Troll Mountain is a novella by Matthew Reilly. It was released in April 2014 as a three-part serial e-book, and was published as a hardback in June 2015.
A DANGEROUS WORLD
When his sister falls ill to a deadly disease, a brave teenaged hero named Raf discovers that the trolls of Troll Mountain possess an elixir that will cure the terrible illness.
A SINISTER MOUNTAIN
And so Raf embarks on a heroic quest: to penetrate the dark lands of the trolls and get to the highest, most securely-guarded tower of Troll Mountain.
THE JOURNEY OF A HERO
Only one thing stands between Raf and the object of his quest: an entire mountain full of trolls.
Set in a land far to the north many years ago, the trolls dominate the river valley, occasionally stemming the river flow to assert their control and demanding a tribute of food from each village. One day a mysterious and fatal illness begins afflicting both the humans and the trolls. In addition, the decreased water flow causes the land to dry up, forcing the tribes to ration their poor harvests. Soon news arrives that the trolls have an elixir which can cure the illness, and offer to cure any afflicted in exchange for a "special tribute". The sick are cured are return home, but the tribal leaders who journey with them to Troll Mountain do not.
For the Northmen tribe, the harsh conditions are worsened by the fact that their tribe's head family is eating most of the rations for themselves, under the pretense that as the tribe's warriors, they must be healthy in order to defend the tribe. The inventive 17-year-old Raf is unhappy with this, though his younger sister Kira implores him not to make them angry. The two orphans, their parents having been the victims of a rogue troll attack five years earlier, continue to endure, until Kira becomes ill with the disease.
The Chief's daughter, Lilibala, falls ill around the same time, but the Chief is unwilling to bargain with the trolls for the elixir and decides to send a group of warriors led by his son Bader to demand it from them. However several days pass and Bader's group does not return. As Kira's condition continues to worsen, Raf decides to got to Troll Mountain himself, but not to bargain for the elixir; he plans to steal it.
Sneaking out of the village, Raf begins his journey towards the Black Mountains. While making his way across the Badlands, Raf is attacked by a pair of wolves, however he is saved by an old hermit named Ko. Ko reveals that he has often seen Raf practising with weapons of his own design outside the village, and that he saw Bader's group on their way to Troll Mountain. He offers to share his wisdom, and also offers to let Raf stay at his hut for the night. During this time, Ko gives Raf three pieces of knowledge; that trolls have a weak spot under their chins and arms, that he possesses firepowder, and that a four legged animal should have two injured legs to bring it down.
The next day, Ko decides to accompany Raf part of the way to the Black Mountains, and decide to make camp before crossing the Broken Bridge. However during the night they hear a commotion, and spot a troll named Düm being pursued by larger trolls, who leave him to get pulled into the gripping mud under the bridge's remains. Raf decides to help Düm get free, against Ko's advise, and manages to get him out.
Düm tells them that he was trying to convince the troll prince Turv not to make his friend Graia his betrothed, however the furious Turv sent the other trolls to kill him, and offers to repay his debt to Raf if he can. Raf explains his plan to steal the elixir, to Düm's horror; since human thieves tried to steal elixir, the number of guards to Troll Mountain have been increased. However there is one possible way in; through the apparently abandoned cave system in the hobgoblin kingdom within Forbidden Mountain. Seeing no other way, Raf decides that is how he must get to the elixir, and says that Düm's debt to him will be repaid if he helps him get there.
As they journey towards Forbidden Mountain, Düm explains that an old troll named Vilnar made the elixir for curing the disease. Ko, having heard of Vilnar, is surprised since Vilnar was supposed to live in a more northern land, and Düm explains that the Troll King imprisoned him after winning a war with the northern lands. They then arrive at the entrance to the hobgoblin kingdom; Raf offers Ko the chance to leave, however the old hermit decides to continue accompanying him since the idea of Vilnar being a prisoner disgusts him. With that the trio enter the mountain...
As the trio of Raf, Ko and Düm traverse the cave system, they notice several mutilated troll bodies caused by the hobgoblins, and come to a thermal underground lake. Before they can attempt to cross the bridge, several voices suddenly start taunting them; hobgoblins. The group are pursued as they try to reach the drawbridge to lower it, however a pack of mountain wolves occupy it. Raf manages to lower the bridge, and while the hobgoblins are suddenly distracted by the wolves, Düm destroys the bridge behind them.
After exiting Forbidden Mountain's mine, Raf and the others find themselves looking directly at Troll Mountain. Amazed at its appearance, Raf wonders how the trolls built it, though Düm and Ko tell him that the trolls didn't, and that the ancient civilisation who also built the Forbidden Mountain mine also constructed Troll Mountain. Grateful to Düm for his help, Raf asks one last favour of the dragger; to tell him where the elixir is. Düm points out that the elixir is held in the Supreme Watchtower, but it is very heavily guarded. Ko asks Raf how he intends to get in undetected, by Raf plans to simply use the trolls' own bridge.
Late that night, Raf crosses the bridge from underneath using the slats, and arrives on the lowest part of the Mountain, and begins making his way up. Along the way he passes several human and troll corpses, among them one of the Northmen elders who travelled to Troll Mountain before the disease hit the village. Meanwhile, Ko asks Düm about the troll's society, to which the dragger admits that their tribe is the last and getting smaller each year, to which Ko suspects that soon they will die out. Both admit they are worried for Raf and hope he will make it back out.
Raf makes it to the top of Troll Mountain in the Winter Throne Hall, and views all of the sights around him, and learns that the lands to the north of the Black Mountains are in fact habitable, unlike the stories the elders would tell. Raf then infiltrates the Supreme Watchtower where he comes across the sleeping troll Vilnar. Despite his attempt to stay quiet, Vilnar wakes, and tells Raf he has already set off an alarm mechanism. Before the guards arrive and capture Raf, Vilnar also informs him that the disease is in fact the result of lack of certain nutrients found in lemons, oranges and limes, and that his elixir is merely juice made from those fruits.
As Raf is lowered into a prisoner's pit on the mountainside, he spies Bader in another cell. Speaking over the pits, Bader tells Raf that the trolls imprisoned his group for their demands, and that he is the only one left, since human prisoners are taken on occasion for food or sport.
The next day, Raf is brought before the Troll King, just as the troll's fighting champion Grondo executes another troll for his king's pleasure. Raf attempts to plead with the Troll King, who cruelly reveals that Bader offered the porters in his group for enough of the elixir to save Lilibala alone. As it happens, it is Turv and Graia's wedding day, and so the Troll King decides that Raf will be his gift for a meal for the couple. Until then, Raf is imprisoned in a cage.
Later, Raf is shocked to see Düm enter the hall with Ko as his prisoner. Düm claims to the the King that he has captured Ko to recompense his earlier objection to Turv and Graia's marriage, however Raf notices Ko's firepowder barrels attached to his stone sled (which Düm claims to be dark salt) and realises they have a plan. The Troll King allows Turv to decide if Düm should be forgiven, and the young prince does. Ko gives Raf a cryptic message of what he needs to do before he is sent to the cells. Raf then overhears Turv telling his cronies to take Düm to the Fighting Platform after his wedding so he can kill him.
Raf watches as Düm places Ko's firepowder around the Great Hall, and as the ceremony commences, the Troll King asks if there are any objections to the marriage. Surprisingly, Raf objects and challenges the King to a match on the Fighting Platform. As furious as he is with Raf's mocking of him, the Troll King instead directs Grondo to be his opponent, and so the wedding halts as all head to the Fighting Platform...
As Raf and Grondo take their places, Raf requests his own axe for the battle. As the battle commences, Raf uses his smaller size and speed to avoid the troll's furious hammer swings. Meanwhile Düm approaches Graia and asks her to leave Troll Mountain with him. She agrees, and as they leave, Düm blocks the only entry to the Winter Throne Hall. After Raf is tossed over the side of the Platform, he spots something of Ko's, and as he gets back up, he stabs Grondo through the throat with his axe's hidden knife, killing the troll. While the rest of the trolls are stunned, Raf grabs Ko's hidden crossbow and fires it, along with a rope, towards the mountain's summit, and swings off the platform, back onto the mountain.
Re-entering Vilnar's room, he asks the field troll to escape with him as he takes the 'elixir'. Vilnar agrees. As the trolls surround the Supreme Watchtower, several barrels bounce past them, containing both Raf and Vilnar. Once they reach the Winter Throne Hall, Raf sets off one of Ko's firepowder barrels, and then he and Vilnar jump off the edge. The Hall's column is destroyed and collapses, taking part of the summit and several trolls with it.
The pair then meet up with Düm and Graia, and with the remaining trolls trapped on the remaining part of the summit thanks to the blocked door, the group sets about freeing Ko. While doing so, Raf decides to save the other prisoners too, Bader amongst them. Just as the last group is rescued from their cell, the trolls break through the door. However as Raf and his allies flee downwards, he realises that Bader has stolen his pouch containing the elixir.
As they pass the Hall of the Great Mountain King, Raf uses flaming arrows to ignite two of the firepowder barrels, causing Troll Mountain to collapse even further. While his friends run ahead of the destruction, Raf is confronted by the Troll King, who tries to crush him under a sliding stone sled. Luckily Raf manages to jump onto it, and once they have gone down far enough, Raf leaps off, while the King plunges into the ravine below. Along with this, the rest of the trolls perish as the mountain falls upon them.
Meeting his friends at the rope bridge, they find it has been cut by Bader, who has left them to die. However Raf has alternative plan in mind for escaping; using the last of the firepowder barrels, he blows up the dam that starves the River Valley's river, and he and everyone else creates rafts that takes them back towards their home.
Arriving in the Badlands near Ko's shack, Raf thanks Ko and Düm for their help in his quest. Düm and Graia decide to head north of the Black Mountains so that they can be away from both humans and any other remaining trolls. Vilnar intends to stay with Ko for a while before also heading north. And as for Ko, he tells Raf that there is one more lesson for him, but that he must face it himself. With that, Raf heads home to his village.
Upon arrival, Raf quickly gathers some lemons and feeds their juices to Kira, who seems to improve almost immediately. He then confronts Bader during the middle of a celebration in his honour, and reveals what Bader did to the village and that he can create more of the elixir. As Bader orders to have Raf removed, the troll prince Turv suddenly bursts into the village. Enraged by the destruction of his home the death of his father, he has come to take vengeance on the one who did so. Timbuk points out Bader, however Turv reveals to the village that Bader was in fact a selfish coward and Raf is the one he wants.
As the maddened troll attacks him, Raf manages to snatch Turv's own sword and stab him in the eye with it. Witnessing Raf's bravery, the village now believe his tale and call out Bader for his lies. Raf announces that he is going to leave to start a new village in the northern lands and asks those that will to join him, adding that he knows how to deal with the disease.
The whole village - except for most of the head family - ends up accompanying Raf, gathering as many of the necessary fruits as possible and give the juices to the sick. Along the way, Raf leaves a note for Ko in his empty shack, thanking him for all his wisdom. Ko and Vilnar find his note and head off as well. Meanwhile, Düm and Graia settle in a secluded part of the Black Mountains.
While the remainder of the Northmen head family succumbs to the 'disease' and die off, Raf and his village flourish in their new home, and as the years pass, Raf encourages the young ones to seek out new knowledge, and tells the story of his adventure every year during the harvest season.
- This is Reilly's second novella after Hell Island, and is the first to be a stand-alone story (presumably).
- The story is also split into three parts to be released seperately, making it a series unto itself, like Hover Car Racer.
- Troll Mountain was revealed during a reveal video for The Tournament.
- A wiki known as Trollpedia was intially set up containing history and character information from Troll Mountain prior to the first part's release, but has since been taken down.