The Sea of Trolls

by Nancy Farmer

Vikings and Saxons and trolls...oh my! A story set in 793 A.D. begins in what is... read more

Vikings and Saxons and trolls...oh my! A story set in 793 A.D. begins in what is now Britain. Jack, a 12-year-old Saxon boy, has been apprenticed to the Bard, a man who came to his village from across the northern sea. Even though he is learning magic, Jack can’t protect himself and his little sister, Lucy, when their village is invaded by berserkers from the northern lands. Bound for a life of slavery, Jack’s salvation comes when he reveals himself (with slight embellishment) to be a bard and the berserker Olaf-One-Brow dreams of himself glorified in song. But when Jack’s magic goes awry at the court of King Ivan the Boneless, he enrages Firth, the half-troll queen. To save Lucy, whom the queen is holding hostage, Jack must embark on a quest into the heart of the troll kingdom, where a drink from Mirim’s Well will give him the magic he needs to undo his mistake. He is accompanied by Brave Heart, a steadfast crow; Olaf; and Thorgill, a girl wounded by her bitter past who seeks salvation in Valhalla. Nancy Farmer’s riveting adventure is far more complex than a tale of good versus evil. Jack discovers that berserkers, and even trolls, have heart, intelligence, and wit. At the same time, he learns that relationships are anything but clear-cut in a world where the struggle for survival makes brutal enemies of those who might otherwise be friends. This epic novel offers plenty of humor along with the action. It draws on Norse mythology, the history of Britain and Scandinavia, and at least one surprisingly familiar source that readers will find enormously satisfying when revealed (and even more gratifying if they figure it out beforehand). (Ages 10–14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2005

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