Snow-walker (Snow-walker Trilogy Series)

( 32 )


Since Gudrun came from the frozen mists beyond the edge of the world, the Jarl's people have obeyed her in hatred andterror. But the enchantress has one weakness: a son, Kari, banished to a forbidding fortress in the north, never seen by the Jarl's people. In secret they wonder: Are the rumors true? Was he born a monster?

Now Jessa and her cousin Thorkil have been exiled to the north, and if they survive the journey, they will find the truth: ...

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Since Gudrun came from the frozen mists beyond the edge of the world, the Jarl's people have obeyed her in hatred andterror. But the enchantress has one weakness: a son, Kari, banished to a forbidding fortress in the north, never seen by the Jarl's people. In secret they wonder: Are the rumors true? Was he born a monster?

Now Jessa and her cousin Thorkil have been exiled to the north, and if they survive the journey, they will find the truth: Is Kari a beast? Or the means to stop the sorceress?

The snow-walker Gudrun came from the swirling mists and icy depths beyond the edge of the world to rule the Jarl's people with fear and sorcery, but a small band of outlaws will fight to the death to restore the land to its rightful leader.

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Editorial Reviews

Time Magazines Educational Supplement
"A spell-binding story, sure to kindle the imagination."
Horn Book Magazine
“Fisher comes out with another winner.”
Times Educational Supplement
“A spell-binding story, sure to kindle the imagination.”
Publishers Weekly
Originally published in Great Britain as three separate volumes, Fisher's (The Oracle Betrayed) ice-coated saga tells of an evil sorceress and her lust for power. The witch Gudrun, the Snow-walker of the title, has come to the Jarlshold from the far north and used her magic to overthrow the Wulfings, the rightful rulers, and install her husband as "Lord Jarl," as a puppet leader. Most of the subjects live in dire fear of the new regime, but young Jessa, from the Wulfing lineage, whose father was killed in the coup, speaks her mind in front of the Jarl. She and her cousin, Thorkil, are now "old enough to be dangerous," so the ruler exiles them to a faraway outpost where Gudrun has imprisoned her son, Kari, since his youth. "The child is a monster," say the rumors. But Jessa learns otherwise: "[Kari] has her powers. [That's] the reason she locked her son away and never even let him be seen." After Gudrun kills the Jarl, the four know they have little time before she shows up there. Over the course of the three books, Kari confronts Gudrun, who flees the Jarlshold; the witch sends monsters to seek revenge; and the books build to the inevitable mother vs. son showdown. Because of the episodic nature of the tales, originally intended to stand alone, the bigger story arcs do not fully develop and ancillary characters remain thin. Still, the author creates an atmospheric setting, and fans of Norse myths and magic may be swept up in this frosty tale. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
The latest import from Catherine Fisher—who lives in Wales—is this Norse fantasy trilogy presented in one volume. With evocative verse-snippets from Norse poems and Beowulf setting the stage for each chapter, Fisher plunges into her believable saga of power and treachery northern style. Book One introduces the self-possessed heroine Jessa, fighting for the return of her ancestral lands with a vengeance. Gudrun—the snow-walker of the title, and a most marvelous villainess—banishes Jessa and her cousin Thorkil to the far north where they discover Kari, the snow-walker's abandoned son. Books Two and Three follow Jessa, Kari, and their stalwart friends as they fight Gudrun's curses in an attempt to bring peace to the land. The red herring in the first book is a bit transparent, but the following stories make up for that as they plunge ahead through lands blighted by ice, snow, and never-ending winter. The author's strength lies in her descriptive powers. Her snow feels cold. She has done her early Norse research, too. The villages, the Jarlshold, the shamans—all have the ring of truth about them, making this book more like a step into the Nordic past than just another fantasy. 2004, Greenwillow/HarperCollins, Ages 10 up.
—Kathleen Karr
Gudrun, the evil sorceress who controls the Jarl's kingdom, is a Snow-walker-when she enters a room, ice forms. Her powers control people and weather. Stories about her exiled son, Kari, fill the kingdom, because no one has seen him or knows what kind of monster he might be. When Jessa and her cousin Thorkil are exiled, they are sent on a long journey to Thrasirshall where Kari is. They arrive to find a teenage boy about their own age who has the look of the Snow-walkers like Kari's mother. As they become friends, they discover that Kari is a mirror image of his mother-he has her powers and coldness, but he would rather fit in with humanity than dominate it. Brochael, Kari's keeper; Skapti, the singer/storyteller; and the young serf Hakon help Jessa, Thorkil, and Kari rid the kingdom of Gudrun and restore the proper family to the Jarl's position. The three books contained in this volume-The Snow-Walker's Son, The Empty Hand, and The Soul Thieves, comprise a trilogy filled with journeys and characters who use wits to outsmart someone more powerful. The book follows the group as they seek to find ways to overthrow Gudrun and help Kari become a part of society even though people are prejudiced against him. Interesting characters, creatures, and tasks will engage readers of fantasy. The three installments together make a hefty book, but readers who enjoy fantasy will find this volume an excellent addition to the genre. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P M J S (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, Eos/Greenwillow, 512p., and PLB Ages11 to 18.
—Cynthia Faughnan
To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, September 2004: Fisher weaves a story from both Celtic and Norse mythology in a feudal world terrorized by Gundrun, a Snow-Walker from the edge of the world. Gundrun comes back to the Jarlshold with Ragnar, the lone survivor of a war band sent to defeat the Snow-Walkers terrorizing the northlands. When through treachery Ragnar becomes the new Jarl, she reigns with an icy hand, using her sorcery to control the people of the Jarlshold through fear, even sending her only son Kari into exile in the north. Jessa and her cousin Thorkil are the youngest in the line of Wulfings, the family that has always produced the Lord Jarl. Because they are a threat to Ragnar's leadership, she sends them in exile to Thrasirshall, where the mysterious Kari is imprisoned. Banding together, they return to Jarlshold where Kari challenges his mother's rule and saves his soul. This single volume was originally a trilogy, published in Great Britain more than ten years ago. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2004, HarperCollins, Greenwillow, 625p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Michele Winship
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-Snow-walkers drift across great plates of ice, through sleet and snow, in the farthest north, where nothing else lives. When these terrible beings come into contact with humans, they can freeze people with a touch or enmesh them in dreams and steal their souls. The story of a protracted conflict between the Snow-walker witch, Gudrun, and her half-human son Kari, her mirror image, is told mostly from the point of view of Jessa, the daughter of a dispossessed nobleman. With her two knives and equally sharp wits, she makes a satisfying heroine, the only female in a group of companions who resist Gudrun's efforts to conquer their realm and draw Kari under her spell. Their adventures, steeped in Norse mythology and Old English epic poetry, unfold in three books, published separately in England and bound together in this edition. The middle tale, "The Empty Hand," with its monster created by Gudrun's spells, recalls Beowulf. Fisher is a skillful storyteller, using clear language and plenty of action to keep the plot moving. She is at her artistic best when she evokes the northern landscape, with its green pastures, vast haunted forests, and icy reaches where the northern lights glow. Her characters are painted with broad strokes, their conflicts and relationships simple and direct. However, patching together the three titles into one continuous narrative leaves some rough spots. A character from the first book is dropped without explanation, and the second book offers unnecessary retelling of previous events. Still, fantasy readers will happily follow the adventures of Jessa, Kari, and their brave companions.-Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Richly atmospheric Nordic fantasy aswirl with snow and magic. Many years ago, a pale sorceress walked out of the North and gripped the Jarlshold (ruling house of the realm) in her evil grasp. When her son was born, she hid him away. A girl named Jessa meets him and finds out the secret: Kari is just like his mother, a Snow-walker with phenomenal power. Jessa and a bard named Skapti join Kari and his fiercely devoted caretaker Brochael in defeating Gudrun over the course of this tale, divided into three sections because it was originally published in three separate volumes. A final journey into the frozen spirit world beyond the North tests Kari's powers and his strength to resist Gudrun's call to become a soul thief like her. Chapter-head quotations come from Norse poems and Beowulf. Delicately written yet unquestionably solid, this supremely satisfying one-volume trilogy combines snow and ice with loyalty, love, trust, and adventure. (Fantasy. 10-15)
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“Interesting characters, creatures, and tasks will engage readers. An excellent addition to the genre.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060724764
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/20/2005
  • Series: Snow-walker Trilogy Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 640
  • Sales rank: 975,164
  • Age range: 10 - 15 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.28 (d)

Meet the Author

Catherine Fisher's acclaimed works include Darkhenge, Snow-walker, and The Oracle Betrayed, which was a finalist for the Whitbread Children's Book Award. She lives in Newport, Wales.

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First Chapter


Chapter One

Young and alone on a long road,
Once I lost my way:
Rich I felt when I found another...

The hall was empty.

Jessa edged inside and began to wander idly about, pulling the thick furred collar of her coat up around her face. She was early.

It had been a bitter night. The snow had blown in under the door and spread across the floor. A pool of wine that someone had spilled under the table was frozen to a red slab. She nudged it with her foot; solid as glass. Even the spiders were dead on their webs; the thin nets shook in the draft. She walked to the great pillar of oak that grew up through the middle of the hall. It was heavily carved with old runes and magic signs, but over them all, obliterating them, was a newer cutting: a contorted snake that twisted itself down in white spirals. She brushed the frost off it with her gloved fingers. The snake was Gudrun's sign. A witch's sign.

She waited, grinding the ice to white powder under her heel.

Light gathered slowly. Corners of tables and tapestries loomed out of the shadows; a cart rumbled by outside, and the carter's shout echoed in the roof.

Jessa kicked the frozen fire. Why hadn't she come late—sauntered in sweetly when the Jarl was waiting, just to show him that she didn't care, that he couldn't order her as he wanted? It was too late now, though.

Five slow minutes slithered by.

Then a hanging was flipped back; a house thrall came in and began to take down the shutters. Frost cracked and fell from the empty windows; a raw wind whipped in and rippled the tapestries.

He hadn't seen her. Jessa was annoyed. She shuffled, and watched him whirl around, his face white. Then the terror drained out of him. That annoyed her even more.

"I'm waiting to speak to the Lord Jarl," she snapped in a clear voice. "My name is Jessa Horolfsdaughter."

It was the voice she always used with servants, cold and rather distant. Old Marrika, her nurse, used to say it was the voice of pride. What was Marrika doing now? she wondered.

The man nodded and went out. Jessa scuffed the floor impatiently. She hated this place. Everyone in it was afraid. They were littered with amulets and luckstones; they glanced around before they spoke, as if someone was always listening. Gudrun. The Jarl's strange wife. The Snow-walker. They said she knew what you thought, even as you stood before her. Jessa shivered.

The man came back and kneeled at the hearth. She saw the welcome flicker of flames and hurried over, warming her hands and rubbing them against her face until her cheeks ached. The thrall propped some logs on the blaze and went out. Jessa did not speak to him. People said all the Jarl's servants were dumb. Whatever the truth of that, they never spoke.

Crouched over the fire, she looked down the high hall. The trestles and stools were toppled here and there on the straw. At the far end was a raised platform; here the seats were piled with red cushions, the tables littered with half-empty plates. Jessa went over and picked up a pewter jug. The wine in it was frozen. She put it down with a bang.

As she turned, one of the tapestries behind the dais was drawn aside and an elderly man came in, with a boy of her own age behind him. She knew the boy at once. Thorkil Harraldsson was her first cousin; they'd brought him here about three months ago. His clothes were very fine, she thought scornfully. Just like him.

The other was Jarl Ragnar. He was still tall, but his shoulders stooped; the splendid blue quilted robe hung loose on him. He looked like a man dried out, sucked dry of all life, his eyes small and cold.

She made him the most careless bow she could.

"You have your father's manners," he said wryly.

Silent, she watched Thorkil drag up two stools and the Jarl's chair; he caught her eye and gave her a brief, wan smile. She thought he seemed uneasy, and very pleased to see her. No wonder. Prison was prison, even with fine clothes.

They sat down. The Jarl stared into the flames. Finally he spoke, without looking at them.

"Your fathers were two brothers. I had thought they were loyal to me, until they joined that last foolish march of the Wulfings. All my enemies together. It was a pity they both died in the snow."

Jessa glared at him. "Your wife's sorcery brought the snow. She won your battle for you."

He was angry, but Jessa didn't care. "The Lord Jarl has always come from the family of the Wulfings. That's why they fought you. You have no right to be Jarl."

She caught Thorkil's nervous, warning look, but it was done now. She had said it. Her face was hot; her hands shook.

Grimly the Jarl stared at the flames. "The family of the Wulfings are almost all gone," he said. "Those that are left lurk in farms and steads and byres, their women and children disguised as thralls, hurried indoors when riders come by. Gudrun knows. She sees them. One by one, I am hunting them out. The leader, Wulfgar, was taken two days ago; he's in a room under your feet, with ice and rats for company. And now there's you."

His hands rubbed together, dry as paper.

"I left you alone. I left you on your farms, fed you and let you be, until now. Now you are old enough to be dangerous."

Jessa watched his eyes on the leaping flames. She wanted him to turn and look at her, but he would not.

"Your land will be given to men loyal to me, and you will have somewhere else to live."

"Here?" Thorkil asked.

Snow-walker. Copyright © by Catherine Fisher. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 32 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2005

    is there a sequel?

    It was good, though slow at times. I wasn't ever completely drawn into the story, and some events seemed random and/ or disconnected. I think that Kari and Jessa should have definitely been together as well.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2012

    Leaders den


    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2012

    Tree sap

    //rolls in//

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2011

    Very captivating and difficult to put down

    At first when I started reading this book I found it a little hard to read some of the (what I'm going to call) "unique" names, its hard for me to read a book if I can't pronounce the character's names. After getting past the first two or three chapters I was hooked. I origianlly started reading it to keep me busy during my dad's therapy sessions, after those ended my only free time was just before bed. I found Cahterine's writing very captivating, I felt like I was there with the characters and when it was time for the confrontation between Gudrun and her son Kari; I could feel thier fear and apprehension about what had to be and ended up staying up til 5 or 6 in the morning to finish the book. Its sectioned into three books: Book one: The Snow Walker's Son is 21 chapters long. Book two: The Empty Hand is 30 chapters. Book three: The Soul Thieves is 28 chapters. Some of the chapters are long and some are real short and are such that there is very little wasted space on each page, with the exception of the book title pages. This is the first book I've read that made the most of every page, at first I wasn't sure I liked reading a book set up in this manner, upon reflection it made sense and was a smart cost effective step the publisher took. I can't wait to start reading The Oracle Prophecies series. Thank you Catherine Fisher and HarperCollins!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2006


    Great story, seemed a little not original. Plus it would go off on to random things and confuse me with the lack of detail. Kaia and Jessa, what? why didn't they get together.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2006

    Great action, but little else

    I usually enjoy these stories from the Norse tradition, but this one is difficult to digest. The characters weren't very engaging, and poorly developed. Thorkil just randomly disappears from the story all together by the end of the first book. I don't ever feel like the characters offer any sort of emotion and their backgrounds are very obscure. A lot of lists in the beginning which just stopped randomly, the lists were long and unnecessary. The action sequences were good, and the adventure story interesting. But without being able to feel anything for the characters, it's a lost cause.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2014


    Wher u put the troops u bought.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2012


    Wont be on tomorrow. Or maybe the day after

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2012


    "Hi mama" Eaglekit says...

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  • Posted July 9, 2012


    Yes young one.

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  • Posted July 9, 2012



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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2012



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  • Posted December 28, 2011



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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2009

    Out of this world

    This is a book that isnt hard to keep track of yet has twists and turns that make you say for the 100 time you'll read for just 5 more minutes.You dont know what to expect and I found myself forgetting I'm not acully there.She makes the fantasy blend in with the realty.

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  • Posted July 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:


    This book was very dry. It never caught my attention, and I finished it just to finish it. The characters were completely 2-dimensional, and acted more like pawns than actual people. The writing wasn't very descriptive, and I often didn't know what was happening. The writing itself lacked humor and actual creativity. The story was okay, but it was rushed through. I wouldn't recommend this unless you are really into fantasy.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2007


    Oh my word! This was an amazing book!! Seriously, it was. It was so original, so creative... I just loved it! This book was so vivid that I could see every scene in my head. That's never happened to me before. Ever. The characters were well developed (I loved Skapti! He was my favorite!) But I was a little disappointed with the way she wrote Thorkil. I mean, I felt like he was a character just to move the story along, like he had no huge significance. But besides that, it was a great story! Please understand this because it's true! You will not be disappointed!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2006

    Simply Amazing!

    This is by far one of my favorite books. It has a great plot full of twists and turns that make you want to read on. I couldn't put it down!! And the descriptions are beautifully written and never boring. Write on, Catherine, write on!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2006

    A Five-Star Enthralling Journey

    I am a VERY picky reader, which makes it hard for me to live when I find a book I don't like. My 'code' prevents me from putting it MUST be finished! This book was one I picked up out of sheer greed, just because I couldn't find what I was looking for. I had no idea what kind of AMAZING journey I would experience. Mrs. Fisher weaves an amazing story with true life-enduring characters, and a continuous, well-ended story. The characters' backgrounds were not described in detail, but this helped to let the reader understand and relate. If there was ever a book that captured me more, I haven't found it yet!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2006


    i though that it was a great book but was woundering if there would be a next. i realy liked the plot and charecters. i mean realy how many people were woundering why jessa and skapti or jessa and kari didnt become and item? the way Catherine F. wrote realy made me love the charecters and wanting more. well i could go on forever about the book and why i liked it but i think i'm going to stop, lol.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2006

    Best Trilogy I've Ever Read!!

    THIS BOOK WAS AMAZING!!!! I got this book because I was just looking for something to read. I was blown away! I got so wrapped up in this book that I finished reading it in 4 hours! You will fall in love with the characters when you read this, and you won't be able to put it down. I've read many books with fantasy and magic, but this one tops them all!

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews

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