4 out of 4 stars
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Yosyph is the young leader of an underground rebellion against the wicked queen who sits upon the throne of Lansimetsa. Under the guise of a mute tavern servant, he listens in on the secret meetings of the queen’s guard and rescues innocent men from the gallows. When he learns of the queen’s plans to enslave a third of the population because of the foreign blood that runs through their veins, he knows he must act quickly.
His mother’s people inhabit the savage desert lands outside Lansimetsa. To reach them and receive their help, he must survive the King’s Trial, a series of puzzles that lead through the heart of the water-parched and rocky terrain. The strength he needs comes from an unexpected power that lies within, but he must learn to yield that power and trust in the God of his people or be consumed by darkness. Can Yosyph learn to use his gift honorably in time to save the kingdom he left behind?
The King’s Trial, by M. L. Farb, is an exciting young adult fantasy with an inspirational message. Christian readers and those looking for an encouraging story of triumph will enjoy this clean, engaging tale.
I initially chose The King’s Trial because of the vibrant cover and the promise of an epic fantasy adventure. I mistakenly assumed that it would be a simple story of good triumphing over evil and happily ever after. I needed a familiar story to give me a good dose of encouragement to tough it out these last few weeks of 2020. Instead, I got something beyond what I could imagine. Yes, this book uses some familiar fantasy tropes, but Ms. Farb had a way of surprising me along the journey. I loved the thought-provoking concepts woven throughout the tale and the layers of complexity that became clear as the story progressed. Yosyph’s courage inspired me as he learned to trust God through his difficult trials and wield his powerful gift.
The story’s positive aspects didn’t end with Yosyph’s character growth. I loved Prince Halavant’s story as well. At first, I could not stand the whiney prince, but Ms. Farb also had a grand plan for Halavant’s storyline, and I grew to love this character. Aside from his growth through the circumstances he faced, there were a few surprises in his journey that kept me glued to the pages. I became more and more invested in the overall story as the author alternated from Halavant’s first-person perspective to Yosyph’s between chapters. I loved seeing how their stories came together in the end. The story’s final battle and climax were excellent, and I’m eager to check out the continuing story in book two, The King’s Shadow.
For readers who like strong female characters, there was also the lovely Katrin, who won the hearts of both Yosyph and Halavant. No need to worry, though; this was not a romantic fantasy with a love triangle. Ms. Farb did an excellent job of making Katrin a part of this story and using her choices to set up the next book’s premise. I think readers will appreciate how this book’s conclusion leaves you on solid ground—no cliffhanger ending—but eager to see how the open-ended questions will be answered in the following story.
As a parent, I appreciated the clean content of this novel and its well-edited pages. I found no errors or typos, and I loved the relatable characters. I think teens and adults alike can use relatable characters to escape into fantasy worlds, find hope and encouragement, and gain a healthy dose of motivation to face the trials of life and overcome in a good book like this. Maybe I’m overselling it, but this book contained a vital message that came at a perfect time for me in my walk of faith, and I truly appreciated the author’s ability to write that type of story. There was nothing that I disliked about the book. Therefore, I gladly give The King’s Trial a glowing 4 out of 4.
The King's Trial
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