From the frozen mists beyond the edge of the world comes Gudrun, the Snow-walker, to rule the Jarl's people through fear and sorcery.
But the enchantress has one weakness -- her son, Kari, banished as a child to Thrasirshall, the forbidding fortress in the desolate, snowbound north. The people of the Jarl have never set eyes on Kari, but in secret they wonder: Are the rumors true? Was he born a monster?
Now, two will discover the truth.
Because their fathers were loyal to the rightful ruler, Gudrun has exiled Jessa and Thorkil . . . to Thrasirshall. The cousins wonder if they can survive the impossible trek to the ruined castle. And if they do, what will they find at the end of their journey? A beast? Or the means to stop Gudrun?
In this spellbinding saga, a resourceful heroine and an unexpected hero must discover a way to free the Jarlshold from tyranny or lose it forever -- to the Snow-walker.
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Catherine Fisher's acclaimed works include The Oracle Betrayed: Book One in The Oracle Prophecies, which was a finalist for the Whitbread Children's Book Award. She lives in Newport, Wales.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
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