lunes, 17 de marzo de 2014

Talus and the Frozen King, by Graham Edwards

(Disclaimer: English is my second language, so I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.)

Review Soundtrack: I suggest reading this review while listening to Throne of Ice by Luca Turilli (Spotify, Youtube).

I confess that I had not heard of Graham Edwards before reading Talus and the Frozen King despite his previously having published seven novels: two fantasy trilogies and a crime novel written under the pen name of Nick Curtis. In his new novel he incorporates elements of both historical fantasy and crime fiction to write about Talus, the world's first detective.

I must, first of all, clarify that Talus and the Frozen King is not strictly a fantasy novel. There are many references to the spirits of the dead and to an afterworld (in which the characters firmly believe), but the novel reads more as a mystery set in a secondary world (or in an undisclosed past time and place in our own world, that is never clear) than as pure fantasy. There is nothing wrong with that, of course, and Edwards certainly does a great job when mixing all the elements, but the fact this book is published by Solaris can be misleading to those expecting to find magic, dragons, gods and other fantasy tropes. 

Of the strongest points of this novel is, hands down, Talus, the main protagonist. When reading about him and his companion Bran it is impossible not to think of the most famous detective ever: Sherlock Holmes. The resemblance is particularly poignant in the dialog, when Talus has to explain to Bran how he has come to his deductions. Although the idea of someone being a detective in this kind of ancient world can be a bit strange at first, Edwards manages to make Talus really believable. The back history of both Talus and Bran, delivered by means of flashbacks and stories told by the two protagonists, is especially helpful in this regard.

Edward's prose is well above average and the pacing of the plot is almost perfect, with the right twists in the right moments and an increasingly sense of mystery and tension. There is a suspiciously convenient coincidence near the end of the book that helps setting the ground for the foreseeable sequels, but even that can be forgiven since the main questions are all satisfyingly answered. 

Despite all this, I have to say that I failed to be completely gripped by the book. There is nothing wrong with Talus and the Frozen King, which is a perfectly fine read, but I'm more of a science fiction reader and when it comes down to fantasy I usually like mine with lots of magic and supernatural elements. Historical fantasy (and crime fiction) is not really my cup of tea and though I quite enjoyed the novel and don't regret having reading it, I don't think I'll be in for the rest of the series.

Anyway, I recommend Talus and the Frozen King to mystery and whodunit fans and, probably, to fantasy readers as well. It is a quick and light read, with believable and intriguing characters, good prose and excellent pacing. If you are interested in historical fantasy and detective stories this may very well be your thing. Look for it on its release date, next week.           

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