(book 1 of The Wilderking Trilogy)
It has been said, regarding many different facets of life, that it is the journey that counts, not the destination. This book is certainly one of those times.
In The Bark of the Bog Owl , Jonathan Rogers borrows from the Biblical story of David in 1 Samuel, setting the story in an adventure/fantasy world. Those familiar with the story of David will know in advance where certain parts of the story are going.
For instance, when the wise and well-respected prophet, Bayard (the book’s analogue of Samuel) shows up at the house of Errol (the book’s Jesse) looking for the Wilderking, we know that he’s going to find him to be the youngest of Errol’s sons, a shepherd boy named Aidan.
And when Corenwald (Israel) goes to battle with Pyrth (Philistia), complete with the giant Pyrthen warrior Greidawl (Goliath) issuing the challenge for one Corenwald warrior to fight him, and blaspheming the name of the One True God, we already know Greidawl’s fate (and by whose hand it will come).
But Rogers doesn’t just ape the Scriptures. Were this a direct re-telling of the story, one would classify it as speculative fiction, as Rogers fills in a lot of details on which the Bible is silent. Also to be noted is the fact that the story arc doesn’t always follow the Biblical narrative either. For instance, after Aidan kills Greidawl, the Pyrthens go back on their word, and the battle isn’t over, as they start employing cannons, a battle “technology” that the men of Corenwald have never seen.
This book appears to be targeted at middle-school age kids, and one can definitely see the influence that Rogers has on Andrew Peterson’s Wingfeather Saga series. But like Peterson’s books (or C S Lewis’ Narnia books), this novel is in no way limited to its primary target audience.
If you have kids of this age, and want to use them as an excuse to read this book to them, go ahead. I won’t tell. And even if you don’t, I still won’t tell.