Monday, December 27, 2010

The Wilderking Trilogy, Book 1: The Bark of the Bog Owl

“My Dearest King—You will be glad to learn that I am still available for any quest, adventure, or dangerous mission for which you might need a champion or knight-errant. I specialize in dragon-slaying, but would be happy to fight pirates or invading barbarians if circumstances require. I would even be willing to rescue a fair maiden imprisoned by evil relatives. That would not be my first choice…”

This letter, penned by twelve-year-old shepherd Aidan Errolson, begins The Bark of the Bog Owl, the first book in the Wilderking series, written by Jonathan Rogers. Adian hungers for adventure, but his prospects look bleak. As the youngest son of a nobleman, his daily routine includes tending the sheep, writing songs, and daydreaming.

Then Aidan hears the bark of the bog owl… and the adventure he yearns for finds him.

First the mysterious prophet, Bayard the Truthspeaker, shows up and declares that Aidan will become the next Wilderking, and that Aidan will reclaim the traditional ideals the people have forgotten. Then Aidan kills a panther with a sling shot, thereby saving (and befriending) a feechiefolk boy named Dobro Turtlebane. (Feechiefolk are a tribe of swamp dwellers who love fighting, speak in a hilarious southeast American dialect, have little common sense, and smell simply awful.)

As the story progresses, war breaks out between Aidan’s country of Corenwald and the Pyrthen Empire. Aidan’s brothers are sent to war, but Aidan is left behind. Finally, Aidan’s father agrees to send him to take food and supplies to his brothers. Aidan discovers a standstill on the battlefield, as the people of Corenwald cower from a great Pyrthen warrior—who happens to be a giant. When the giant insults the One God, Aidan volunteers to fight him.

Corenwald’s king tries to outfit Aidan in all sorts of armor and weapons—items much too big and cumbersome for a young boy. Finally, Aidan casts everything aside and picks up his sling to fight. In explanation, Aidan says “If I am defeated tomorrow, I want to die as I have lived—a shepherd boy, with the sun on my forehead and the breeze in my hair. But if I overcome, everyone must know that the One God, and not Aidan Errolson, is the Champion of Corenwald.”

Then Aidan fells the giant with a stone. Ahh—and now the story holds a familiar ring, and the reader will recognize it as a fantastical version of the David and Goliath story from the Bible.

The story ends with Aidan packing his bags and leaving behind his flock. His Majesty, the King of Corenwald, has agreed to let Aidan serve in his court.

What I Like: I LOVED THIS BOOK. The writing is vivid, engaging, fast-paced, and amusing. In short, it’s superb. Aidan is completely likable. He’s funny, adventuresome, and courageous (in an almost a foolhardy way) yet at the same time he’s inspiring, noble, and humble. While parallels to the story of David and Goliath are evident, this tale is so well crafted and so well rooted in its fantasy world that instead of the similarities hindering the plot, the reader will be completely delighted by this fresh new version. Plus without being preachy or obvious, the story helps us see how our decisions matter, and how faith is lived out. There are two more books in this series; The Secret of the Swamp King and The Way of the Wilderking.

What I Dislike: NOTHING

Overall Rating: Excellent

Age Appeal: 8-12, but as a read-aloud, younger kids would enjoy it too.

Publisher Info: B&H Publishing, 2004; ISBN: 978-0805431315; Hardcover, 240 PGS., $15.99

Buy it Now at for $7.99
OR Buy it at for $9.97.
OR Buy the Kindle version for $7.98

Special Info:Visit Jonathan Rogers' website!

Bookmark and Share

No comments: