The Thin Executioner by Darren Shan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is not the book to read if you're looking for another Darren Shan horror/gorefest: it is very unlike the Cirque du Freak and Demonata series. It is the book to read if you're looking for an adventure/trek story set in a different world than ours.
Jebel is a third son, thin and unlike his brothers, not to mention his father, the Chief Executioner in a city that prizes strength and skill. His honor at stake after his father fails to mention him as a potential successor, Jebel decides to go on a quest to find invincibility. With his newly purchased slave, Tel Hesani, at his side, he sets off.
This world feels vaguely Middle Eastern, and vaguely Middle Ages. There's no technology, much hand-to-mouth existence, slavery and religious ritual in a desert setting. One village has a definite Petra quality (never a bad thing). While on this quest, Jebel's attitudes and beliefs slowly - and I do mean slowly - change. When he starts, he's among the elite in his society yet by the end he's been a slave, starved and suffered many physical privations. One could argue that his mere survival is proof of his invincibility!
His return to Wadi fails to garner him his father's approval, and the lessons learned while on his quest ultimately have a great impact on this culture he left. I'm not sure I totally buy his "conversion", in part because we only get glimpses of it during the quest itself. However, by the end I felt that it was the only course for this character to have taken.
ARC provided by publisher.
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