By Danie Ware
Ecko Rising is the début novel from Danie Ware, publicist and events organiser for that famous retailer Forbidden Planet. You've got to admire her ambition, not content to just write her first novel within a standard science fiction or fantasy setting, with Ecko Rising she attempt's that which often even established authors don't get right - blending science fiction with fantasy.
The way that this is carried out is ingenious, our anti-hero of the tale a savage, post-human assassin who finds himself immersed within a fantasy world of his own creation, fighting to conquer his deepest fears and save this imaginary world (and perhaps his humanity at the same time). It's a brilliant idea that is executed well and helps to create something quite special. Having this fantasy reality in side the protagonists head also allows much more freedom without affecting the sense of belief.
There is no doubt that this book has got smarts; the fantasy is reassuringly fantastic, set within the obligatory medieval style world that is subtly different to any I've experienced before. The scifi is equally impressive; a post-human society with lots of future tech and featuring the cybernetically altered anti-hero Ecko. I loved the authors use of future tech here, it manages to capture a 21st century version of post-cyberpunk (post-post-cyberpunk?) that has enough grounding in existing technology and ideas to seem quite feasible and yet futuristic at the same time.
The character of Ecko really steals the show - he's got a brilliant blend of cynicism and malevolence, a pugnaciousness that extrudes a lack of care about the world and the people in it. It's this anti-hero nature that really captures the essence of the story, a story presenting a mordant mood that is liberally scattered with a dark, sarcastic humour.
Ecko Rising is very much an adult novel, the sex and violence which is liberally scattered through the novel is uncompromising and yet never becomes gratuitous or out of place. The story itself is engaging and totally unique, a plot that pushes the boundaries not for the sake of it but clearly to offer something different, something that hasn't been done in quite the same way before and this is all drawn together by the authors distinct, unique voice that projects a richly acerbic note mixing with an occasionally witty narrative. The action scenes are visually acute and wouldn't feel out of place in a blockbuster movie, the author clearly has a flair for the dramatic and a gift for descriptive prose.
Onto this stage are placed the larger than life characters, an interesting collection of misfits who add a splash of colour to this otherwise dark novel. The pace is set pretty well, not too fast to cause a rush through the story and not to slow to cause the interest to fade although there are a couple of slow points in the first half of the book. That said there is so much going on, so much to see that this occasional stall warrants only passing comment and in now way spoils the enjoyment of the book. One thing that really strikes the reader about the book is the attention to detail, the thought that has gone into each and every word - the care and attention are clear. This imbibes the novel with a fantastic air, a feeling that the reader is an important part of the journey and not just along for the ride.
Ecko Rising is surprising, in many ways I wouldn't have thought that a novel like this would work and there are the very odd occasion when I start to think that it won't, but then the plot moves on, the author ties the lines together and you begin to feel guilty for ever having doubts over the authors talent. It's an incredible début, a novel that really does offer something very different from anything else you will read this year.
We've been lucky enough to be granted an interview with the author Danie Ware, which you can read
Written on 14th September 2012 by Ant .