The King’s Trial: a Fantasy Adventure by M.L. Farb
              
Blurb
By day Yosyph appears nothing more than a mute tavern-hand. By night he is the shadowy leader of a growing revolution.
When he learns that thousands of his people will be sent as slaves to the mines, he must choose—fight the royal army with an ill-prepared rebellion or journey to the land of his ancestors through the deadly King’s Trial, where he hopes to win the help of his kin.
His journey grows complicated when he rescues a maiden and enrages a prince, but if he doesn’t return with help in time, the people he’s loved and secretly served will be gone.
Click here to download The King’s Trial. It will be free on July 16th and 17th!
               
Annie’s Thoughts:

I just finished reading The King’s Trial this morning. I wholeheartedly recommend this clean fantasy adventure! All the main characters went through their own journeys (literal or metaphorical) of growth, and I like that I would not have predicted where some of those would lead. There was an element of romance, but it wasn’t entirely predictable either (predictability is what bothers me about most romance novels). A twist near the end caught me by surprise, which was also fun. But my favorite thing about The King’s Trial was the part of the story where Yosyph must travel through a maze of rock formations using a series of clever riddles/clues to tell him where to go. In one scene, he had to sing a particular song, walking at a pace where his feet kept rhythm with the tune, and then turn each time the word “left” or “right” came up in the song lyrics. I thought that was quite clever! 

Though the main conflict does get resolved and there’s no cliffhanger, a few loose ends in the story make me look forward to the sequel. If you enjoy fantasy or adventure stories, why not download your copy of The King’s Trial now?


Short and long excerpts from The King’s Trial
Short Snippets:
Nightmares usually end with the coming of day, but this one bled into the morning hours. Sunlight filtered through a vine-smothered window. – Yosyph
I slid from the horse’s back. “Glue for you.” I half-hoped he would wander off while I was in the Thirsty Stallion. I’d rather walk than get back on him. I pushed my way into the inn. Ugh. And I thought the clothes I’d taken smelled bad. Vomit, sweat, ale, beer, and all the other smells of the barracks were packed into one room. I thought the soldiers were gross, but this—no wonder Mother called the people dirty, miserable animals. – Halavant
We stepped off the hill’s crest and climbed down into the first reaches of the desert. The dry morning air burned with each breath. By the time we’d reached the bottom, it seemed we’d entered an oven. A hot wind whipped up to meet us, casting gritty sand in our eyes and mouths. The desert had swallowed us whole, and the other world of grass and trees no longer existed. – Yosyph
I learned something over the four days of travel: Galliard was wrongly named. He wasn’t Galliard the Wanderer but Galliard the Obstinate. I’d never had to endure a more mulish man, and there were plenty of them that sat in council with my mother. When I became king, I’d place him as the lead donkey in our luggage train, and he could put his talents to use.  – Halavant
The wind crashed against me on both sides of the bridge, like waves breaking on sea cliffs, pouring over me with such force it ripped away my breath. – Yosyph
The middle of the night was toe-stubbing dark. I bit my lip to stop crying out as my little toe bent sideways around the leg of a chair. – Halavant
Longer Excerpt 1: Yosyph
I turned around to see the prince stomping down a garden path, whacking at bushes with a stick. Sun reflected off his white ringlets. Was he bleaching his hair now, or wearing a wig? He used to have wheat-yellow hair. His skin showed he spent hours outside each day, somehow turning it gold instead of ruddy or brown. His face had the round softness of luxury. It was little wonder the women compared him to a god.
“Prince Halavant,” the steward called out, “Hadron, the vintner, has sent a special gift of wine for your bride.”
He turned toward us, his brows furrowed and lips tight. “It won’t do any good. It would have been perfect for our picnic, but she’d rather go riding without me. I imagine she’s climbing our oak or skipping stones on our pond, without me!”
He was an angry, spoiled godling, not yet full grown. But at least he told me where to find her.
I turned to leave as he continued his rant.
“I’d like to thrash someone. But everyone even the least bit capable is on duty. Not one can spar. Nothing is going right today.” He turned. “You, what is your name and service?”
Why did he, of all people, notice me? I motioned to my throat.
“He is mute, sire,” the steward explained. “The son of the vintner.”
The prince studied me closer, then nodded, “You stand with the ease of a swordsman.”
I dropped to a slouch.
“Though too tall and lean to be much of a match. Still, I see no better options. You may have the privilege of sparing with your prince and future king.”
I slouched to the sparring yard. Perhaps he would rethink fighting me if I looked incapable.
The prince grumbled, “Pointless, worthless day. Left to spar with a mute commoner. Could it get any worse?”
I could think of a hundred ways.
He grabbed one of the dull metal practice swords and tossed another toward me. I leaped to the side, letting it clatter to the ground. I fumbled as I picked it up.
“He has no more skill than a practice dummy. I could take off his head.”
I rethought my strategy. He stood shorter than me, but heavier built and held himself with the balance of a dancer. I shifted my weight to my toes and gripped the sword, point down. Defend myself or not? Run? Wait. Watch. Three long breaths.
He sneered, then lunged, driving his sword toward my chest.
I threw myself to the side, barely keeping to my feet. The prince’s sword slid by my arm as he stumbled past.
I turned to face him. He roared and swung his sword downward. Metal screamed as I tried to deflect the blow. It was like trying to stop a falling cask with a metal rod. I pushed myself off the weight of the swords and spun aside with a slight stumble. It was getting harder to pretend clumsiness while avoiding blows.
He was like a bear. If I wasn’t careful, he’d break my arm or crack my skull. I ducked to avoid the latter.
“Stop dodging and fight, coward!” He whirled around with another crushing swing.
I didn’t like taking orders from him, but fighting instead of dodging seemed sound advice if I didn’t want to be crippled. So much for my half-wit mask. I leaned away from his swing while flicking my sword under his blow, striking him lightly across the ribs.
His Royal Rageness drew back and blinked. Had I injured his pride? I could end up in prison for scratching his pampered flesh. I tensed my legs, ready to dash through the open porter’s gate.
“Unexpected.” He adjusted his sword grip from a fist to a fencer’s hold. He rose to his toes. A hint of a smile creased his green eyes.
Longer Excerpt 2: Yosyph
At the water’s edge, a young woman stood beside a white horse. She flipped a stone into the pond and it skipped twelve times. If the prince liked novelty, she fit it. Hair the color of an autumn maple trailed down her back in tight curls. Paprika freckles dusted her cream skin. She burned brightly in a land of brown and flaxen tresses.
“She says I’m not fit to be a queen.” Katrin flung another stone. It skipped once, hit a lily pad, and sank. “Too ungainly, too brash, too forward. She’s nothing of grace herself, all dominance and force.”
I stepped from the trees.
She continued to rant. “I shall not be frightened away by her threats. I shall not! She tells me she shall make my life miserable if I don’t refuse to marry her son! Oh, how could she be Mother’s best friend and such a beast to me?”
I stepped closer. Still, she didn’t see me. Sometimes, not being noticed was bothersome. I cleared my throat. She whirled, a thin dagger appearing in her hand. Good, so she wasn’t oblivious to the danger.
Longer Excerpt 3: Yosyph
Katrin bent over the map, the end of her turban trailing down beside her face. “The map won’t change, no matter how much you glare at it.”
She was right.
I rolled up the map, slipped it inside a waterproof pouch, and tucked it back inside my robe. The recently purchased desert robes hung loosely from my shoulders to my feet. I considered taking them off and wearing my regular clothing, something easier to mount with. Yet the map had warned to wear desert robes to keep the body from losing too much water. How that worked was beyond me. They seemed to add to the heat of the day. I hooked one foot in the stirrup and swung my other leg over Flax’s back. My leg tangled in the robe and stopped halfway, leaving me sprawled across the saddle.
“You’ve never ridden in robes before?” Katrin’s eyes crinkled with amusement.
I shook my head as I slid to the ground. The robes fell back straight around me, as if they hadn’t had the perverse amusement of stopping me mid-mount.
Katrin looked at me as if waiting for my full attention. She stepped into the stirrup and in one fluid motion, flew into her saddle, her robes flowing out and settling around her. She nodded. “The robes are not all that different from my riding dress.”
“Which I’ve never had the pleasure of wearing,” I muttered.
Her eyes danced with laughter. “So you do have a sense of humor.” She watched as I semi-successfully mounted Flax. “Does that mean we are going?”
About the Author
As a youth, I made up stories to help my little sisters go to sleep. It backfired. We stayed up for hours continuing the tale. The King’s Trial was born in those late, whispered nights.
Ever since I climbed up to the rafters of our barn at age four, I’ve lived high adventure: scuba diving, mud football with my brothers, rappelling, and even riding a retired racehorse at full gallop—bareback. I love the thrill and joy.
Stories give me a similar thrill and joy. I love living through the eyes and heart of a hero who faces his internal demons and the heroine who fights her way free instead of waiting to be saved. I read fiction and true-story adventure. I write both, though I’m starting with publishing the fiction—fact will come later.
I create high fantasy, fairy tale retellings, and poetry. I live a joyful adventure with my husband and six children. I am a Christian and I love my Savior.
– M. L. Farb
  10 Fun, Random Facts about the Author
1.   As a child, I couldn’t walk across a room. I danced, spun, skipped, ran, or otherwise moved, but I couldn’t just walk.
   
2.   I took calculus at a community college at age 14. I planned to go to MIT and become an astronaut. Plans changed—in wonderful ways.
3.   I love reading to my children. We’ve enjoyed books from Dr. Seuss to Les Misérables. Maniac Magee is one of our favorites.
   
4.   I lived in St Petersburg, Russia for half-a-year teaching English to kindergartners. I learned to wash my clothes in a bathtub, filter and boil my drinking water, and love my sweet, crayon-eating, kids.
   
5.   I have slight dyslexia. ‘b’ and ‘p’ sometimes flip flop on me. But it also means I can read a book upside-down.
6.   I love climbing, rappelling, and horseback riding. But I hate roller coasters and bungee jumping.
            
7.   I’ve journaled almost every day since I turned seventeen. I capture conversations, descriptions, happenings, and quotes. I explore ideas. Through the years I’ve written well over a million words. It prepared me to become an author.
   
8.   Plumbing Repair is my nemesis. I’m grateful I don’t have to battle it very often. In the end, I always win, but I feel like I’ve fought an arch-villain who pulled every dirty trick in the book, including Chinese water torture in claustrophobic conditions.
9.   I live with a vivid imagination. I dream in 3-D, technicolor, and occasionally with my eyes open. This is a bane when it comes to nightmares. I will not watch horror movies.
   
10.  The King’s Trial started as a bedtime tale I told my little sisters twenty years ago. Don’t worry. I wrote the second book, The King’s Shadow, in six months, and it will come out this autumn.    
Plus an extra: I have an accent. People often ask me where I’m from. Maybe it’s my reader accent. I’ve read out loud enough different books in character, that perhaps it stuck.

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