Heroes Die



➜ [KINDLE] ❆ Heroes Die By Matthew Woodring Stover ➦ – E17streets4all.co.uk В Отвъдие – свят на магия, героични сражения и приказни същества – той е известен като Каин, Острието на Тиша В Отвъдие – свят на магия, героични сражения и приказни същества – той е известен като Каин, Острието на Тишал, страховит убиец на владетели и благородници, злодеи и герои Той е безмилостен и неуловим, просто найдобрият в занаятаВ родния си свят – Земята от нашето бъдещеКаин е Хари Майкълсън, суперзвезда, чиито приключения в Отвъдие съпреживяват милиони зрители, свързани с него чрез виртуален интерфейсАла извън помещенията на Студията – корпорацията, която продава приключенията му по света – той е никой; намира се някъде по средата в йерархията на едно жестоко кастово общество и често му се налага да се опитва да забрави, че в един далечен свят избива хора за забавление на богатите лентяи от собствената си планетаНо сега нещата са стигнали твърде далеч Отчуждената му съпруга, Палас Рил, е изчезнала загадъчно сред копторите на престолния град Анхана И за да я спаси, Каин трябва да се изправи срещу найголямото предизвикателство в живота си: смъртоносна игра на котка и мишка с найковарните властелини на двата святаКъм моите български читатели:Държите в ръцете си причината, поради която станах писател Тази книга е звездата, около която гравитира моята кариера Всичко останало, което трябва да знаете, ще го намерите вътре.Heroes Die

Matthew Woodring Stover is an American fantasy and science fiction author He is perhaps best known for his Star Wars novels Traitor, Shatterpoint, Revenge of the Sith and Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor He has also published several pieces of original work, such as Heroes Die, which Stover described as 'a piece of violent entertainment that is a meditation on violent entertainment'.

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    If you re looking for a CBR and CBZ reader на богатите лентяи от собствената си планетаНо сега нещата са стигнали твърде далеч Отчуждената му съпруга, Палас Рил, е изчезнала загадъчно сред копторите на престолния град Анхана И за да я спаси, Каин трябва да се изправи срещу найголямото предизвикателство в живота си: смъртоносна игра на котка и мишка с найковарните властелини на двата святаКъм моите български читатели:Държите в ръцете си причината, поради която станах писател Тази книга е звездата, около която гравитира моята кариера Всичко останало, което трябва да знаете, ще го намерите вътре."/>
  • Paperback
  • 576 pages
  • Heroes Die
  • Matthew Woodring Stover
  • Bulgarian
  • 06 November 2018

10 thoughts on “Heroes Die

  1. says:

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    Okay, let me get the following BOLD STATEMENT out of the way. If I absolutely HAD to choose my single favorite BADASS “action” protagonist of all time HARI MICHELSON (AKA CAINE) would get the nod.
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    Now I have read many books with main characters who “went to 11” on the 10 level kick-ass meter
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    so picking a favorite or comparing one to the other is very hard to do. However, overall, taking all aspects of nut stomping, bone-breaking, dialogue-delivering (very important), head-splitting, “you done fucked with wrong person today” awesomeness, CAINE would get the win. He is the quintessential KICKASSER!!! Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

    ******** BRIEF INTERLUDE FOR CLARIFICATION********
    I need to pause for a moment in my homage to Caine to make the following point clear. While Hari Michelson/Caine WOULD certainly be high up on my list of all time favorite literary characters, his spot at the top if this list is based only on the vastness of “badass” that he possesses. Thus favorite characters of mine like Locke Lamora (aka The Gentlemen Bastard), Tyrion Lannister and Glotka (from Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy), as awesome as they are wouldn’t get out of the first round in the T.A.C. (Tournament of Badass Champions.)
    ********END BRIEF INTERLUDE********

    Anyway, just for comparison's sake (and so you know I have thought this through) here are a few of my favorite characters that Caine was reluctantly required to bitch-slap on his way to the title of HIS ROYAL BADNESS AND MOST MAIN MAN:

    1. Roland Deschain……and I cry your pardon, Gunslinger.
    2. John Clark aka Mr. Clark (Tom Clancy novels)
    3. Lancelot (Fionavar Tapestry by Kay)……maybe the heroest hero of them all.
    4. Helikoan (aka Aeneas from Gemmell’s Troy series)
    5. Parker (Richard Stark novels)
    6. Takeshi Kovacs (Richard Morgan novels)
    7. Emile Khadaji (“The Man Who Never Missed”)
    8. Kane
    9. Druss the Legend
    10. Conan

    ...WAIT...HOLD UP...Holy literary faux pas Batman...I almost forgot...
    11. Logan Ninefingers (from Abercrombie's First Law Trilogy)....sorry Bloody Nine

    ***All of you guys are awesome, but unfortunately somebody had to win***

    So let me tell you a little about Hari Michelson and the world of Heroes Die. The book itself is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE novels. This is always the FIRST book I recommend when someone is looking for a “fun, kickass action orientated” science fiction or fantasy book. For what it is, I think it is almost a PERFECT novel, namely a high-octane, fast paced, brutally violent story with an original science fiction/fantasy back-story and….. well, you already know how I feel about the main character.
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    BACKSTORY

    Earth of the future is controlled by mega corporations that have developed into a rigid occupation-based caste system. Society is now separated into 7 corporate-based castes that include: Leisurefolk (top of the food chain, think “idle rich”),
    Investors, Businessmen,Administrators, Professionals(e.g., white collar workers with degrees like doctors, lawyers and accountants); Artisans; Laborers(e.g., unskilled labor pool). In addition, there is a quasi- 8th group known as “Workers” who are prisoners, dissidents and other unfortunates who have been “lobotomized” and turned into something similar to a cybernetic zombie.

    The social and political aspects of the society in the novel are very interesting but barely explored. I would love to read an entire book focusing only on this aspect of the society. In Heroes Die, we only get enticing bits and pieces but they are fascinating.

    In this world of “scare resources” with the “haves” having to keep control of the “have nots” the ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY is king and queen. You see, on Earth, people no longer “watch” TV or movies. Instead technology allows audiences to literally share the experiences of “actors” as they participate in “Adventures” on a planet called Overworld…..

    [BRIEF PAUSE FOR DESCRIPTION OF ACTORS AND OVERWORLD]

    Overworld is Earth in a parallel universe (the “how” is explained in the book so just accept it for now). Overworld is your standard sword and sorcery fantasy realm in which magic works, humans live side by side (though not peaceably) with all manner of fantasy creatures and the technology is a cross between quasi-medieval and quasi industrial.

    Actors = Fantasy special forces commandos. Actors are not the Hollywood stars of today. They are men and women who have first spent years of training learning how to be either a magic adept or a fighter and then years more in Overworld learning how to speak the language and practice their skills before being accepted as Actors ready to go on “Adventures.” Basically, this is you basic fantasy fan boys dream come true. I would also mention here that the training is very expensive and so “would be” Actors need “patrons” from the higher castes to pay for it in the hopes of making money on their later Adventures.

    [END BRIEF PAUSE]

    So when their years of training is complete, Actors will be transported to Overworld (known by the locals as Ankhana) and assigned real life “roles” to play in the events of Ankhana. The more dangerous and more life threatening, the more entertaining and the more profitable. Thus these actors get involved in political disputes, gang wars, military campaigns and often die as a result. But hey…..THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT.

    You see, by plugging into a special chair and donning a special helmet, an audience member can literally become the Actor and shares the Adventure as if they were there themselves (though without the whole fear of death thing). You hear what they hear, smell what they smell and even taste what the taste. The chairs also provide life support and nutrition for the audience member so they can stay plugged in for days at a time. This sort of “first hand” Adventure is very expensive and usually only the Leisurefolk and Investor Class can afford it. For everyone else, there are “replays” and are more real than virtual reality but not quite the same as the more expensive version.

    So with ALL of that background...it’s time to meet Hari Michelson (aka Caine).

    Hari Michelson is the most famous Actor on Earth. I won’t give you all of his background because it is fun to learn about it for yourself, but he was born into the Labor class and was “discovered” by a Businessman who became his patron. He was trained and became a member an Actor (a member of the Professional caste). His alter-ego, is the assassin Caine (aka the Blade of Tyshalle) and his legendary Adventures on Overworld are the most popular in history.

    Despite being less than 6’ tall and weighing considerably less than 200 pounds, he is WITHOUT QUESTION, the most feared individual on Overworld. His skill in hand-to-hand and weapons is unmatched and his ruthless, berserk style is the stuff of legends…literally. During his “career” he has killed hundreds of people, single handedly toppled governments and been the focal point for several of the most pivotal events in Overworld history. He is the one guy in the room with whom you DO NOT MESS.....sorry but I warned you about the gushing character man-love at the beginning of the review.

    Well Hari on Earth is much like Caine on Overworld in so far as his attitude goes. He rubs the higher ups the wrong way with his insubordination and lack of bootlicking and would have long ago been busted for caste violation except his MASSIVE POPULARITY and (hence) MASSIVE PROFITABILITY.

    PLOT SUMMARY

    So how about the actual plot itself you ask? Well it is involved but oh so tasty. You see Caine’s estranged wife (and fellow Actor) has disappeared while on Overworld. Caine, being the no-nonsense fuck anybody who hurts my loved one kinda guy wants to go start killing people until someone tells him where she is. BUT the powers have other plans.

    Caine’s wife’s “ratings” aren’t what they once were and so they will only allow Caine to go to Overworld and attempt a rescue IF he agrees to first assassinate the newly installed “Emperor” of Overworld who has recently assumed power. Earth is very worried about the new Emperor because he appears to have the power to bring peace to Overworld. This would be very bad for business. Bloodshed, war and strife make for entertaining and profitable adventures….a stable, peaceful Ankhana would be a disaster.

    So Caine finds himself embroiled in political machinations both on Earth and Overworld with enemies all around him including a sadistic, brutal villain named Berne who has been granted vast powers by the new “god like” Emperor. Yes, the odds are very much stacked against Caine. JUST THE WAY HE LIKES IT.

    As Caine works his way through the many obstacles in his path he must decide what he is truly fighting for and what he is truly prepared to do to protect those he holds dear. The answer is of course is….CAINE WILL DO WHATEVER IT TAKES AND GOD HELP YOU IF YOU STAND IN HIS WAY…NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE!!!

    FINAL THOUGHTS

    Hopefully, I have given you at least a sense of how much fun this novel is. I know I can not completely do it justice but I would certainly strongly recommend you give it a try. ONE FINAL WORD OF WARNING: the book is quite graphic and brutal (maybe a bit less so by today’s standards but still worthy of comment). The language is very coarse, the violence almost never lets up there is some significant gore. It is gritty, violent and morally-vague. However, it is also, IMHO as good as this kind of story gets. CAINE is the supreme warrior, fighting with no rules to protect the woman he loves and bring blood-splattering vengeance to those who put her in harms way.

    I thought I would end with a few quotes from the book (quoted in another online review) so you can at least get a sense of the writing style employed by Stover:

    When one of the characters is contrasting Berne to Caine, she describes them as follows:

    Berne had a feral quality, a wildness of lust and dangerous unpredictability that went with the loose and relaxed jointless way he walked and held himself; he was potently, almost fiercely, alive at all times. Caine, too, had a quality of relaxation, but there was nothing loose about it; instead it was stillness, a meditative readiness that seemed to flow out from him and fill the room with capacity for action, as though all around him ghosts of imaginary Caines performed every movement that was possible within the space: every attack, every defense, every leap or flip or roll.

    A short while later when Caine learns that Berne is in the area:
    Kierendal's growing insouciance vanished like smoke before a gale; the black and lethal fury that flooded Caine's face when he spoke that name terrified her more than had his earlier threats. It was as though all of those ghost-Caines that had filled the imaginary air suddenly turned and whipped faster than thought back within his body, to make him so ferociously present that he seemed to burn with a scarlet flame.

    And a final example of the kind of violent action that takes place in the story:
    I jam the knife into his eye. Bone crackles and blood sprays. I use the knife to twist his face away from me: a bloodstain on this livery could be fatal, on my way out. He flops like a salmon that's found unexpected land beneath an upstream leap. This is only his body's last unconscious attempt to live; it goes hand-in-hand with the release of his bowels and bladder. He shits and pisses all over himself and his satin-weave sheets -- another one of those primordial reflexes, a futile dodge to make his meat unappetizing to the predator.


    HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!!

  2. says:

    WHOAH. Blast of testosterone to the face in the midst of my romance novel obsession. THIS WAS FANTASTIC!

    So this book is really hard to describe, it takes place in a futuristic dystopian society that uses crazy technology to send actors to an alternate reality called Overworld, a traditional Fantasy-ish world. They are watched back home via virtual reality tech as the actors live in the Fantasy world, the fantasy people have no idea they're from an alternate dimension. The hero, Hari, is basically the Sylvester Stallone (at his peak) of actors, and his wife, another actor, gets trapped in the Otherworld and he has to go save her. That's the basics. It's very Hunger Games-esque in a way. But way darker. WAY darker.

    I mean, talk about a dark anti-hero. Talk about a cool alt-SF/Fantasy world. Talk about some violent assholes who populate BOTH universes. I mean Hari is one of the biggest badasses I've read in a LONG time. Seriously flawed, very nihilistic world/WORLDS really he's involved in. And yet, his journey is so full of emotion, you root for him every step of the way. This is an Alpha male you can get behind. Damn. Hot damn. Don't read if you don't like profanity, unlikeable characters and awesome fight scenes. :D

    If you like really really gritty, dark fantasy like George RR Martin, Richard Morgan (Takashi Kovaks books) or ESPECIALLY Joe Abercrombie, you should get this book.

  3. says:

    In the author's own words, from the interview at the end of the book:

    Q: How would you describe Heroes Die?
    A: It’s a piece of violent entertainment that is a meditation on violent entertainment — as a concept in itself, and as a cultural obsession. It’s a love story: romantic love, paternal love, repressed homoerotic love, love of money, of power, of country, love betrayed and love employed as both carrot and stick. It’s a book about all different kinds of heroes, and all the different ways they die. It’s a pop-top can of Grade-A one-hundred percent pure whip-ass.

    Hari Michaelson is an actor, on the top ten most popular stars on the whole Earth. Reality shows have evolved in the future to the point where implants in the brain of the actor allow the audience to experience directly all the sensory input and the stream of conscience thoughts of the protagonist. The game is played on the Overworld, an alternate Earth accessed through some sort of harmonic resonance device that opens a portal between paralell universes. Overworld is a fantasy realm, home to mythical creatures (dragons, elves, goblins and much more) where medieval style kingdoms and empires fight it out with enchanted swords and magic spells. The catch is this: actors transfer to the Overworld bodily, their resonance tuning is only good for a limited period of time and death as a result of their risky behaviour is very much on the cards.

    Your function in society is to risk your life in interesting ways.

    Hari specialty is dealing with problems in the most violent way possible and if there are no problems, he'd better start a ruckus. The public is not interested in gardening or saloon conversations. They want blood. In his Caine persona, Hari is the most celebrated and the most feared assassin for hire in the Overworld. Back home he would like to take a break from the show and try to mend his broken marriage, but his producers, his agents and most of all his audience would have none of it. When his ex-wife goes missing on her latest Overworld adventure, Caine is forced to get back into the game.
    Here's what his agent has to say about this:

    But this is absofreakinglutely spectacular — I can’t lose, y’know?”
    Hari understood exactly what he meant: he’d heroically save Shanna, heroically avenge her death, or heroically die in either attempt. No matter what the outcome, it would reflect admirably on his Patron.

    The concept may not be new - it started with the gladiator games and the 'panem et circenses' dictum and more recently with The Running Man or The Hunger Games - but Matt Stover really pulled off a difficult balancing act: writing an edge of the seat action-adventure without becoming obsessed by carnage and glorifying the killers. One of the tricks used to achieve this result is to make Caine into an underdog, vulnerable and constantly betrayed by his anturage, something the readers can connect with and cheer for. His mission of assassinaton is morphed into a quest to save his marooned ex-wife and liberate the people of Ankhana from a tyrant. Also, he fights mostly using his fists and feet against magic swords and powerful spells, putting his life on line and getting hurt every time he goes out. Despite his megastar status on the entertainment channels, Hari is still an outsider in the rigid Caste system that governs the planet, and an outcast on Overworld:

    “Caine and I, we’re not the same person, all right? I grew up in a San Francisco Labor slum; Caine’s an Overworld foundling. He was raised by a Pathquan freedman, a farrier and blacksmith. By the time I was twelve I was a sneakthief because I wasn’t big enough to be a mugger; when Caine was twelve, he was sold to a Lipkan slaver because the whole family was starving to death in the Blood Famine.”

    All powerful reasons to identify with his struggle, but Caine knows how to subvert his own myth and to accentuate the consequences of his past 'succesful' adventures. The murder of the Prince Regent in Ankhana (where most of the action takes place) has resulted in a bloody succession war that made way for the ascension to the imperial throne of Ma'elKoth - a tyrant who feeds his magic with the blood and the souls of his subjects. Even here, Stover finds a way to subvert the evil overlord clyche. In his own eyes, Ma'elKoth is the strong but caring hand that his country needs in order to recover from infighting and from terrorists (somehow he has learned about the offworlders and their actions) :

    - Tell me — try to guess why they come here, why they kill My people and try to murder Me, why they rape our women and slaughter our children. Try.”
    Caine discovered that he had no voice. His stomach knotted.
    - “It’s entertainment, Caine. They’re worse than demons — even the Outside Powers that prey upon men do so to feed, to sustain themselves upon our terror and despair; the Aktiri do so to divert their idle hours. Just for fun.”

    The shades of grey, morally ambiguous characters are one of the characteristics of the novel. Switching the point of view from the first person angle with Caine to the third person narration of psychopatic killer Berne, of ganglords and patrons of bawdy houses in the slums of Ankhana, of the palace spymaster or of Kollberg - the show producer back on Earth, of the 'people's champion' Simon
    Jester or of her Caine worshipping bodyguard, Stover explores the internal reasonings for each character's actions and how they translate into bad decisions that leave hundreds of innocent bystanders dead.

    I have identified few weaknesses in the story development, almost not worth putting down (making Ma'elKoth too powerful forced a spectacular finale that went just a tiny bit too far in stretching suspension of disbelief, the worldbuilding of Earth and Overworld are again a tad underdeveloped). The points in favour are easier to make:
    - very strong characterization not only for the main heroes, but for every part time, even walk-in roles
    - great action scenes where the author puts his own personal experience in hand combat to good use.
    - complex plot that links together fantasy and SF and tackles socio-political issues of pressing actuality : the misuse of power, the control of the media by the elite class, liberty of expression ( ‘Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.’ ), assuming responsibility for past mistakes, our fixation on violent games ( And the whole world waits, and squirms, and drools like a glutton smelling a feast. for a new Caine adventure)
    - beautiful prose that can capture not only the moment of pitched battle but the emotional turmoil of finding and losing friends, companions, lovers:

    The weight of days presses me down like I’m slowly being flattened under God’s own millstone. I slide down the wall to sit on the floor; I search within the sick emptiness in my guts, looking for my anger.

    I left a whole week pass after I finished the novel, thinking to let some of my enthusiasm settle down and allow for a more balanced review, but I still feel I have found one of my top five fantasy novels for the last decade, despite the fact that I have been lately turned off by explicit gore and language. Although they are not exactly similar, I would link Heroes Die with the epics of Robin Hobb and James Clavell for the way they can grab my attention to the exclusion of sleep and food and socializing, and not let go until I turn the last page, exhausted but satisfied in the fantastic journey I just undertook. I can't wait to get into the next Caine book, maybe write in more detail about the Caste system on Earth and the magic system in Overworld. Since I started with a quote from the author I will finish with another one that expresses succintly why I come back to fantasy novels so often:

    Much of my life has been an obsessive inquiry into philosophy, mythology, magic, religion, and the concept of the Hero (in the Joseph Campbell sense). SF — fantasy — is the only branch of literature that lets you look at all of those at once.

  4. says:

    This is an excellent book.

    Please allow me to open with a caveat or two. First, I'm a Christian...I mean an actual practicing one. If you're a Christian (and possibly this will apply to those of you in other belief systems as well) you need to go into this knowing that it is not what I'd call Christian friendly. On the other hand if you can read a book realizing it's fiction and can take what it has to say that's worthwhile and not be offended that it doesn't agree with you...I think you'll survive. I'm pretty sure I have, and I'm not...you know an apostate or anything, no major switch in belief or world-view.

    Also be aware that there is some language. Still it's not thrown around as it is in some books as if the writer can't come up with other forms of descriptors, adjectives or oaths. It's used as it might be by a warrior... and every second person doesn't turn the air blue, just appropriate persons. You who've been in the service probably know what I mean.

    Now, back to the book. Hari/Caine is an actor, on Earth. The novel takes place partly in/on our Earth, or at least one very like it (we get mentions of books, writers etc. that you'll recognize). The world has at some point before the book opens become a worldwide despotism. In science fiction we usually find one of a few types of dystopia. This is one of those where the giant corporations have taken control and run the planetary government. This has always seemed like the least likely of future slave states to me, but okay...here we are.

    Anyway it has been discovered that Earth, our Earth is only one of maybe an infinite number of Earths that exist in the same place but in some kind of separate phase. OverWorld is another one of those Earths. It's a place where magic works, mythical creatures exist, sword and sorcery are not only possible buy day to day life...for some reason they also have cigars and coffee, go figure. With special technology actors from here can go there. They interact in adventures (you know slaughtering people, starting wars, generally causing mayhem for the locals) as people here are either hooked in and seeing things through the actor's eyes (This is how the rich bigwigs who can afford to be tied in directly firsthand watch)...or recordings can be purchased and enjoyed as we would DVDs..you know like blueray (this is the second hand market, the only way the lower classes [the hoi polloi as it were]can afford to enjoy these wonderful family friendly blood baths. And Everyone, that's absolutely EVERYONE watches at least the biggest titles and stars) It's BIG BUSINESS, worth billions, especially when the adventure is about the biggest stars.

    And Hari Michaelson/ Caine is THE BIGGEST. With a gift for violence and free flowing soliloquies he brings in big profits. He's been around longer than most actors (see actors are more likely to die during an adventure than live to retirement...and the episodes where an actor dies, especially a well know actor dies make huge profits.) Hari...err, I mean Caine is the greatest killer, errr, I mean actor and adventurer out there and has legions of fans. Fans even among the highest classes love Caine. Everyone loves Caine, except possibly his wife. The only problem with that is that Caine is still head over heels, sickeningly, maudlinly...obsessively in love with her, Shanna. Shanna in OverWorld is the wizard Pallis Ril...and brother is she convinced of her own righteousness. She separated from Hari because he's so..nasty and violent you know, yucky.

    Then it looks as if she's been taken by one of the biggest, worst, most deadly creeps on OverWorld. The one guy that may be able to kill Caine. Can Caine save his love? Can he win and become a good guy? Can love triumph over rottenness? Can Caine win Shanna back? Can you afford to be a firsthander?

    Okay My sense of humor overwhelmed me there. In spite of my poking a little fun I find this to be one of the best novels I've read in a while.

    From the above point we jump into the story. It's set in this quite original world and is almost completely enthralling. Many of you know that I'm not big on romantic stories. There is a strong strain of romance in this one for those of you who like that yet the writer maintains a good sense of balance not allowing the romance to overwhelm the plot nor the action to choke out the romance.

    Stover may be better known to some of you through his tie ins with Star Wars and novelizations of that franchise, still here he does a grand job. He manages to include a strong strain of political or semi-political thought in the novel without ever becoming preachy or annoying. It's probably quite possible to read through the novel without noticing it at all if you want to.

    I find this an incredible book despite a few drawbacks (I found Shanna/Pallas Ril, the love interest incredibly annoying and self-involved, but then I think I/we are supposed to). I rate it 5 stars, recommend it (with the above caveats) and plan to get into the first sequel as quickly as I can.

  5. says:

    This was recommended to me because of my devotion to The Fortunate Fall, and not without good reason. It's a fantastic tale that requires patience at the beginning, but with each domino piece it sets up, it delivers one of the most exacting and brilliant payoffs I've read in any SF or F work.

    That's saying something.

    The novel is long and the crappy cover is off-putting, but the length does the tale very excellent justice, so I recommend that ya'll just ignore the eyesore and pick up this classic. Because it is a classic. It shamelessly picks up the best features of both a great worldbuilding SF 1984 land and a rather awesomely detailed and rich fantasy world full of people I like.

    What is it? Think quantum teleportation to an alternate world where magic works. Give that technology to a nearly omnipresent and restrictive government that's controlled by an all-powerful Hollywood that doesn't care what it does to this alternate reality as long as it gets ratings. Send actors over, or as they're called in the alternate world, Aktirs, and we've got a political hotbed of revolution brewing on both sides of the veil. Our SF world is quite the hell, and the world of magic is pretty damn nice if it wasn't for all these Aktirs murdering and fomenting tons of conflict for, get this: Their amusement. I think they're right to distrust and hate the aliens.

    Of course, Hari, also known as Caine in his Aktir persona, is one of the most beloved top-performers, and oh so deadly. He also happens to be rather bright when he isn't falling into his well-cultivated bloodthirsty persona.

    When he finally begins to take off the shackles of his mind, then that's the point where this novel seriously takes off and spins in my mind. Before that point it was pretty much a standard action fantasy with a pretty damn cool assassin with a pretty cool SF twist. Afterwards, well, I was flabbergasted to discover that he could think as well as he fought, and with his estranged wife, they caused so much damn havoc on both sides of the veil.

    The best part of this novel was watching all the pieces line up and then watch them all fall.

    It was glorious. Absolutely glorious.

    The length shouldn't daunt anyone. It really lends itself to us getting to know everyone in depth. The characterization is fully of the show, don't tell, variety, with an absolutely wonderful grip on internal monologue. I really enjoyed exploring all the moral ambiguities in everyone, and I'm pretty damn certain I'm going to love re-reading this.

    But first, I've got to find the time to read the 3 sequels, eh? :) It's going to be a very fine pleasure.

  6. says:


    First off, cheers to Thomas Stacey for the recommendation.. This book is definitely going in as one of my absolute faves for 2017.

    I have lived every day of my life only to bring myself here to this moment and it has been worth every moment

    This author has written an epic love story that you're not even totally aware of until you're sucked in. This isn't hearts and roses strewn on the floor. This is like blood, guts, broken bones, severed limbs, bring down the gaddamn world kind of love story. Like your favourite epic love story ain't got nothing on this.

    Like i said this isn't some quintessential love book. There's so much more than that happening. You're introduced to an eclectic range of characters from: Berne - this dude was bloody insane, like if you ever meet someone like this, just run!; To that snivelling, whinny piece of shit, poet boy. To Talan- God that woman could kick bloody ass. To Shanna/ Pallis- who really was a shit though. i mean, really, she was a shit. To gaddamn Hari / Caine - sigh* that man was beyond everything. he was damn amazing.

    Read this book. You won't be disappointed!

  7. says:

    If there’s one word to describe Heroes Die – it’s Testosterone. This book has some of the most graphically violent action scenes you’ll find in anything written by Abercrombie or George RR Martin or any of the host of grimdark authors that have been populating the fantasy genre recently. And just in case you didn’t get enough Testosterone from the actual writing, the audio narration will have the short and curlies growing out of control from crotch to neck. Stefan Rudnicki is the man and his deep throaty audio narration really suited the tone of the book.

    Somehow, Heroes Die, published 16 years ago, has managed to slip under the radar. Going from the cover of the book, I’d say poor marketing may have been a factor – or perhaps Stover just wrote this too early to catch the more recent surge in dark fantasy/grimdark popularity.

    Some might argue that this book is actually Science Fiction because some of the action happens in a dystopian future Earth dominated by a corporate caste system and obsessed with bloodsport entertainment – except a lot of the story happens in a parallel universe version of Earth called Overworld – which is a typical medieval style fantasy setting where magic is real. Or as one Earth Entertainer explains it

    ”Earth and Overworld are the same planet in different universes. Each universe, the whole thing, sort of vibrates in its own way—what they call the Universal Constant of Resonance. Now, it doesn’t really vibrate, that’s just the easiest way to think about it. We go from one to the other by changing our Constant of Resonance to match the other universe. Is everybody confused yet?”

    Actors are sent to Overworld to have bloodthirsty adventures that are broadcast back to Earth via implanted “Thoughtmitters” for a paying public who can view the action live via a virtual reality setup where they experience Firsthand what it is like to be a murdering bastard/ess let loose among an unsuspecting Overworld populace. And there is no actor that anyone would rather be than Caine, our protagonist. Caine is cool. Caine is a cold hard killer. Caine is very good at killing. Caine is badass. In Caine’s words...

    This is what I live for. This is why I am what I am. There is purity in violence, in the desperate struggle to pull life from death, that surpasses any philosopher’s sere quest for truth.

    And

    The violence itself consumes me, even in anticipation. When I step out from my cover, stake my life and the lives of my friends on my gift of slaughter, the caustic tide of mayhem will wash me with grace: a saint touched by his god.



    Anyway, I’m calling this dark fantasy but I would stop short of calling it grimdark. Even though the violence is up there, it doesn’t have the cynicism. In the worlds of Abercrombie or Martin, people tend to be mostly bad though they may do the occasional good thing. Conscience and ideals exists to be seared and eroded and the good guy almost never wins and if they do it’s at the cost of their soul. Caine on the other hand acquires a conscience and an ideal as the book goes on. There’s no real explanation for why Caine is suddenly a different Caine to the beginning of the book. It’s one thing that annoyed me about the writing. I tend to like characters to maintain internal consistency throughout the story. Perhaps it was an attempt to add a layer to a single dimensional protagonist. All it did was make a cool character a little less cool.

    Overall an enjoyable listen


    4 stars

    PS: This book uses explicit language...a lot of it centred on suggestions for how one might use a goat

    PSS: As far as I’m aware, no goats were harmed or molested in any way, either backwards or sideways, in the making of this book

    Warning
    It may be necessary for the reader to pause to wax their chest at some stage before the book ends.

  8. says:

    5 Stars

    After nearly 15 years of being in my reading queue, Heroes Die by Matthew Woodring Stover more than lived up to my high expectations. This brutally dark and twisted, and often funny science fiction fantasy blend is just so much damn fun!!!! I admit that I am sure that there are flaws in this book, in the plot, and even in our wonderful heroes, but to me it is as if Matthew Woodring Stover wrote this book just for me and my sick and twisted sense of humor. Hot damn Stover even combines my favorite two genres making this book one that will satisfy my deepest carnal and intellectual needs. The pacing is fast and frenetic with just enough pauses for commercial breaks to make this a tough book to put down. There is a sufficient amount of world building and backstory that create this rich and dynamic world, and launch this series as all great epic fantasies do.

    Like others have said the book takes place in the near future here on Earth, but in that time we have discovered and alternate universe version of our planet called Overworld by us and Ankhana by them.

    ““But I can explain it to you—and your viewers—the same way it was explained to me. You see, Earth and Overworld are the same planet in different universes. Each universe, the whole thing, sort of vibrates in its own way—what they call the Universal Constant of Resonance. Now, it doesn’t really vibrate, that’s just the easiest way to think about it. We go from one to the other by changing our Constant of Resonance to match the other universe. Is everybody confused yet?””

    The real kicker is that in this time period, reality television has taken on an even darker, greed filled life of its own. “Hollywood” of that time period takes things to the extreme, you see, Hari Michelson, our main protagonist is an actor playing a part in Overworld as Caine. For over 20 years Michelson has played roles and adventures in Overworld for people in his time to watch as entertainment. He is by far the biggest and most popular actor in the world, and therefore also the most profitable. This novel unfolds with many pauses in the action on Overworld to commercial like updates on Hari’s Earth. Corporate greed of that time is nearly as scary as armies of soldiers and hitmen.

    The plot is fairly linear but Stover does a nice job at throwing in a few really cool unforeseen twists. The side characters add great flavors to this book, but it is Caine that makes it stand out.

    It is also important to point out that Matthew Woodring Stover is not afraid to write profanity, nor does he shy away from penning out gruesome and graphic violence. If this bothers you please do not read the rest of this review, and be warned, that if you decide to read this book, it is filled with colorful language. Not since Joe Abercrombie and his First Law series have I felt so in touch with the author and connected to his choice of words:

    “I jam the knife into his eye. I use the knife to twist his face away from me: a bloodstain on this livery could be fatal, on my way out. He flops like a salmon that’s found unexpected land beneath an upstream leap. This is only his body’s last unconscious attempt to live; it goes hand-in-hand with the release of his bowels and bladder. He shits and pisses all over himself and his satin-weave sheets—another one of those primordial reflexes, a futile dodge to make his meat unappetizing to the predator.”

    “You say. Nobody puts magick on me, Caine. Nobody. Don’t they know I’ll kill them? Do these fumbledicks have any clue who they’re fucking, here? I’ve got Abbal Paslava the freakingSpellbinder —he’ll do these bastards till their dicks stick up their own assholes and they fuck themselves with every step!”

    Not all of Stover’s writing is so gratuitous. He is equally adept at writing well written and descriptive scenes that create a painting type of view.
    “Caine stepped casually within, his half smile blurred by the raging Flow that whirled around him. He closed the door behind himself and leaned against it. Those shadow forms were back again, those ghostly Caine doubles that his every motion seemed to spawn. He was so utterly prepared for any possible action that the ghost doubles took on a solidity in the Flow around him. She could see them now, vague shifting patternings of force, where before she had only imagined them.”
    Most importantly I need to tell everyone that Hari Michelson, aka Caine, aka the Blade of Tyshalle, is simply one of the coolest, kick ass, in your face, mother f#er, ever to be written. I thought that Logen “Ninefingers” was my favorite, but after just this one book, Caine may have taken the front seat. This book is all about Caine the assassin, Caine the actor and Hari the man who fails to see just how much more he really is. Unlike comic book super heroes, Caine and Hari do not play out as a hero and an alter ego. They are very much the same person set in completely different worlds. Hari would get along great with Tony Stark. In an action packed novel that had me hooting and hollering on more than one occasion, it was a scene with Hari and his father Duncan that I loved the most. They had several great conversations that ended up being the pivot point and the heart of how this book comes to a head. In this scene Duncan gives his son some advice”

    “First, quit whining. Then quit kidding yourself. Let the Chairman, let the Emperor, let everybody think that Caine is who you are—just don’t let yourself think that. That’s your edge. People have been watching you almost twenty years, and nobody knows yet how smart you really are. Take those baby steps, Hari—inch toward daylight. Trust that if you just don’t quit, eventually you’ll find yourself on the pivot, you’ll be in a spot where one bold stroke will lock everything down. You know your enemy, but he doesn’t know you. Kollberg thinks that as long as you can’t get your hands on him, he’s safe.”

    The actions of Caine in this book and the violence both portrayed and insinuated at make him one scary son of a bitch. He is an anti hero not to be missed. I loved every bit of this book and because of my “man-crush” on Caine, I will overlook any flaws that their might have been. This book will be loved by all fans of the First Law series and the Gentleman Bastards.


  9. says:

    This book would have been a five star read if it had just been trimmed by about 100-150 pages.
    The main plot doesn't even kick in until 100 pages in, for example. When the book does get to the point, though, it is great. The worlds that the book takes place in are dark and captivating, the action is brutal, and the characters are all pretty interesting. It also has a lot to say about the ways in which people are entertained (even at the expense of others).

    I am glad I read it, but I don't know if I would read any of the other books in the series.

  10. says:

    I forget, for long periods of time, how tremendously awesome epic fantasy books can be. When they are well-written, with high stakes, well-drawn and fascinating characters, scenes and set-pieces which fit together perfectly, constantly ratcheting up the tension and suspense... reading experiences don't come much better for me.

    To be clear, this isn't pure epic fantasy: it's a combination of fantasy and science fiction, where Actors from a future Earth go adventuring in Overworld (which is a gritty non-medieval fantasy-adventure world a la Mieville's Bas-Lag without the truly inventive/excessive weirdness) for the entertainment of the masses in the rather dystopian caste-based society back home.

    Hari Michaelson is the most famous Actor of this world, and his Overworld character Caine is one of the most famous men there: relentless, unstoppable, simply the best there is at what he does. (though he's not, in fact, the best fighter in the world, or even in the book, and he's very far from invincible.)

    This is probably not for everyone, and Stover's writing style can be over the top - his personal writing motto is I Swear by the Power of All Dark Gods that I Will Write Every Fucking Word Balls-Out for Glory. But it's not *bad* writing - as far as writing every fucking word etc etc goes, I think it's about as good as it gets.

    Stover himself described the book this way: It's a piece of violent entertainment that's a meditation on violent entertainment- as a concept in itself, as a cultural obsession. It's a love story: romantic love, paternal love, repressed homoerotic love, love of money, of power, of country, love betrayed and employed as both carrot and stick. It's about all different kinds of heroes and all the different ways they die. It's a pop-top can of Grade-A one-hundred-percent pure whip-ass.

    So, that last line is a bit hokey, but otherwise that self-analysis is accurate. And despite all the macho bullshit (recognized as such by characters in the book, eventually including Caine/Hari himself), there is, in fact, character personality and development and intelligent thought and political concern and the realization that physical confrontation can't solve any of the really big problems.

    I should note, though, that the physical confrontations are nigh-astounding - Stover is a martial artist, and the fight scenes in this book are some of the most vivid I've ever read. Excessive violence, certainly, but it's there for a reason.

    Politically, the book focuses primarily, perhaps, on individual freedom and the individual's (Hari's) struggle against a repressive government, but I think there is honest political engagement on a larger level throughout, both on Earth and Overworld.

    Furthermore, it's actually surprising - nothing turns out quite like I thought it would.

    4.5 stars. Not quite Mieville or Martin for me, probably because of the omnipresent stylization of the writing and the fact that the book seems so intensely personal - but it wouldn't have been the same book if Stover's authorial voice had somehow been more detached. Absolutely worth reading, if this review and others pique your interest more than they annoy you.

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