By Nancy Farmer
Looking back, I was surprised by how completely uninformative my previous review of this series was, so I thought I’d redo it.
If you want to read my old review, the link is here: http://picareads.blogspot.com/2010/10/sea-of-trolls.html
Here’s my new review.
First of all, I really, really liked this series. It takes place when the Vikings were raiding Saxon villages in the late 700s and early 800s CE. Jack, the main character of the Sea of Trolls books, lives in one of these villages. He and his sister Lucy are captured by a band of northmen (Vikings). They are nearly sold as slaves, but are spared because Jack had been training as a bard, and the leader of the northmen’s band, Olaf One-Brow, wants Jack to stay on as his personal bard (called a skald in the northmen’s language). Jack and Lucy are taken to see the king and queen of the northmen, Ivar the Boneless and Frith Half-troll. When Jack accidentally casts a spell with his skald-magic to make Frith’s beauty disappear, she takes Lucy and sends Jack on a quest to find a way to undo his spell with a warning that if he takes too long, she will sacrifice Lucy to the god Freya. Jack, Olaf, and the other vikings go on this quest to find Mimir’s well, which would give him the knowledge necessary to undo the spell and save Lucy. The most important of the vikings (and my favorite) is Thorgil, a shieldmaiden determined to prove herself a shieldmaiden worthy of Valhalla (the northmen’s heaven, reserved for the greatest warriors). Although quickly angered, crabby, and inconsiderate, she has the greatest character arc of any character in the series. It’s a great books with tons and tons of historical references that enrich the novel rather than slow it down.
The second and third books are great as well. I’m not going to summarize these because I don’t want to give away anything from the end of the 1st book, but it brings back great characters like Thorgil, Jack, and the Bard, and introduces new ones that are just as good. I highly recommend this entire series.