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The Sea of Trolls Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 1, 2004

155 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Three time Newbery honor author Nancy Farmer's epic fantasy, The Sea of Trolls, is gigantic in every way. There are big Vikings and bigger trolls. There are big themes--hope, despair, life and death. At a substantial 450+ pages, the sheer size of this hefty tome is impressive. But, like all of Farmer's fine work, the large scale has room for enormous quantities of heart and humor. At the center of this massive adventure is a small Saxon boy named Jack, who's never been much good at anything until the Bard of his medieval village makes him an apprentice. Then, just as Jack is learning to tap into and control his power, he is kidnapped (along with his little sister, Lucy) and taken to the court of King Ivar the Boneless and his half troll queen Frith. When one of Jack's amateur spells causes the evil queen's beautiful hair to fall out, he is forced to undertake a dangerous quest across the Sea of Trolls to make things right, or suffer the consequences--the sacrifice of his beloved sister to Frith's patron goddess, Freya. Along the way Jack faces everything from giant golden troll-bears to man-eating spiders, yet each frightening encounter brings wisdom and understanding to the budding young Bard. No quester who enters these pages with Jack will go away unsatisfied. Farmer's skillful melding of history, mythology, and humor, is reminiscent of both Tamora Pierce and Terry Pratchett's medieval fantasies, and will no doubt be HUGELY enjoyed by fantasy readers of all ages. --Jennifer Hubert

From Booklist

Gr. 6-9. 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. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 13 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 8
  • Lexile Measure: 670L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 459 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689867441
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689867446
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #564,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About 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, in 2002, also won the National Book Award. Other books include Do You Know Me, The Warm Place, the Trolls trilogy, three picture books for young children and an adult novel, A New Year's Tale. Nancy Farmer grew up on the Arizona-Mexico border and lives with her family in Arizona.

The Lord of Opium, sequel to The House of the Scorpion, will be published in Fall 2013.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 64 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thrice honored by whoever awards the Newbery award, Nancy Farmer turns her attention from Africa to medieval Norway in "The Sea of Trolls." Weaving legends and fact together, Farmer crafts a thrilling, magical, and hugely entertaining story set in the old Norse legends.

Jack was thrilled when the Bard took him on as his apprentice, especially when the strange old man taught him to do magic -- or rather, to "use the life force." (Use the Force, Jack!) But his life is suddenly thrown into disarray when an evil Nightmare drives the Bard mad, and a band of berserkers captures Jack and his little sister Lucy. Now Jack is at the questionable mercy of Olaf One-Brow, who fortunately is pleased to have captured a skald (bard).

But things go wrong again as soon as they arrive at Olaf's home. The sullen shield-maiden Thorgil gives Lucy as a present to the half-troll queen Frith, who is initially pleased by the pretty little girl. But then Jack accidently says a spell that reveals the queen's true appearance (and it's not a pretty sight). Now the queen threatens to kill Lucy unless Jack goes to the legendary Mimir's well, and finds a way to reverse the spell. But Mimir's well lies in the middle of Jotunheim, a hideous wasteland full of trolls, dragons, carnivore plants and enormous beasts.

It's hard to find a fantasy as textured as this one is. Farmer weaves history (Viking berserkers and the destruction of the Holy Isle) with legends (Jotunheim, trolls, Norse gods and Yggdrasil), and never makes you suspend your belief that it could have been like this. Plus there's a bit of Irish druidry, all wrapped up in the growing friendship between the Bard and Jack. The book is worth reading alone for the Bard's insights into nature and happiness.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By N. S. VINE VOICE on September 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"He dragged Jack to the campfire and selected a knife for him to carry. 'This is for your protection. You're not to join in the fight,' Olaf said.

" 'Don't worry,' said Jack.

" '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.' "

Despite reading some of her consistently award-winning tales, many of you may not be aware of how funny Nancy Farmer can be. But for those who have gotten to spend any time around her it's no surprise to encounter all sorts of terrific humor in her fabulous, fantastical new adventure, THE SEA OF TROLLS. And for anyone who has read Gordon Korman's SON OF THE MOB, with all of Vince's so-called "uncles" bearing wacky names, you'll understand why that book comes to mind as Nancy Farmer introduces us to the likes of Ivar the Boneless, Einar the Ear-Hoarder, Pig Face, Dirty Pants, Eric Pretty-Face, Eric the Rash, and Magnus the Mauler.

Eleven-year-old Jack, who had been happily apprenticing with The Bard, and Jack's five-year-old sister, Lucy, are captured and enslaved by the Northmen and head off in their custody to destinations unknown. The Holy Isle that Jack sees through the haze is Lindisfarne. The Holy Isle's destruction in A.D. 793, which marked the onset of two hundred years of Viking raids on Great Britain, provides readers with a historic reference point for this year's great epic adventure story.

Farmer packs THE SEA OF TROLLS' 450 pages full of humor, history, mythology, and adventure.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By L. Leigey on November 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Bought this book for my 12-year old son who might read one book a year on his own. And very slowly at that. I constantly buy him books hoping he will get interested and read them, since his reading needs improvement. Well, he loved this book so much, he literally couldn't put it down, and finished it in record time, all the while telling me about the story. He even asked me if the author, Nancy Farmer, wrote any more books.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Jordan on March 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Nancy Farmer grows into a better writer with each new work (and she started out as a darned good one).

The Sea of Trolls is a Viking fantasy story that follows in the footsteps of the existing canon of Norse myth and literature, and though fantasy, is an insightful and interesting look into that bygone culture.

It succeeds both because it is strongly plotted and at the same time isn't merely an adventure tale. The characters are no mere cardboard cut-outs, but living, breathing beings, complex in their motivations and at the same time subject to the cultural and personal backgrounds from which they arise.

Farmer pulls no punches. These are not politically correct, sanitized versions of Norsemen. They are based firmly in anthropologically correct Viking culture. Which leads to some intense, and at times, ugly moments in the story. Not ugly in a pejorative sense, but simply ugly in a literal, descriptive sense.

I won't give away plot points, but suffice it to say that this book is an excellent read. Highly recommended.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jerry Wright on June 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I read "House Of Scorpions" a while back, and Nancy Farmer's skill at depicting real people shines. With her new book "The Sea Of Trolls", once again we have real well delineated characters.

Jack, who is mistreated by his overbearing father, dotes on his sister Lucy, as does everyone else in the family. Lucy, of course, is a spoiled brat who "knows she was adopted" and is waiting for a knight to carry her back to her "parents". Her living in a daydream world makes life worse for Jack when in trying to save her from the Viking marauders, she calls out to them because she thinks them to be her rescuing knights.

This kind of clever detail makes "The Sea Of Trolls" more than just an adventure story about apprentice Bard Jack.

The other reviews here mention a lot of the story, but there are many levels to this book, and can be read on several levels.

I'm looking for more Nancy Farmer books. This one was a pleasure.

--Jerry Wright
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