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Blade of Tyshalle by Matthew Woodring Stover

Blade of Tyshalle (edition 2002)

by Matthew Woodring Stover (Author)

Series: Acts of Caine (2)

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3791147,530 (4.1)7
Twenty-seven years ago, they said Hari Michaelson didn't have a chance. He was just a loser, a street criminal from a disgraced family. He'd never make anything of himself. They were wrong. He made himself into Caine: Killer. Superstar. Hero ... Six years ago, Ma'elkoth--a god of Overworld--held Pallas Ril in his merciless grip. Earth's ruling elite wanted her dead. Caine swore he would save her. They said he didn't have a chance. They were wrong. He sacrificed his career as Caine to crush Pallas Ril's enemies and bring her home. Now Hari Michaelson is the only man who stands between the soulless corporate masters of Earth and the green hills of Overworld. Caine's victory over Ma'elKoth opened a door between the worlds, and the faceless masses of Earth are killing everything he loves. Enemies old and new array themselves against him. And Hari's not even Caine anymore. He's just one man--alone, half-crippled, powerless. They say he doesn't have a chance.… (more)
Title:Blade of Tyshalle
Authors:Matthew Woodring Stover (Author)
Info:Del Rey (2002), Edition: Reprint, 800 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, eb

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Blade of Tyshalle by Matthew Woodring Stover



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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Where the hell can I begin? I'd like to say I'm speechless and drowning in a god-river of awe, but the fact is, I could write twenty-odd pages or more just to expound how much I love this book, and by natural extension of story, [b:Heroes Die|311864|Heroes Die (The Acts of Caine, #1)|Matthew Woodring Stover|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1403193753s/311864.jpg|302782].

They're both of one piece, but what really blows my mind is the fact that it's not only as good as the first, but it absolutely refuses to back down and aims for something much, much greater. I'm very afraid that I can't come even remotely close to doing a review justice without revealing not only a dozen great plot turns and surprises from the first novel, and then it gets much worse because there are two dozen great reveals in the second.

With your permission, I will try to gently gloss over What Makes This Book So Great, but be forewarned: Here There Be Spoilers.

The first book was a self-contained masterpiece with equal parts Hard SF and High Fantasy, where the networks vie for ever higher ratings by sending real humans to a distant world where magic actually exists, where all the High Fantasy tropes are gritty reality, and the Actors (Actirs on the other side) cast their POV adventures back to an overcrowded and very advanced Earth who hail them as celebrities. Hari/Caine was the most popular. His ex-wife, also an Actor, had gone missing/unresponsive on this side and since he still holds a flame, goes over to save her. Of course she doesn't care to be saved, in fact, she's working to free the enslaved and downcast over there. Jump through tons of truly awesome and SMART adventures and overwhelming odds that ended with a huge machiavellian finale to take down a literal and actual god that ended with Hari/Caine's ex-wife dying and being reborn as the goddess of all the waters in the world and fighting the other god for supremacy, and you've got yourself 5-6 fantastic novels wrapped all into one.

When it ended, I wondered how the fuck this author could top it. I mean, Caine's lover is now a nearly all-powerful god, Hari has taken over the network and has built up a little empire of his own out of revenge for what the assholes on Earth had done to him, and Hari/Caine pulled-off one of the funniest and impressive god-takedowns I've ever read. He brought him back to earth, penniless and powerless, with only a fraction of a fraction of his mind left. How could it ever get any better?

Well, it did. He fucking did it. There's never a wasted word, never a wasted sub-plot, and never a wasted moment of character development. And it's 800 fucking pages long. :)

Up the stakes. Oh my god, he just upped the stakes something HUGE. Okay, so we open with a paraplegic Hari heading a losing-money network, his best friend is hugely diminished god from the other world that he defeated, and everyone's setting up some real hell for Caine as the incarnation of satan among all the churches and empires on the other side. After all, he only brings chaos wherever he shows up. Life is pretty bad, years have made him lose any edge (or legs) to stand on, and his relationship is back in the shitter. So how the hell do we get from there to the returned machiavellian re-ascension of the deposed god, learn that there's another that can roll him, and start throwing nuclear bombs, tanks and airplanes at the other world as it gets annihilated by a horrible plague that Earthlings made and almost killed us, AND have Caine win and throw out some really fun surprises on top?

That's the amazing shit, right there. Becoming a god doesn't mean you've landed yourself a story-stopper. This shit is AMAZING, and despite what I said about giving you spoilers, I've still left 90% out.

Only a truly gifted writer could pull all this off, to keep it always entertaining, moving quickly, with ever-deepening character explorations that makes most SF OR Fantasy authors look like amateurs.

These books are multi-faceted and deeply layered stories that rely more on action and plot progression and revelation than anything else, and it does it so well that even intended themes sneak up on you and they're not just right, but they're necessary to me as a reader.

To say that I love these is to just laugh in my milk. I just spent an hour gushing over the novels to my wife while I was attempting to write this review, and my mind is still spinning from all the little things that happened to it while reading this oh so excellent novel. :)

They may be long novels, but they read quick. I can't honestly believe that people aren't gushing about these novels even now. They're very modern, with modern SF/F sensibilities, and much better than almost any Hard SF OR High Fantasy that I've read in decades, and each side stands with its head high in either. :)

This is no fly-by night operation. This is a SERIOUSLY well-planned, a well-developed, and a blood-sweat-and-tears masterpiece of fiction. It SHOULD be on everyone's must-read list, if you're at all interested in either SF or F. :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
SUPER GRAPHIC. Don't read this if you have a squeamish stomach! It's really gross at times. But it is a good story. Great to continue to follow Caine. Some parts are really messed up though... ( )
  USFJoyGirl | May 17, 2020 |
ugh. I barely slogged through to the end of this book, having blazed through the first one. Turns out it's just a slow boring prequel to the third. Read the CliffsNotes or you might lose your desire to continue reading this series at all. The 2 stars are for the inertia I had coming in. ( )
  mvayngrib | Mar 22, 2020 |
I would probably recommend to stop after the first book. ( )
  bloodrizer | Nov 19, 2015 |
Hari finds himself in a comfortable failure. His life after his last adventure doesn't seem to have given him much happiness. And even though he "got the girl" and saved the world and was promoted to Administrator, his life isn't peachy and a happily ever after. On the contrary, it's pretty crappy the way he still fights with Shanna, the falling worth of the Studio under his administration, and especially his useless legs that makes him incapable of even being remotely similar to Caine - and he can't seem to change anything. But things quickly fall into action when Hari discovers a plot to create a war between the Folk in the Overworld and Actors. And though he quickly comes up with a plan to fix it all, things are never that easy and soon Hari finds himself embroiled in a war between ideals and philosophy, with blood paving the way for a new world order. It's a war between gods and every life on two worlds are at stake.

I am actually really conflicted about this book. I love it and hate it for so many different reasons. I love it because Stover isn't scared of bringing in new characters to really influence that plot, such as Kris and Avery Shanks, but still develops the old characters we love and shows new sides of them as well. The characters were so well done. I am astounded and amazed at how Stover handled Hari post-first book because usually that is the problem with sequels - they don't know how to show different sides of the character and there isn't anything left to reveal that is interesting. Not the case with Hari. He grows and develops in this book as well. Beautifully done. Faith and Kris are an interesting surprise and also well incorporated. Loved seeing backstory as well as future characters as a result of the first book. I love the expression of Ma'elKoth and his deviousness. Characters are so true to themselves, yet still able to grow. I love it. It's believable. (high praise)

I also love it because the plot is action-packed and not chapter is boring.

But I hate it because it tries to do too much. This is one of the densest action books I've read because the plot skips around so much, new things and ideas and technology are introduced with a single paragraph. I don't like the fact that he just throws things in with no foreshadowing or emphasis on their importance to the story, such as Arturo Kollburg's ascendance. What the heck? Stover does not explain that well at all, to the point where the reader just must take what happened for granted. Similarly, the backstory to how Earth's dystopian structure came to be was very unbelievable as well. There was very little explanation for Shanna and the river's connection. Etc. You see, he expects the reader to take so many things for granted. Also it's just difficult to figure out what is important and what is just a supporting part of the book.

Stover just juggles just a little bit too much - he does it well and does manage in the end, but the drawback is that there just isn't enough attention to detail for each plot twist and turn. We fly through plots without a single breather and crash into the next one at break-neck speed. The plot and intrigue with the faceless soapies, the plot with Faith, Kris's story with the Folk, the virus plot, the plot and solution to the virus, the transformation of Caine, the philosophy of Caine, the plot of the Ma'elKoth and his deception, Avery Stark's interaction. All of that one after the other without a moment to survey the world. It's all well and good because I love action, but Stover doesn't give a chance to breathe at all. No chance to process and really determine what is going on outside in the plot and also inside with the characters thoughts. At least not entirely. It's such a long book. And I notice that - which means it drags on in parts.

There are so many plots that the resolutions seem to matter less. There is usually a climax to the resolution of subplots in stories or amazing moments where subplots converge - but in the book, only the final battle is the climax. All other resolutions to subplots just seem to fade away into a linear emotion of "plot". There is only rising action throughout the story, very little falling action (even for subplot resolution), which makes me just feel very tired trying to get to that climax. It's like a continual race to finally get to the point without a point of saying hey look this resolution matters. (Example being the resolution of the virus, or the resolution of Kris's problems, or the way Raithe meets his end desires. All of them, not resolved with a climax, but a point of just moving the plot along. Very tiring.)

Themes. This book held a lot, a lot of themes and philosophy and just references to politics and religion. I believe you have to find philosophy somewhat interesting to enjoy this book because the story rests on that dilemma of how society and the individual should act, and their conflicts. I think Stover does a fine job incorporating these things into the story without bogging down the plotline, which is excellent.

I am conflicted. I love it, I'm annoyed by some of it. But ultimately I'm glad I read it. It is interesting, it's worth reading.
Three star because I think the plot could have been tighter (it seemed to go in too many directions) so it can't exactly be a four star. I was debating three and a half stars, but there were moments where I almost felt like not reading it because I started to feel too bogged down, so three stars. But three very good stars because it is well written, a great sequel, and quite interesting.

Recommended for people who read the first book, obviously. You can't really just start on this one. ( )
  NineLarks | Sep 15, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Matthew Woodring Stoverprimary authorall editionscalculated
McKean, DaveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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But we have soothed ourselves into imagining sudden change as something that happens outside the normal order of things. An accident, like a car crash. Or beyond our control, like a fatal illness. We do not conceive of sudden, irrational change as built into the very fabric of existence. Yet it is. And chaos theory teaches us...that straight linearity, which we have come to take for granted in everything from physics to fiction, simply does not exist...
Life is actually a series of encounters in which one event may change those that follow in a wholly unpredictable, even devastating way...
That's a deep truth about the structure of our universe. But, for some reason, we insist on behaving as if it were not true.

—"Ian Malcom"
Michael Crichton

Jurassic Park
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

—Aleister Crowley

The Book of the Law
This book is dedicated to the memories of some of the best friends any man could ask for. I only wish you could have lived to read it.

For Evangeline, Aleister, and Friedrich;
for Lev, John, Clive, and Terence;
for Roger and Fritz and both Bobs (Robert A. and Robert E.).

Even today, some still listen.
First words
A tale is told of twin boys born to different mothers.
"I fear Michaelson not at all. Michaelson is a fiction, you fools. The truth of him is Caine. You do not comprehend the distinction; and so he will destroy you."
"This is my battle wound," he said, and he laid his stump on one of the gangrenous sores on Caine's leg. "This is your battle wound. Our wounds are one. Our blood is one."

"What the fuck are you doing?"

Orbek's lips pulled back from his tusks. "I'm adopting you."

"Are you nuts? I'm the guy that--"

"I know who you are," Orbek said. "You remember who I am. Dishonor you put on the Black Knives. Now that dishonor, you share." He showed Caine his tusks. "Now what honor you win, you share that, too. Good deal for Black Knives, hey?"

"Why would I want to join your fucking clan?"

"What you want? Who cares?" Orbek rose, grinning. "You don't choose your clan, Caine. Born Black Knife, you're Black Knife. Born Hooked Arrow, you're Hooked Arrow. Now: say that you are Black Knife, then let's go kill some guards, hey?"

Caine lay on the stone, silent.

Orbek growled, "Say it."

The lamp gave Caine's eyes a feral glitter.

"All right," he said at length. For all his tiny, mostly useless human teeth, he managed a surprisingly good mirror of Orbek's tusk-display. "Like you say: I am Black Knife."

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