The Lost Puzzler
The Tarakan Chronicles
Harper Voyager 2019
A picaresque novel about a serious boy with special powers, The Lost Puzzler takes place in an impoverished, technologically backwards world. After the fall of the advanced Tarakan Empire, the remaining population struggles to get by on what remains of their technology. Others turn to a rural existence, adhering to religious dogma which condemns all those who still seek out technology.
Children who spontaneously exhibit tattoos are linked to the fallen Tarakanian society, sought after by those who collect Tarakanian technology, and ostracized or killed by the religion rural faction.
Two boys, born years apart, both possess the markings which indicate special powers. One, Rafik, flees death in his religiously conservative village only to be passed from hand to hand, as various factions try to make use of his powers. Rafik possesses one of the most useful mutations, the ability to open the locks that guard caches of the lost Tarkanian technology. Those locks are made of intricate puzzles that can only be solved by a Puzzler, someone who has the power to arrange symbols into patterns.
The other tattooed young man, whose only mutation is the ability to see through materials, is a scribe in the society of Historians. Decades later, he is tasked with finding out what happened to Rafik, and why it changed the course of history for the worse. An elusive fighter and communications specialist, the alluring Vincha, knows most of Rafik’s story, but our scribe must find a way to convince her to talk. Unfortunately, he’s not the only one looking for Vincha.
Gabrielle Mathieu is the author of the historical fantasy Falcon series and the upcoming epic fantasy, Girl of Fire. She blogs about travel and her books at http://gabriellemathieu.com/. You can also follow her on Twitter to get updates about new podcasts and more @GabrielleAuthor.