Tuesday, October 4, 2016
The Thin Executioner by Darren Shan
The best-selling writer of the Cirque du Freak series takes a gory spin on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in this tale of adventure, suffering, and sacrifice. I loved this guy's previous works. This is the guy who made me like vampires again after the Dark Age (the Twilight period) and I looked forward to this stand alone novel. How'd it do? Let's find out.
The story is of Jebel Rum, who lives in the kingdom of Wadi, a kingdom of tyrants and cruelty. His father, Rashed Rum, is the kingdom's famed executioner and is looking to retire soon. When he announces those who have the potential to take over the post, he leaves his skinny son out. This wounds Jebel's pride to the point where the runs away in search of a fire god, who is said to grant invincibility to any man who can find him and offer up a slave in tribute to him. Jebel brings along a slave named Tel Hasani, and together they travel in search of the fire god to restore Jebel's honor.
Be warned: This is definitely among the most brutal books I've ever read in my life. Every which way you turn, there's another twist that leaves you flinching and there's little end to the suffering and torment. They have grave robbers, cults, monsters, mobs, and even cannibalism. There's a lot of suffering in this book, and it includes the suffering and death of children as well. Funnily enough, however, that's actually a good thing. This book has the ability to make you feel everything. Every bit of pain, every shocking discovery, just sucks you into the story and takes you right in the moment. But, just when it seems like everything is going to be doom and gloom, there's a few bright moments that shine through and give our protagonists (and the readers) the strength to go on.
By far the greatest thing about this book, in my opinion, is the character development of the main character. When I was in the first few chapters, I didn't like Jebel at all. He's incredibly vain and proud and full of himself and I was really starting to hope he wouldn't make it through the book. However, as the book progresses and you see him go through all these terrible things, something remarkable happens. He learns. Each experience, no matter how horrific, teaches him something. Humility, respect for life, patience, and sacrifice are all lessons that he takes away from this experience and reshapes him as a person. It gets to the point, when his life seriously is in danger, you really don't want to see him die. It was a great experience and I'm glad I got to experience it with him.
The world building is also great. This world just has a language of its own, the culture is vast, but it's also dangerous and cruel. It's almost like this living thing, a harsh creature of fire and broken glass that threatens to tear out protagonists apart but also possesses wisdom and a beauty all its own. It's a great journey through such a world and it's written wonderfully.
Bloody, gothic, gory, heartbreaking, The Thin Executioner has got it all, along with some great world building and character development. It's one of my favorites and I can say, with pride, that this is going straight onto the Shelf of Recommendation!
Have you read the book? What did you think? If you haven't, do you want to read it now? What's your favorite journey-type story of all? Comment below and share your thoughts.
Next time: Never judge a book by it's movie...especially if Burton is at the helm....