Jason's Reviews > Echo City

Echo City by Tim Lebbon
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's review
May 31, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: e-books, read-2012

5 Stars

Wow, 2012 is the year that I really found the awesome writing and worlds created by Tim Lebbon. Echo City will stay with me for a long time. I am having a really hard time comprehending how Lebbon does not have a huge following and his works are not rated as high as I believe they should be. If you have not read him before, I will state a disclaimer that he manages to mix all my favorite genres into his writings which make me a biased reviewer. Echo City is a true dark fantasy with a touch of horror in it too (like all his works are). It is also a science fiction novel with a touch of the new weird in it as well. Religion, Gods, and the beliefs of what it means to be a man are pervasive throughout this macabre tale. His books are thought provoking and will stir your imagination. I like that many compare this book to Mieville’s PSS, but their writing styles are unique to themselves and are great for different reasons.

Like his other books this is a book that is rich and dense with atmosphere. Echo City itself is an amazing piece of imagination and fiction and can stand on its own along with other fictional greats like New Crobuzon, and Ambergis. Echo City is a city that is both literally and figuratively built upon its past and upon its history. The Echoes are under the city, walking the city, and filling every nook and cranny. It is a place surrounded by an endless, deadly desert, and is an island that may be the whole world. Phantoms are a present reminder of the past.

“”The Echoes are … nebulous. The deeper you go, the older the Echo, the more uncertain the geography becomes.”
“But they’re just levels.” Gorham was becoming frustrated and a little angry, and he supposed it was due to fear.
“Just levels? Gorham, the past is a living place. The deeper you go, the further into history you travel. The city doesn’t deal with history. It builds over its past, encloses it, shuts it off, and while tradition might persist, the real histories are soon forgotten. It’s the present that matters to Echo City, while the past echoes below it, in some cases still alive. If you read the history books, one will contradict another, particularly as you go further back. So why should the Echoes be any different?””

The city itself is crafted so deeply that it is itself another of the many points of view that Lebbon gives to us the reader. I was taken away and brought down under the streets of Echo City as the story was being told. I felt like I was there, that I bared witness to the events, and that I walked among the echoes along with our protagonists. The feel reminded me of a cross between Mieville’s New Crobuzon and set in the world of The Descent by Jeff Long.

The opening chapter of this novel is among the very best of any book that I have ever read. It is an amazing journey and it provides us with a taste as to what the novel is and what it will bring. The creatures as hideous as they are, are also filled with hope and determination and in this book that is a real treat…Awesome stuff!

Lebbon writes books like this as dark fantasy novel for adults. They are bloody, graphic, serious, and filled with depth and character. Echo City is filled with a great cast of colorful protagonists, chopped people, and scary beasts. Religion plays a major role as does faith and prophecy. The characters made this book work and made Echo City remember able. The “chopped-ones”, made by The Baker are similar in scope and science to the Remade freaks of Mievilles. There are Humans with extra appendages, blades for hands, and armor for skin. Freakish chopped-ones that fulfill specific roles that will scare you, make you feel dirty, and leave you in awe and wonder. Nophel, one of the main POV’s was a chopped-one himself, being that he is the true son of “The Baker”.

“Nophel lowered his hood and smiled at his image. The single pale eye, his other eye a blood-red ruin. The dark skin split and bubbled with fungal growths; they would need pricking and bathing again later. His teeth were good, bright and even, and that made his smile the most monstrous aspect of all.”

The writing style of Lebbon is unique in today’s market. I have really come to love and appreciate his meticulous building of tension and suspense, and the slow build he crafts. To some this will come off as too slow and too long, but to me it is what makes him special and makes Echo City so worth a read. His prose is as dark and well-crafted as the landscapes that he portrays. His action scenes are equal to the task.

“They know this is death, he thought, but they keep fighting. I’m fighting for Echo City, but they’re fighting for me. Forme! He screamed and ran forward, reversing the direction of their retreat and engaging three Dragarians. These were regulars—unchopped but still trained for war—and they came at him with swords and knives, throwing stars and weighted wires that would take his head from his shoulders. He ducked and stabbed, kicked and bit, slashed and thrust. Something struck his shoulder and pain flared, but his scream was one of fury. Wetness splashed across his throat and chest, and he was unsure whether it was his. A sword jabbed at him and he fell back, straight onto another. It pierced his hip and he turned, kneeling, twisting the knife from the owner’s hand, smashing his head forward, and feeling cartilage crunch beneath his forehead. The man stepped back, holding his nose, eyes watering as he looked in comical surprise at the blood pooling in his hand. Dane jabbed, and his sword’s tip entered the man’s left eye, wide blade jamming in his skull.”

I want to gush on and on about this book and about Lebbon. I will summarize this by saying that those of you who are tired of books tailored to the young adult crowd might find this there cup of tea. He writes exceptionally thought provoking dark fantasy that really is not for the faint of heart. This book as well as his other works will sit with you long after you are finished with them. I am a huge Tim Lebbon fan and cannot recommend him highly enough.
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