Katherine Langrish,
Troll Blood
(HarperCollins, 2008)

In the third and final volume of Katherine Langrish's Troll Trilogy, Peer and Hilde travel to Vinland on a Viking longship. Hilde is particularly excited about her new adventure, but Peer is less than happy about working alongside Harald, the skipper's arrogant and hot-tempered son. Still, both look forward to reuniting with Thorolf, a friend of Peer's father.

But this is not to be a year's journey, Hilde learns. Gunnar, Harald's father, and Harald plan to stay for five years of exile for murder. Furthermore, there is no sign of Thorolf, his young son Ottar or any of Thorolf's crew. Thorolf's empty house feel haunted, too, and Hilde and Peer fear for their friends and hope to see them soon.

They know that they are not alone, that the native residents of Vinland are nearby. (Langrish bases them on the Mi'kmaq tribe.) Harald and his followers call them "Skraelings," and Harald kills and loots the first two he encounters.

Peer struggles with his growing feelings for Hilde, but Astrid, Gunnar's strange young second wife, keeps interfering. If he didn't know better, he'd almost think she was flirting with him. Astrid also makes Hilde nervous if only for her claim of having troll blood.

When the conflict with Harald comes to a head, an injured Peer runs into the forest, accompanied only by his dog, Loki. He finds refuge with the People, although not before he encounters several magical forest creatures. They take him in as one of their own, as they did Ottar when his father and crew were slaughtered Gunnar, Harald and their crew, but Peer worries about Hilde's safety when they form a war party to avenge the men Harald killed.

No one on either side expects that they would all be on the same side when confronted with an ice giant.

The third volume stands well on its own with enough backstory to both to inform the reader and make the earlier books appealing. Characterization is Langrish's strong suit; the plot seems almost episodic. The writing style is lively and accessible, although for some reason, Langrish puts the narratives from the People's point of view in the present tense, until Peer joins them. Still, it's an enjoyable book, and it ends just when it should.

review by
Donna Scanlon

18 July 2009

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