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.
Meet Talus – the world’s first detective.
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Although flavored with fantasy elements, this work resembles nothing so much as a certain consulting detective and his physician amanuensis transported back to the Neolithic … A close cousin to the writings of Conan Doyle, Christie, and Marsh, the story plays fairly with its readers, revealing clues and insights as Talus and Bran become aware of them. Mystery fans who find the conceits amusing will look forward to Talus’s future investigations.
A wonderful mash-up of genres, fusing a proper, well-plotted detective yarn with prehistoric blood and thunder pulp fiction action. Talus, who combines the cerebral prowess of Sherlock Holmes with the physicality of Conan the Barbarian, is a strong, well-rounded character who could easily support a long-running series of adventures.
Crime Fiction Lover
Now here’s a book that provides us with a neat spin on historical crime fiction … The book is more than just a whodunnit – this is a story about the power of stories, and a reflection upon the nature of friendship, love and grief … This book is an unexpected delight, a detective story in a setting like no other, and I recommend it unreservedly.
Drunken Dragon Reviews
There are three things about this book that I absolutely loved. The first is the attentiveness to detail and creativity of the worldbuilding … The second is Edwards’ writing … It made for a fast, gripping story that proved impossible to put down … Finally, there’s the use of the Sherlock-Watson dynamic. Definitely one of the best cases I’ve ever seen … Highly recommended, and definitely on the shortlist for best books I’ve read this year.
Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing
The manic energy of modern day our modern Sherlock Holmes is a difficult thing to transpose to a book. To take such a character and place them in the Stone Age without the aid of modern technology runs the risk of creating a story so at odds with itself that any trunk it’s hidden in should be buried as well. Graham Edwards’ Talus and the Frozen King shouldn’t be hidden in some crypt or locked away in some tomb to be forgotten, because it takes the murder mystery back to its roots and that makes it all the more entertaining. It’s not a rehash or a reimagining of old ideas … Talus and the Frozen King is the ideal book for mysteries lovers who want a classic murder scenario in a new setting.
Ginger Nuts of Horror
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. 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. I’m eager to see how and where this leads us in future books.
The Neolithic Settlement of Creyak
The model for Creyak is the neolithic village of Skara Brae, which was inhabited between 3,200 BC and 2,200 BC. My tale happens a little earlier than that, but it’s close enough for government work. Uncovered by a monumental storm in 1850, Skara Brae boasts a number of well-preserved stone houses. Regularly visited by tourists and researchers alike, it’s now regarded as one of the most important of its kind in the world.
Skara Brae image by Malcolm Morris, via Wikimedia CommonsThe dwellings on my fictional island of Creyak are similar to the houses of Skara Brae in many respects. Partly sunk into the ground, they’re connected by a maze of passages. Each has a central hearth, an imposing stone dresser and a storage pit in the floor. Nobody knows for certain what the Skara Brae roofs were made from; I’ve opted for whalebone rafters supporting a covering of turf … Read more
Character names are a thorny issue even for writers of present-day fiction. But what about stories set in the dim and distant past? How do you come up with names for characters who lived 6,000 years ago? The glib answer is: “You make them up.” But even made-up names come with baggage attached. Words remind you of other words – it’s in their nature. Everything echoes.
My solution to the problem began with the knowledge that my story is set in Neolithic Scotland. I came up with a list of English words I liked (and which seemed appropriate to the story) and translated it into Gaelic. I then indulged myself in a little free thinking and put the Gaelic words through a mangle … Read more