Publishers Weekly | 10 August 2010 |

Shan (the Cirque Du Freak series) delivers a fun if predictable stand-alone novel that loosely updates Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn while posing some interesting moral questions. Set in an alternate Arabia filled with multiple religions and gods, Jebel Rum is the youngest and scrawniest son of the executioner of the Um Aineh people. After he impulsively embarks on a quest to get the gifts of strength and invincibility from the god Sabbah Eid, Jebel finds himself on the road with the slave Tel Hesani, who must be sacrificed to complete the quest. Their adventures cause Jebel to question the nature of his indoctrinated religious beliefs, as well as the assumption that only the Um Aineh ways--built heavily on slavery and violence--are correct. Although Shan takes on imperialism and organized religion (the con artists are named Bush and Blair), the politics intertwine smoothly with the travelers' adventures and don't overwhelm the encounters with assorted threats. While the ending is never in doubt, Shan delivers an exciting adventure en route.

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