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Wednesday, 7 January 2015

The Thin Executioner by Darren Shan - Book Review

5/5 Stars

to retrieve his honour...

to win the hand of the girl he loves...

to wield unimaginable power...

and to become...

THE THIN EXECUTIONER

7599660

Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 410
Chapters: 38
Publisher: HarperCollins

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Amazon
                      Author's Website

Review

After finishing a series like Gone, I wasn't ready to start another one. And what better luck than to stumble on a Darren Shan standalone. Especially one like The Thin Executioner. I've seen through various places that Young Adult Fantasy is speeding up the ranks in the book world, and in my humble opinion, Darren Shan's foray here is one of the best I've read. It's a solid standalone that actually had tears in my eyes by the end. Such a potent and powerful story with a clear message that warms your heart.
Wait.
What's that you're saying?
The Master of Horror warmed my heart?
Yes. That's exactly what I'm saying. And don't worry, the gory, thrilling story the author's known for is still there. But laced throughout The Thin Executioner is a well-crafted and attention-stealing message that plucks at the strings of your heart.
Trust me.

SPOILER WARNING

We follow the character Jebel Rum, the son of Wadi's revered executioner. But Jebel walks in his family's shadow, unlike his peers, he's thin and weak, and he's shamed for it. Deliberately by his friends, and unintentionally by his family.
But one day it's too much.
Jebel faces public shame, unwittingly from his own father, and as consequence, it sows the seeds within Jebel that push him into his quest.
He will travel to a faraway land and search for a mysterious god: Sabbah Eid.
If successful, Jebel will be bestowed with powers beyond his imagination, allowing him to challenge the people who shame him.
But Jebel is young, and everything he's raised with is called into question, including the type of person he believes himself to be.

I can't praise this book's plot enough. The mythology and history is so well-developed; the world is perfectly described and easily visualised with your mind's eye. It's a quick, encapsulating read that I promise you, if you haven't picked this up and read it, you are missing out big time. It's a standalone with a punch. I perused a few reviews and saw that a few people listed the lack of plot twists and overall predictability as a weakness, but they aren't. The novel follows a very deliberate path; it's not about shocking you, it's about teaching you.
Then again, there are plot twists that kept the story fresh and exciting, and I found the book benefited from not being over-saturated. It's also not as predictable as you think. There are a few surprises in store that have you smiling or gasping with ravenous delight.

It's the characters that truly run this story. Mr Shan has crafted the perfect cast to go with an astounding world. Jebel is the unlikable hero, that transitions so well from hated to loved throughout the book. Along with his companion - slave - Tel Hesani, both main characters learn from one another, and I can't remember being so invested in two people in any series recently, not like this. The villains are incredible, unique; each terrifying in their own way. They all help drive forward the story, but coupled with it, they drive home the message with unnerving accuracy.

There are tons that contribute to the novel's message. Jebel was brought up a certain way, with certain beliefs scarred into his brain. He believes them so irrevocably, that nothing else matters. The law, his religion, his way of life; his ways are the only ways. It's his quest and his slave-turned-friend Tel Hesani that helps open his mind. Our main character develops from a narrow minded douche to an accepting, wholly-good person. Jebel truly becomes a hero.
I think that's awesome. I'm a firm believer in being open-minded and being the best person you can be. Being nice doesn't mean you're weak, it's a strength far more useful than it ever gets credit for.

And the end... Damn. If you reach the end and don't have at least a lump in your throat, I must ask you to search for your heart.


For more Darren Shan reviews: Index


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