Talus And The Frozen King by Graham Edwards (book review).

May 24, 2014 | By | Reply More

When the King of Creyak, a remote island in ‘the North’ is found dead, the villagers are thrown into confusion. Regicide is something unthinkable. Could it be the work of the bard Talus and his friend Bran who have recently arrived? This is the mystery presented to the reader at the opening of ‘Talus And The Frozen King’ by Graham Edwards, a crime novel set so far back in antiquity that we are invited to think of Talus as the ‘world’s first detective’.

TalusAndTheFrozenKing

Edwards’ novel is a compact and tightly plotted story that presents to us murder in a civilisation that doesn’t yet have a concept of or word for justice. Setting the novel so far in the past (when is pleasingly unclear, though Edwards addresses this in an afterword) means that the detective has to rely solely on his powers of observation. This is no place for technical gimmicks. Our heroes rely on their wits alone.

The setting of Creyak is atmospherically bleak. Covered in snow and treacherous ice, the remote village community is naturally wary of strangers and exists with its own superstitions and totems. This gives the book a slight fantasy element and I always find it heartening to know that not all of the mysteries of our ancestors will be explained. Understanding of death and the afterlife is basic, as are other skills such as fishing and home-building. Talus brings another valuable gift, that of storytelling.

During the story, Talus entrances his audience, if not the reader, with his tales. I couldn’t help but feel that this showman element to Talus could be brought out a bit more, because otherwise Talus feels like a Holmes-analogue. He is tall, thin, highly observant, has no clue about love, enjoys the company of a good friend and perhaps even has his own arch-enemy. Don’t let this put you off though, aside from thematic links, both Talus and Bran have compelling and relevant back-stories. I felt that I would want to travel with them again.

I enjoyed ‘Talus And The Frozen King’ as an evocative and thoughtful introduction to a new detective and series. The setting and environment are the true stars of the book, the harsh landscape doing the struggling community no favours. Edwards writes well and manages his characters in such a way to keep you guessing until the mystery is solved. A special mention also goes to Clint Langley’s cover which is beautiful and sets the tone perfectly.

John Rivers

May 2014

(pub: Solaris/Rebellion Publishing/HarperCollins. 280 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78108-198-3)

check out website: www.solarisbooks.com

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Category: Books, Fantasy

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