2012 Book 79: Islands of the Blessed, by Nancy Farmer (5/18/2012)
Reason for Reading: Third, and final, book in the Sea of Trolls trilogy
My Review 3.5/4 stars
When an angry ghost arrives on the shores of Jack’s village, he, Thorgill, and the Bard must go on a dangerous voyage to pacify her spirit before she hurts anyone. Like the first two books of this series, Islands of the Blessed is packed with adventure after adventure, a vast array of creatures from Celtic, Norse, and Christian mythologies, and an engaging historical background. Like the second book, The Land of the Silver Apples, Farmer may have tried a little too hard to pack in extra adventures and creatures…this makes the book fun and entertaining, but it has the disconnected-wandering-adventures feel of Homer’s The Odyssey instead of the tight every-event-has-a-reason feel of Harry Potter. Overall, an excellent book for perhaps the 5th through 8th grades.
2012 Book 54: The Land of the Silver Apples, by Nancy Farmer (3/27/2012)
Reason for Reading: This is the second book in a trilogy.
My Review 4/5 stars
Jack, the Bard’s apprentice, sets off on a rescue quest when his sister Lucy is kidnapped by Elves. His companions are an unreliable slave/rightful-heir-to-the-throne and a recently freed girl-slave who worships the ground Jack walks on. They meet many magical creatures, re-discover some old friends, and have lots of exciting adventures along the way. I thought this was an excellent sequel to Sea of Trolls. It expanded the mythology of the land while developing the characters already introduced in the first book. I really appreciated the way Farmer handled the three religions that were represented by her characters in this 790AD Britain-based world. She showed the power and beauty of the Pagans as well as the Christians and subtly made the point that they all got their believers where they needed to go—but she did this without forcing the point or lecturing, which is the sign of excellent story-telling! My only quibble about this book is that most of the major plot threads were completed by page 400, leaving 100 pages for the final (and least pressing) plot thread. This is why the book got 4 instead of 5 stars.