4.2 30
by Catherine Fisher

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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

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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?

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HarperCollins Publishers
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13 Years

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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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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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Snow-Walker 4.2 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 30 reviews.
love2readAZ More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
//rolls in//
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wont be on tomorrow. Or maybe the day after
ACatKnownByManyNamesEV More than 1 year ago
Yes young one.
The_Mysterious_Cat More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
MEL-A More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i really loved this book. this book was mysterious and i couldnt put it down. at times just a little slow but all in all i thought this book was really good
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book. It was soooo interesting! I recomend you read it if you like books about magic, mystery, and constant mayhem!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was very slow took over a week to read. She should have added more action and less description.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An awesome book, I loved it and couldn't put it down. It took me about 5 hours to read the whole thing, and that's with stops in the middle because my mom would claim she hadn't seen me all day. I was so wrapped into the story plot that I was just jumping to see what happened. I deffinitly what a sequal to be written and for us to find out just how good Keri's friends are.