- Paperback: 592 pages
- Publisher: Orbit (7 July 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1841499374
- ISBN-13: 978-1841499376
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3.7 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,051,854 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Echo City Paperback – 7 Jul 2011
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A haunting prologue filled with death and despair . . . all the ingredients are there for a ripping fantasy yarn (The Sun The Sun)
A dark fantasy adventure from critically acclaimed and award-winning UK author Tim Lebbon.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Lebbon has created a fascinating world here- a city that is so well realised you can almost smell it; a cast of characters who you immediately relate to and an ominous menace which changes the book from being a world- building epic to a frenetic race against time.
The middle section does go on a little too long, but it more than makes up for it with a seriously thrilling climax. If you haven't read much sci-fi fantasy then I'd suggest Lebbon is a great place to start. I've often been put off fantasy works because the writer spends 500 pages describing the weather and architecture; Lebbon doesn't allow that to happen. He builds this universe brilliantly, but he never lets it take over the story.
This book reminds me of Twelve Monkeys, though I'm not sure exactly why (probably the tech and colour of the environments), but in style and tone, it's totally unique and I highly recommend it.
In this case, Echo City is a city built on its ancient past - quite literally. Beneath the streets, there's an underground city. Beneath that city are the ruins of another city. Beneath those rest the abandoned, crumbling ruins of yet another city. Beneath that... you get the picture.
The city (the top one) is also in a state of stagnation. Technological progress has crystallised into a single art: creating warped creatures known as the 'baked'. These are semi-human creatures born from vats that all fulfill discrete purposes. The telescopes, for example, are particularly horrific. Even that science has rapidly become specialised and runs the risk of being forgotten. "The Baker" is a single, isolated woman, outlawed by the ruling theocracy and hiding deep beneath the city.
Echo City is also isolated, it is completely (seemingly) alone in the world. A poisonous desert goes miles in every direction and no one knows what is on the other side (or even if there's another side). The city's status quo is brutally disrupted when a man comes stumbling in from the wasteland. Rufus, with his impossible existence and complete lack of memory, fulfills not one prophecy but thousands. The ruling priests are infuriated. The timid rebellion is galvanized. Factions of isolated, weirdly-evolved cultists crawl up and out into the light, blinking (and sharpening knives). A city that's been slowly declining for hundreds of years suddenly explodes into into violent death throes.Read more ›
What Echo City does is take Mega City One (or rather a city that feels like a fantasy version of Judge Dredds turf) and add a deeper horror element with a stranger carrying some undesired truth for the inhabitants that the totalitarian system doesn't want revealed. Its beautifully done and with Tim's talent it's a story that has a lot of scope that will keep you entertained however where the story fails for me is that it all seems to occur in a Dark City type of environment where there's nothing else out there and thus feels more than a little flat for expansion.
Yes there are area's that can be explored such as how the city came to being or you have the scope to expand into the old a city is a 1000 stories waiting to happen but there is only so much that you can do and the story really has to be character driven which if they're not that strong can fall flat fairly quickly. All in the story was entertaining but of all Tim's books there are others out there that I'd recommend before this as a prime example of his work. I'm not saying that it didn't fulfil what I wanted but rather just didn't leave me with the bumps that I've expected at a tales end and for me that's the pay off as far as Tim's concerned.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The city is populated by the decendants of those who survived some long forgotten, man-made disaster that has made all land surrounding the city a poisonous wasteland. At some points, I felt there were some favorable comparisons to Hugh Howey's Wool series. The only real "technology" that wasn't swords'n'castles was that posessed by the Baker, who was able to manipulate, blend and grow biological mutations. Some were quite imaginative, such as the rather creepy living telescopes. But the problem I had with this "technology" continued to grow as I got further and further into the book and there still was no explanation about the science.
Rather, there were numerous statements that "this may appear like magic, but its technology". But the "tech" consisted of tossing some ingredients into "large, bubbling vats", stir, add water, and presto! out pops a 15yr old clone (memories of past life intact), all inside of 24 hours. Or out pops elephant sized warrior monsters...although they may have take 36 hours. It just came down to, in my opinion, calling magic technology...picture Gandolf scoffing at the idea that he does magic and you get the idea.
But there's still interesting things going on, decent characters and such. Where the wheels really start to come off for me was the beginning of the final, mad dash..except it stretched out for over 30% of the book. It began with needing to kidnap the god-figure-head (Rufus) of a militant sect that was ready for war. Rufus sat in front of thousands of his followers, and was snatched away by 4 invisible good guys...perhaps it sounds plausible, but it was really absurd. There was even a converstation to the effect: "Shouldn't we make a plan?" "No, plans take to long". Anyway, it was at this point that the book lost any semblence of solid scify, and began its turn into YA Fantasy.
After they grabbed Rufus from under the noses of all these warriors and were running for their lives, Absurd Event #2 happens: they encounter a friendly force led by Dane that saves them. Not having read it, this may sound plausible...however, it isn't. Last we saw Dane, he was a long ways away, going looking for the Baker in the other direction, had no clue where our heros were, where they might be headed, not even any idea what they might be doing. It was completely disconnected. And yet, as if by magic, here they are to save the day. No attempt was ever made to justify this.
And these two absurd events kicked off one of the longest, most boring car chases you ever want to read. What really made it boring was that the final half of the book was so predictable...no twists at all. I found that by the end, the only reason I was still reading was because I was curious as to what would occur once they fled accross the desert to the "Heart and Mind" land. And the joke was on me, because as they all finally were passing out thinking they'd failed, the final sentence of the book is "The Heart and Mind sees you, and you are welcome." bleh
Echo City is an incredible setting where layer upon layer of the city has been built upon each other in the only area of land that seems to support life. The City plays host to a series of fascinating characters, not the least of which is the latest in the long-line of Bakers who tamper with nature to create creatures caught between life and functionality as machines. Each character has a rich tapestried background and they draw you into the story. As layers of the City are revealed, so too are its secrets and it draws the reader deeper and deeper.
I did find my interest flagged momentarily in the centre of the book, but for most of it, I found it emotionally gripping. The plot is clever and satisfying - definitely worth a read.
Buy the book! Tim Lebon is a fantastic author.