Ecko’s a bit of a handful. Drop a savage, cynical CyberPunk character in the middle of fantasy world and tell him he has to ‘save it’… it’s not going to go down well. He’s sarcastic, rebellious and foul-mouthed – and frankly, he’d much rather be setting fire to things than riding around in nice’n’shiny armour.
But that kind of intensity is exhausting. And that much attitude is going to be hiding something. Whether it’s damage, abuse or vulnerability, there’s a need below the surface that needs to be explored.
Characters change during the course of a narrative, of course they do. Part of the story is manifesting those changes, how they’re reflected in the characters’ relationships, and in their acceptance of the world or circumstances around them. A reluctant hero is that much more challenging – over the course of the story they must learn to let down their barriers, trust the people around them, love something enough to care about saving it. Ecko’s changes weren’t something that the books’ readership prompted; they were going to happen from the start.
And, around him, all of the major characters follow their own paths. Be it program or reality, they must all change and be changed by the epic events that unfold – they must be believable. Amethea’s relationship with her faith, Jayr’s strength and compassion, Rhan’s ego and Roderick’s idealism – all of them must all be tempered before they can win the day.
Perhaps the most poignant – the one that I was closest to and that affected me the most strongly – was Triqueta. As she travelled through her age and loss and the responsibilities increasingly heaped on her shoulders, so she became more and more a wistfulness for my own lost twenties, for days of gaming, and sword-fighting, and being able to drink without suffering an eternity of hell in the morning… getting old is a subtle monster, but an equally terrible one.
More than anything, Ecko changes were a part of his ‘program’, enabling him to face the End-of-Level Nasty that awaits him at the pinnacle (or is it the pit). When he finally stands there, at the close of the game, he needs a complete comprehension of both realities, and of why he was the Boy from the Prophecy, the person chosen to face The Big Bad.
I’d like to think that the ending is suitable spectacular.
I hope you’ll agree with me.
Ecko Endgame is available now from Titan.