Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Thin Executioner by Darren Shan

Jebel Rum is the runt of his family, and has been publicly shamed by his father, the much honored executioner of Wadi. Jebel wants to compete in the competition to become the next executioner, but knows he has no chance of winning. Jebel decides to set out on a quest to ask the high god Sabbah Eid for invincibility. The quest will be long and hard and take many months. Not only that, but Jebel must find a slave that will go with him, and then allow himself to be sacrificed to the high god.

Jebel finds Tel Hesani, who is willing to sacrifice his own life in return for his family's freedom, and the two set off. Things do not go as planned.

So this was fun. Adventury, quest filled, evil lurking at every corner. Bratty spoiled rich boy who Learns A Valuable Lesson. Eventually. It took him a long time to learn his valuable lesson. Man. Jebel sure was full of himself. Darren Shan wrote the Cirque Du Freak series, his horror background comes through, although only a little. It was mostly straight adventure, with some monsters and grave robbing and cannibalism thrown in. That kid that comes into your library who loves adventure and gore will love this.

Something I want to talk about though. So, in this world, which I think is supposed to be far far far in the future when civilization has collapsed, the ruling class, the ones with all the money and power, is described as dark skinned. The slaves are white. Interesting. In the future our Western Civilization has failed and so on and so forth. A lesson to us! Except...not quite. The dark skinned ruling class are blood thirsty warriors who worship multiple gods. The light skinned slaves worship one god and it's Tel Hesani, the white slave, who shows Jebel what it is to really be a man. Am I reading too much into this? Or did this book try to switch things around but end up giving us the same old story: it takes a white man to help the lesser dark skinned peoples see the errors of their ways. Hmm. I don't know. But I was definitely thinking about it as I read. It was giving me sort of a funny feeling. If you read this, let me know. We should talk.

The Thin Executioner is available in August.

1 comment:

  1. Nay, that wasn't what I was getting at at all. The world of Makhras is an alternate reality, not our world in the future. The skin colour isn't an issue in the story -- the lead character is dark-skinned simply because the book was largely inspired by a trip I made to the Middle East and I wanted to honour it by having the geography of the book reflect that of Jordan to a certain extent. Power corrupts, regardless of race or colour -- being a young country, America came rather late to the slave trade, but it had been going strong for thousands of years -- many African nations were slavers, many European countries were slavers (even Ireland at one point, which is where I'm from) and I'm sure it was rife pretty much everywhere else too. What I wanted to highlight in the book was that we don't have to repeat the mistakes of the past. We don't have to go along with injustice simply because it's become a tradition. We all have the power to change, and we should forever be looking closely at ourselves and asking if change is necessary -- regardless of the colour of our skin, our belief system, or anything else.

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