Monday, December 27, 2010

The Wilderking Trilogy, Book 2: The Secret of the Swamp King

Former shepherd, Aidan Errolson, felled a giant with a simple stone. But now an even bigger giant threatened Aidan’s life—a jealous and vindictive king. The very king, in fact, that brought Aidan to his court as a reward for his victory on the battlefield.

At the beginning of the second book in the Wilderking trilogy, The Secret of the Swamp King, by Jonathan Rogers, Aidan’s reputation and popularity in the king’s court have sky-rocketed. Yet as Aidan’s praises are sung, King Darrow turns sour. Determined to rid himself of Aidan’s growing influence, the king sends Aidan on a dangerous and deadly errand: to fetch a live frog orchid from the depths of the Feechiefen Swamp. Darrow believes he is sending Aidan to certain death since nobody has ever returned alive from the swamp. Ever faithful to the king, Aidan sets out to prove his loyalty.

Little does Darrow know, but Aidan has friends in Feechiefen Swamp. Not only that, the feechiefolk know him as the hero Pantherbane.

After a series of misadventures, Aidan is captured by a mysterious and false Wilderking. Dobro Turtlebane tries to rescue Aidan, a move that forces one Feechie tribe against another. With wit, courage, and grace, Aidan helps restore the rightful order of the swamp. In the end, he finally locates the frog orchid and returns to King Darrow. It is then he discovers that not only will the flower not heal what ails King Darrow, but that his days in King Darrow’s court are over.

To the careful reader, the story will seem familiar. In essence, it is a fantastical version of the Biblical story of young David in King Saul’s court.

What I Like: As with book number one in the series, 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 yet at the same time he’s inspiring, noble, and humble. While the story holds parallels to the accounts of David in King Saul’s court (including David’s friendship with Jonathan), 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 and its twists and turns. 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 Bark of the Bog Owl and The Way of the Wilderking.

What I Dislike: Nothing

Overall Rating: Excellent

Age Appeal: 8-12, but kids both older and younger would enjoy it

Publisher Info: B & H Publishing, 2005; ISBN: 978-0-8054-3132-2 ; Hardcover, 240 PGS., $ 15.99

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