The Land of the Silver Apples (Richard Jackson Books (Atheneum Paperback)) Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-04-24 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 52 user ratings

"During the third trimester I read The Land Of The Silver Apples by Nancy Farmer from the Sea of Trolls series. This was a fascinating book about a young boy named Jack. In the last book Jack got captured by Northmen and taken as a slave to be sold on the market. Then he tells them he is a Bard which means he can do magic so they treat him as a friend and take him on adventures. At the end of the book Jack Returns home to his family. In the second book it starts in the village that Jack lives in. It is a cold winter night, and the town is doing something they call a “need-fire ceremony” which is a fire to drive away the spirits from the netherworld. The chief who is conducting the ceremony asks that no one be wearing silver. But right before Jack’s family heads out, Lucy the brat child of the family puts on her silver necklace so when they get there the ceremony is ruined and another young girl named Pega has to do it. When they get home Giles, Jack’s father, tells them that Lucy isn’t their real child. Their real child was stolen and replaced by Lucy. With the spirits unbalanced and his real sister missing Jack will have to go on a quest to get his real sister back and calm the forces of evil. I really enjoyed this book all the way through it. The fast paced, surprising storyline makes it hard to put down. Overall this is my favorite writer, and I love the mystical fantasy based on true events throughout the story. I would recommend this book to junior high and high school kids because it is a long read but a great book. I would rate this five stars because of the well written suspenseful book that is truly a work of art." said.

"Ok, I wasn't really impressed with this book. The book is rather slow and I understand that as a fairy tale-esque story it might not suppose to be action, action, action, but really everything in this book too far to long to do. The book doesn't even leave for the adventure through nearly the first eighth of the book.
I did find the the blending of the cultures of Druidic, Norse and Christian interesting and the interaction between the characters of these faiths was unique. I didn't understand exactly how that really worked though as many of the situations were cross overs or simply conversions from one religion into another with just a different name but all the character traits of each of the beliefs was suppose to apply, making it complicated.
Probably the biggest complaint I had about the book is how it spends a good deal of time recounting things that have happened in the past, even in the same book. Yes, everyone knows he summoned an earthquake, we were 'there' when it happened reading along. I do not need to be reminded five times that it happened. In addition, coming into this story without having read the previous book, one would think that a certain amount of catch-up is due, but not an entire books worth. Most books start with maybe a chapter of explaining previous books, maybe a reference here or there, but through the entirety of this book the author calls back to events of the first book, not because they are relevant simply because the reader needs reminding, again apparently.
The characters were interesting, the situations somewhat so despite simple problems take chapters to resolve. Would I read another one or even the previous one, probably not.
" said.

"Part 2 in this trilogy takes place one year from where The Sea Of Trolls ended. Jack is continuing his training as a bard, and Lucy is still the selfish brat she was in the previous book. An important ceremony is about to take place, and Lucy is given an important role. However, she ignores an important rule and wears a metal necklace which causes complete chaos. Instead of handing the situation, her father continues to indulge her, and a slave girl, Pega has to fill in the ceremony. Lucy demands that her father buy Pega,which he tries to do so. Being a slave while held up North,Jack can not stand to see this, and outbids his father. Jack then frees Pega. Giles is outraged and casts Jack out of his home. Jack and Pega go to live with the Bard. Meanwhile Lucy's tantrums grow worse, ans her father then reveals a secret about Lucy. Here is where the journey begins.

This book introduces near characters, including Pega, the slave girl, who is described as being very ugly, and people are fearful of her appearance. I'll be honest, her character did annoy me a little, but she was a good part of the story.

Brutus, a slave, we meet at St. Filian's Well is an interesting character. At some points I find him whiny and annoying, others I find him to be useful and full of surprises.

Ethne, a half elf, half human that lives in Elfland. I liked her character, for it showed the struggles of being from two worlds and not quite fitting in.

The Bard, Thorgil, and of course Jack and Lucy are in the story. We learn much about why Lucy is the way that she is. Jack grows more and learns a thing or two about himself. Thorgil is still Thorgil, although I feel like she has grown up a lot since the last book.

The book is full of adventures, and it mixes history with fantasy.

I am looking forward to the conclusion of this trilogy.
" said.

"Jack and his sister Lucy were reunited with their family at the end of The Sea of Trolls (the first book in this series by Nancy Farmer). Lucy is now more spoiled and self-centered than ever and Father finally reveals that she is not truly his daughter – his baby was stolen just weeks after her birth. Thinking Lucy is possessed by demons, they take her to a monastery for an exorcism and find themselves in the midst of corruption. The monks are lazy and self-indulgent, and the King of the region is a cruel Kelpie. When Jack tries to protect Lucy with his growing power, he causes an earthquake, a drought, and Lucy is abducted to Elf Land. Jack and Pega (the slave he freed) and their companions must go on a quest to restore the water, find Lucy, and rescue Jack’s real sister (wherever she may be). They find themselves in the Land of the Silver Apples – where time doesn’t flow – and find Thorgil, the shield-maiden, and a troop of Hobgoblins who help them with their quest.

I was really frustrated with Jack’s family – particularly Father, who indulges Lucy’s every whim, and, as a result constantly makes poor choices. Mother can do (or does do) little to influence her husband, or protect Jack from the backlash of his decisions. I like my characters to be capable and reliable – or at least to be honest in their fumblings and failings – and Father was in denial, hurting the ones he was supposed to shelter and love, and never apologizing for it. Although Jack and his companions complete their quest, their success is mixed – they find Lucy and Jack’s true sister, but leave them in their respective homes, for Lucy is all elf and Jack’s sister believes herself to be a hobgoblin (to bring them back to Father and Mother would be cruel). They defeat the Kelpie King, however, and are able to bring water (and life) back to his domain. And, although they’ve done everything they could, it seems like this will not ultimately be enough to satisfy Father. The story concludes in The Islands of the Blessed.
" said.

"Land of the Silver Apples, by Nancy Farmer, is the sequel to The Sea of Trolls. The book takes up where the last one left off. Jack and his sister have returned to their village, but not for long. After a religious ceremony goes terribly wrong, Jack suspects his already spoiled sister has been possessed. Jack journeys to a monastery to find a cure. However, all is not what it seems at the monastery. His search for a cure leads them to the land of the Hobgoblins, the elves, and beyond.

The Land of the Silver Apples is a book I would recommend to people who like Medieval fantasy. It is based on real Medieval society, with some more fantastic elements thrown in. In fact, a lot of the mythology in the book is based on real myths and beliefs. I particularly like how they portrayed the elves as cruel yet beautiful creatures, since this matches many English and Irish myths quite well. However, if you aren't interested in Medieval times, this may not be the best choice for you. In fact, I found sometimes the author chose to include too many mythical creatures or lands, thus slowing down the plot.

One thing I particularly enjoyed in this book was watching the character Thorgil develop. Thorgil is a Viking shield maiden, which means she is a warrior. In the last book, she was very brutish and took some time to get along with Jack, the main character. In this book, she still has the same bloodthirsty attitude. However, she is quicker to adapt to working with a team. By the end of the book, Thorgil makes a notable sacrifice, which puts her future as a warrior in question. I look forward to seeing how she fully develops and matures in the third and final book of this series. Will she gain patience and wisdom from her sacrifice, or will she continue to embody the Viking spirit? I'll have to read to find out!
" said.

"Did Not Have the Same Spirit as the First Book in This Trilogy.

Published by Simon and Schuster Audio in 2007.
Performed by Gerald Doyle
Duration: 13 hours, 31 minutes.

It is the year 794 and Jack, the 13-year-old Bard-in-training from what is now the United Kingdom is on a new mission. Having recently returned from his adventures with the Vikings and the Frost Giants (detailed in Book #1 of this trilogy, The Sea of Trolls ) Jack's new adventure begins with a mid-winter ceremony led by his teacher, known simply as The Bard.

The ceremony is supposed to symbolize renewal by ridding the village of all fire. Then, the village gathers in one place and creates a new fire and re-ignites everyone's hearth fires from this new fire. The ceremony has few hard and fast rules, but Jack's self-absorbed sister, Lucy, breaks one of them by bringing metal to the ceremony in the form of a beautiful silver necklace that she was given during their trip to the Viking homeland.

Because of this necklace, a change comes over each of the members of Jack's family. Jack develops a cruel streak, his father becomes even more blind to Lucy's self-absorbed nature and starts to exhibit uncharacteristically greedy tendancies. Jack and Lucy's mother, a "wise woman" with a touch of magic power even is affected. So, The Bard leads a group to St. Fillian's well, a monastery that is supposed to use the water from the well to cure possession. The monastery is in a kingdom controlled by a cruel king.

Once they arrive, things go badly right from the beginning. Jack is attacked with magic by an unseen (to everyone but Jack) woman who comes from the waters of the well. Later, she kidnaps Lucy and takes her into the well and the waters of the well dry up despite Jack's best efforts to save her.

As a punishment, Jack is sent down into the well (now a dried up cave entrance) to figure out what the problem is and fix it. The Bard cannot travel with him because it will be too difficult for the old man to traverse the caverns. Jack is accompanied by Pega, a young recently-freed former slave girl that is considered to be hideously ugly but has a hauntingly beautiful singing voice. The last member of their group is Brutus, a man who acts like a fawning slave when in the presence of the king but once he is away from the king he quickly asserts that he is a knight and also the rightful ruler of the kingdom - and also a true descendant of Lancelot!

As they travel through the caverns this party finds one adventure after another, including...

Read more at:
" said.

"Honestly, while I did like it somewhat, I enjoyed this sequel far less than I enjoyed the first in the trilogy, The Sea of Trolls. The book has all of the flaws of the first, which I considered minor matters then, but which actually seem to be compounded and joined by new problems. The Land of the Silver Apples follows Jack, Thorgil and Pega, a new character, as they journey underground to Elfland, the home of the earthy, oddball hobgoblins and their perilous yet beautiful neighbors, the elves, who are (as in many Western European legends) half-fallen angels, neither good enough to remain in Heaven nor evil enough to be sent to Hell. The elves have used their power on earth to suspend time in their world, an unhealthy choice to say the least. One of the major plot threads is Jack's attempts to break through the illusionary glamour of the elves using the power of reality. The story in itself is interesting and enjoyable enough, although not nearly as thrilling and captivating as Sea of Trolls.

However, there are a lot of weaknesses that undermine the story. As before, while the author seems to get almost all of the folkloric and mythological elements accurate (although the hobgoblins seem to be created from whole cloth), she shows us next to nothing about the culture or any of the less than fantastic traditions of the time and place she depicts; it's as if Farmer thinks that culture is made up of nothing more than beliefs surrounding spirits and magic. This was much more of a stumbling block to me here than in the first book, to the point that the only way I was able to enjoy the story was by constantly reminding myself that this is a fantasy novel and not in any way historical fiction.

Also, as before, Nancy Farmer's treatment of religion is decidedly problematic. I understand the point she is making in the Appendix, that at that time in England's history Christianity existed alongside pagan religions. That's fine. But the problems (or some of them) are (1) the ridiculous, completely modern and New Agey portrayal of English paganism, (2) the use of pseudo-spiritual and completely anachronistic terms like "life force", and (3) the idea that all religions are simply another branch on the great tree of spiritual existence. One of the characters actually states this toward the end of the book, specifically about the Saxon paganism embodied by the Bard, and Christianity. These two faiths are completely antithetical, and only by completely dismissing what they say about themselves and the world can one say that they're in any way compatible; at least not as religions. You can't believe one without rejecting the world. Farmer obviously doesn't take either one seriously, or else she would understand this.

At one point in the narration of the story, she actually states that Caedmon's hymn (an actual hymn; Cædmon was a historical monk, and England's first poet) is a "celebration of life". This is absolutely false; again, only by completely ignoring what the poet and the poem says can one make a claim like this. Similarly, a character says late in the book that a reverence "for the simple fact of God's world" is the same as "reverence for the life force". The only way this makes any sense is by saying that God's world consists only of that which is alive. I needn't point out how ridiculous this is, but Farmer seems obsessed with life. In Christian belief, death, while unnatural, is something that has nevertheless been redeemed, as something which must be passed through in order to gain eternal life; this world, though good, is not the Christian's true home. Christianity also values the totality of creation, the inorganic as well as the inorganic. Nor even did historical paganism have this life-centric view.

I normally wouldn't break apart little things like this in a book; every author should be charitably allowed a few mistakes here and there. But since these things are so central to some major, crucial problems, I offer them up here as examples.
" said.

" Great book. Enjoyed the trilogy! " said.

June 2018 New Book:

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