The Sea of Trolls

The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer is “A book by an author you’ve never read before” mainly because the sequel caught my eye for “A book based entirely on its cover,” which I will review next time.

Because I determined to read the sequel, I picked up The Sea of Trolls without having a clue about what it’s about. Usually, I’ll read the blurb on the back or inside cover and often I read the first paragraph of a book to see if it catches my attention. I didn’t do any of that with this book. I just grabbed it and added it to the pile of books that waited for me to finish The Three Musketeers.

The Sea of Trolls is a YA fantasy set in 793 A.D. and follows the adventures of Jack, a Saxon farmer’s son. Jack is apprenticed to the Bard, a druid, and begins learning magic when Northmen attack and take Jack and his little sister Lucy away. Jack must use his little magic and his wits to keep his sister and himself safe from Picts, crazy Northmen, trolls, and numerous other nasties.

I was delighted the moment I realized that Jack was a Saxon, because a few years back, my husband and I were pretty active in our local SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) group. Both of us selected Saxon personas and I’ve had a fondness for Saxon history ever since. Nancy Farmer has a lot of historical tidbits tossed in. The different food and clothing is woven in well, giving you a taste of the different time period and culture without bogging things down.

Nancy Farmer really did a nice job of balancing history with the myth and legend of the time. Catholic Christianity, Druidic, and Norse religion are all represented and while I disagree with the Bard that all religions are true, the idea allowed for the story to weave in a lot of interesting conflict.

The story itself wasn’t spectacular, but it was fun in it’s own way. The last few pages of the book are dedicated to explaining some of the history and references that Nancy Farmer used in the book, adding to the educational value of the book itself.

I’ll be reviewing the sequel to this book, The Land of the Silver Apples, next time as “A book based entirely on its cover.”

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