Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Troll Fell

I read Troll Fell in less than 24 hours - I started it at breakfast time and finished it before bedtime. I was quite surprised at first - I usually only do that with Harry Potter books - and then it's a deliberate, conscious decision (and it happens on a Saturday, ie. a non-work day). I was working (staring at a PC screen, proofing and editing unexciting retail reports) for 7 1/2 hours yesterday, so I didn't have that much time during the day to read it, but somehow I managed to gallop through it. It's a good read - very full of references to the Norse sagas which I finally got around to starting to read a couple of years ago, despite Tolkien's avowed indebtedness to them.

I enjoyed Troll Fell; despite its Norse setting, it's very familiar - the orphaned boy sent to stay with despised relatives (no, this isn't Harry Potter-ism !) - in this case his half-uncles, the loyal canine companion, the monsters who must be faced down and (if possible) overcome, the orphan finds a surrogate family and lives happily ever after (we presume). But in spite of so much familiarity, the unusual setting of this book gives it an edge over the usual orphan stories.

And I confess to being tickled pink that one of Peer Ulfsson's hated half-uncles is called Baldur: I expect the significance of this will be lost on the majority of English children, but in Troll Fell, Uncle Baldur is far from being Baldur the Beautiful of legend. In fact, he reminds young Peer irresistibly of Bristles the boar, who lives at the Mill with his sow. His other uncle is Grim, and if Baldur's name is inapposite, then Grim is very well named. Although there is nothing to choose between the two, since they are twins, Grim is grim by nature as well as name - and of course, Grimm is a name that is well known to lovers of stories everywhere, thanks to the Brothers Grimm.

I recommend this book to all lovers of Norse legends, or indeed, those who love a good tale that is well told. It is not very profound, admittedly, but it is good fun.


Anonymous said...

I'm really looking forward to reading this. Thank you for the review!

Michele said...

You're welcome ! I do hope you enjoy it - I did, and I'm impatiently waiting for my turn to read the Oxfordshire library system's only (at present) copy of Troll Mill, which is currently out in the UK...