Reading Guide Questions
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
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 and share their findings in class. What are the significant
differences? List the most common figures and distinctive characteristics of
the Norse myths. Tell students to keep these in mind as they read The Sea
- Good vs. evil is a common theme in fantasy novels. Discuss the good and
evil forces in The Sea of Trolls.
- Describe Jack's family. Contrast Jack's relationship with his mother to
his relationship with his father. Lucy, Jack's younger sister, appears to be
very spoiled. Why does Jack's father allow her to live in a fantasy world? How
does her fantasy world protect her when she encounters Queen Frith?
- Giles Crookleg is very religious. How does he convey his religion to
his children? Discuss how his religion is in conflict with his wife's practice
of magic. Jack learns from his mother how to talk to bees and how to soothe
frightened animals with song. What type of magic does he learn from the Bard?
What does the Bard mean when he tells Jack "Real magic is
- The Bard, a druid from Ireland, is also known as Dragon Tongue. How
does he acquire this name? What is the role of the Bard to the village people?
Describe Jack's relationship with the Bard. Why does the Bard choose Jack to
be his apprentice? Why doesn't Giles Crookleg want his son to go with the
Bard? What is Jack's mother's opinion of the Bard? Discuss what Jack learns
during his apprenticeship.
- The Bard advises Jack, "You should look intelligent even when you
aren't." How does this advice serve Jack as he travels on his quest?
- Explain the Bard's nightmares. How do his nightmares foreshadow Jack's
journey and encounter with the evil forces?
- How does the Bard protect the village people from the Jotuns? The Bard
tells Jack, "Only a very special kind of warrior can overcome them."
Describe the qualities of this kind of warrior. How does listening to the
Bard's stories about the Jotuns help Jack see his father differently?
- Why does the Bard give Jack the rune of protection? How does the Bard's
gift leave him vulnerable to the evil forces? At one point, Jack almost gives
the rune to Lucy. Explain why he changes his mind. Why does Jack give the rune
- 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 the world
we live in, and the way we live our lives?
- 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?
- Discuss the significance of Mimir's Well.
Research & Activities
- Giles Crookleg can't read, but he has memorized stories from the monks
of the Holy Isle. Write and illustrate a story that Giles might have told his
- 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.
- Jack's mother fears that Lucy can't tell the difference between fact
and fantasy. Research the Vikings. Write a factual and a fanciful story about
the Vikings. Share the stories in class. Which type of story creates the most
- There are good physical descriptions of the characters, both human and
animal. Make an illustrated chart of the novel's characters.
- Identify the most humorous scenes in the book. In small groups, select
a scene to perform as a one-act play. Create appropriate costumes.
- Four of the days of the week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday)
are named for Scandinavian gods. Research these days of the week and find out
which gods the names represent. Pick one of these days and write or retell the
myth that explains the name.
- The birth of Norse mythology was pre-Christianity. Research the story
of the Norse creation and write a short paper that draws a parallel between
this story and the creation story taught in your religion.
This reading group guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for
classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its
entirety or excerpted for these purposes.
Prepared by Pat Scales, Director of Library Services, SC Governor's
School for Arts and Humanities, Greenville.
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Simon Pulse.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.