Thanks to Danie, and Sophie at Titan Books, I received a copy of Ecko Rising, and as debuts go… Well, here are my thoughts.
Ecko Rising is a kickass debut, which doesn’t read like a debut at all. There’s a level of self-assurance in this book that most authors or storytellers achieve well into their careers, that kind of favourite=chair comfort with their writing that is practically invisible but so incredibly important to the reader’s experience. Most of the debuts I’ve read are hesitant and conforming, like a child stepping onto the playground of a new school, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all, don’t understand me wrong – it’s just that much more of an eye-opener when an author’s first published novel disregards the expectations that cling to the word and idea, ‘Debut’, and that’s exactly what I feel that Danie Ware did.
First off, and most importantly, the characters were engaging – Danie actually takes a risk by opening the book with someone who isn’t the main protagonist of the tale, giving us a glimpse of a guy who is hard, uncompromising and almost totally against authority. Ecko himself was great – obviously a SFF fan 🙂 Ecko’s cynicism, sarcasm and wit made him a character that I could identify with and cheer for – he was like one of those almost-lost case examples that has so much talent and promise that you can’t help feeling for the guy. There are plenty of other characters that you’ll meet in this novel – Triqueta (one of my favourites), Rhan, Roderick (a bit of a whiner in the beginning but swiftly grew on me), Maugrim (a mystery that I really hope will be explained!), and a host of others spread across the two worlds that the novel takes place in.
This is another aspect of the novel that -contrary to what I was expecting- totally worked; the future-London in Ecko Rising is a place that I really hope will be explored more in the next novel – there’s so much potential there! And the world in which Ecko finds himself was really, really cool – sure, there were only glimpses of places, but the cultures (such as the Banned) and the world’s history (tied into grass, if you can believe that, and it works!), the interesting and enigmatic mystery of The Wanderer, the ‘magic’ – all combined to show me a world that I wouldn’t at all mind being submersed in, reading wise. Even though there were glimpses of some places those glimpses still made me curious.
One of the things that Danie did incredibly well was creating two separate worlds that worked extremely well as representations of the genres they were exploring – the London we get a glimpse of is dystopian, dreary, controlled and scary (in what’s implied about the place), while the world Ecko finds himself thrust into had a sense of freedom and openess to it, beauty everywhere, but with glaring differences that heightened my descent, as it it were. This world is definitely one that I’ll remember!
Going back to Danie’s non-conforming, she goes all out is Ecko Rising – the violence is hectic in places, beautiful in others; the constant comparisons between Ecko’s world and the one he finds himself in serve to show what’s awesome and incredible about both worlds, as well as the darker aspsects, the underbelly, if you will. But it’s also incredibly funny to witness Ecko’s reactions and to hear his thoughts – he’s utterly lost, out of his depth, and because of what he’s been through this makes him a loose cannon, someone that can’t be controlled or predicted. He’s the kind of character that kept me on the edge of my seat, constantly wondering and guessing – and hoping that Ecko Rising wasn’t another re-tread of the Thomas Covenant tales.
Which is isn’t, at all. I haven’t even finished the first Covenant novel (I just can’t – it’s too dreary, too too, if you get what I mean) and I’m so glad that Ecko Rising wasn’t a Covenant all over again. 🙂
All in all, Ecko Rising is an incredible, confident debut, with an ending that’ll surprise everyone – it’s daring and brilliant, and I’m definitely looking forward to the next book in the trilogy. 🙂
9 / 10
To order your copies, click here for Amazon UK and here for Amazon US; the book will be available in the UK on the 28th, but if you want your copies today then you better head over to Forbidden Planet tonight – you can meet Danie, get your copy of Ecko Rising, and get it signed! 🙂 The book will be released in the US on the 11th of June, so pre-order your copies now. 🙂 And don’t forget to check out Danie’s website, and Ecko Rising’s booktrailer. 🙂
Until next time,