Ancient Echoes by Robert Holdstock
Chatwin has visions of a parallel world where a couple are fleeing some terrible event pursued by an enemy and are seeking a gate to freedom. Chatwin is the gate, and when only one of the pair manages to escape, a struggle ensues between the other world and that of Chatwin.
Although this book is not part of the Mythago Cycle, there is still a link in terms of the deeper story and ideas that run through Ancient Echoes. This book follows Jack from boy to manhood, where he is haunted by visions which no one is able to explain, and Jack becomes almost a science project to his lifelong friend Angela.
The book itself is very accessible and it feels more contemporary than the books I have previously read in the Mythago Cycle as it references early computer games and other time-markers. As well as that, this book is more technologically advanced as it talks about Lucid Dreaming and Direct Computer Interpretation and what is termed the Midax Deep, which allows Jack to eventually enter his own subconscious and so enter the pre-mythology.
Jack is linked to the Bullrunners via his visions, which scope him up so that even though he is awake he is not in our world, which can cause danger to himself and other people. The Bullrunners Greenface and Greyface seem to be constantly running from something which Jack can’t understand, which is why he agrees to become a test subject of the Midax team who are studying the links between the conscious and unconscious mind and how dreams shape this.
No one knows why the Bullrunners are drawn to Jack but he makes it his mission to find out why they are invading his mind to protect his family and solve a lifelong mystery.
Robert Holdstock’s imagery is impeccable in the real world; we are described English scenery and a world of towns that are still surrounded by nature. The world feels real and rugged, with walks across moors and hills. In the hinterland which Jack enters, with the help of the Midax computers, we are told of a far more primitive world where the seasons are extreme and the wildlife dangerous.
Inside the Hinterland which is also part of Jack’s unconscious stories are played out, the world changes in years rather than months every time Jack returns even if only a few days have passed in our world. Is Jack seeing his mind’s version of facts happening in the real world or is he experiences older timeless stories which are proto-memories of ancient times?
Robert Holdstock’s greatest gift was to imbue his characters from other times and other realities with characteristics that express their motives and drive without trying to make them modern. His mythological knowledge allows the worlds he creates to feel as if that they could be proto-mythology that we know. It is similar to studying comparative mythology and twisting it to your own needs.
This Ancient Echoes book review was written by Michelle Herbert
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Ancient Echoes reader reviews
Mack from Ghana W/A
This book is realy amazing. Unfortunately I did not finish reading it before it got lost. Is one of my best rated book.
9.8/10 from 2 reviews
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