Talus, a bard, and his companion Bran, make a journey to the island realm of Creyak. A king has been murdered and there are no shortages of suspects, including the king’s six sons, the local shaman, the servant girl, or even a neighboring warlord. Talus, who is clever and insightful, will study the clues and investigate, which could prove quite dangerous, to find justice for the dead king.
It is only a mildly clever premise to write what is essentially a detective mystery using a fantasy setting. Think ‘Ice Age Sherlock Holmes (Talus) and Watson (Bran).’ But where, then, should the author put his priorities? The mystery? The fantasy setting? The characters? Well, the answer of course, is all of it but the end result here is that none of it is particularly strong.
Our mystery is a bit pedantic. As a modern reader, we’re a little bit stuck, having a great source of history to put clues together. If Talus becomes too insightful or too intelligent for the era he lives in, he loses credibility for the reader. But too primitive, and the mystery doesn’t stand up.
In regards to the fantasy setting, this story is cut from a generic cloth. There’s a little bit of Conan here, a little bit of King Arthur – name some fiction of medieval or pre-medieval locations, and you’ll see it here. There are no roots to this world – it’s all surface façade.
The same can be said of the characters. I struggled all the way to the end of the book to understand why Talus was a bard and a detective. Sure … ‘detective’ didn’t exist in these times, but that only added to my confusion. Why was he investigating? What allowed others to trust a bard to make these choices? I don’t know.
As I mentioned, the premise was mildly clever, which is what drew me to the book initially, but the writing (the plot, the characters, the world) didn’t have a hold on me and I was constantly losing interest. This was a chore.
Looking for a good book? Talus and the Frozen King by Graham Edwards is an experiment (combining two genres) that didn’t turn out too well.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Talus and the Frozen King
author: Graham Edwards
series: Talus #1
paperback, 333 pages