The Sea Of Trolls

Written by Nancy Farmer
Review by Juliet Waldron

It is 793. The Holy Isle of Lindisfarne has been sacked. Jack and his little sister are stolen from their Yorkshire village by Viking raiders. For ordinary slaves the future would be black, but fortunately Jack has undergone the beginnings of his Bardic – read magical – training. Bards were highly regarded by the Norse, so Jack’s first challenge is to summon powers he’s barely learned to use, with effects which are both funny and uncertain. Although The Sea of Trolls is labeled a fantasy, research into the period provides a solid foundation. The intertwined religions of the time, both New and Old, are respectfully evoked. Harsh 8th century realities are never shirked, yet the narrative remains engagingly light-handed. Jack’s quest to save himself and his sister takes place among forbidding characters named Gizur Thumb-Crusher, Olaf One Brow, and Ivar the Boneless. His final ordeal comes in the terrifying land of Jotenheim, where there are gigantic animals and man-eating Trolls. Throughout, mythic and visionary worlds are conjured in ways that read as “real” as the early descriptions of Jack’s life in his small Saxon village. On all fronts, The Sea of Trolls is a compelling page turner, a thrilling and deservedly much praised young adult book.