I'm a creature of habit, I love routine, and I hate change. So as to why I decided to read this I'm not really sure. Perhaps it was the atmospheric cover ( don't listen to those who say don't judge a book by its cover), or it may have been the synopsis with it's mention of "mysterious barrows and stone circles" and the worlds first detective. Whatever it was Talus and The Frozen King ripped me out of my comfort zone and plonked me smack down in the middle of a prehistory Celtic land where murder is afoot. The King is dead, seemingly murdered, and all the signs point to one of his sons being the killer. Talus the Bard and Bran the Fisherman arrive just as the heinous crime is discovered and quickly find themselves at the centre of the biggest shock to ever hit the Island.
Murder, Mystery and Mayhem, three things that when combined with a charismatic detective and a his world weary sidekick, go together to make one extremely satisfying and enjoyable book. These sort of books live and die on the strength of two things the Detective and his sidekick and the mystery itself, Talus and The Frozen King, is lucky enough to have both a spectacularly brilliant detective duo and a wonderfully twisty and atmospheric central mystery. These two central strands are wrapped up in a detailed world that feels genuinely authentic. The sights, sounds and smells of Creyak spill forth from the page, to give the story a proper sense of time and place. This is an important factor in what makes this book so successful without a proper sense of time and place it wouldn't matter just how good the narrative and characters are it would just seems wrong.
And as for the characters Edwards has created a rather splendid detective duo. It was a stroke of genius in making Talus a Bard, Edwards has imbued him with the gift of storytelling. He is a strong character on which to hang the story from. Like most of the world's greatest detectives he is flawed man. Slightly aloof and somewhat socially awkward, Talus knows he is the wise man here, and to some degree he knows he doesn't quite fit in. It's through the power of his stories that Talus finds his pace in the world. If I Wanted to be lazy then I could compare Talus to Holmes, but that would be too lazy. Yes he shares many of the traits common to some of the world's favourite detectives, however Edwards has imbued Talus with enough of his own personality to make him his own standout character.
Complementing Talus is the world weary Bran, a fisherman with a burnt and useless hand. Bran is the heart to Talus's brain. Able to see the humanity and emotional side to the those they encounter Bran is more than just a foil to Talus. The dynamics between the two leads is handle extremely well. I'm eager to see how and where this leads us in future books.
As for the mystery itself this is, as in all good murder mysteries, is a wonderfully twisted and keeps the reader guessing, as it it winds its way through narrative, subtly dropping hints as the story unfolds.
Talus and the Frozen King was a welcome change to my normal reading habits, clever, well written with some emotional looks at the human condition, I'm eagerly awaiting the next book from Edwards.
Meet Talus the world's first detective. A dead warrior king frozen in winter ice. Six grieving sons, each with his own reason to kill. Two weary travellers caught up in a web of suspicion and deceit. In a distant time long before our own, wandering bard Talus and his companion Bran journey to the island realm of Creyak, where the king has been murdered. From clues scattered among the island's mysterious barrows and stone circles, they begin their search for his killer. But do the answers lie in this world or the next? Nobody is above suspicion, from the king's heir to the tribal shaman, from the servant woman steeped in herb-lore to the visiting warlord whose unexpected arrival throws the whole tribe into confusion. And when death strikes again, Talus and Bran realise nothing is what it seems. Creyak is place of secrets and spirits, mystery and myth. It will take a clever man indeed to unravel the truth. The kind of man this ancient world has not seen before.
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