Farmer, Nancy. 2004. THE SEA OF TROLLS. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 0689867441 [Suggested Grade Levels 6 and up]
Young Jack is offered an unheard of opportunity: to leave his boring life of farming and become the Bard’s apprentice where he will learn to use magic! Unfortunately, his lessons barely begun, a band of Berserkers attacks his Saxon village and Jack and his little sister, Lucy are taken prisoners. When they are presented to the Viking queen, a half-troll by the name of Frith, Lucy is given to her as a gift. Then, when Jack attempts to sing a praise-song about the queen, he causes her hair to fall out! Now, he must go on a quest to the dangerous land of the trolls to find the magical Mimir’s Well to learn the spell to undo the damage. If he does not, Lucy will die!
Full of humor, drama and magic, THE SEA OF TROLLS is a rollicking adventure story. Jack finds himself battling trolls and dragons, not to mention his iffy allies: the half-crazy Berserker girl, Thorgil and a giant of a warrior, Olaf One-Brow. When Olaf tells Jack he must come watch them in battle so Jack can write a praise-song about him, Olaf says, “I know how exciting pillaging is,” the giant said fondly, ruffling Jack’s hair. It felt like a blow. “No matter how much you’re tempted, just say no.” “Just say no to pillaging. You got it.”
The characters are well developed and full of personality. The trolls’ Queen Glamdis and her daughters, are not simply evil beings bent on destroying men, but complex creatures who end up helping Jack in his quest. Jack learns about himself on his journey and grows to admire the berserkers’ strength and loyalty, while still abhorring their violence. This is a rich fantasy, blending Farmer’s exquisite story-telling skills with the excitement and magic of Norse mythology. Fantasy lovers will definitely add this to their list of favorites.
Readers may be interested in reading actual Norse myths to learn more about the creatures mentioned in the book. They may attempt to create their own similar myths incorporating legendary figures and places or by making up their own and creating unusual names.
Here are other books related to Norse mythology:
Colum, Padraic. ODIN’S CHILDREN. ISBN 0027228908
Langrish, Katherine. TROLL FELL. ISBN 0060583045
By Ellen Reed