Jebel Rum is the youngest, and smallest, of three sons, whose father is the revered executioner of Wadi. After a day of beheading criminals, his father makes an unexpected announcement to the crowd; unexpected because he had rarely said a word in his long career. He announces that he is proud of his two sons who are intending to enter a competition to win the honor of becoming the new executioner. Jebel Rum was not mentioned. Publicly disgraced, Jebel, in a moment of rashness, decides to set out on a quest to petition a God for powers that would make him invincible, and thus able to enter and win the competition to become the new executioner.
What follows is a tale that sweeps us on a perilous journey through a terrifying realm of criminals, madmen, grave-robbers, demons and cannibals. I will let you read the book yourself to see if Jebel succeeds in his quest!
Darren Shan is often asked which of his books is his favorite. He has recently admitted on his own site that The Thin Executioner is that book. What he wanted to do is write a book that was reminiscent of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn but more accessible to a modern audience. He achieves this, in my opinion.
The world that Jebel inhabits is entirely believable; as too are the characters. Jebel is a complex character who we must "grow" to like. His cohort, Tel Hesani, is a likable character who becomes somewhat of a father-figure to Jebel; though he is the boy's slave. Other characters we encounter are equally interesting and come to life easily in our minds. Although we have a few stock characters, like the surly bar owner, all of the major characters are quite original and certainly entertaining.
Shan also manages to highlight his own political leanings in an entertaining way. Two villains of the book are called Bush and Blair!
The pace of the story never lets up. Shan admits that the original novel was whittled away significantly to remove any sluggish areas from the finished story.
Overall, I would agree with Darren Shan. The Thin Executioner is his best book to date. And, though it is a fantasy novel, his legion of horror fans will not be disappointed; there are plenty of elements in the novel that any fan of the horror genre will adore.