Ecko Rising by Danie Ware

Ecko Rising US

Title: Ecko Rising
Author: Danie Ware
Release Date: June 2013 (USA)
Publisher: Titan Books
Source: Titan Books
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Fantasy

Rating: ★★★★☆
Review Spoilers: Low

As someone raised on fantasy and sci-fi entertainment, my expectations are high for a novel described as a “Matrix/Game of Thrones hybrid.” Ecko Rising is, to put simply, an outstanding work of fiction. Danie Ware breaks past the limits of fantasy and sci-fi genres, sending readers into a bold journey through foreign, new worlds.

Ecko Rising opens up in high-tech London, presumably somewhere in the distant future. High-and-mighty corporate leaders are running the city, and, naturally, rebels are preparing an attack from the outskirts. While this often-used storyline might make you roll your eyes, take comfort that you’re familiar with a small piece of the book’s plot. Get ready—this hefty page-turner will take you into more storyline complexities than you can count.

Ecko, our protagonist, is a spunky, daring, and (irritatingly) blunt cyber-enhanced assassin. He’s flat out irritating, acting as if he is the cleverest and most equipped for every job. Due to this, you can imagine, I felt disconnected from Ecko in the first couple chapters. It was his intriguing characteristics, both in wit and physical appearance, that kept me reading on. Not to worry, this disconnect from our cynical hero doesn’t last long. Once he’s booted out of futuristic London and into medieval-style Roviarath, he has just as many questions as the reader. Check out what the author says on Ecko:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFHXZ7y_6Cc]

If there were ever limits to sci-fi, Ware breaks them down in Ecko Rising. As I’ve said before, its genre-defying. Not a page goes by without thrilling action sequences and breathtaking images. Also, Ware’s character development and dialog carry the book well. There are many dialects represented, and to make these rough characters really come to life, there is no shortage of swear words (both in English and alien languages).

My biggest, and possibly only, negative critique of this novel is the way the female characters are presented and treated. Yes, there are powerful, strong women in Ecko Rising. No doubt about that. But as any feminist will tell you, strong female leads don’t excuse writers from criticism for sexualizing and weakening other female characters. Ware is an accomplished woman with an impressive career history, so I figured I had opened up a “feminist friendly” read. And yet, situations of sexism continued to surprise me and drove me a little mad, including instances of rape and beautiful women who can’t seem to put clothes on.

As many other critics and reviewers have made clear, Ecko Rising has a slew of similarities to successful books, movies, TV shows, and games in the sci-fi/fantasy world. While reading, Game of Thrones stuck out as an obvious comparison. While Ecko is the main character, Ware bounces around to different plots throughout the novel’s five hundred pages, throwing in new characters at every turn. Not to mention that the chaotic fantasy world feels very similar to Westeros.

Oddly enough, the underrated 2002 Disney film Treasure Planet came to mind, as well. Like in the pleasantly strange Disney movie, Ware’s abnormal characters are refreshing in both appearance and personality.

Overall, Ecko Rising is worth the read. Anyone who’s into sci-fi or fantasy won’t be able to put this book down. I’ll definitely be picking up the next installment to the series, Ecko Burning, which Titan Books promises is coming soon.