Talus and The Frozen King by Graham Edwards is a good start to what could possibly become a great series of mysteries. The cover promotes the book by saying “Introducing The World’s First Detective.” And I truly got that feeling when main character, Talus, a bard and our “first detective” utters the phrase, “…there’s no time to lose!” I had visions of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (only wearing bear skins and with greasy hair) chasing the baddies in their black hansoms down a darkened, narrow, cobblestone English road! The similarities are very apparent – Talus observes everything and deduces the truth from each clue. His sidekick, Bran, originally a fisherman, is our somewhat bumbling Watson, typically preferring brawn to brains. There is even a Moriarty, “Mishina”, a shaman, who plays to Talus’ weakness for solving challenging mysteries.
What I really found unique here was the world into which these characters are thrust – the cold, icy, coastal realm inhabited by isolated tribes of Neolithic peoples. Edwards brings them to life with their rituals that seem very alien to us. Mud-painted faces, stone tools, bone weapons, are all rich details that add to the raw feeling of the island of Creyak where someone has murdered the king.
Talus is a very interesting character. He searches for his humanity, his brilliance often seems to dull his true emotions for as he analyzes each clue, he begins to analyze his relationships with friends and lovers. His physical appearance is appealing, too, with his bald head, rail thin body, and tattered robes. Bran is our more down-to-earth, emotional character. He has suffered great loss, both emotionally and physically. Strong and human, Bran is the perfect complement to Talus’s logical mind. They work as a pair to expose the murderous plot and at the same time discover some truths about their own pysches.
Bran will continue to follow Talus on a quest north, to the top of the world. They will most certainly find more adventures and mysteries to solve as they continue their journey. The game’s afoot, Bran!