In the land of the Jarlshold things were often cold, but ever since Gudrun, the Snow-walker, arrived from the edge of the world things have become freezing.
A soldier of Jarlshold married her after she bewitched him with her beauty, but it is her sorcery that she uses to control the people of the Jarlshold. Before long Gudrun has convinced her new husband to steal the throne away from the rightful ruler and become the Jarl himself. But it is Gudrun who has power here. The people of the Jarlshold live in fear. Gudrun seems to have no weaknesses…or does she?
A young girl named Jessa and her cousin Thorkil are banished by Gudrun after their fathers are killed in an attempt to put the rightful ruler back on the throne. They are sent to Thrasirhall a ruin in the very far north where it is said another was banished years ago. Gudrun’s son Kari. Not much is known about Gudrun’s son, but many speak of him in whispers. Is he like his mother? Is he truly a monster?
Jessa and Thorkil had no choice but to find out, but when they arrive at Thrasirhall a surprise awaits them. Kari turns out to be different than anyone thought. With time running out for the Jarlshold and Gudrun closing in Jessa must rely on someone she never imagined to help save her home. Kari is far more important than anyone thought he was. In fact he may be the key to saving the Jarlshold from the Snow-walker.
Thoughts on Snow-Walker
So here’s the thing when I first got this book I didn’t realize that it was actually an omnibus version of a three book series. I still didn’t realize that the list on the contents page, The Snow-walker’s Son, The Empty Hand, and The Soul Thieves, were not just the parts of the book until I started reading.
You can purchase all three books of the Snow-walker series separately, but I did not. Since I read them together I am going to review them together.
I loved this book. I just had to start there. It drew me in from the very beginning, and I just had to keep reading. I finished reading The Snow-walker’s Son in one sitting and then started right in on the next one.
Personally I was glad I had the entire series in one book. Sometimes omnibus editions don’t work out, but this story slipped seamlessly from one book to the next.
Even though the book jacket’s summary only pertains in specifics to the first book, the overall theme of our heroes fighting Gudrun continues throughout the entire three volume set. As you’ll see, even though they get her out of the Jarlshold Gudrun is not one to disappear quietly into the night.
It’s a fantasy story of a grand adventure across a frozen land, spanning several years over the entire volume. The fantasy elements are used well and actually make sense.
A land full of snow white people with incredible powers who live in a land so far north that people in the Jarlshold believe it to be the edge of the world is the main source of magic in the story as it is Gudrun’s birthplace.
The overall setting of the Jarlshold struck me as a Viking empire (which is awesome!) in a time when Vikings would have been in control of the world (their world anyway). Basically for this story think Vikings in an alternate reality where magic and all their supernatural beliefs are real.
I must say though I did love the many unique (sometimes quirky) characters, Thorkil and I never really hit it off. Which turned out to be a good thing as even though he plays a slightly big part in the first book, he is literally never seen again (except very briefly in a dream).
The other merry band of rebels supporting the rightful Jarl continue to go on adventures to save the Jarlshold from Gudrun as getting her out of the seat of power was only the beginning.
I love Kari! Really I cannot say that enough. Watching him grow and get out of Thrasirhall is amazing. When he’s learning to control his powers and then gets scared that he is actually just like his mother I just wanted to hug him.
His relationship with Brochael is so sweet and protective. You can tell a strong father-son like bond exists between the two.
Jessa was a fierce heroine, and certainly not the type of girl to sit at home. She was the first person (besides Brochael) to accept Kari and help him (for which I love her).
It is a good thing Jessa is such a brave and loyal friend because Kari needed as many of those as he could get. When your mother is basically the embodiment of all evil and you are the only one who can stop her, help from friends is very welcome.
From getting Gudrun unseated from power at the Jarlshold, fighting off a monster made of her magic, and finally traveling to the land of Gudrun’s birth for a final confrontation Snow-walker is an adventure you will feel a part of and never want to end.
My Recommendation: This book can be found in the young adult section and while I do feel parts of it might be too scary for young children, by middle school age it should be fine. And of course it’s a great read even for people slightly older than middle school age. You know like ages twelve to one hundred.
Author: Catherine Fisher
Genre(s): fantasy, adventure
Pages: 507 (in omnibus edition)
Publisher: Greenwillow Books (in US)
First Released: 2004 (in US)