Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Love Them Vikings

I believe I mentioned a few days back that I was reading The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer. Well, I finished it.

As I said earlier, I found the first part of the book, where the main character, Jack, is studying with a Bard, ho-hum and run-of-the-mill. In fact, if I hadn't been reading this with an on-line reading group, I might have given up. However, Jack finally is kidnapped by Vikings and things picked up.

I did research on Vikings many years ago for a book that never materialized. I grew rather fond of them, taking into consideration that they were violent thieves and murderers and all.

Sea of Trolls is strongest on Vikings and one in particular is a marvelous, powerful character. Olaf Onebrow is a genial monster and none too bright. The book comes alive when he's on the page.

He raises a question for me, though, because I think children's books should be strongest on kid characters or at least, as in the case of the Underland Chronicles, strong on characters who aren't human adults. I worked with the same children's book editor for many years, and I suspect she would have objected to my putting Olaf in a children's book.

Nonetheless, he is marvelous. I enjoyed everything about the Vikings in the book, as a matter of fact.

I think your response to The Sea of Trolls is going to depend on how experienced a reader you are. There were some aspects of the book (the crow, Olaf's wife's vision) that seemed really obvious to me. A young reader, though, might not have picked up on them.

The dialogue seemed a little too obviously twenty-first century, which, of course, makes it much more accessible to a twenty-first century reader. I feel foolish picking up on that since, as a general rule, I don't care for attempts to make dialogue historically accurate, either. There's just no satisfying me, I guess.

I definitely admire Farmer for doing an adventure/quest story after a dystopian futuristic book. She is the author of The House of the Scorpion--which I liked, by the way. The quest book on top of the dystopian book really shows range. I also appreciate that Trolls was written in the third person. I'm sure that I've mentioned before that I think first person books have been done to death.

So, over all, for a young reader, I think this book is a go.

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