Jack was eleven when the berserkers loomed out of the fog and nabbed him. "It seems that things are stirring across the water," the Bard had warned. "Ships are being built, swords are being forged."
"Is that bad?" Jack had asked, for his Saxon village had never before seen berserkers.
"Of course. People don't make ships and swords unless they intend to use them."
The year is A.D. 793. In the next months, Jack and his little sister, Lucy, are enslaved by Olaf One-Brow and his fierce young shipmate, Thorgil. With a crow named Bold Heart for mysterious company, they are swept up into an adventure-quest that follows in the spirit of The Lord of the Rings.
Other threats include a willful mother Dragon, a giant spider, and a troll-boar with a surprising personality -- to say nothing of Ivar the Boneless and his wife, Queen Frith, a shape-shifting half-troll, and several eight foot tall, orange-haired, full-time trolls. But in stories by award-winner Nancy Farmer, appearances do deceive. She has never told a richer, funnier tale, nor offered more timeless encouragement to young seekers than "Just say no to pillaging."
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1 . One of my favorites
Posted November 13, 2009 by Nathan , HoustonI read this book years ago, and loved it. I recently read it again and it was just as good as the first time I read it.
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
May 25, 2005
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Excerpt from The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
Chapter Three: The Shadow Across The Water
Jack sat up abruptly. The wind was howling outside. The house held the deep chill that seeped into it before dawn.
"No...I won't do it...it's evil..."
Jack threw back the covers and stumbled to the other end of the house. The Bard's bed was shaking. He saw the old man thrust up his hand as though warding something off. "Sir! Sir! Wake up! Everything's all right." He caught the Bard's hand.
"You won't bend me to your will! I defy you, foul troll!"
Something -- some terrible force -- flung the boy back. His head banged against the stone, and his ears rang as though a blacksmith were pounding on an anvil. He tasted blood.
"Oh, my stars, child! I didn't know it was you."
Jack tried to speak, choked on blood, and coughed instead.
"You're alive, thank Freya! Stay here. I'll build up the fire and make you a healing drink."
The ringing in Jack's ears died down, but he felt violently sick to his stomach. He heard the Bard move around, and presently, the hearth burst into light. In a very short time he was handed a cup of hot liquid. It hurt his mouth and he recoiled.
"You bit through your lip, child. It isn't as bad as it looks. The drink will make it better."
Jack managed to swallow, and the sickness went away. He found himself trembling. Perhaps he'd been trembling all along. He couldn't remember. "Is that -- is that how -- you destroy your enemies " he stammered.
The Bard sat back. "One of the ways," he said.
"So that was...magic."
"Some call it so," said the Bard.
"Will you teach me how to do it "
"By Thor's bushy beard! I almost killed you, and the first thing you want to know is how to do it."
"W-Well, sir, I am your a-apprentice."
"And a right cheeky one too. Most boys would have run home to their mothers after what you just experienced. Still, curiosity is a great thing. We two might just get along."
Jack felt a kind of warm sleepiness pass over him. The pain was still there, but it seemed unimportant. "What happened to you, sir "
"That was a Nightmare, lad. Pray you never meet one."
"You mean, a bad dream "
"I mean a Nightmare. It's far worse."
Jack wanted to ask more, but he was too comfortable. He yawned broadly, stretched out on the floor, and fell asleep.
When he awoke, he was lying outside on a bed of heather. He struggled to get up. "Rest a while, lad," said the Bard. He was sitting on a stool next to the door. His white beard and cloak shone against the weathered house. "Ah, sunlight," the old man said with a contented sigh. "It heals the terrors of the night."
"The Nightmare " Jack said. His mouth hurt, and his speech was oddly slurred.
"Among other things," said the Bard. Jack felt his lip and found, to his horror, that it was as swollen as a mushroom after rain. "You wouldn't make a bad-looking troll at the moment," the old man remarked.
Jack remembered the words the Bard had cried out in his sleep. "Have you truly seen one, sir "
"Oh, yes. Dozens. Most are quite pleasant, although they take getting used to. The ones you have to watch out for are the half-trolls. There's no describing how nasty they can be. Or deceitful. They're shape-shifters, and when they appear human, they're so beautiful that you can't think of a single sensible thing around them."