The common people have become the currency, outlaws have shifted to mercenaries, and freedom is no more than a thought of the past. Fear, violence, slavery—throughout his adult life, Barloc has known no other way.
A quarter of a century has passed since King Sclavus decreed slavery legal in the Kingdom of Kuldaire, certain it was the only way to keep the economy strong. He created alliances with the wealthy ruling class, and cast the common folk into chains. A handful of rebellions rose, but fell almost as quickly as they began, and the concepts of freedom and peace became dusty relics of the past, a nearly forgotten dream.
When Barloc is sold to Lord Harbor, his new owner offers queer promises of freedom, promises only King Sclavus can honor after a thirty-day trial. Barloc, as someone who has lost everything, or who never had anything of his own to begin with, is forced to question everything around him as he embarks on this new trial.
Whom can he trust? Why has he been selected and thrown into this strange new setting? What happened to just being a slave? How can life be any different from the only way he's ever known? What is freedom, and at what cost?
This is Barloc's chance—perhaps his last chance—to once and for all cast off the chains that bind him. And maybe, just maybe, he can bring others to freedom with him.
"JW Zulauf has crafted a YA fantasy tale that pre-teens and early teens are sure to enjoy, and parents of those kids will be comfortable with them reading. There's much to like about this novel. The characters are engaging and well-developed, and the plot moves right along, punctuated with clever action sequences framed around a truly despicable villain and a cheer-worthy hero. I also found the story very relevant to today's world as it deals with the challenges of achieving freedom and peace - both personal and societal - as it tackles the painful topic of human trafficking, which sadly still exists. These are important themes to be sure, and crucial for young readers to learn about and explore as they make their way to adulthood. As always, Zulauf takes on this subject matter in a way that educates rather than preaches, and as he did with the excellent "Balderdash Saga" series of books, expands young readers' vocabularies by cleverly folding uncommon words into the text, cleverly framing them in such a way that they become easily understandable. There are some threads here I'd like to see expanded upon more, but this wasn't really a problem for me as this is the first book in a series. If you have a YA reader in your family, I highly recommend this thrilling fantasy adventure!" ~ Dale L. Elster
Evolved Publishing presents the much-anticipated first book in a YA fantasy adventure series unlike any other, from a multiple award-winning author. [DRM-Free]
Other Books by J.W. Zulauf:
The Underground Princess (The Balderdash Saga: Book 1)The Prince's Plight (The Balderdash Saga: Book 2)The Shaman's Salvation (The Balderdash Saga: Book 3)The Balderdash Saga - Special Edition
More Great YA Books from Evolved Publishing:
Dream Warriors by D. Robert PeaseHeir of Thunder by Karissa LaurelFrendyl Krune and the Blood of the Sun by Kira A. McFaddenUploaded by James W. Hughes
Zulauf opens a fantasy series with this complicated novel set in a land where slavery is the norm but one lord has committed himself to the cause of freedom. Barloc, a longtime slave, knows Drudgeburg will be different from other places he's lived when his new master, Lord Harbor, whips a too-harsh slaver. Here, slaves can earn their freedom by successfully completing 30 days of quests. Fail any given quest, though, and the timer starts over. There turn out to be reasons for not immediately emancipating everyone, but the system seems capricious and the behavior of the guards inconsistent. Barloc's assiduous following of orders and humane heroics help him graduate from backbreaking labor, but his masters and comrades aren't always thrilled with his tactics for completing his quests. And then King Sclavus's men arrive to insist Lord Harbor demonstrate fealty by ending his slave-freeing. Instead, Drudgeburg openly rebels, and all inhabitants, from the newest confused arrivals to the seasoned, trained fighters, prepare to lose their lives in defense of the idea of ending slavery. Zulauf's feudal world has castles, kings, and swords, but also guns and wage labor, making for odd moments of what feels like historical inaccuracy. But the blend of detailed battle scenes, Barloc's emotional memories, and political intrigue make for a mostly satisfying start to a series.