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The Wilderking Trilogy by Jonathan Rogers is a delightful middle-grade fantasy series. It’s based loosely on the life of King David from his shepherd days to his coronation. I had previously read the first book, The Bark of the Bog Owl, and recommended it on the Read-Aloud Revival Podcast where Sarah Mackenzie and I talked about fantasy books for Christian families (Episode 41).

When I learned that Jonathan Rogers had recently released the series as audiobooks, I knew it was time for me to revisit this series with a review. Rogers narrates the books himself, and his Georgian accent perfectly suits the swampy, alligator-filled setting of his books.

The Story

Aidan Errolson is a shepherd boy with the heart of a warrior when the prophet Bayard prophesies that Aidan will be the Wilderking. But Aidan and his family are faithful subjects of King Darrow. Aidan wants to serve the king, not usurp him.

If you know the story of David from the Bible, you have the basic bones of the Wilderking story. David kills the giant, Goliath, serves in King Saul’s court, who later tries to kill him, and then lives a life on the run from King Saul, still faithful to God’s anointed as king.

Here’s the twist. The Wilderking trilogy is set in a swampy, alligator-filled island, inhabited by a reclusive, fearsome folk called Feechies. The whole flavor and fun of the story, along with several plot points, come from this unique setting.

Like most series, the Wilderking books get better and more interesting as they progress. The books are The Bark of the Bog Owl, The Secrets of the Swamp King, and The Way of the Wilderking.

What I Loved About This Series

  1. A fresh perspective on King David: As mentioned earlier, this story gets its structure from the early life of King David. Looking at David’s life through the eyes of Aidan Errolson and seeing the thoughts and feelings he may have had was deeply revealing. I think this is a great way to help kids better appreciate the biblical narrative.
  2. A love for the land: It’s obvious to me from his writing that Rogers deeply loves the Georgia land and wildlife that these books were based on. In fact, conservation becomes a main theme in the second book when traders are needlessly killing egrets for just their plumes. The world is ours to preserve, and I appreciate how this theme is woven into the story.
  3. How then shall we live? Aidan struggles with being caught in the middle of a prophesy and knowing how to live his life. The advice he receives from Bayard is something we’d all do well to heed. “Walk the path that is set before you.”
  4. Feechie ballads are fun! In fact, since we got the audiobooks, my kids have taken to reciting them, much to my delight (despite their bad grammar).

Parents Should Know

  • There is some peril in these books, including some fights with alligators, with other people, and battle scenes. I wouldn’t describe anything as gory, but it’s something to be aware of for younger or sensitive kids.
  • While tons of fun, the Feechies do bring a certain amount of grossness and uncouthness. I think it’s all in good fun. But it’s something to be aware of if this would bother you or your kids.

Did I mention that I loved the audiobooks? You can tell Jonathan Rogers has some recording artist connections because the audio quality was wonderful. This is one of the few audiobooks where you won’t have to adjust the volume when the narrator switches between characters. (Or when Rogers makes the elusive Feechie battle cry).

Is there a retelling of a biblical story you recommend? I’d love to hear about it.

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