Lance & Megan's Blog

The Bark of the Bog Owl by Jonathan Rogers


Book #1 of The Wilderking Trilogy

Formational Book Review by Megan

4/5 stars

“Courage is the will to lay aside fear because your desire to do right outweighs your desire to avoid getting hurt. You said you were frightened of the panther.”


“Then why didn’t you run away?”

Frightened though he had been, Aidan never even considered that possibility. “I couldn’t leave Dobro to be eaten by a panther. I couldn’t leave my sheep either.”

Bayard smiled. “You felt fear. But you didn’t act out of fear; you acted out of courage. Dobro was fearless. You were courageous, which is a much better thing to be.”

The Bark of the Bog Owl (TBOTBO) is a retelling of the story of David with a southern flair. The story follows Aidan Errolson, the youngest of 5 boys, who is relegated to watching the sheep in far off pastures. He longs for a courageous and adventurous life but the most adventure he gets is fighting off a panther with his sling. That is until the Pyrthen Empire lands on their shores. If you know the story of young David (I Samuel 16 & 17) than you will know the gist of this story. There are some twists and creative license is taken as should be expected.

Reading as a Disciple

“But I don’t feel like the Wilderking.”

“How is a Wilderking supposed to feel?” asked the prophet.

“I don’t know. I don’t suppose anybody knows. There’s never been a Wilderking before.”

“Precisely. None but you can say how a Wilderking feels. You are the only one.” He poked a finger into Aidan’s chest for emphasis. “And you don’t have to feel anything in particular.”

Bayard leaned toward Aidan. “Let me tell you a secret, Aidan.” He looked over his shoulder as if making sure no one was listening, then whispered, “I don’t usually feel like a prophet.”

We are often driven by how or what we feel in the moment. It is easy to do; sometimes we give in to our feelings (I make an extra batch of cookies because I feel like it,) sometimes we don’t have a choice (I’m still a mom whether I feel like being one) and other times we just don’t (I decline an extra helping of dessert even though I do want more.) Feelings are used to make decisions big and small. This exchange in The Bark of the Bog Owl, is a beautiful lesson in not making decisions based solely on how we feel. We don’t need to feel something special to do something great or small, we need to be obedient with what is in front of us. This same conversation continues later,

“What if I am destined to be the Wilderking? How should I live?”

“The same way you should live if you weren’t the Wilderking. Live the life that unfolds before you. Love goodness more than you fear evil.”

The same can be said of believers, to live the life that God has put before you. Love goodness in your workplace, in your school, in your home. In this era, where we can be pushed to pick a side, it is easy to forget it is more important to love goodness more than what we fear. By loving goodness around us, we can point others to a good God who loves us. But… loving goodness is a choice and we often won’t feel like it.

Reading Communally

“The doubt, actually was easier than belief.”

Just as loving goodness is a choice, so also is belief in the face of doubt. Doubt can be easier because it leaves room to settle for failure; it leaves room to save face if your belief turns out to be false. Hesitation, uncertainty, confusion, indecision are all synonyms for doubt, none are ones we want to be used to describe us. Doubt comes more easily when faced with discouragement and questions from those that are older and more experienced than us. Rogers does a great job of showing the brothers’ doubt and anger at their insolent brother desiring to do what is right. Our doubt and unbelief can have a huge ripple effect for others around us. The Bible gives many examples of doubt changing a community, look at the Israelites, doubt led to a golden calf being built! By Aidan choosing belief, he was able to rally the Corenwalders from their stupor.

The longing to belong can give way to peer pressure. Not only can it be difficult to stand alone when everyone around you doubts, it is hard to stand out and be confident. In TBOTBO, the Corenwalders want to impress the Pyrthens and be accepted by them; but instead “the Corenwalders’ attempts at imitation seem all the more clownish.” How easy it is to lose our sense of belonging and identity. The story continues to address the identity of the Corenwalders as a nation and their struggle to keep it.

Final Thoughts

Overall I enjoyed the book despite already knowing the general storyline. It was mostly predictable but there were a few surprises thrown in. It will be interesting to see in the other books, how Rogers tells the story of David and at what point the trilogy ends. The Bark of the Bog Owl is a great read aloud for families and provides plenty of conversation starters.

Other Jonathan Rogers books:

The Wilderking Trilogy

The World According to Narnia

The Charlatan’s Boy

The Terrible Speed of Mercy

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