Ecko Rising, by Danie Ware, Titan RRP£7.99, 520 pages
Ecko Rising starts out as a raucous cyberpunk adventure set in a future where everyone leads a happy, docile life in thrall to sedatives peddled by a global pharmaceutical conglomerate. Ecko is a cybernetically enhanced rebel, bent on smashing this corporatised dystopia with the aid of his powers of stealth and speed.
Then, 50 pages in, Danie Ware’s debut makes a startling left turn, plunging Ecko into a sword-and-sorcery world in which centaurs roam and a tavern can magically teleport itself across the land. Once his (and the reader’s) head has settled, it becomes clear that there’s another just cause to back and a new, no less evil, form of tyranny to fight.
It’s like The Matrix meets Game of Thrones, and it’s immense fun. Especially entertaining is the clash between Ecko’s abrasive persona and the fantasy archetypes he finds himself surrounded by, in a novel that reads like the work of a seasoned professional but boasts a first-timer’s vigour and devil-may-care attitude.