Review- The Charlatans Boy- by Jonathan Rogers


So it’s the end of 2010 already, and it’s time for the December blog tour!  This month we’re reviewing Jonathan Rogers’ “The Charlatan’s Boy”. 

When this book was announced for the tour I remember I was immediately skeptical.  We’ve had a few books on the tour that I really did not care for, and something about this book was bugging me.  I didn’t really know anything about it, other than the title and a little blurb.  I didn’t want to request another copy of a book I was going to give a bad review on, so I considered skipping this one.  However, after realizing I had no real reason to be so against this book I thought I’d go for it.

I almost missed one of the best books I’ve read on this tour!

From the very beginning, Jonathan puts you firmly in the mind of Grady, the star of this show.  It’s obvious Jonathan is a master of language.  At no point in this book do you have to consciously try to see these characters as they speak, they naturally appear vividly in your mind.  Add to that the fact that you can’t even pick up the book and look at the cover without the immersion beginning, and you understand this book will hook you.

The world he has created for the story is great!  If you’re new to this blog, I’m a sucker for well crafted worlds.  I remember a while back someone asking (basically) “what would a fantasy world inspired by the land and heritage of America look like?”.  A real good question, I though… one I had no immediate answer for.  But I think this book is a good answer to that, especially with the culture and lands of southeast USA.  It’s not high fantasy, however it’s not hard to consider this work as being  in the genre of fantasy.

The plot, characters and the world around them flow together naturally.  It appears Jonathan Rogers created an extremely well done work with minimal effort.  I wonder if it was as easy for him to write it as he has made it seem.

I didn’t find a lot of spirituality in this book.  It seems like that’s happening more and more in the books we tour for the CSFFBT.  I hope it’s not a trend authors are seeking to follow.  Again we have a book with potential for spiritual elements, and I hope the next book in the series takes advantage of the groundwork already set in place.  With that said, it does support a Christian world view in a limited extent, and in no way (that I can remember) conflicts with a Christian world view.

I though about writing this review from a Feechie’s perspective… but I didn’t want to take away from Jonathan Rogers’ way with words.  So I guess you’ll have to read the book to see what I’m talking about.

I recommend this book to all readers of fiction, and especially to my fellow countrymen.  I think Andrew Peterson’s growing fan base will love this work as well.  Thank you Jonathan Rogers for the thoroughly enjoyable book, and Lord willing I hope to read the next book as soon as it comes out in fall 2011!

Pick up a copy of your own at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0307458229

Also, you can visit Jonathan Rogers’ website at  http://jonathan-rogers.com/

Sally Apokedak
Amy Bissell
Red Bissell
Jennifer Bogart
Thomas Clayton Booher
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Christian Fiction Book Reviews
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
April Erwin
Andrea Graham
Tori Greene
Katie Hart
Bruce Hennigan
Christopher Hopper
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Julie
Carol Keen
Shannon McDermott
Allen McGraw
Matt Mikalatos
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
Donita K. Paul
SarahFlan
Sarah Sawyer
Chawna Schroeder
Tammy Shelnut
Kathleen Smith
James Somers
Donna Swanson
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White
Elizabeth Williams
Dave Wilson

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. 

12 thoughts on “Review- The Charlatans Boy- by Jonathan Rogers

  1. Thanks for the review, Cris. You said you wondered if this book was as easy for me to write as it seemed. The short answer is No. This was a very hard book to write; it took me eighteen or twenty months (as opposed to six to eight for each of the Wilderking books). I plan to write about that difficulty on my blog in the next few days. You’ll have to check it out.

    I’d be curious to know what you mean when you say you didn’t find a lot of spirituality in this book. I think of it as a deeply spiritual book, though it’s hard to talk specifically about it without giving away the ending. I don’t mean to come across as defensive; I’m genuinely interested to know what your criteria are for spirituality in a book.

    Thanks again for the recommendation.

    JR

  2. Thanks for replying Jonathan! One of the things I love about this tour is the author participation. I think we all appreciate it!

    It’s hard to see how it took you that long to write this book. Reading it I felt like it was jumping off the page, and I imagined it all jumping out of your pen faster than you could stop it.

    As far as spirituality, I guess I might be a bit tough on that element of reviews. I haven’t clearly defined for myself what I mean by deeply spiritual, it’s hard to find the right words to accurately describe what I mean. On Wednesday night I taught a lesson at Church and that exact thing got me into a tough spot as well. It would probably be good for me to sit down and try to write out what I mean for myself.

    But doing my best to explain at the moment, personally I believe spiritual elements in writing are best expressed when they are both deeply underlying (displayed in the created world) as well as outright stated. I didn’t see much outright statement of God or His truth, and I guess I must have missed a lot of the rest. Is it possible that reading the Wilderking books would shed some light on what I missed?

    If I get a chance to read this again I’ll try to see what I missed and give better feedback.

    Thanks again for the comments Jonathan!

  3. Cris, you will love the Wilderking books. Very open biblical elements in those. And Jonathan’s fantastic voice and fun feechies. They are so good.

    I don’t think of the Charlatan’s Boy as being a Christian book at all. What I think is that it’s the kind of book that will give readers different things depending on their needs. But one thing I think it will do for a lot of readers is make them want to be better people. And a good first step toward becoming a Christian is realizing that we need to become better people. And a good way to keep growing in Christ is to keep on realizing that we need to become better people.

    I am sometimes like Floyd, wandering around this world with no thought of the enduring city, seeking temporal pleasures and not caring about being loved by a good God. But I’d rather be like Grady who longs to be a better boy.

    One the most Christian passages in the book, I thought was the one about the cow dog. Here’s a snippet:

    “Floyd never let me keep a dog, but I believe I’d be a better boy if I had a critter to look at me the way a cowdog looks at its drover. I’d work mighty hard to deserve a dog’s good opinion.”

    Poor little Grady had no one to look at him with love.

    The Bible tells us that God looks on ugly sinners with love. He proved his love in this: that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. And we love him back because he first loved us. Which is another way of saying that His love makes us want to work to deserve it. Of course we’ll never measure up, but we do grow more and more into the love the longer we walk under God’s beneficent gaze.

    Many people will read that bit about the cow dog and not have any inkling that God looks on sinners with love and his love makes us into better people (new creatures).

    But I wonder if even those readers might identify with Grady’s longing for love and acceptance and significance and for someone to think he’s beautiful. And if they identify with Grady, mightn’t that move them along the path to the place where they might see that there is a God who loves and accepts ugly sinners and who has died to give beauty for ashes and to put on them a family likeness?

    Maybe some books prepare the soil and some sow seeds and some water the plants.

    What do you think?

    There is a need for the gospel to be plainly preached in order for people to be saved. I think we are in wholehearted agreement on that point. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, to everyone who believes. But not all books are meant to preach the gospel. Some are like the disciples going out two by two to the villages Jesus was going to visit. They are the front men and they are not meant to save us, but to make us want to be saved.

    Yes? No? Maybe so?

  4. Thanks for the comments Sally!

    I agree that different books have different ways of presenting things. And that’s good!

    Regarding “The Charlatans Boy” all I was saying was that I didn’t see a lot of direct or indirect spiritual elements. I’m sure that one could speak of God and His Truth from almost any part of a decent book. But it’s a very different thing to have the reader unavoidably confronted with spiritual truth, and have to decide how they’re going to process it. I think almost any work of Christian fiction would do well to do that, considering one doesn’t need to classify their work as “Christian” for it to be wholesome and uplifting.

    It’s good to hear others have found spiritual elements in the book. Maybe I need to open my mind more in order to see what’s there, I don’t know. I just hope that my review doesn’t misrepresent the book because it was a really good one! I remember being moved more than once, mostly to laughter but sometimes to deeper things. As I do more blogs I’m learning that I need to write down page #s for significant parts so I can reference them and remember them for reviews.

    If anybody else felt there were definitely spiritually moving parts of the book please do post them as replies! The more talk we have of God the better!

  5. Good review cris, and good comments everyone. You and I have had a few discussions about this very thing over some of the books we have read on the tour, and while I did not see any direct scriptures quoted, I think at the same time, the things presented to Grady and the way he handled Floyd and the drovers, and especially the ending of the book pointed to the Creator. I don’t want to give away the ending to anyone who has not finished the book or has not read it yet, but I came away with a feeling that the next book will definetly bring out more of God’s love for Grady. Whether that love is expressed through him coming to know him, or through people who are living the way God wants them to be.
    I think it was great the Grady longed, and even yearned to do what was right, and how his conscience remained sensitive to when he did wrong. So many people in life have seared their consciences and don’t feel bad about doing it either. Grady didn’t seem to fit in with those people.

    O.k. end of my ramblings…

  6. Pingback: CSFF Blog Tour – The Charlatan’s Boy, Day 1, Are Feechies Real? « A Christian Worldview of Fiction

  7. Good review, Cris. I value your opinion because it challenges my own thinking—makes me ask if I think this book has spiritual underpinnings, and what I mean by that phrase.

    I guess because the Bible uses so much metaphor and symbol, I tend to think that’s a fine way for an author to write and still call his work “Christian.” I don’t think that’s what Jonathan was doing. I believe this book could most accurately be called Christian worldview fiction.

    That being said, I agree with Sally that such a book is important for what it offers a reader by way of “soil preparation.” I don’t think Christians should leave it up to non-Christians to write the “clean” books, partly because their definition of “clean” and ours will differ, and partly because they will of necessity express any achievement in moral living to human effort. In other words, we need Christians who know the truth to write all kinds of stories, I think.

    Anyway, I’m glad you were surprised by how good this book is.

    Becky, the other

  8. Cris, I thought your review was great and didn’t misrepresent the book.

    And I agree that there can never be too much talk of God.

    I posted today on more of what I got from the book spiritually if you’re interested.

    Thanks for allowing me to be so long-winded in your blog comments and not booting me out of the joint. 🙂

  9. Pingback: CSFF Tour Wrap – The Charlatan’s Boy « A Christian Worldview of Fiction

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