The Bark of the Bog Owl by Jonathan Rogers
Book 1 of The Wilderking Trilogy, this book took me completely by surprise. I chose it initially because its cover and title intrigued me, but I was quickly absorbed by the story and its relevance to everyday life--even mine!
Aidan Errolson is the 12-year-old youngest son of one of Corenwald's greatest heroes. He comes from a long line of adventurers, but as he looks forward through his own life, he sees nothing but the boring and comfortable life of a nobleman's son.
Until he hears the unique "bark" of the bog owl, long regarded as an omen of things to come in the hearer's existence. The bark of the bog owl speaks of "wild places still untamed, of quests not yet pursued, or great deeds not yet done."
Shepherd boy Aidan is a poet and songwriter who has always dreamed of glory and adventure, but of what does the bog owl's bark portend? What kind of quests will he go on? What kind of great deeds will he perform? He has no idea, but when Bayard the Truthspeaker comes to the Errolson estate to seek the Wilderking of mythology, Aidan's simple life ends and an adventure he could have never seen coming begins. "Live the life that unfolds before you," Bayard tells the boy repeatedly. And that life is something amazing as the fate of idyllic Corenwald itself is threatened by the gigantic champion of their deceptive and aggressive neighboring enemies. If the small boy with his slingshot cannot overpower the towering fighter, all Corenwald will be enslaved--and that's the good news.
The Wilderking Trilogy is more than an adventure story. It is a near-epic tale of one young boy's life as it takes on its purpose. It is a warm coming-of-age story as well as a "be careful what you wish for" lesson that thoughtful readers--including adults--will enjoy. Families looking for a story that will generate deep discussion will even enjoy reading this together.
This is a well-told, fast-paced, often funny, and wise book. I'm looking forward to reading books 2 and 3!