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.
Dale L. Elster says: "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 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!"
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.
Reviewer Lindy says: “Kingdom In Chains was a slow burning read that spent a great deal of time setting up the world and immersing you into it completely. Zulauf writes a comprehensive tale of a man who has only know slavery as his way of life, but this tale has a beautiful movement to it and all is not what it may seem. Well written and expansive, by the time the story picks up, you are in the midst of the very kingdom in chains the title speaks of, walking and sweating beside the men and women as they bide their time in order to earn what is theirs. Thoroughly enjoyable and nicely detailed, without it being overbearing and unnecessary, giving your mind reason to wander and imagine the world under the thumb of an oppressive reign.”
And be sure to check out J.W. Zulauf’s other great books from his lower grade chapter book series, The Balderdash Saga.
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PRINT BOOK INFO:
Perfect Bound / Softcover:
5 x 8 x 0.5960 (0.628 Lbs)
284 Pages (28Carton)
List Price: $14.95
"Kingdom in Chains is unexpected in many ways. The prospect of an engrained slave system including a lord who offers an alternative in defiance of the norm, the interactions between slave Barloc and this changing world, and the challenging battles the group is charged with fighting under Lord Harbor's rule sets the pace for a fast-paced story line filled with battles and uncertainty for Barloc as he slowly absorbs new rules and his road to eventual freedom.
The progress of a man who moves beyond individual experience and responsibility to address the greater good makes for as involving a story as the physical battles and the philosophical and political conflicts between rulers. Readers who look for fiction that juxtaposes conflict and confrontation with a protagonist's personal evolution will find much to like in a story that presents Barloc with an unexpected cause that drives his life and future.
Kingdom in Chains is highly recommended as an invigorating pick for any who would read of other realms and the forces that stand between freedom, self-actualization, and social change."
"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."
"Edge of your seat prose, great characterization, realistic events and dialogue are signature indices of great writing, and Mr. Zulauf demonstrates each of these writing characteristics perfectly. These traits, coupled with superb editing and an ending that doesn’t drop you off a steep cliff, make Kingdom In Chains a pleasure to read and the perfect start of a new series that will keep fantasy fans enthralled for months (or years) to come. I’m looking forward to the next installment as I’ve become a fan of J.W. Zulauf!"