VOYA | 13 December 2010 | Laura Panter

When Rashed Rum, famed executioner of Wadi, announces retirement from his post of thirty years, he acknowledges his two sons J'Al and J'An without mentioning his younger son, Jebel Rum. Shamed by his father's display of praise for his brothers, Jebel is determined to prove to his father and the city that he is worthy of becoming the next executioner. He recklessly requests to become a quester by traveling to Tubaygat and petitioning the Sabbah Eid for inhuman strength and invincibility. Securing a slave to take as a sacrifice to the mythical god, Jebel sets out with Tel Hesani to capture his new destiny, but instead learns more about compassion, survival, and kindness than he ever imagined. Jebel faces death more than once, discovering that there are much crueler villains in the world than even his learned history has prepared him for. Shan creates a masterful, grueling story of survival and terror. Jebel's journey is both enthralling and horrifying. Some readers will want to put the book down in disgust over the graphic violence, only to be too curious to learn what comes next not to continue with Jebel's story. Main characters, as well as secondary characters, are well drawn so that the personalities just jump off the page. Readers will hate the villains, feel sorry for the innocent, and root for Tel Hesani and Jebel to complete their mission. This is a must-read for thrill seekers with a strong stomach looking for an action-packed adventure with a host of fantastical creatures.

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