The Sea of Trolls
The Sea of Trolls

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Series: Sea of Trolls   

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Annotation: After Jack becomes apprenticed to a Druid bard, he and his little sister Lucy are captured by Viking Berserkers and taken to the home of King Ivar the Boneless and his half-troll queen, leading Jack to undertake a vital quest to Jotunheim, home of the trolls.
Catalog Number: #128339
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition Date: 2015
Illustrator: Britton, Rick,
Pages: 459 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-481-44308-9 Perma-Bound: 0-605-95408-9
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-481-44308-1 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-95408-3
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2003019091
Dimensions: 19 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
In Farmer's latest, a battle-ax-size fantasy-adventure, rampaging Northmen (the polite term for Vikings) pass through a Saxon village and enslave two of its residents: an 11-year-old apprentice mage and his 5-year-old sister. When Jack offends the Northmen's touchy queen, she threatens to kill his sister unless he reverses a misfired spell--a task that requires a journey deep into icy troll country. The subsequent bouts with troll-bears, giant spiders, and dragons are thrilling, and boys in particular will delight in Farmer's portrayal of the initially terrifying Northmen as tellers of fart jokes and singers of rowdy songs. Lighthearted moments notwithstanding, Jack's archetypal quest is a dense one, heavily draped in Norse mythology, Old English lore, and ponderings about the differences between Christian and pagan cosmologies. In addition, many readers may find it difficult to accept Jack's deepening affection for his frequently barbaric kidnappers, not to mention the oft-repeated message, "All beautiful things attract destruction"--a worldview that comes to Jack straight from the bloody saga of Beowulf. Readers captivated by slash-'em-up Viking culture will happily plunge into this celebrated author's sixth novel, but many members of Farmer's traditional audience will emerge from the experience feeling alternately dazzled and dazed.
Horn Book
Drawing upon history, Norse and Celtic myth, and Farmer's own abundant imagination, this story is long but engrossing, a "cruel tale with a merry heart" about a Saxon boy and what befell him upon his and his younger sister's capture by marauding Northmen (and, later, trolls). The book is effectively sparing in its use of fantasy elements, but when Farmer pulls out all the stops, she does so with aplomb and assurance.
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)
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 for Publishers Weekly

Readers will want to sail through these nearly 500 pages to find out what happens to young Jack and his sister, Lucy, kidnapped from their homeland by a Viking crew led by Olaf One-Brow. The two then travel across the sea where Ivar the Boneless, king of the Northmen, reigns with his half-troll wife, Queen Frith. The Bard, who fled from Queen Frith and has taken refuge on the boy's small island ("Nowhere in the nine worlds is safe for me as long as she is abroad," the Bard explains) takes in 12-year-old Jack as an apprentice. The old man manages to teach Jack some magic and some of the complex history of the Northmen and their enemies, the Jotuns or trolls, before Olaf and his men invade. The book brims with delectable details. Ivar the Boneless, for instance, "wears a cloak made from the beards of his defeated enemies" and Queen Frith's beauty dissolves when Jack begins to sing a tribute to her ("Her features rippled and twisted like the beasts carved on the walls"). Her rage at reverting back to her troll-like appearance prompts Jack's quest to seek Mimir's Well, in the heart of Jotunheim (troll country) in order to reverse the spell and save his sister, whom Queen Frith threatens to sacrifice if her beauty is not restored. Plotting and incidental players such as dragons and giant spiders in Jotunheim take precedence over character development here. But if the relationships are not as fully fleshed out as in Farmer's previous books, fans of Viking and adventure tales will still be up late nights to discover Jack's fate. Ages 10-13. (Oct.)

Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages (457)-459).
Word Count: 108,260
Reading Level: 4.7
Interest Level: 5-9
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.7 / points: 16.0 / quiz: 81202 / grade: Middle Grades

The Sea of Trolls blends ancient history and Norse epics with recognizable bits of Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings” (The New York Times).

Jack is kidnapped by berserkers from his Saxon village in the year A.D. 793, an occurrence forewarned by his mentor the Bard. Captured by Viking chief Olaf One-Brow, Jack and his sister, Lucy, are swiftly taken to the court of Ivar the Boneless.

Ivar is married to a half-troll named Frith, an evil and unpredictable queen with a strange power over her husband’s court. Jack mistakenly casts a charm on her—and is banished to the kingdom of the trolls to find the magic that will undo the charm. Accompanied by Thorgill, a shield maiden who wants to be a berserker, and by the mysterious crow called Bold Heart, Jack sets out on a harrowing and exciting quest for the ages.

From National Book Award winner Nancy Farmer, this first book in the Sea of Trolls trilogy is epic fantasy at its best.

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