The Land of the Silver Apples

The Land of the Silver Apples

4.2 49
by Nancy Farmer
     
 

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“Like the druidic life force Jack taps, this hearty adventure, as personal as it is epic, will cradle readers in the ‘hollow of its hand’ (Booklist, starred review).

Jack has caused an earthquake. He was trying to save his sister Lucy from being thrown down a well, but sometimes the magic doesn’t quite work out. Not only does Jack

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Overview

“Like the druidic life force Jack taps, this hearty adventure, as personal as it is epic, will cradle readers in the ‘hollow of its hand’ (Booklist, starred review).

Jack has caused an earthquake. He was trying to save his sister Lucy from being thrown down a well, but sometimes the magic doesn’t quite work out. Not only does Jack demolish a monastery, but Lucy is carried off by the Lady of the Lake, and Jack has to follow her through the Hollow Road, which lies underground.

Aided by Pega, a slave, and the berserker Thorgil, Jack encounters hobgoblins, kelpies, yarthkins, and elves—not the enchanted sprites one would expect, but fallen angels who steal human children for pets. In the eighth century, the world is caught between belief in the Old Gods and Christianity, and what Jack and his companions do will decide the fate of both religions.

From National Book Award winner Nancy Farmer, this second book in the Sea of Trolls trilogy brilliantly enlarges the world of the first story. Look for the conclusion in The Islands of the Blessed.

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
In this entrancing if lengthy sequel, Jack, now 13 and a bard-in-training, is forced to head out to rescue his little sister Lucy once more when she is kidnapped by the Lady of the Lake. The setting is Britain in 790 AD, and the old gods uneasily co-exist with newer Christian beliefs. Elves are really fallen angels, we learn, and Lucy is happy living in their glamorous world of illusions. Accompanying Jack on his quest to find Lucy and restore water to the fortress of Din Guardi are Pega, a village slave girl whom he frees; the Norse warrior maiden Thorgil, whom he rescues from a burial in moss; and a silver-tongued slave named Brutus, who turns out to be a descendent of Lancelot. They are trapped in the Land of the Silver Apples, where time doesn't pass. Their Tolkienesque adventures, filled with magic, danger, and humor, will appeal to all fantasy fans who enjoyed the acclaimed first book. An appendix gives background on religion at that time, and on St. Filian's Well, Din Guardi, and Pictish symbols, which decorate each chapter heading. The conclusion to Jack's tale, The Islands of the Blessed, will be published in 2009.
VOYA - Sarah Hill
This sequel to The Sea of Trolls (Atheneum/S & S, 2004/VOYA October 2004) lives up to the expectations set by the first novel. This Newbery Honor author delivers an exciting blend of Norse and Celtic mythology and early Christianity to create a fascinating world in which thirteen-year-old Jack must learn to control his magical powers. Jack is a bard's apprentice who is slowly improving his skills. His younger and bratty sister is stolen by otherworldly creatures (again), but this time she does not want to come home. Lucy is part elf, which explains her selfishness, but Jack's search for her develops into a quest. Thorgil returns in this novel, and her Northwoman fighting skills help the traveling assemblage. Pega, an ugly servant girl, has a beautiful singing voice that awakens the ancient yarthkins and causes the hobgoblin king to fall in love with her. Jack's friends travel from world to world, meeting all kinds of goblins, kelpies, elves, Picts, and more. In this middle book of a trilogy, the ending is slightly disappointing because readers must wait two years to discover what happens to Jack and his friends. But this fantasy is truly remarkable with the blending of the myths and ancient Christian tales. Farmer has an eight-page appendix describing the religion of the time period and Pictish symbols, along with a three page bibliography. The third book in the Islands of the Blessed trilogy should be published in 2009.
Kirkus Reviews
In this sequel to The Sea of Trolls (2004), Jack discovers his sister Lucy is a changeling, and he is off on a quest to find his real sister and bring her home. With the help of the Bard and Pega, the slave girl he has freed, Jack goes to St. Filian's Well, accidentally causes an earthquake and ends up in the Land of the Silver Apples, where elves rule and time stands still. As the middle volume of a planned trilogy set in eighth-century Britain, this takes its shape from the whole: It can stand on its own, but it mostly enlarges the world of the first volume. It's not the quest itself that's memorable, but the majestic sweep of Farmer's storytelling, from the story of Lucifer and the battle of the angels to the Man in the Moon, the goddess Hel and any number of hobgoblins, yarthkins, knuckers and kelpies. Jack, Pega and Thorgil prove strong and capable in ways they themselves never suspected, and readers will look forward to the final installment. (appendix, sources) (Fiction. 10-14)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781481443098
Publisher:
Saga Press
Publication date:
07/28/2015
Series:
Sea of Trolls Trilogy Series, #2
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
528
Sales rank:
725,295
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 7.00(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Land of the Silver Apples

  • It was the middle of the night when the rooster crowed. The sun had disappeared hours ago into a mass of clouds over the western hills. From the wind buffeting the walls of the house, Jack knew a storm had rolled off the North Sea. The sky would be black as a lead mine, and even the earth, covered with snow as it was, would be invisible. The sun when it rose—if it rose—would be masked in gloom.

    The rooster crowed again. Jack heard his claws scratching the bottom of his basket as if he was wondering where his soft nest had gone. And where his warm companions had hidden themselves. The rooster was alone in his little pen.

    “It’s only for a while,” Jack told the bird, who grumbled briefly and settled down. He would crow again later, and again, until the sun really appeared. That was how roosters were. They made noise all night, to be certain of getting it right.

    Jack threw back the heap of sheepskins covering him. The coals in the hearth still gleamed, but not for long, Jack thought with a twinge of fear. It was the Little Yule, the longest night of the year, and the Bard had commanded they put out all the fires in the village. The past year had been too dangerous. Berserkers had appeared from across the water, and only merest chance had kept them from slaughtering the villagers.

    The Northmen had destroyed the Holy Isle. Those who had not been drowned or burned or chopped to bits had been hauled off into slavery.

    It was time for new beginnings, the Bard said. Not one spark of fire was to remain in the little gathering of farms Jack knew as home. New fire had to be kindled from the earth. The Bard called it a “need-fire.” Without it, the evils of the past would linger into the new year.

    If the flame did not kindle, if the earth refused to give up its fire, the frost giants would know their time had come. They would descend from their icy fortresses in the far north. The great wolf of winter would devour the sun and light would never return.

    Of course, that was the belief in the old days, Jack thought as he pulled on his calfskin boots. Now, with Brother Aiden in the village, people knew that the old beliefs should be cast away. The little monk sat outside his beehive-shaped hut and spoke to anyone who would listen. He gently corrected people’s errors and spoke to them of the goodness of God. He was an excellent storyteller, almost as fine as the Bard. People were willing to listen to him.

    Still, in the dark of the longest night of the year, it was hard to believe in such goodness. God had not protected the Holy Isle. The wolf of winter was abroad. You could hear his voice on the wind, and the very air rang with the shouts of frost giants. Surely it was wise to follow the old ways.

    Jack climbed the ladder to the loft. “Mother, Father,” he called. “Lucy.”

    “We’re awake,” his father replied. He was already bundled up for the long walk. Mother was ready too, but Lucy stubbornly clung to her covers.

    “Leave me alone!” she wailed.

    “It’s St. Lucy’s Day,” Father coaxed. “You’ll be the most important person in the village.”

    “I’m already the most important person in the village.”

    “The very idea!” Mother said. “More important than the Bard or Brother Aiden or the chief? You need a lesson in humility.”

    “Ah, but she’s really a lost princess,” Father said fondly. “She’ll look so pretty in her new dress.”

    “I will, won’t I?” said Lucy, condescending to rise.

    Jack went back down the ladder. It was an argument Mother never won. She tried to teach Lucy manners, but Father always undermined her efforts.

    To Giles Crookleg, his daughter was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to him. He was forever cursed with lameness. Both he and his wife, Alditha, were sturdy rather than handsome, with faces browned by working in the fields. No one would ever mistake them for nobility. Jack knew he would be just like them when he grew up. But Lucy’s hair was as golden as afternoon sunlight and her eyes were the violet blue of an evening sky. She moved with a bright grace that seemed barely to touch the earth. Giles, with his lumbering, shambling gait, could only admire her.

    Jack had to admit, as he stirred up the hearth for one last burst of heat, that Lucy had been through much in the past year. She had seen murder and endured slavery in the Northland. He had too, but he was thirteen and she was only seven. He was willing to overlook most of her annoying habits.

    He heated cider and warmed oatcakes on the stones next to the fire. Mother was busy dressing Lucy in her finery, and Jack heard complaints as the little girl’s hair was combed. Father came down to drink his cider.

    The cock crowed again. Both Jack and Father paused. It was said in the old days that a golden rooster lived in the branches of Yggdrassil. On the darkest night of the year he crowed. If he was answered by the black rooster that lived under the roots of the Great Tree, the End of Days had come.

    No cry shook the heavens or echoed in the earth. Only the north wind blustered against the walls of the house, and Jack and Father relaxed. They continued to sip their drinks. “I wish we had a mirror,” came Lucy’s petulant voice. “I don’t see why we can’t buy one from the Pictish peddlers. We’ve got all that silver Jack brought home.”

    “It’s for hard times,” Mother said patiently.

    “Oh, pooh! I want to see myself! I’m sure I’m beautiful.”

    “You’ll do,” Mother said.

    In fact, Jack had more silver than his parents knew. The Bard had advised him to bury half of it under the floor of the ancient Roman house, where the old man lived. “Your mother has good sense,” the Bard had said, “but Giles Crookleg— excuse me, lad—has the brain of an owl.”

    Father had spent some of his share on Brother Aiden’s altar and a donkey for Lucy. The rest was reserved for that glorious day when she would marry a knight or even— Father’s hopes rose ever higher—a prince. How Lucy would meet a prince in a tiny village tucked away from any major road was a mystery.

    The little girl climbed down the ladder and twirled to show off her finery. She wore a long, white dress of the finest wool. Mother had woven the yellow sash herself, dying it with the pollen-colored washings from her beehives. The dress, however, had been imported from Edwin’s Town in the far north. Such cloth was beyond Mother’s ability, for her sheep produced only a coarse, gray wool.

    Lucy wore a feathery green crown of yew on her golden hair. Jack thought it was as nice as a real crown, and only he understood its true meaning. The Bard said the yew tree guarded the door between this world and the next. On the longest night of the year this door stood open. Lucy’s role was to close it during the need-fire ceremony, and she needed protection from whatever lay on the other side.

    “I know what would go with this dress—my silver necklace,” Lucy said.

    “You are not to wear metal,” Mother said sharply. “The Bard said it was forbidden.”

    “He’s a pagan,” Lucy said. She had only just learned the word.

    “He’s a wise man, and I’ll have no disrespect from you!”

    “A pagan, a pagan, a pagan!” Lucy sang in her maddening way. “He’s going to be dragged down to Hell by demons with long claws.”

    “Get your cloak on, you rude child. We’ve got to go.”

    Lucy darted past Mother and grabbed Father’s arm. “You’ll let me wear the necklace, Da. Please? Please-please-pleaseplease-please?” She cocked her head like a bright little sparrow, and Jack’s heart sank. She was so adorable, all golden hair and smiles.

    “You can’t wear the necklace,” Jack said. Lucy’s smile instantly turned upside down.

    “It’s mine!” she spat.

    “Not yet,” Jack said. “It was given into my keeping. I decide when you get it.”

    “You thief!”

    “Lucy!” cried Mother.

    “What harm can it do, Alditha?” said Father, entering into the argument for the first time. He put his arm around the little girl, and she rubbed her cheek against his coat. “Brother Aiden says this is St. Lucy’s Day. Surely we honor the saint by dressing her namesake in the finest we have.”

    “Giles—,” began Mother.

    “Be still. I say she wears the necklace.”

    “It’s dangerous,” Jack said. “The Bard says metal can poison the need-fire because you can’t tell where it’s been. If it’s been used as a weapon or for some other evil, it perverts the life force.”

    Father had treated Jack with more respect since his return from the land of the Northmen, but he was not going to be lectured by his son. “This is my house. I am the master,” Giles Crookleg said. He went to the treasure chest with Lucy dancing at his side.

    Father took the iron key from the thong around his neck and unlocked the chest. Inside were some of the things Mother had brought to the marriage: lengths of cloth, embroidery, and a few items of jewelry. Underneath were a heap of silver coins and a gold coin with the face of a Roman king that Father had found in the garden. Wrapped in a cloth was the necklace of silver leaves.

    It gleamed with a brightness that was strangely compelling. Jack could understand Lucy’s desire for it. It had been looted in a Northman raid, claimed by Frith Half-Troll, and had come to Thorgil the shield maiden. Thorgil fell in love with it, and this was most unusual because she scorned feminine weaknesses such as jewelry and baths. Then Thorgil, who valued suffering even more than silver, had given her beloved necklace to Lucy.

    From the very beginning, the little girl had reacted badly to this generous gift. She claimed it came from Frith, who— Lucy insisted—had treated her like a real princess. And she became hysterical when Jack reminded her of the truth, that the evil half-troll had kept her in a cage and planned to sacrifice her. Jack had taken charge of the necklace then.

    “Ooh!” cried Lucy, putting it on.

    “Now we really have to go,” said Father, locking the chest. He had lit two horn lanterns for the journey. Mother had packed several of her precious beeswax candles in a carrying bag. Jack poured water over the hearth, and smoke and steam billowed up. The light in the room shrank down to two brownish dots behind the panels of the horn lanterns.

    “Be sure it’s out,” whispered Mother. Jack broke up the coals with the poker and poured on more water until he could feel only a fading heat in the hearthstones.

    Father opened the door, and a blast of icy wind swept in. The rooster groaned in his pen, and a cup rolled along the floor. “Don’t dawdle!” Father commanded, as though Jack and Mother had been responsible for the delay. Snow lay everywhere, and they could see only a few feet ahead by the dim lantern light. The sky was shrouded with clouds.

    Father fetched the donkey for Lucy. Bluebell was an obedient, patient beast, chosen by Brother Aiden for her good character, but she had to be dragged from her pen on this night. She fought until Father smacked her hard and seated Lucy on her back. The donkey stood there, shivering and blowing steam from her nostrils.

    “Good old Bluebell,” crooned Lucy, hugging the animal’s neck. The little girl was covered in a heavy woolen robe with a hood, and the robe hung down over Bluebell’s sides. It must have given the donkey some warmth because she stopped resisting and followed Father’s lead.

    Jack went ahead with a lantern. It was slow going, for the road was icy where it wasn’t covered with snow. Jack had to keep trudging to the side to find the posts that marked the way. Once, they wandered off course and knew they were wrong only when Jack bumped into a tree.

    The wind gusted and the snowflakes danced. Jack heard a rooster crow, but it wasn’t the golden bird sitting on the branches of Yggdrassil. It was only John the Fletcher’s fighting cock that threatened anyone who passed by. They came to a cluster of buildings and turned at the blacksmith’s house. “There’s no fire,” Mother murmured. The forge where iron bars were heated was as black as the anvil under the oak tree.

    Jack felt a cold even deeper than the winter night. Never, in all his days, had he ever seen that fire out. It was like the heart of the village, where people gathered to talk and where you could warm your toes after a walk. Now it was dead. Soon every fire would be dead, including the two brown spots of light they carried.

    More would have to be called up, using wood that had drawn its strength from the earth. For the need-fire had to be alive to turn the wheel of the year. Only then would the frost giants return to their mountains and the door be closed between this world and the next.

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  • Meet the Author

    Nancy Farmer is an internationally bestselling author whose works include The House of the Scorpion, which, in 2002, won the National Book Award. Other books include The Lord of Opium and The Sea of Trolls, The Land of the Silver Apples, and The Islands of the Blessed. She grew up on the Arizona-Mexico border and now lives with her family in the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona.

    Brief Biography

    Hometown:
    Menlo Park, California
    Date of Birth:
    July 9, 1941
    Place of Birth:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Education:
    B.A., Reed College, 1963

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    Land of the Silver Apples (Sea of Trolls Trilogy Series #2) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
    Creativepenname More than 1 year ago
    The Sea of Trolls trilogy is refreshing change from the typical teenage books. The plot is well developed, and the conflicts are interesting and atypical. The main characters are likeable and the relationships between them provide more interesting aspects to the story. All of this being said, at times the book seemed rushed. The build up to a climactic point would be good, but then the actual resolution of the problem would be too short, maybe even a paragraph. Nevertheless, I would recommend this book to young adult readers and adult readers alike. The book is straightforward but not too simple, and does have a very deep theme about life. Jack's inward thoughts may have been my favorite part of this book. I found his ponderings over magic, Christianity, and what is morally correct very thought-provoking. With all of these things added together, this book is very well-written and developed, and despite rushing through some of the climactic action scenes, a highly recommended piece of literature.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The first book was a little bit slow, but I got into this book very quickly and am now on the third one, which is already exciting on the thirtieth page. If you like fantasy this is a great series, I highly recommend it. -Casey
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Not cool as i though it was
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Could read it over and over and never get bored
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    You should read this if you <3 fantasy!!!! ;) :) ;D :D ;p :p hi
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    The_hibernators More than 1 year ago
    Jack, the Bard&rsquo;s apprentice, sets off on a rescue quest when his sister Lucy is kidnapped by Elves. His companions are an unreliable slave/rightful-heir-to-the-throne and a recently freed girl-slave who worships the ground Jack walks on. They meet many magical creatures, re-discover some old friends, and have lots of exciting adventures along the way. I thought this was an excellent sequel to Sea of Trolls. It expanded the mythology of the land while developing the characters already introduced in the first book. I really appreciated the way Farmer handled the three religions that were represented by her characters in this 790AD Britain-based world. She showed the power and beauty of the Pagans as well as the Christians and subtly made the point that they all got their believers where they needed to go&mdash;but she did this without forcing the point or lecturing, which is the sign of excellent story-telling! My only quibble about this book is that most of the major plot threads were completed by page 400, leaving 100 pages for the final (and least pressing) plot thread. This is why the book got 4 instead of 5 stars.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I miss Olaf! He was so sweet!
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    Henry Johnson More than 1 year ago
    The Sea of Trolls was such a complete story that I questioned whether Silver Apples was a good idea. I read Silver Apples all in one sitting because of how enjoyable it was. I am of the opinion that Silver Apples should have won the Newberry award like Sea of Trolls.
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