HarperCollins, 2004 (2004)
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Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
his is an unusual Scandinavian fantasy, starring the typical young underdog. It opens on Peer Ulfsson standing miserably by his father's funeral pyre, his only consolation his flea-bitten mongrel Loki. Ulf, a talented carpenter, who helped build a new '
', died suddenly.
oung Peer is soon dragged away from the people he knows by an unknown uncle, one of his father's ugly twin stepbrothers, Baldur and Grim Grimsson, millers of Trollsvik. They starve and overwork Peer, and threaten to feed Loki to their huge hound, Grendel. Peer forms an uneasy alliance with the house Nis (whose sloppy housework reflects annoyance about his meagre, butterless rations), and barely escapes an encounter with slippery Granny Green-teeth.
t turns out that Peer's uncles have a feud with a nearby farmer, Ralf Eiriksson. Peer meets and befriends Ralf's spirited and practical daughter Hilde, along with her small twin brother and sister, Sigurd and Sigrid. In the meantime, Ralk goes off a-viking, leaving his family vulnerable to the millers' plots and the mischief of local trolls, led by '
'. The latter holds a grudge, ever since Ralf made off with his gold cup.
hen Peer uncovers the millers' plan to sell children into underground trollish slavery at midwinter, he warns Hilde, but events quickly overtake them both, and it takes all their courage (along with the help of two brave canines) to do what needs doing.
is an exciting fantasy adventure with a very satisfactory ending ('
East, west; home's best
') and just the hint of a sequel.
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