The Snow-Walker Trilogy By Catherine Fisher.
From the swirling mists and icy realms beyond the edge of the world came the Snow-Walker Gudrun to rule the Jarl's people with fear and sorcery. No sword is a match for her rune-magic and it seems the land may never be free from her tyranny. But there is a small band of outlaws determined to defeat Gudrun and restore the rightful Jarl. This trilogy follows their quest from the terrifying journey to meet the mysterious Snow-Walker's son, to the final battle in the land of the soul thieves.
This book includes:
* The Snow-Walker's Son
** The Empty hand
*** The Soul Thieves.
The Snow-Walker's Son.
Sent into exile by Jarl Ragner and the Snow-Walker Gudrun, cousins Jessa and Thorkil travel to the wilderness that is Thrasirshall where many years previously the babe Kari, son of Ragnar and Gudrun, was also sent.
Once there, they, along with Kari and his companion Brachael, make their escape and travel, amongst others, with, fellow outlaw and last of the Wulflings, Wulfgar and poet (skald) Skapti back to the Jarsland where events come to a climax.
A slow start, no doubt to set the tone for the rest of the series, but an exciting ending. However, for most of the way through, I was strongly reminded of ' The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe ' by C. S. Lewis and, in particular, the scenes where the group take flight with Mr and Mrs. Beaver. After all we have an Ice Queen/Snow-Walker with influence over a vast snowy land who, for a time, has a strange hold over a small boy which could endanger both himself and others. In all honestly, I kept expecting Father Christmas to turn up.
The Empty Hand.
Having now read the second book in the series, book one, 'The Snow-Walker's Son', seems to have much more meaning as, as I suspected, it does indeed lay the foundations for this much more exciting novel.
With Wulfgar the new Jarl, all should be well but 'The creature moved down from the north, travelling quickly. All the long night it had blurred and flickered through blizzards, leaving it's prints briefly on the open tundra, until the snow clogged them' and now it's heading towards Jarlsand. Sensing this Kari, along with Brachael, travels back from Thrasirshall to lend his support but suspicion and mistrust of Gudrun's son is stll rife amongst the people of the Jarlshall
A pacier, more action packed story with characters developing in strength. Very cleverly written in that though 'the creature' was believed to be totally evil, you could not help but be moved by it's plight at the same time.
The Soul Thieves.
A wedding is about to take place but during the feast a strange, icy mist descends on the Jarshall leaving everyone, except Kari, asleep - locked in their own personal nightmares. Eventually Kari awakens all but one, Signi, the bride-to be. "She's gone. Gudrun has taken her." "Taken her! She's not dead." "Not even that. Taken her soul; taken it far away." And so, with Signi growing ever colder, off go Kari, Brachael, Jessa, Skapti and Hakon, a once disabled 'thrall' (slave), who is now one of Wulfgar's warband in search of her lost soul.
An interesting end to what turned out to be an enjoyable trilogy. Exciting and suspenseful with a few new characters thrown in for good measure. However, as in 'The Snow-Walker', I couldn't help but be reminded of ' The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe ' - the comparison of a land turning to one of ice and snow was just too great. Also, puzzling, what happened to Thorkil who was mentioned in the first book, never to be mentioned again? All in all - a good read, growing stronger with each of the books.