Jebel’s story takes place in a well-described alternate world, yet immediately recognizable to readers. He is a young man with girlfriend problems, self-esteem issues, sibling rivalry, parental neglect, and way too much attitude. In other words, a perfect character in need of an epic adventure.
Accompanying Jebel on his quest is his slave, Tel Hasani, who is destined to be sacrificed to the god in exchange for Jebel’s invincibility. Their journey is filled with dangerous men, eerie places, fierce enemies, tricksters, and horrible creatures. Their path is bloody and through these events, Jebel begins to see Tel as something other than a slave – a man and a friend, perhaps?
Many will liken this story to “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, which is fitting, as the author has drawn from this masterpiece as his inspiration. Like Huck Finn’s journey down the Mississippi, Jebel Rum faces hazard after hazard, has thrill after thrill, and most are filled with blood-curdling horror that results in eye-opening revelations about Jebel’s world, and ours.
For young readers, the story barrels through episode after episode, each offering a layer of maturity to Jebel until he is forced to grow up. For the more astute reader, enjoyment can be found in subtle (and some not-so-subtle) real-world parallels. This is an epic story like “The Odyssey”, or Jack Vance’s “The Big Planet”. The sense of atmosphere is often foreboding and, at each moment, the reader wonders either how did Jebel get into this mess, or how is he ever going to get out alive?
Darren Shan’s international reputation is well-deserved for the epic scale of his series books, and specifically for the success of tales such as “The Vampire’s Assistant”. Even though “The Thin Executioner” is a stand-alone tale, the characters are well-developed by the end of the first few chapters. As a result, the tale of Jebel Rum and Tel Hasani is thoroughly engaging and can be enjoyed by YA readers and adults alike.
R. B. Payne is a dark fiction writer. His stories have appeared in Doorways, Dark Discoveries, Necrotic Tissue, and the recent Stoker-nominated Midnight Walk anthology. He is insanely enthusiastic about writing book reviews for Shroud magazine. But rather than continuing to blurb himself by pretending that someone else wrote this bio, he would prefer you seek out his stories and read them late at night. For the record, he lives in Los Angeles and lurks at www.rbpayne.com. He would love to hear from you as long as it’s not a beating heart delivered in a cardboard box.