament against his brothers that will make him the executioner. Along with Jebel on his travels is the slave who decided to go with him, Tel Hesani, who must be sacrificed to the god in order to obtain a better life for his family.
THE THIN EXECUTIONER is full of weird but somewhat relatable teen angst, a journey that not only will prove difficult for Jebel but also will allow him to grow stronger. It also includes an accomplice who becomes more than what people at that time would think of as an object. Jebel will soon discover that what lays outside his tribe is something worth experiencing.
Away from the vampires and demons, Darren Shan crafts a unique and compelling story that will take readers into a whole new world they would never have imagined. Jebel is one of those characters that gives a bad impression in the beginning. Of course, his non-ethical, guiltless personality is not his fault, as such traits are actually embedded in the minds of those in his tribe.
However, Jebel's growth throughout the novel to the very end allows readers to be as comfortable with him as they are with Tel Hesani, the more likeable character who most readers will automatically respect. Both characters will endure a difficult and at times deadly journey, and in the end Jebel, Tel Hesani, and even the reader will be rewarded with a conclusion that is unusual but all the more satisfying.
Reviewed by: Randstostipher "tallnlankyrn" Nguyen
Reason for Reading: I'm a big fan of the author's. I was also very excited about this being his first standalone book. The world of Makhras is made up of many different towns, empires, territories, etc. and each of these is peopled by it's own unique society with their own traditions, religions, ways of life and behaviour. Mainly they keep to themselves except for trading and capturing each other as slaves, at least those who keep slaves. Jebel Rum is the runt in his family and when his father, the very respected town executioner announces that he will be retiring after a 30 year career, he only mentions Jebel's two older brother's as hopefully succeeding him in the contest that will be thrown to find the new executioner one year from that day. Jebel is fraught with shame, he has been dishonoured in his warrior society. With nothing left to loose he seeks a quest to a dangerous god's lair faraway where it is promised he can receive invincibility if he makes it there only by land and brings a slave to offer to the god as a sacrifice. Then he would return and win the contest or at least die with honour on the quest.
I'm going to start right off by saying this is very different than anything Shan has written before and unfortunately it didn't quite win me over. There were times I was very into the story, which I think just had much more potential than where Shan went with it. Other times, the story came over as very heavy-handed. The second main character, the slave, is a religious, non-violent person who explains all the different cultures they meet as they journey on and while he dare not say anyone is less equal than another in his one God's eyes he would stand by and let an aggressor tear him to pieces or take his friends and neighbours away as slaves rather than break any rule of his religion by defending himself. I had a hard time knowing, at times, if Shan was writing this character as an ideal or was using him as the extreme opposite example to Jebel and his people, which I'm sure, I think, was supposed to be the point. Heavy-handed with the morals as he was, he just wasn't the likable character to me that he should have been. Jebel starts off as an nasty piece of work, who thinks slaves are not human and possibly less worthless than animals. When meeting the other cultures, he quickly decides they are contemptible, stupid or crazy because of what they deem important compared to his own clan.
It is these two strange characters who embark on the hellish journey of Jebel's quest which is full of dark dangers, terrible creatures and death-inducing terrain. Certainly an interesting story that kept me reading. Plenty of action, violence and creepiness. The plot could be simply broken down to the basic fantasy quest but covered up by adding dark elements such as an executioner, cannibals, rocks that digest people and a colony of people who live with and depend upon vampire bats, to name a few. Not Shan's best work but worth a read by fans, at the least.