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The Sea of Trolls

Review

The Sea of Trolls

Jack, a Bard's apprentice, is kidnapped by a band of marauding Vikings. The year is A.D. 793. He can expect to be sold into slavery, or to serve his kidnappers for the rest of his life. He can expect never to see his home in Saxon Britain again. What he does not expect is the magical adventure that will take him into the hearts and minds of his captors, and ultimately to the roots of the world tree Yggdrasil.

Three-time Newbery Honor author Nancy Farmer weaves together history, humor and Norse mythology to create a marvelous tale of action and adventure. Only an author as masterful and imaginative as Farmer would be able to adapt the story of Beowolf for young people. Or show the human side of berserkers, warriors who take drugs that transform them into frenzied killers immune to pain and exhaustion.

Jack struggles with his role as slave to his captor, the fierce and funny Olaf One-Brow. He also grapples with the worldview of the Northmen, which glorifies violence and death in battle. His duties as Olaf's skald (poet/bard) require him to witness the slaughter of villages and turn them into songs of praise. Still, he is able to find courage, honor and beauty among his harsh circumstances. It is the experience of these virtues that he finds the will to live.

THE SEA OF TROLLS is full of surprising twists and turns, along with a depth not always found in adventure novels. It is also extremely well researched. Farmer includes a bibliography of source materials for readers who want to learn more about Norse culture. There are very few books, fiction or nonfiction, available to young people on the subject. By utilizing such a rich tradition, Farmer has created a highly original work. It is a joy to read, and I hope it will bring her the Newbery Award she so richly deserves.

Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood on September 7, 2004

The Sea of Trolls
by Nancy Farmer

  • Publication Date: September 7, 2004
  • Genres: Fantasy
  • Hardcover: 459 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0689867441
  • ISBN-13: 9780689867446