The Sea of Trolls (Sea of Trolls Trilogy Series #1)

The Sea of Trolls (Sea of Trolls Trilogy Series #1)

4.5 122
by Nancy Farmer, Rick Britton
     
 

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Jack was eleven when the berserkers loomed out of the fog and nabbed him. "It seems that things are stirring across the water," the Bard had warned. "Ships are being built, swords are being forged."

"Is that bad?" Jack had asked, for his Saxon village had never before seen berserkers.

"Of course. People don't make ships and swords unless they intend to use

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Overview

Jack was eleven when the berserkers loomed out of the fog and nabbed him. "It seems that things are stirring across the water," the Bard had warned. "Ships are being built, swords are being forged."

"Is that bad?" Jack had asked, for his Saxon village had never before seen berserkers.

"Of course. People don't make ships and swords unless they intend to use them."

The year is A.D. 793. In the next months, Jack and his little sister, Lucy, are enslaved by Olaf One-Brow and his fierce young shipmate, Thorgil. With a crow named Bold Heart for mysterious company, they are swept up into an adventure-quest in the spirit of The Lord of the Rings. Other threats include a willful mother dragon, a giant spider, and a troll-bear with a surprising personality -- to say nothing of Ivar the Boneless and his wife, Queen Frith, a shape-shifting half-troll, and several eight-foot-tall, orange-haired, full-time trolls.

But in stories by award-winning Nancy Farmer, appearances to not deceive. She has never told a richer, funnier tale, nor offered more timeless encouragement to young seekers than "Just say no to pillaging."

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Editorial Reviews

Lawrence Downes
The Sea of Trolls conveys, more vividly than any textbook, the vikings' storied fatalism, their devotion to heroic death and to a savage afterlife in Valhalla. Hearing the Northmen talk rapturously about the glories of being slaughtered in battle, the sensitive Jack can't understand it, but the reader will.
— The New York Times
Roger Sutton
Farmer moves far north of her favored hot-weather climes for her latest hero-tale, which takes place along the various coasts of the North Sea in the late eighth century. Drawing upon history, Norse and Celtic myth, and Farmer’s own abundant imagination, the story is long but engrossing, a "cruel tale with a merry heart" about a Saxon boy named Jack and what befell him upon his and his younger sister’s capture by marauding Northmen (and, later, trolls). Readers will spot themes and motifs familiar from Farmer’s previous novels, including seriocomic helper figures, a ferociously loyal sibling pair, and a most adroit fusion of the natural and supernatural worlds. The book is effectively sparing in its use of fantasy elements, but when Farmer pulls out all the stops such as Jack’s encounter with the three Norns - she does so with aplomb and assurance.
November/December 2004 issue of The Horn Book Magazine
Paula Rohrlick
Jack, a Saxon farm boy, feels lucky to be apprenticed to a druid bard who teaches him how to open his mind to the power of the life force and how to draw on it to do magic. Unluckily for Jack, the year is 793 A.D., when the Vikings first begin their raids on the British Isles, and a Viking named Olaf One-Brow, the giant leader of the Queen’s Berserkers, captures Jack and his little sister Lucy. These Northmen take the two off on their ship to their homeland and its rulers, Ivar the Boneless and his terrifying half-troll wife, Frith. At the court, Jack casts a spell that inadvertently causes Frith’s hair to fall out, and to restore it he must go on a dangerous quest to find the magical Mimir’s Well in the far-off land of the trolls and drink the song-mead it contains - with Lucy’s life at stake if he does not succeed.

Accompanied by a clever crow and a ferocious warrior maiden, Jack heads out on this perilous adventure filled with dragons, giant spiders, eight-foot-tall trolls, and other hazards. Farmer, author of the National Book Award winner The House of the Scorpion as well as other notable books for YAs, has outdone herself in this rich and satisfying fantasy based on Norse mythology.

The characters are memorable, her images of nature are lyrical, and legend, history, horror and humor are cleverly intermingled: "Just say no to pillaging," Olaf solemnly advises Jack at one point, while Olaf himself lays waste to everything around him. This is sure to be both popular and prize-winning, and it makes an interesting companion to two other recent YA novels about the Viking raids, Raven of the Waves by Michael Cadnum and The Dark Horse by Marcus Sedgwick. There is a helpful list of the cast of characters at the start, as well as an appendix providing some background on Norse history and legends and a list of sources. Every YA collection should have this.
KLIATT

Amanda Craig

Despite the pot of gold supposedly waiting for every new author who writes a fantasy novel, the classics of children's literature remain pretty much the same. Why bother to read new ones when the old are so good? Yet every so often something comes along which should instantly be added to the list of those books which leave an indelible mark on the imagination.

Nancy Farmer's The Sea of Trolls is such a book. Three times a Newberry Award winner in her native America, she is unheard-of in Britain, despite The House of the Scorpion (the only one to be published here) being quite simply the best clone novel ever written. This one is set in Viking times, and despite its slow-paced first chapter soon develops into a hair-raising, spine-tingling, heart-stopping adventure which really does bear comparison to The Hobbit.

Jack is picked-on by his crippled, fanatically Christian father, irked by his little sister Lucy and oddly in sympathy with his mother. She is a wise woman, and it's thanks to her that Jack has inherited a gift that may just save his own life and that of Lucy. Barely has he begun to be taught magic by a mysterious old Bard washed up on their shores, when both he and Lucy are captured by the Vikings serving the Bard's mortal enemy, the evil half-troll Frith. Taken north from England to what is now Denmark, they are to be thralls or slaves to Olaf One-Brow, the leader, and the sulky shield-maiden, Thorgill. It's only as Jack discovers how to summon up his weather-working powers, rescues a mysterious crow called Bold Heart and learns how to chant songs that they escape being sold off to fearsome tribes. Violent, unpredictable and prone to kill everyone when going berserk, the Vikings are terrifying masters. Worse is to come, however, once they land at Olaf's home. Jack has the gigantic carnivorous troll-pig Golden Bristles to contend with, but Lucy, having lost her mind in the despair of becoming a captive, is to be Queen Frith's next sacrificial victim - unless Jack can cross the Sea of Trolls and regain the queen's beauty from Mimir's Well in Jotunheim, the heart of Troll-land.

Of course, Jack and his companions Olaf and Thorgill succeed, despite a dragon, a ferocious troll-bear and a host of magical creatures. What makes Sea of Trolls so vastly enjoyable is not its plot but the way this classic quest is told, in clear, dramatic prose that surges along like a Viking longship. Farmer has gone back to the same Norse sources that inspired Tolkien, and her characters have complexity and subtlety: you laugh, sympathise and fear for them. Jack's resentful care for his sister, his perpetual uncertainty, his dawning realisation that his father's crushing estimation of him may not be true, and his perception of different religious beliefs are all suffused with wisdom and warmth. The Vikings can be kindly, brave and loyal as well as killers slaughtering entire villages without guilt or regret. The jokes about their crudeness and their gloomy relish for death are hilarious. Comedy and cruelty, tragedy and beauty are interwoven with a feel for landscape to make a completely captivating story. The life of the Norse sea-farers is so detailed that any child who reads this will unconsciously pick up far more about Viking customs, beliefs and language than a hundred school text-books. It's strange that out of the four best new novels for children to be published this year, three should be about this particular period and people, but I have no hesitation in recommending Sea of Trolls as the best children's novel of 2004.
The Times, October 2004

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Starred review. "Out of all the boys in their eighth-century Saxon village, eleven-year-old Jack is chosen by the Bard to become his apprentice. Soon Jack is learning how to call up fog and fire and sense the flow of the life force in the world around him--important skills to possess, it turns out, when he and his six-year-old sister, Lucy, are kidnapped by Viking raiders and swept across the sea to become slaves in the Northland. . . In this substantial and swiftly moving fantasy, Jack's medieval world envelops the reader from the first page, and even secondary characters and villains have sufficient faults, virtues, dreams, and disappointments to make them sympathetic to the reader to some degree. This adroit worldbuilding and dead-on characterization combine with faultless plotting and an irresistible mixture of historical truth and mythological invention to create a tale of high adventure and exploration that reads with unexpected sensitivity, warmth, and humor. Maps, a cast of characters, a series of short explanatory appendices, and a list of sources are included."
Ayesha Court
This National Book Award-winning author departs from science fiction in this heroic tale of Jack, an 11-year-old Anglo-Saxon and bard-in-training who is enslaved by Viking raiders. Farmer brilliantly marries historic details about life in England, Scotland and Scandinavia in A.D. 793 with the magic of runes, trolls and bards. This story will send readers on a quest to read more about this bloody but fascinating era. Ages 10 and up.
Special for USA TODAY
Captured by Vikings, a Saxon boy, Jack, and his sister, Lucy, begin a tumultuous journey that weaves in trolls, dragons, barbarians, and Norse mythology. Farmer's characterizations have such depth that readers grow to love one of the captors, Olaf One-Brow-even though he's a guy who can never resist a good pillage. (But a Viking is a Viking after all, so save this marginally violent tale for older readers.) (Ages 8 to 12)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2004
Publishers Weekly
In our Best Books citation, PW wrote, "Fans of Viking and adventure tales will sail through this meaty volume to discover the fate of 12-year-old Jack and his sister, kidnapped from their homeland by Olaf One-Brow and his crew." Ages 10-14. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
Eleven-year-old Jack is peacefully learning to understand and control the "life force" as apprentice to the Bard in their Saxon community in 793 AD. Then the Bard is attacked by a Nightmare, and Viking berserkers kidnap Jack and his little sister, Lucy. Jack manages to save them from being sold into slavery by revealing his training as a bard, or as the Northmen would say, skald. Olaf One-Brow decides to keep Jack for his own, but Lucy, the thrall of shield maiden Thorgil, is meant as a gift to the half-troll Queen Frith-the same queen who attacked the Bard. But when Jack's magic accidentally offends the queen, he, Olaf, and Thorgil set off on a quest to Mimir's Well in Jotenheim (troll country) to get the remedy. There Jack fights troll-bears, dragons, and visits the Troll Queen before drinking from the well, saving Lucy, and ultimately, returning to his Saxon home. Lighter in tone and subject than The House of the Scorpion (Atheneum/S & S, 2002/VOYA October 2002), this novel is nevertheless deceptively complex. There is enough magic, history, and mythology to keep fantasy lovers enthralled, yet the humor, modern speech (Jack is warned to "just say no to pillaging"), and nonstop adventure will pull in reluctant readers as well-if they are not daunted by the number of pages. All will come to love the distinctive characters-especially the brash, bloodthirsty Northmen-just as Jack does on his quest. VOYA CODES: 4Q 5P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2004, Simon & Schuster, 480p., Ages 11 to 15.
—Rebecca Hogue Wojahn
KLIATT
Jack, a Saxon farm boy, feels lucky to be apprenticed to a druid bard who teaches him how to open his mind to the power of the life force and how to draw on it to do magic. Unluckily for Jack, the year is 793 A.D., when the Vikings first begin their raids on the British Isles, and a Viking named Olaf One-Brow, the giant leader of the Queen's Berserkers, captures Jack and his little sister Lucy. These Northmen take the two off on their ship to their homeland and its rulers, Ivar the Boneless and his terrifying half-troll wife, Frith. At the court, Jack casts a spell that inadvertently causes Frith's hair to fall out, and to restore it he must go on a dangerous quest to find the magical Mimir's Well in the far-off land of the trolls and drink the song-mead it contains—with Lucy's life at stake if he does not succeed. Accompanied by a clever crow and a ferocious warrior maiden, Jack heads out on this perilous adventure filled with dragons, giant spiders, eight-foot-tall trolls, and other hazards. Farmer, author of the National Book Award winner The House of the Scorpion as well as other notable books for YAs, has outdone herself in this rich and satisfying fantasy based on Norse mythology. The characters are memorable, her images of nature are lyrical, and legend, history, horror and humor are cleverly intermingled: "Just say no to pillaging," Olaf solemnly advises Jack at one point, while Olaf himself lays waste to everything around him. This is sure to be both popular and prize-winning, and it makes an interesting companion to two other recent YA novels about the Viking raids, Raven of the Waves by Michael Cadnum and The Dark Horse by Marcus Sedgwick. There is ahelpful list of the cast of characters at the start, as well as an appendix providing some background on Norse history and legends and a list of sources. Every YA collection should have this. KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2004, Simon & Schuster, Atheneum, 480p. maps. bibliog., Ages 12 to 18.
—Paula Rohrlick
Children's Literature
Eleven-year-old Jack is the Saxon son of a crippled father and is in training to a Bard from who he is learning magic. Enter the "bersekers," a killing-hungry band of Northmen, who pillage his village and capture Jack and his pretty, spoiled young sister, Lucy. Each character and setting is so fully developed that the book is almost cinematic. From the small Saxon village to the glacial palace of the trolls, Farmer uses sensory detail to breathe reality into every segment of this book and each setting flows easily into the next. You believe the Viking ship with its "trackless waste" of "unending water" and leaden sky as well as the idyllic little valley with a chuckling warm stream and ground covered with tiny mountain strawberries. Farmer does just as well with characters. We get to know them gradually through Jack's eyes and their own actions and gradually, each escapes the stereotype Jack—and readers—first assume. Even more impressive is the way Farmer has researched the story, described different cultures and mixed them together into a powerful tale. Norse myth, the story of Grendel, the monastic life, troll and dragon lore, historical persons and events are all woven together into a spectacular story of magical adventure. 2004, Simon and Schuster, Ages 10 up.
—Susie Wilde
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-Farmer draws upon Scandinavian mythology and medieval history to create an engaging tale. Jack, a bard's apprentice, and his little sister begin a series of harrowing adventures when they are kidnapped from their peaceful Saxon island by Viking "berserkers." Saved from death by his knowledge of magic and poem making, Jack gradually earns the respect, and even the friendship, of his captors. Olaf One-Brow is an especially magnetic character, despite his love of bloodshed, while a prideful young female warrior who initially detests the boy also becomes an ally. The fast-paced tale seeps deeper into magic as Jack must undertake a quest to the far north to drink "song-mead" from Mimir's Well, increase his powers, and ultimately save his sister's life. He faces dragons, trolls, and the mysterious Norns, surviving by a combination of craftiness and luck. Throughout, he ponders the nature of the people and creatures he encounters, even learning to admire the courage and vitality of the berserkers, while remaining appalled by their thirst for blood and a heroic death. Jack's growing maturity and wisdom develop naturally within the novel's flow. Geographical and mythological elements are revealed through conversations, rather than narrative description. Despite the legendary tone of some of the events, there are plenty of lighthearted moments, and the characters never seem stiff or contrived. This exciting and original fantasy will capture the hearts and imaginations of readers.-Steven Engelfried, Beaverton City Library, OR Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. Starred Review.
Kirkus Reviews
He left as an apprentice and returned a full-fledged bard, complete with a fire-wizard's staff in hand and a crow perched on his shoulder. Between being kidnapped by Norse berserkers and returning home, Saxon Jack has met Norse Jill, saved sister Lucy from a shape-shifting troll queen, faced a troll-bear, dragons, and giant spiders, and drunk from a magic well. This tale of a Saxon Bilbo Baggins, set in c.e. 793, at the advent of 200 years of Viking raids on the British Isles, weaves a colorful tapestry of bards and raiders, evil queens and plucky heroes, quests and home. Jack is a friendly companion in this exciting story of sacrifices made, lessons learned, and friends lost and found, all told with grace and humor. Allusions to Beowulf, the destruction of the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne, and the Norse legend of Jack and Jill offer a rich backdrop for a hugely entertaining story sure to appeal to fans of The Lord of the Rings. (appendix, sources) (Fiction. 10-13) Starred Review.
From the Publisher
"Nancy Farmer goes a-viking and returns with magic."

-- Associated Press

"A hugely entertaining story sure to appeal to fans of The Lord of the Rings."

-- Kirkus, starred review

"Readers will want to sail through these nearly 500 pages to find out what happens to young Jack and his sister, Lucy...."

-- Publishers Weekly, starred review

"This exciting and original fantasy will capture the hearts and imaginations of readers."

-- School Library Journal, starred review

"Heroic."

-- USA Today

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780756970147
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/23/2006
Series:
Sea of Trolls Trilogy Series, #1
Pages:
459
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Sea of Trolls


By Nancy Farmer

Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books

Copyright © 2004 Nancy Farmer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-689-86744-1


Chapter One

The Shadow Across The Water

"No ... no ..."

Jack sat up abruptly. The wind was howling outside. The house held the deep chill that seeped into it before dawn.

"No ... I won't do it ... it's evil ..."

Jack threw back the covers and stumbled to the other end of the house. The Bard's bed was shaking. He saw the old man thrust up his hand as though warding something off. "Sir! Sir! Wake up! Everything's all right." He caught the Bard's hand.

"You won't bend me to your will! I defy you, foul troll!"

Something - some terrible force - flung the boy back. His head banged against the stone, and his ears rang as though a blacksmith were pounding on an anvil. He tasted blood.

"Oh, my stars, child! I didn't know it was you."

Jack tried to speak, choked on blood, and coughed instead.

"You're alive, thank Freya! Stay here. I'll build up the fire and make you a healing drink."

The ringing in Jack's ears died down, but he felt violently sick to his stomach. He heard the Bard move around, and presently, the hearth burst into light. In a very short time he was handed a cup of hot liquid. It hurt his mouth and he recoiled.

"You bit through your lip, child. It isn't as bad as it looks. The drink will make it better."

Jack managed to swallow,and the sickness went away. He found himself trembling. Perhaps he'd been trembling all along. He couldn't remember. "Is that - is that how - you destroy your enemies?" he stammered.

The Bard sat back. "One of the ways," he said.

"So that was ... magic."

"Some call it so," said the Bard.

"Will you teach me how to do it?"

"By Thor's bushy beard! I almost killed you, and the first thing you want to know is how to do it."

"W-Well, sir, I am your a-apprentice."

"And a right cheeky one too. Most boys would have run home to their mothers after what you just experienced. Still, curiosity is a great thing. We two might just get along."

Jack felt a kind of warm sleepiness pass over him. The pain was still there, but it seemed unimportant. "What happened to you, sir?"

"That was a Nightmare, lad. Pray you never meet one."

"You mean, a bad dream?"

"I mean a Nightmare. It's far worse."

Jack wanted to ask more, but he was too comfortable. He yawned broadly, stretched out on the floor, and fell asleep.

When he awoke, he was lying outside on a bed of heather. He struggled to get up. "Rest a while, lad," said the Bard. He was sitting on a stool next to the door. His white beard and cloak shone against the weathered house. "Ah, sunlight," the old man said with a contented sigh. "It heals the terrors of the night."

"The Nightmare?" Jack said. His mouth hurt, and his speech was oddly slurred.

"Among other things," said the Bard. Jack felt his lip and found, to his horror, that it was as swollen as a mushroom after rain. "You wouldn't make a bad-looking troll at the moment," the old man remarked.

Jack remembered the words the Bard had cried out in his sleep. "Have you truly seen one, sir?"

"Oh, yes. Dozens. Most are quite pleasant, although they take getting used to. The ones you have to watch out for are the half-trolls. There's no describing how nasty they can be. Or deceitful. They're shape-shifters, and when they appear human, they're so beautiful that you can't think of a single sensible thing around them."

"Did one of them send the Nightmare?" said Jack.

"One of them rode it. Look, my boy, I was trying to protect you from certain things until you were older. But I may not have the time. Lately, I've felt a darkness over the sea. She's searching for me, you see. I can hide from her in the daytime. At night my guard is down, and she knows it."

"You could move in with the chief, sir. He could protect you," said Jack. He was beginning to get alarmed. This wasn't a saga or an amusing song. This was real.

The old man shook his head. "Your chief is a brave man, but he isn't up to handling trolls. She is hunting for me, and if she has found out where I am, her servants may already be on the way. I've been careless. I should have remembered that nowhere in the nine worlds is safe for me as long as she is abroad. I may even have to let her take me. Better that than let her destroy your village."

"But can't you flee?"

"Jotuns follow a trail like a hound. Her servants will come here first. If they don't find me, they'll kill all of you."

"Jotuns?" Jack said faintly.

"It's what the trolls call themselves. They can creep inside your mind and know what you're thinking. They know when and where you're going to strike before you do it. Only a very special kind of warrior can overcome them."

"We have to do something." Jack knew his voice sounded shrill, but he couldn't help it.

"We will," the Bard said firmly. "I'm on the alert now. I won't let her catch me off guard again. I should have been teaching you all these weeks, but the peacefulness of this place lulled me...."

The Bard fell silent, and Jack saw him looking out to sea. He looked too, but he saw only cloudless sky and gray-green waves bending toward shore. If there was darkness out there, he couldn't see it.

"You can go home for the next three days," said the Bard. "I'll be walking in the forest. Oh, and I wouldn't mention any of this to your family." He reached for his black staff. "We don't want to alarm them until it's necessary. Jotuns can follow a trail of fear as easily as foxes sniff out a henhouse."

"I spend half my time chasing those scurvy boys," said Father, slurping a bowl of Mother's rich cockle soup. Jack had provided the cockles from sea cliffs near the Bard's house. "They slide away like eels when there's real work to be done."

"Oh, aye. They're a useless lot," agreed Mother. She steadied Lucy's hands on her mug.

Jack didn't think the farm was suffering. The fences looked sturdy; the field was covered with oats and barley. Mustard, lavender, and coriander bloomed in the kitchen garden, and the apple trees were covered with tiny green fruit.

It was so beautiful, it made his throat ache. He'd never appreciated the little farm until now. And he saw his father in a new light. He realized that Giles Crookleg's complaints meant no more than the muttering of crows in a tree. It was a habit crows fell into when things weren't going their way. Father, too, grumbled by way of easing the disappointments in his life. What mattered was how Father went on in spite of his unhappiness, to create this beautiful place. Jack saw how lovingly the house was made, how carefully provisions were laid up so that Mother, Lucy, and himself could survive.

It could all be swept away in an instant. No one had any idea of the menace lurking over the sea.

"Jack's crying," said Lucy.

"I am not," Jack said indignantly. He turned his head away to hide the tears that had wandered down his cheek. He'd felt oddly shaken since the Bard had thrown him down. He seemed to cry more easily.

"Leave him alone, dearest," came Mother's soft voice. "His mouth is very sore."

"The Bard thrashed him," said Father.

"It was an accident," Jack said.

"Oh, aye. You may tell us that, but I know a thrashing when I see one."

Jack didn't say anything. If it pleased Father to think he'd been punished, why spoil things? And this, too, was new. Before, Jack would have argued passionately. Now he saw the lines of pain in his father's face, his hunched shoulders and scarred hands. The boy had a glimmer of another image, of his father as a child before the accident.

Jack felt like crying again. These new feelings were very odd and worrying.

Mother bent over Lucy's fair head. "You must finish your soup," she whispered.

"I don't like the bottom part. It's sandy," said Lucy.

"Washing cockles takes away the taste," said Mother, but she finished the dregs herself and gave Lucy an oatcake.

"Thrashing is good for boys," Giles Crookleg said. "Why, I was smacked six ways to Sunday by my father, and it made me the man I am today."

Then, because it was Sunday, Father told them a story about the holy saints. Father couldn't read, nor could anyone in the village except the Bard. To Giles Crookleg, writing was a kind of magic. When the Bard marked letters on a scrap of parchment, Father always crossed himself to avert a spell.

But he had memorized dozens of stories from the monks of the Holy Isle. Tonight's tale was of Saint Lawrence, martyred by pagans. "He was roasted over a slow fire," said Father to Lucy's horrified gasp. "They stuck garlic cloves between his toes and basted him all over like a chicken. When he was about to die and be taken into Heaven, Saint Lawrence said, 'I think I'm done. You may eat me when you will.' The pagans were so impressed, they fell on their knees and begged to become Christians."

Trolls eat people, thought Jack. They would come over the sea and stick garlic cloves between everyone's toes. He put his head down and thought about green hills and puffy clouds instead. He must not be afraid. Jotuns followed fear like a trail.

Later Lucy wanted to hear her own story of how she had lived in a palace.

"This will come to grief," said Mother. "She can't tell the difference between fact and fancy."

Father ignored her. Jack knew he looked forward to the tales as much as Lucy did. The boy understood - how had he changed so much in a few weeks? - that these, too, were a comfort to his father. Giles Crookleg might grumble like a crow, but he lost himself like a bird in the clouds of his own imaginings. He no longer had to set foot on the earth or know that he was doomed to creep upon it.

"Once upon a time," said Father, "the queen dropped a honey cake on the ground."

"My other mother," prompted Lucy.

Mother sniffed. She had long since stopped explaining that Lucy couldn't have two sets of parents.

"It put down roots and grew," said Father.

"Until it was as tall as the oak by the blacksmith's shed," Lucy said.

"Every branch was covered with honey cakes. Invisible servants flew through the air to fetch them."

"Invisible servants! I'd like that," said Mother.

"You had a little dog with a green collar with silver bells sewn on it. You could hear it running through the house."

"Castle," Lucy corrected.

"Yes, of course. Castle. And it could talk. It told you everything that went on in the kingdom, but alas, it was very naughty. The dog ran away, and the nurse ran after it."

"With me in her arms," said Lucy.

"Yes. She got lost in the woods. She sat down to weep and tear her hair."

"She laid me under a rosebush first," said Lucy.

"A bear came out of the woods and gobbled her up, but he didn't find you, dearest."

"And that was how I got lost," crowed Lucy, not at all concerned about the fate of the nurse.

Jack fell asleep listening to the north wind fussing with the thatch over his head.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer Copyright © 2004 by Nancy Farmer. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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