Friday, 7 March 2014

Anna Belfrage reviews Deep Echoes

Deep Echoes by Sean Wallace

Writing fantasy requires of the author to create a world unto itself, preferably complete with annals, geographical features and some sort of underlying threat. In Deep Echoes, the world is Geos, populated by a people who date their years A.C. (After Cleansing), who worship the sun in the guise of Sol, and whose premier armed forces are the Contegons, Geos’ equivalent to the legendary Amazons. Lurking in the background is Babbage, an ancient Artificial Intelligence that wants nothing so more as to wipe out this society built on the cult of the sun.

Even further in the shadows is Brya, evil incarnate, and she seems to be the one guiding Babbage. Fortunately, the people of Geos have an impressive protector in Nephilim – even if they don’t even know he exists. The author has thereby set the stage for an interesting conflict between good and evil, in this case represented by men versus the machines.

To me, Geos is some sort of futuristic version of our own Earth, but in a day and age where man had reverted to a substantially simpler form of life, having once and for all squashed machines – and especially intelligent machines, such as computers. Unfortunately, Babbage and company keep on churning out so-called Disciples, fighting robots that constantly threaten Geos, thereby creating a never-ending need for new warriors, such as the elite Contegons.

To become a Contegon, young girls are put through years of tough training, not only physically but also mentally and spiritually. Belief in Sol is paramount; to question His existence is to dabble in heresy, and when one young girl, Maya, finds an ancient astronomy book, reducing Sol to nothing more than a combination of hot gases, this leads to Maya being brutally “disciplined” as her elders try to beat the heresy out of her. It doesn’t work all that well, and on the eve of her inauguration as a Contegon, Maya decides to escape, leaving behind her distraught and betrayed best friend, Chain. As a consequence, Maya is now labelled The Heretic, and is hunted throughout the country.

What follows is a nice combination of a coming-of-age story and a War of the Worlds scenario. Maya stumbles upon Nephilim by chance, and this godlike creature (most apt, given his name) sees in the girl the powers required to save Geos from Brya and Babbage. So he trains her, bestowing upon her the gift of the Cyrus Force, which is a greenish, fiery power that easily blasts a Disciple or two to pieces.
Meanwhile, Babbage has installed new, intelligent software in the latest generations of Disciples, and fifty-four of these gigantic robots now threaten to eradicate Geos' present civilisation. Men and women fight, men and women die, and as the Robots encircle Aureu, Geos' capital, a sensation of impending doom settles on the inhabitants: they know they are to die, but they will die bravely.

Eventually, Maya must shoulder a role in defending a society that has turned its back on her. In the process, she will come face to face with Chain again and reconcile herself as being thought of as Sol’s acolyte, despite not believing in Sol. Several opportunities for tension and inner conflict thereby arise.
While Maya is beyond any doubt the protagonist of the story – a tough young woman who sets herself very high standards – it is Nephilim that tweaks my interest. A creature (is he a man? An angel?) of great powers, he also carries a burden of guilt, and one gets the impression he is presently doing penance for things that happened in a very distant past. Most intriguing… And then there is Babbage, the Artificial Intelligence, who struggles with the entire spectrum of human emotions – all due to his programming. Mr Wallace has done a good job of presenting Babbage as potentially good (if evil), and even more so in describing how Babbage’s intellectual control over “himself” unravels as quickly as his plans do.

Personally, I would have liked some more backstory: who is Nephilim, and why is he so committed to fighting against Brya and Babbage? What happened at the Cleansing? Why has the Sol civilisation reverted to a bow and arrows approach to fighting, especially when confronted with Disciples that fire bullets at them? Likewise, with the exception of Maya and Nephilim, the characters could have done with some more fleshing out. At times, their behaviour is incomprehensible, and there are situations where the characters leap-frog to conclusions without really bringing the reader along in the thought process, the situation further confused by the numerous point of view slips.

The author has a fondness for adjectives and adverbs, and now and then this results in an overburdened text, especially apparent in some of the descriptive passages. The action scenes are substantially tighter, and the passages where the Disciples whack their way through the Western Front, thereby commencing their invasion of Geos’ heartland, were very good.

In conclusion, this is an entertaining read, quite difficult to put down once you’ve gotten into the story. The epilogue hints at a sequel – evil is never quite banished, is it? I sure hope the sequel has Nephilim in it!

About the author:
Sean Wallace is an author and a gamer who leads such a full life he barely manages to squeeze in his required hours of sleep. He also has an interesting blog,, covering a variety of subjects.

Deep Echoes is available on Amazon US and  on Amazon UK.


Anna Belfrage is the author of five published books, all part of The Graham Saga. Set in the 17th century, the books tell the story of Matthew Graham and his time-travelling wife, Alex Lind. Anna can be found on amazon, twitter, facebook and on her website. If you would like Anna to review your book, please see our submissions tab above.


  1. Interesting even though fantasy is not my usual interest. Great review too.

  2. Anne's insightful review of Deep Echoes has demonstrated to me that, despite this not being my preferred genre, I may well enjoy it. Her review reminds me of a TV series of the 80s called "Logan's Run". Not exactly the same, but a similar scenario.

  3. An interesting and thorough review. I love fantasy and will certainly add this to my TBR list. As well as Logan's Run it reminds me of The Tripods TV series (based on the books by John Christopher) whereby civilisation reverts to an agrarian level. I love the idea of the ancient AI being called Babbage.