In this sci-fi/fantasy mash-up debut, author Danie Ware sets the stage for a potentially enthralling trilogy. Ecko Rising starts us off in a dystopian London where we soon meet our very different – and very angry – “protagonist” Ecko. (The “G” is silent, we are reminded a few times.) He is a testament to the technological advances of this possible future: Body modded nearly beyond recognition, he is a mercenary for hire to anyone with enough money, or enough power. On one fateful night (as many stores seem to begin), his escape from certain doom (which involves throwing himself off a building) lands him somewhere completely foreign, where metal doesn’t even seem to exist – but magic apparently does. Waking up in a mystical, roving tavern (aptly named “The Wanderer”) Ecko must figure out if this is real, or if it’s a program he’s plugged into that’s been designed to “fix” his personality “flaws.”
Ecko Rising is an interesting read. To be honest, it’s probably 90% fantasy, and some very tongue-in-cheek fantasy at that. Starting your quest to save the world in a tavern? I’m sure no D&D game has ever started that way. With nods to all sorts of geekery, Ware knows her stuff when it comes to both genres. The worlds are detailed, the tech/magic is pretty nifty, and the characters have personality. Ecko, of course, is a hoot and a half. Vulgar, impatient, angry, petulant, and amazingly, sarcastically amusing, he’s a character you haven’t seen much these days.
With all that said, though, it’s a bit hard to get really drawn in. I could leave it sitting for days at a time, when usually I’ll stay up all night just to finish a good book. It really seemed like too much, too quickly. Starting off in the sci-fi dystopia and then so very quickly moving to the fantasy land threw me for a bit of a loop. I would have preferred either a bit more time to get comfortable before being thrown around like that, or just jumping right in to the fray. And maybe I missed something, but I’ve still got a few questions about things, and not things that, seemingly, were meant to be questioned. Even after we move to the fantasy world, we tend to jump around a lot, following multiple characters/groups. Hard to get a handle on everything, with so much happening. The timing seems off as well, with multiple time-frame jumps in one scene, back and forth and back and forth, where it would have made a lot more sense to write out the first part of the scene, and then the part that takes place 10 minutes later. I understand the difficulty with exposition and with fleshing out characters, but it could have really used some work here.
I’m hoping that the next two books even out a bit, and that the story (and characters) shine, but it might take some perseverance to really power through the rough spots.
For the flaws in pacing and getting me hooked, for the uncomfortable scene/time shifts, but also for the really interesting take on the genre mash-up (and because of Ecko’s dirty mouth), I give Ecko Rising…