Echo Cycle – Patrick Edwards (Titan Books)

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Wearing Jean Baptiste Karr’s most widely known, and quoted, epigram on its cover as a well-worn, and hard won, badge of honour, Patrick Edwards’ sophomore novel is an astonishing exploration of Europe and the UK’s possible social, political and economic future and a rip roaring, dystopian thriller that cleverly balances somewhere between pot-boiling science fiction and historical adventure.  

Unfolding in two vastly different, but also uncomfortably similar, epochs, Echo Cycle tells the story of a pair of childhood friends separated by two millennia who are reunited at a crucial period of a crumbling, and rapidly fading, Britain and a prosperous and flourishing united Europe’s joint history.  Their experiences,  the disparate ways in which their lives have unfolded,  the strange allegiances they have forged and mistakes that they made force them to take centre stage in Edward’s taught, furiously dramatic and intoxicating conspiracy fuelled mystery in which the battle lines between allies and enemies are continually blurred and constantly rearranged.

A high velocity combination of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Spartacus, 1984 and Robert Ludlum’s Bourne novels, Echo Cycle thrives thanks to the author’s seemingly colossal and boundless knowledge of the Roman Empire, incredibly vivid imagination, impeccable characterisation and engaging prose that draws inspiration from Wodehouse, and in doing so adds near immeasurable depth to the books main players and their frightening reality, Herbert, Heinlein and Clarke in equal measure. Breathtakingly inventive, hideously compulsive and absolutely terrifying, Echo Cycle is a formidable vision of a past built on the corpses of forgotten millions and an all too realistic and unnerving near future.  Praeclare commendatae… Tim Cundle

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