About the Book
In A.D. 793, eleven-year-old Jack leaves his family farm to become an apprentice to the Bard, a druid from Ireland, who is assigned to his Saxon village. At first, he is unsure of his duties, and is puzzled when the Bard experiences a nightmare that Jack later learns foreshadows a rollicking and dangerous adventure-quest with the Northmen, led by Ivar the Boneless. Jack and his little sister, Lucy, are snatched by the berserkers and enslaved by Olaf One-Brow and his shipmate, Thorgil. Accompanied by a crow called Bold Heart, the two children encounter a sea of characters: humans and animals, trolls and half-trolls. There are surprises around every corner, and just when doom seems imminent, there is a bit of humor to lighten the suspense. Steeped in Norse mythology and Saxon history, The story brings Jack and Lucy full circle, but with a surprise ending.
Ask students to research the unique elements in Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology. Discuss the differences and list the most common figures and distinctive characteristics of the Norse myths.
- Good vs. evil is a common theme in fantasy novels. Discuss the good and evil forces in The Sea of Trolls.
- Explain the Bard’s nightmares. How do his nightmares foreshadow Jack’s journey and encounter with the evil forces?
- The Bard tells Jack, “You see, lad, most people live like birds in a cage. It makes them feel safe. The world’s a frightening place, full of glory and wonder and danger.” Describe the “glory, wonder and danger” that Jack and Lucy face. What do they learn about the world by the end of the novel? How does the Bard’s statement to Jack apply to our lives today?
- The Bard teaches Jack about fear, pain, power, magic, and anger. How does the Bard’s warning of Ivar the Boneless and Queen Frith leave Jack “dizzy with fear?” At what point does Jack experience the most pain and anger? How does his magic make him feel powerful? What important lesson does he learn about power?
- When Olaf relates Thorgil’s story, Jack thinks that it would make a good poem. Write the poem, and give it a happier ending to please Jack.
- The author included detailed physical descriptions of the characters, both human and animal. Make an illustrated chart of the novel’s characters.