UK – Red Fox Books
US – Greenwillow Books
This trilogy brings together in one volume the three spell-binding titles in the Snow-walker sequence; The Snow-walker’s Son, The Empty Hand, and The Soul Thieves.
From the swirling mists and icy depths beyond the edge of the world came the snow-walker Gudrun, to rule the Jarl’s people with fear and sorcery. But a small band of outlaws are prepared to risk their lives to defeat Gudrun and restore the land to its rightful leader. This trilogy follows them in their quest, from the first terrifying journey to meet the mysterious snow-walker’s son, to the final battle in the lands beyond the rainbow bridge…
The Snow-Walker’s Son
Since Gudrun came from the frozen mists beyond the edge of the world, the Jarl’s people have obeyed her in hatred and terror. 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 rumours 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 Empty Hand
From frost and magic, the sorceress Gudrun conjures a rune beast and sends it from the land of the Snow-Walkers, southwards towards the stronghold of the new Jarl, Wulfgar. The approach of the beast spreads fear amongst the people. Jessa, Skapti the poet, and a slave named Hakon Empty Hand must help the Jarl confront this horror while around them, mistrust and conspiracy grow. In some hidden way, these dark events are linked with Gudrun’s mysterious son, Kari, whose own talents as sorcerer are beginning to reach their terrifying potential.
The Soul Thieves
In the dramatic conclusion to the “Snow-Walker” trilogy, the sorceress Gudrun places an enchantment of frost and dreams upon the people of the Jarlshold and steals the soul of the Jarl’s young bride. To reclaim the girl, Jessa and her friends must now begin a perilous quest to the land of Snow-Walkers, a place not shown on any map. They must journey beyond the edge of the world, beyond the rift into darkness, where the final battle between Gudrun and her son must take place.
The Snow-Walker Trilogy is made up of three books, originally published separately in the UK- The Snow-Walker’s Son, The Empty Hand and The Soul Thieves.
I’ve always been fascinated by the Vikings, by Norse myths, and by Anglo-Saxon poems, especially Beowulf, the fabulous story of the slaying of the monster Grendel, among others. I also like snow, and cold weather generally, and Arctic exploration. All that came together to produce this set of stories.
The hero is Kari Ragnarsson, the son of the mysterious ice-witch Gudrun. She comes from unknown lands and marries the Jarl, taking control of his kingdom. Gudrun is very much like the Snow Queen (another favourite story), and everyone is terrified of her. No one knows anything either about her son, who has been hidden away since he was born, guarded by one man in a distant castle in the ice-fields of the farthest North. It’s to this castle that Jessa and her cousin Thorkil are banished. They journey there reluctantly, trying to escape when they can, but finally they have to confront the strangeness and fear of the Snow-walker’s Son.
I don’t want to give too much away, of course. In the second book I’ve leaned heavily on the Beowulf story, because Gudrun makes a creature of ice and runes, and sends it down to attack her son and his friends. And in the third book, The Soul Thieves, our heroes have to travel to the land of the Snow-walkers itself, beyond ice and volcanoes, beyond the bottomless chasm at the world’s end, over the rainbow bridge, to Gudrun’s castle.
I was interested in the conflict between mother and son here, and how that can never be truly resolved, and about the responsibility of having power, and using it. It was also fascinating to develop a three-book story for the first time.