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Snow-walker Hardcover – August 17, 2004

4 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Heroes of Black History
Collection of Five "Who Was" Biographies
In this box set, discover the life and times of five icons of black history and celebrate the difference they made in the world. Hardcover

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 6-9. Drawing on Celtic and Norse mythology (chapter headings are taken from Beowulf and Norse poems), Fisher spins a fantasy quest with all the classic elements. Long ago, the evil sorceress Gudrun the Snow-walker banished her powerful son, Kari, to a distant castle, then seized control of the Jarl's people. Now, the Jarl's subjects Jessa and Thorkil seek to restore the kingdom to its rightful ruler. Gudrun exiles them to Thrasirshall, where Kari is imprisoned. Clever Jessa, Kari, and a small band of friends, including writer-storyteller Skapti, set off on a hero's journey to the far north for a showdown between the wicked ruler and her son. Originally published in Britain as three separate books, this newly melded story suffers from occasionally awkward pacing and narrative shifts that will demand a dedicated, sophisticated reader. In addition, the bard Skapti, who rarely tells any stories, could have been used more effectively to share the unfamiliar mythology. It's the description of the icy backdrop and the mythological beings in the cast, most notably the predatory rune creature, that reveals the beauty of Fisher's prose. For larger fantasy collections. Cindy Dobrez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 600L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books; First Edition edition (August 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060724749
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060724740
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,913,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Catherine Fisher is the New York Times best-selling author of Sapphique and Incarceron. She is "one of today's best fantasy writers," according to the London Independent. An acclaimed novelist and poet, she has written many fantasy books for young people, including The Oracle Prophecy series.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Originally published in England as three separate volumes, Snow-Walker combines The Snow-Walker's Son, The Empty Hand and The Soul Thieves. Using Norse and Celtic mythology to build on, Fisher creates a frozen world dominated by a Sorceress name Gundrun who has dethroned the Jarl. Her equally powerful son, Kari, has been banished to Thrasirshall where he is befriended by fellow outcasts, Jessa, Skapti, Brochael and others. Set upon by runebeasts and other magic the travels bring hardship to many as Gundrun steals the souls of loved ones, including Wulfgar's fiancé. Their journey to lands steeped in old, dark traditions should put them in peril more often but the characters seem fated to live happily ever after and no permanent damage to done. The novel has a choppy pace to its construction from three individual works but this alone cannot explain the work's awkward plot and minimal character development. The story is difficult to follow in places making it more suitable for older readers who will enjoy the challenge of making sense of things. The action is limited and not sustained, leavening the reader bored and disappointed. A re-read may highlight missed intricacies but it's probably not worth the effort.
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Format: Library Binding
I have never read a fantasy book quite like this one. It took quite a bit from Norse mythology and some of it reminded me of Beowulf. It takes place in a very cold country in the north.

In the first book, Jessa and Thorkil are banished to Thrasirshall because their parents were not loyal to the present Jarl (ruler) and his evil Snow-walker bride from the north. The snow-walker, Gudrun, banished her monster son, Kari, to Thrasirshall with only one man to look after him. When they arrive, they find Kari to be the mirror image of his mother. (This theme recurrs over and over in the book; the same, but opposite, etc.) He hates his mother as much as the rest of the country does. Soon the Jarl dies and Gudrun sends assassins to kill Kari. He escapes with his few friends and heads back to the Jarlshold. At the end of this book, he defeats his mother and she goes back to the land of the Snow-walkers, beyond the end of the world.

In the second book, a strange monster begins terrorizing the Jarlshold and surrounding countryside. Thorkil is dropped as a main character. Now the 6 main characters are Jessa, Kari, Brochael (Kari's guardian), Wulfgar (the new Jarl), Skapti (a poet) and Hakon (a servant or slave). This book takes place at the Jarlshold for the whole book and is mainly about how no one, not even his friends, will trust Kari because he has power to control people and looks like his mother. At the end of this book, the monster is neatly disposed of, though it had a satisfying ending.

In the third book, Wulfgar is about to be married when Gudrun sends a soul-stealing spell and takes his bride. It soon begins to affect the whole Jarlshold and the friends, except for Wulfgar, journey to the land of the Snow-walkers to try to defeat Gudrun once and for all.
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Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
Welsh author Catherine Fisher strikes gold in an icy, shimmering new fantasy, "Snow-Walker." With likable characters and vidid writing, Fisher demonstrates her talents in the arena of Norse mythology, filled with shapeshifting wolf-men, soul-stealing ghosts, and icy witches.

Jessa is horrified when she learns that the Jarl (a sort of king-chieftain) has exiled her to Thrasirshall -- where Kari, the son of the Jarl and his cold, evil wife Gudrun, lives in complete isolation. He's rumored to be a monster. But when Jessa arrives, she finds that Kari is not a monster -- but a lonely young boy who has the power to destroy his scheming sorceress mother, and has been sent away because of that.

After the death of the Jarl, Gudrun vanishes, and a new Jarl, Wulfgar, is chosen. And Kari vanishes back to the north for a few years, honing his magic abilities. But with power comes greater fear. Kari fears becoming like the evil Gudrun, and others fear his dark magic. Even Wulfgar begins to doubt him, especially when Kari is accused in a prophecy by a priest.

But Kari and Jessa have more than just accusations to deal with. A monstrous, bearlike creature is coming to the Jarlshold, with Wulfgar as its target. And Wulfgar's bride's soul is stolen by Gudrun. Kari and his loyal friends band together to defeat the evil Snow-Walker -- but is the good in Kari enough to keep him from becoming like Gudrun?

The first book by Catherine Fisher, "The Oracle Betrayed," was a tepid mix of Greek and Egyptian cultures. She fares much better with the rich Norse mythology, against a backdrop of monsters, snow, ice, and sorcerous people with eyes like bits of ice.
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Format: Hardcover
I picked this up because I needed something to read over my lunchbreak. I wasn't expecting much--lately all the epic fantasy stuff I've found tends to be either pedestrian and cliched or monstrously complex and spread over many volumes. Let's just say the book followed me back from lunch onto the subway, and was read intently for several hours before I turned the last page. The snow cast setting was immediately accessible and stunningly described. The main characters came to life as natural elements in the setting. The story wove skillfully from first page to last. This volume is actually made up of three stories, each about 150 pages long. The three tales tell the ongoing story of our band of heroes, but each is complete unto itself. I believe they were orginally published in Britain as three separate volumes: The Snow-walker's Son, The Empty Hand, and The Soul Thieves.

Gudrun, a strange and sorcerous woman of great power and cruelty, has one weakness. That weakness is her son, Kari. Almost no one has seen Kari since he was born, and rumors abound that he is some sort of monster. Exiled to a far northern fortress of Thrasirshall, he has been alone but for his guardian for years while Gudrun and her chieftan husband have tyrannized the people. Now two young people are sent to join Kari in his exile--Jessa and Thorkil. Will they meet a monster? An enemy? Or perhaps . . . a new ally against Gudrun? In this first book we meet a delightful cast of characters, some more developed than others. Most notable among them is Jessa, our young protagonist equipped with enough courage and wisdom to survive her adventures and see the truth and Kari, the Snow-walker's son, the strange being with a powerful and fearful inheritance he doesn't want and can't avoid.
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