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Literature / Snow Walker

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The Snow-Walker trilogy by Catherine Fisher consists of The Snow-Walker's Son, The Empty Hand, and The Soul Thieves. Set in the Grim Up North, the books are a classic Heroic Fantasy and make many Shout-Outs to the Eddas from which the story takes inspiration.

The people of the Jarlshold have a new Jarl, who has taken rulership by force, but it is his wife Gudrun, a sorceress from beyond the edge of the world, that holds them all in sway. In her attempts to secure her power she forces her husband to slay or send away all remaining relatives of the rightful noble line the Wulfings, including protagonists Jessa Horolfdaughter and Thorkil Harraldson. Exiled to the frozen north, they expect to die - not to find the one person who could destroy Gudrun forever and return the Wulfings to their throne.


Snow-Walker provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Gudrun, and how.
  • Annoying Arrows: In The Soul Thieves, the plot remains entirely unaffected by Brochael's arrow wound.
  • Culture Chop Suey: The culture of the Jarlshold and surrounding lands is mainly Norse with a little Finnish and British thrown in. The scraeling woman is also shown as more Finnish-y than Inuit.
  • Flat World: At least in one direction. Going north does not lead to the pole, as expected, but to the emptiness of Ginnungagap.
  • Horny Vikings
  • I Am X, Son of Y: As to be expected, all characters are referred to with patronymics.
  • Inadvertent Entrance Cue: Played for Drama. Vidar gives a prophecy about a pale sorcerous thing approaching from the north... cue one of the two things to whom that could apply.
  • Knife Nut: A heroic version in Jessa, who gains the epithet "Two-Knives" for her freedom with using them.
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  • Meaningful Name: "Kari" apparently means chaste/pure.
  • Melting-Pot Nomenclature: Most of the characters have standard Northern European names, but then we also have Jessa (derived from Hebrew) and Vidar son of Paul, which is Roman.
  • Missing Reflection: Neither Kari nor Gudrun has one, because each is metaphorically the other's.
  • Mysterious Whitehair: Kari.
  • Not So Different: A rare heroic variant at the climax of The Empty Hand.
  • Noun Verber: The Snow-walkers
  • One-Hit Kill: In The Soul Thieves, an outlaw is slain by sorcery in this manner.
  • Plucky Girl: Jessa
  • Put on a Bus: Thorkil only shows up in the first book. We don't hear what happens to him through books 2 and 3.
  • Rightful King Returns: Wulfgar's arc in the first book involves him retaking his seat as the Jarl, because he is the last of the Wulfings and therefore the last man with the blood right to it.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: Gudrun is always associated with snakes.
  • Sinister Minister: Vidar
  • The Storyteller: Skapti is a skald, so it's his job.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: They are created by sorcery and cannot be transmitted one person to another. Also, anyone who is a werewolf grows gradually more wolfish the more times they turn.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Gudrun, and the rest of the Snow-walkers.

Alternative Title(s): The Snow Walker Trilogy


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