CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 2. . . .September 12, 2014
Later, Bog will watch in horror as the human hunters trick his father, making him expose himself to the sun, and Jeddal is turned to stone. Long, long ago, In the shimmering vapour where frost met spark, the first life formed. Its name was Ymir, the frost giant and father of all. From Ymir’s feet sprang fully-formed trolls. Other life also formed. Among the life forms, there were gods, the greatest of which was Odin, the Terrible One. The gods were so much weaker than trolls that they became jealous of them and created the sun to turn the trolls to stone. The sun’s power to turn trolls to stone is Odin’s curse.
Filled with grief with the loss of his father, and hatred for humans, Bog sets off to find the killers and avenge Jeddal’s death. Along the way, he comes face to face with many unsavoury characters and truths. Some of the truths shock and distress him, but one good thing he learns is a legend that gives him hope. A small part of Ymir’s nose stone is said to be buried near the Sleeping Giant who lies on his back, submerged at Superior Lake. The nose stone is said to have magical powers that can bring stone trolls back to life—as long as no part of them has been broken off or damaged in any way.
Thus, author Karen Krossing uses Ojibway lore (the Sleeping Giant) and Norse mythology (Odin and the Greek gods) to set up a hero’s journey that turns a thirst for revenge into a quest for life as Bog fights to find the nose stone and bring his father back to life.
But the odds are stacked heavily against the young troll. First, he isn’t very skilled at hunting and doing other troll things, and he’s alone and on foot with a vast distance to cover. Soon, he meets a huge forest troll named Small who might be some help, but Small has one of the hated species in tow. She is actually a small human named Hannie, who, as well as being very annoying, really stinks. Small’s mission with Hannie will take Bog out of his way and expose him to many more humans than he ever cares to meet, but the harder he tries to get rid of Hannie, the harder she sticks. And the more he learns about her, the harder it gets for him.
Next, there is only one clue to how to gain access to where the nose stone is buried, and so far, no one’s been able to crack it.
Last, and worst, is the Troll Hunter who not only hunts down and kills as many trolls as she can—making sure to break off some part of them so they cannot be revived—she teaches other humans to do the same. For a human, she knows a lot more about trolls than she should, and she’s smarter than any other human known to trolls. Bog discovers a terrible secret about her and that she is hot on the trail of the nose stone, too. That’s when finding the stone becomes a most dangerous game of outrun and outwit for Bog and his mates, but Bog must endure and persist. Because now, not only his father’s life, but the survival of trolls, is at stake.
Bog is a well-written and intriguing allegory that delves into many of the tougher questions of life. Krossing uses magic, mystery, and humour to draw readers in, and she employs an engaging protagonist and cast of characters to take her readers on a journey of discovery. There are things Bog learns about himself that he’d rather not know, things he has to know, and things that, in the end, he wants to know. In that learning, he also learns many things about life. The discoveries are natural consequences of the journey he takes.
The main characters are all well-drawn, and the secondary characters play their parts well. Images and descriptions are evocative, and, at times, beautiful. Beyond the last wrinkle of forest lay a vast body of water with no shore on the far side. Endless waves peaked in white crests, heaved, and then crashed back and forth.
There are times when the use of directions might confuse readers trying to picture the scene when Bog arrives in cities and at Superior Lake, and including a visual map of the journey might not have been amiss. However, readers who do find the directions confusing will likely simply skip over them. Story trumps setting, and character trumps all. I like Bog and would like to see more of him.
Jocelyn M. Reekie is a writer, editor and publisher in Campbell River, BC.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.