It’s the story about a young man named Jack who lives with his peasant farming family in the British Isles. His life is rather unremarkable—in fact, painful at times, due to a father who doesn’t seem to like him much—until the local bard decides to make him his apprentice. Life soon becomes vivid and wonderful for Jack—until Viking sailors and berserkers from across the sea come to enslave and pillage his village. Soon Jack and his five year old sister are taken captive by these berserkers, leading them on a perilous adventure ripe with magic, suspense, mystery, and creatures.
Things are not always what they seem to be in Farmer’s novels, and if you are new to her you will be utterly delighted in the surprises that await you. Yes, some of them are a bit predictable—it is YA lit after all—but they remain so much fun and so realistic—indeed, even bits of nursery rhymes and nods to other pop culture items can be found throughout the book—that it doesn’t even matter.
My favorite part of the book is when Jack and some of the warriors must venture out to the land of trolls to find a magical well (you see where this is going!) and the adventure that occurs there. Yes, the story is mainly made up of male protagonists (as well as antagonists) but there are some powerful women as well—wise women, wives, and even a young shield maiden whose dream is to die a hero and serve Odin in Valhalla.
There were several other peoples introduced in the book that were barely touched upon, however, and I am sincerely hoping that we will get to visit these tribes once more in detail in Farmer’s follow up novels, of which there are currently two—though the author has expressed interest in a fourth novel. So many bits of real lore and history are included—as well as a few very violent scenes—that you will likely even forget that it’s a YA novel in the first place and set it prominently among the rest of your favorites.
The Sea of Trolls is a perfectly thrilling fantasy that any creature lover will enjoy. If you’re setting up your summer reading list already, be sure to include it.