Ever since reading Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court as a kid, I have appreciated the many time travel or “fish out of water” types of stories over the years. There’s something to be said for taking a character well established in a more modern world and thrusting them into a strange new one. It seems to help us, as modern readers, identify with the protagonist a bit more easily.
So when I heard Ecko Rising by debut author Danie Ware described as The Matrix meets Game of Thrones, my interest was piqued. Though as I got past the first few chapters describing a futuristic, dystopian cyberpunk world along the lines of a story from William Gibson (Neuromancer), I wasn’t sure what to think. Ecko was certainly an irreverent, wise-cracking anti-hero, but when would the fantasy world I was expecting kick in?
Well, when it kicked in, my interest was more than piqued. Like Ecko, I was sucked into a brand new world trying to get my bearings. Where were we? What was going on? And how did Ecko really get there? After a while I tore through page after page like a madman, dashing through a world on the edge of a sea of change with Ecko and a crazy teleporting tavern. And Ecko was somehow at the center of it all, though many other heroes and villains would rise and fall along the way.
When I was done with the book, I wanted more. So I have to say that Ware has done a great job of whetting my appetite for this new world of hers and I am ready to dive into Ecko Burning, the next book in the series, whenever it becomes available. Like any great author she got me caring about these characters and worlds and wondering what the heck is going on.
Will we find out? Only time will tell.
And I can’t go without mentioning Ware’s writing style, which offers plenty of visual, emotive description with sentences like “Roderick saw Rhan’s expression congeal, saw the figment of dread and dismay as it gathered under his skin.” There is also some great social commentary woven into the narrative. At one point, a character is talking to another about a cycle of dependence you can’t help but resent after a time: “The whiners, the needers, the hypochondriacs, the neurotics, the weak-willed and the desperate. ‘I’m depressed, I’m lonely, I’m fat, I’ve got to stop smoking – but I’m too bloody feeble to do it myself.’ They don’t try, they don’t learn. They wallow in self-pity. They come to you so you’ll take it away – but they don’t really want to give it up…” This is a sentiment heard throughout the media in our own world today just as much as it applies to the one Ecko finds himself in.
So if you’re looking for some great genre-bending reading, I can’t recommend Ecko Rising by Danie Ware enough. It seamlessly blends traditional cyberpunk story elements with elements of fantasy and leaves you wanting more!