Talus and the Frozen King by Graham Edwards
A dead warrior king frozen in winter ice. Six grieving sons, each with his own reason to kill. Two weary travelers 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 realize 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.
Talus is the world’s first detective, and is quite like a Neolithic Sherlock Holmes. Though his Watson, Bran, is a bit reluctant. Talus is a mysterious character with little said about himself or his past, other than that he’s a brilliant observer and detective. Whereas, we do get a bit of Bran’s tortured past and his lost love. The two are an unlikely team as they strive to solve the mystery of who killed the king of Creyak.
Talus and the Frozen King is mystery set in the Stone Age, several thousand years B.C. in what is now Scotland. So the setting is certainly unique in itself. And the mystery is unpredictable and well-developed. The story is engaging with plenty of twists and turns. I’m filing it away as fantasy, though there’s no real magical element other than their talks of their lore for now. It could be a new subgenre – pre-historic fiction. I’m hoping this is just the first in a distinctive series.