K. Trap Jones
Blood Bound Books, February 24, 2012
Review by Darkeva
The Sinner by K. Trap Jones is a novel broken up into seven parts, each to represent featurettes of the main character’s encounter with the seven deadly sins, an interesting narrative device. Things get off to a start with the preface, which explains “a lone farmer, chosen by God to test the boundaries of sin,” writes of his encounters with the demons who are manifested seven deadly sins. He suffers from visions that he catalogues, and he follows that up with his “translated” entries.
As for the prose, it has poetic qualities, written in verse that doesn’t rhyme, which I found distracting. Nevertheless, the story comes across well. The main character is a farmer who doesn’t know why God chose him, because he’s not religious. Admittedly, this is a nitpick, and fiction has a certain degree of poetic license, but what I questioned was, despite not knowing what era this is set in (it seemed pseudo-medieval), a farmer of the time would be illiterate. As well, the character’s voice sounded more like a philosophical monk than a farmer, but as the novel went on, some of the reasons behind this became more apparent.
Wrath tells of how the farmer’s village came under attack, and how he stood up to his attackers, who were on horses and wore armour. After he’s kicked out of jail to make more room, street life is worse than prison life, and he can’t leave the city because there are guards at the gates. The story chronicles his encounter with a wolf, who saves him from a harsh beating, and she turns out to be a pretty woman, Amon, who teaches him to be angry and kill as many noblemen as he can. His arrogance grows so high that he thinks of himself as a God, until he goes after a particular rich guy only to get a taste of his own medicine. I had a bit of a hard time sympathizing with the main character’s views that his killings were justified, even if his victims did treat him rottenly.
In the next section, Greed, the main character is a carpenter who becomes aware that a Plague is coming into town. He meets a cloaked figure, Mammon, who gives him the Plague and says his task is to spread the Plague. Mammon has the cure, and the main character can choose to dose only himself, allowing the rest of the townfolk to die, or he can give the cure to the town elders to make more cure, but in that scenario, it’s not clear how long he’d last, being infected. Eventually, the protagonist has no choice but to drink the vial to preserve himself, thereby damning others, only for the Plague to break into the town, which the villagers have made into a fortress that nothing can get out of. From there, the main character spirals even further into his descent until Mammon returns to say that had he given the vial to the elders, they would make it long-lasting, whereas the cure he dosed himself with was temporary.
In Sloth, he’s at a farm, closer to his element. He starts out with a great work ethic until an irrigation specialist, Belphegor, stops by and claims to have solutions to the main character’s problems, including more timber that his competitors don’t know about. Belphegor starts to make the farmer’s job much easier, until he takes over pretty much everything, and the farmer has nothing to do. He becomes lazy and doesn’t feel like doing anything, and is content to let Belphegor do all the work. But the farmer gets confrontational when he realizes Belphegor has the reins, they have a fight, Belphegor tells him there’s some cleaning to do in the shed, and a monster attacks the farmer, and he loses a hand.
The farmer has a choice-he can get his hand back along with his original work ethic, but he won’t be able to rest or have free time ever. Or he could keep his injury, and keep his restful, slothful lifestyle and still reap the benefits of the farm without having to work. He picks the latter, selfish option, of course, only to suffer the consequences.
Next, Gluttony showcases a butcher, who teams up with Beelzebub, his next door neighbour and a meat vendor, who convinces him to hoard the food supply he gets for both of them. When the weather gets a lot worse, he denies food to people, who starve while the butcher gains weight, gorging himself. When it comes time for his just desserts, the customers he denied have a particularly inventive punishment.
We then move into Lust, in which the main character is a peasant tailor in love with a princess. An old woman, Asmodeus, comes to him and promises that she can get him into the palace to declare his love, but when he gets in, he finds the princess’s husband, and suffice it to say, things don’t go well after that. He starts to feel betrayed, and takes it out on the girl, only to get screwed over, yet again, this time by Asmodeus.
In Envy, ore is the main character’s bread and butter as a miner. He always wants more, and makes the best quality weapons. He meets a striker, Leviathan, who he hires, and as with Sloth, the demon does all the work for the main character, seemingly with no nefarious intentions.
Things change up a bit in Pride, in which the main character is obsessed with a monument he believes can give him inner peace. He’s a misanthropic prophet who meets a tall blond in a red robe, Lucifer, who insists wanting to offer the prophet understanding and the opportunity to believe again. Lucifer says he’s there to help the prophet of God to remember his past. And so, the farmer from the main narrative arc starts remembering each of the deadly sins he went through. A prophecy is being written for him, Lucifer claims. Lucifer identifies himself as a demon serving God, which made me scratch my head as demons don’t tend to serve God, especially not him.
He suggests two possible paths-one would take him to his farm, and the other would send him back to the cave to complete his journey with God. One path would allow him to live a common life erase his sins, but the other would let him take pride in his sins and become immortal. To not sin was never an option for him.
The next section, Realization, shows the main character’s decision, which contains “the big reveal,” which I didn’t find surprising as it seemed like that’s the direction the author was guiding the reader in. It does get a bit long-winded toward the end, and although I found some of the mythology and variations a bit confusing, it’s a great read for fans who like the lyric style of epic poems like The Inferno as previously mentioned, and for those who are big on biblical demons.