Talus and the Frozen King by Graham Edwards
£7.99 (UK) ISBN 978-1-78108-198-3
$8 .99/$10.99 (US & CAN) ISBN 978-1-7810-8-199-0
Published by Solaris Books
I started to read Talus and the Frozen King right after A Discourse in Steel by Paul S. Kemp, and at first I worried it would be too similar, a fantasy buddy adventure. As it turned out, I was pleasantly surprised when I realized the book was not really an action-adventure story, but rather a murder mystery. Now, if I had read the book cover, which proclaims that the book introduces the world’s first detective, maybe I wouldn’t have been surprised, but then again I might not have given it a chance because mysteries aren’t my first choice of reading.
At its base, Talus and the Frozen King is much like a familiar Sherlock Holmes and Watson story, except in this case, Holmes is a bard named Talus and Watson a former fisherman named Bran.
Talus is emotionally-stunted but clever and insightful. Bran, his sidekick, is more rough-and-tumble. He may not figure things out as fast as Talus does, but he understands human motivations in a way the bard-sleuth does not. It’s a familiar trope but both characters are fleshed out well enough that I had as much interest in them as in solving the mystery.
The details of the world building kept me interested at first, especially as I was going into the story blind, unsure of what type of fantasy it was. Interestingly, the level of magic in the story is open to interpretation. Many of the characters believe in it, but as it is a historical fantasy, this could simply reflect that many people in our history believed in magic and spirits.
While the world-building pulled me in to the story at first, the mysteries surrounding the frozen king’s murder eventually grabbed hold of me. By the halfway point of the novel, with mystery piling on top of mystery, including those in Bran and Talus’ past, I found myself racing to the end. I’d definitely buy the next book in the series, because while the book works as a stand-alone mystery, I definitely want to know where Talus and Bran’s adventures take them next.
Reviewer’s Note: I received a review copy of this book but as always this review is my honest reaction. I use Amazon Affiliate links so if you follow the link and buy the book, I might someday make enough to afford to buy a book on Amazon.