The Sea of Trolls (Sea of Trolls Trilogy Series #1)by Nancy Farmer
"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
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 that follows in the spirit of The Lord of the Rings.
Other threats include a willful mother Dragon, a giant spider, and a troll-boar 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-winner Nancy Farmer, appearances do deceive. She has never told a richer, funnier tale, nor offered more timeless encouragement to young seekers than "Just say no to pillaging."
The New York Times
November/December 2004 issue of The Horn Book Magazine
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.
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
Special for USA TODAY
Rebecca Hogue Wojahn
"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
Read an Excerpt
Chapter Three: The Shadow Across The Water
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.
Copyright © 2004 by Nancy Farmer
If I were to write an editor's letter about Nancy Farmer's new novel, The Sea of Trolls, I would draw your attention to the following:
- The book is funny,
- You care about the characters, young (all) and old (mostly -- and those you don't care for are wonderfully repellent),
- The seamless but intricate use of the grand themes from Norse mythology,
- The brilliance of the nature writing,
- The strength and complexity of the female characters,
- The tenderness and valor of the males,
- You will delight in the final two chapters, full of surprises, just when you though the story was over,
- The recipe for graffisk, a fish delicacy not for delicate stomachs, but sure to delight kids with a taste for the gross.
Not that Nancy Farmer needs me to speak for her or her memorable cast of questers, trolls, dragons, rogues, spiders, praise-singers, villainesses, and extremely large cars. As in her other books, she works miracles of suspense and depths of feeling, all in the service of a rich, encircling story. I'm not sure how she does it, but I surely am grateful!
Richard Jackson, editor
Meet the Author
Nancy Farmer has written three Newbery Honor books: The Ear, the Eye and the Arm; A Girl Named Disaster; and The House of the Scorpion, which also won the National Book Award and the Printz Honor. Other books include The Lord of Opium, The Sea of Trolls, The Land of the Silver Apples, The Islands of the Blessed, Do You Know Me, The Warm Place, and three picture books for young children. She grew up on the Arizona-Mexico border and now lives with her family in the Chiricahua Mountains of Arizona.
- Menlo Park, California
- Date of Birth:
- July 9, 1941
- Place of Birth:
- Phoenix, Arizona
- B.A., Reed College, 1963
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This story is set up in an Anglo Saxon Village. The main character, is a boy named jack along with his sister Lucy and his parents. Jack had no special traits until he became the bards apprentice. He started to understand the world and was forced to use the force around him. Magic and powers enhance the adventures of the book. The village gets raided by the Vikings or berserkers and Jack and Lucy get captured, and thats where it all begins. The leader of the berserkers Olaf- One Brow is very manipulative and is one of the most important characters in the story. It is a story of adventure. The descriptions of the settings are vibrant and colorful. Nancy Farmer has a slow pace in the first chapters but goes much faster after. You get some history mixed with a lot of fantasy. As the story continues, you get to go through many challenging events, many of them life or death. The flow of this book is easy and comfortable. If you get any vocabulery word you don't understand it will probably see it is a word from way back history in the times of the vikings. Many 10 year olds can fly through this book even though it is about 500 pages long. This book joins the theme of friendship and courage. Friendship in a way because Jack notices that the enemy's are not as bad as he thought. You will find it interesting to read about trolls and dragons. It takes you back to Norse mythology. Nancy Farmer opens a world of imagination and of missions that have to be accomplished. I recommend it to any reader out there with an imagination. It combines past traditions with a magical touch. You will also see some religion (christianity) here, mostly for hope. The Sea of Trolls is worth reading and will take you through a mystical journey of magic and belief.
Not an adult book. Written at an 8 year old level. Little to no exposition, terrible character development and even worse dialogue. Even for its length the story is terribly rushed and makes no sense in places. If this were advertised as a children's book, I wouldn't be so harsh on it, but it's not. Nancy Farmer wants to run with the big dogs of SF/Fantasy, I'll call it as I see it. This book is barely one step above complete sh*t.
Book title and author: THE SEA OF TROLLS, Nancy farmer Title of review: THE SEA OF TROLLS Number of stars (1 to 5):10 Do you like books? How about barbarians? Magic, magicians? Well the book for you is THE SEA OF TROLLS!!! This is a grate book about mythical beings, Norns, trolls (duh), barbarians, dragons and more. The best author of all time is Nancy Famer. She is so descriptive with detail it is crazy. You are their watching it happen if you read one of her books. The characters of the story are Jack, Olaf, Thorgil, Jacks sister Lucy, and more people. This book is fiction the best type of books because any thing can happen and the reader won¿t know it. This is a kind of fantasy, action, epic, funny, sad, type of stories all combined.This story takes place during the Black Death era you know like knights and other stuff like that. So that¿s what I meant by barbarians and magicians. Castles, kings, queens, and horses the olden days. That¿s what I like old time books and swords. This story takes place during the Black Death era you know like knights and other stuff like that. So that¿s what I meant by barbarians and magicians. Castles, kings, queens, and horses the olden days. That¿s what I like old time books and swords. This story revolves around one person, Jack he is a hard working boy who just doesn¿t want any thing special but to go to the land of silver apples and be with histories heroes and the great people. One day Jack and Lucy his sister are walking down the street when a fog comes in then they get lost hiding because they hear voices of people that they know don¿t live there This is a great book I think you will all like it.
I personally enjoyed this book from beginning to end. It kept me interested and I really got into the story. I liked the characters and their personalities. The plot was well put together and interesting. I recamend this book to anyone interested in fantacy and adventure stories
The first word that comes to mind when I think of this book is enchanting. Througout the well thought out plot lies a cast of creative characters, suspense, excitment and thrill. You will not be able to put this book down once you begin. Nancy Farmer is an excellent authour who words everything perfectly and keeps the readers attached. A good author can make a person feel any way, and that is exactly what Nancy Farmer did with 'The Sea of Trolls'. Bravo Nancy Farmer, BRavo. I look forward to more books by you.
¿Just say no to pillaging!¿ And trolls. And giant fire-breathing dragons that want to kill you. In Nancy Farmer¿s book, The Sea of Trolls, Jack is a farmer boy in a village. He has a normal life. He works on his dad¿s farm all day. One day, he is bringing food to the Bard'wizard'. The Bard invites him to lunch in the afternoon. When Jack shows up, he is proposed an apprenticeship to the Bard! Jack accepts. During his first few days at there, he has some fun experiences with the Bard. They cook food, tell stories, and the Bard nearly killed Jack while he was using magic,by mistake, of course'. Now you might think that Jack wouldn¿t like the last thing a lot, but he is thrilled by the thought that he will be able to do that level of magic one day. About a year later, half-men/half-wolf people come and steal Jack and his sister. Now he must go on an adventure to another world to get back home. When I read this book, I almost never put down until I was finished. It completely captivated me. The book was full with cliffhangers from the first page to the last page. I recommend this book to anyone who likes a good fiction book or a book with a very good storyline. If you liked this book you might also like the sequel to the book, The Land of The Silver Apples. The third book, The Islands of the Blessed, is scheduled for a 2009 release.
I recommend this book to many people because it¿s a fantasy/medieval novel. It has trolls, people, ogres, and other fantasy creatures. There are swords, bows, and daggers. The characters are back in the day when there was no electricity or running water it¿s probably around the Roman times. It¿s a very interesting book because it creates great suspense. It¿s a long book, but it¿s so interesting, by the time you finish it, you wish it wasn¿t over you just want it to go on forever and ever.
Loved every moment of it. This book has a well developed plot and charecters you start to love. It also has a good message balanced with fantasy and adventure which is very hard to find in books these days. Our generation isn't into reading and when I reccomended this to one of my friends that would only read comics, he finished it in 2 DAYS! If we could get more books like this, insteand of teachers yelling, "Put away that phone!" They will be saying,"Can you put down your book?" What could be better than that?
Is alittle gory at some parts but i looooooooved it read it!!!!!!!
Scans the room
GREAT BOOK! I recommend this book for all kids in my grade!
Sea of troll faces trolololloll
This is awesome!!! Omg!
This is an amazing book. It was very enjoyable. I finished this book in one day and I recomend it to anyone who likes fanasy
This was a n amazing book!!!!! I would recommend it to people who like fantasy adventures.
Nancy Farmer does a great job putting together an adventure story with true facts. I enjoyed this book a lot. I think it's best for preteen ages, simply because of the level of reading difficulty and content. It's a great read and I look forward to reading the other books of the trilogy.
This book is really good. In the beginning it was a little slow but ut quickly picked up the pace. Soon i was unable to put it down. This book had some very ammotional parts but for the most part it was really good. This book would be good for tweens or young audlts because younger kids would quickly get bored by it. If you are looking for a thrilling book you should most defenitly get this book.