Gladiator meets 1984 in this near-future thriller featuring timeslips, ancient magic and a disturbingly plausible dystopian Britain…
Fleeing disaster, young Winston Monk wakes to find himself trapped in the past, imprisoned by the mad Emperor Nero. The Roman civilization he idolized is anything but civilized, and his escape from a barbaric home has led him somewhere far more dangerous.
As the European Union crumbled, Britain closed its borders, believing they were stronger alone. After decades of hardship, British envoy Lindon Banks joins a diplomatic team to rebuild bridges with the hypermodern European Confederacy. But in Rome, Banks discovers his childhood friend who disappeared without a trace. Monk appears to have spent the last two decades living rough, but he tells a different story: a tale of Caesars, slavery and something altogether more sinister.
Monk’s mysterious emergence sparks the tinderbox of diplomatic relations between Britain and the Confederacy, controlled by shadowy players with links back to the ancient world itself…
Author: Patrick Edwards
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date 10/03/2020
Page Count: 336
My Chosen Format: Paperback
My Rating for ‘Echo Cycle’: 5 out of 5
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The blurb for Echo Cycle hooked me before I’d even finished reading it. I am a huge fan of ancient history so the thought of a time slip sending someone back to ancient Rome immediately made me want it. The looking ahead to a post-Brexit hell of Britain also had me curious.
I’ll start out by saying that, at first, I thought I was going to hate the character of Winston Monk. In the first chapter or so he comes off as the sort of guy that, were he to be given the winning numbers of a lottery ticket he’d still complain and curse the world for hating him. As the novel goes on, however, you find yourself warming to him very quickly as he grows from a young boy filled with angst into a man who has allowed the wonder of ancient Rome and the life and love he finds for himself there work its way into his heart.
There is the occasional slow point but, the writing is done in such a way that it keeps it interesting regardless. This could just be my way of seeing it as I am quite biased towards the first person view. I just find it far more interesting than third person. The character work helps keep the pace up as well. Just as Winston grows and changes as the novel passes, so to do the others that inhabit the pages along side him. Some of the lesser characters get more treatment than I am used to and I found this a nice touch and just kept me turning those pages.
I also initially thought the parts set in the future were going to be a boring political affair. They were anything but. I soon found myself struggling to decide whether I enjoyed ancient Rome or futuristic Rome better. Each chapter was just so good that I both hated to see them end but was also thrilled so I could get onto Rome in another time period and from a different point of view.
This novel ticks two genres I was hoping to read more of in historical fiction and thrillers. The cross-over is very well done and left me wanting more when the final page had been turned. The mixture of the two gave it a strange, yet refreshing feel in that it didn’t feel overly heavy in either genre.
This is just my assumption, but I feel this is a standalone novel and, if that’s correct, it’s a sterling example of how authors can write an amazing story without needing ten tomes in which to tell it … admittedly he did need 2000 years, but that’s neither here nor there.
Echo Cycle is quite easily one of the best books I have read in recent memory and I only wish it were possible for me to somehow forget it existed so I could go back and experience it for the first time. I don’t say that about a great many books, but this one was, quite simply put, a feast for hungry eyes.
I’m often not one who enjoys romance. In fact, I’d go as far to say if your novel contains a lot of romance, a romance in which the plot relies upon heavily, I’ll probably hate it way more than it deserves. Sorry, I’m just a heathen that doesn’t like too much romance in the books he reads. That being said, this does have romance and it was done in such a way that both made it a HUGE part of the book whilst also making it feel like it was not done in a way that was overly in your face. It felt natural rather than just thrown at you.
In the year 2070 CE, Post-Brexit Britain is quite the intolerable place. Homosexuality is frowned upon with extreme prejudice and we are back to the whole ‘if you’re not from Britain can you really be classed as a thinking being of intelligence?’ sort of stand point. But then I suppose it wouldn’t be a Dystopian future if it were all kittens and rainbows. The novel is equal parts showing what could happen with an extreme closure of borders and the lengths people will go to in order to strive to get what they want, even if their love interests might get them charged with a felony or where they wish to live may see them branded as a traitor.
All in all, this novel has everything that makes it both enjoyable and deeply touching.
And it’s a pretty damn bad ass story (I kind of went soppy there for a moment. Had to revert).
The too long, didn’t read of this would be … buy the book. It’s pretty damn cool. You’ll love it.