The Soul Thieves by Catherine Fisher (1996)
Part three of the Snow-Walker Trilogy
The final conflict between the sorceress Gudrun and her son, Kari. They are identical but opposite, bound to each other with a link that must be broken for all time. Gudrun hates and fears her son, but cannot leave him alone, for didn't the prophecies say that she would only finally be destroyed by her own image?
Gudrun has retreated to her palace in the land of the Snow-Walkers, which lies north, beyond all natural knowledge. But still she watches Kari and the people of the Jarlshold, and waits for her chance.
In her loathing of Wulfgar, the new Jarl, she has promised him that she will take away from him that which he loves the best. As he celebrates his forthcoming marriage to Signi, Gudrun's plans become shockingly clear.
Around them the mist closed in. Shapes moved in it; they thought they say huge men, tall as trolls, creatures from nightmares. A fog-wolf with glinting eyes snarled under the table; the legs of distorted, monstrous beings waded past them through the hall. Frost was spreading quickly across the floor; it crunched under their feet and nails; they breathed it in and the pain of it seared their throats, clogged their voices.
'Getting cold,' Hakon's voice whispered, close to her.
'Me too.' She struggled to say, 'Keep awake,' but her lips felt swollen, her tongue would not make the sounds.
Cold stiffened her clenched fingers.
'Hakon ...' she murmured, but he did not answer. She felt for him; his arm lay cold beside her.
Around them the hall was silent.
Now the white grip of the ice was creeping gently over her cheek, spreading on her skin. With a great effort she shifted a little, and the fine film cracked, but it formed again almost instantly, sealing her lips with a mask of glass. She couldn't breathe.
Crystals of ice closed over her eyelids, crusting her lashes.
Darkness froze in her mind.
While the people lie enchanted in the Jarl's great hall, Gudrun steals Signi's soul away.
There is only one way to get it back. Kari must go and confront his mother. Kari does not know if he has the power. He has not devoted his life to the study of evil sorcery, but unless he can beat her now, he will never be free of her, and nor will the people of the Jarlshold.
It is a dangerous and terrifying journey to the land of the Snow-Walkers, but Kari does not go alone. He travels with his old friends: Jessa, his guardian Broachael, Skapti the poet, and Hakon.
I promise you, the hairs will stand up on the back of your neck.
What can I read next?
It's a trilogy, read it in order:
The more I think about this brilliant trilogy, the more it reminds me of this extraordinary story by Lian Hearn:
I think you might also enjoy reading this one by Garth Nix:
Or you could look at the Earthsea sequence by Ursula Le Guin:
Also, the Bookchooser has found these books with a similar profile:
- The Empty Hand by Catherine Fisher (Score: 100%)
- The Snow-Walker's Son by Catherine Fisher (Score: 100%)
- Monster Blood Tattoo: Foundling by D M Cornish (Score: 93%)
- Dark Life by Kat Falls (Score: 93%)
- The Spook's Apprentice by Joseph Delaney (Score: 93%)
The Soul Thieves features in these lists: