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Caine Black Knife by Matthew Stover
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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
A bit different to the earlier two books and maybe not quite as good. Certainly far more dark in tone and content with a baffling nothing has been resolved but tune in next time cliff hanger ending. I still like the series but I can't help but take away a star just for whatever publisher decision cut the book in two. ( )
  NovaStalker | Jan 21, 2014 |
Spring13:

Characters: Yea, it's still Caine. Not as good of support though.

Plot: Convoluted and not quite as pulled together.

Style: Almost gets there... ( )
  Isamoor | Jul 28, 2013 |
Another grisly fantasy, this one more focused on the sword-and-sorcery and less of the high-tech distopia, but it's clearly the first half of a novel and the latter half will probably flip the balance. ( )
  JeremyPreacher | Mar 30, 2013 |
Harsh. Brutal. Unflinching. Matthew Stover’s Caine Black Knife is like getting zapped with a defibrillator when you aren’t arresting. A hell of a jolt that knocks the life out of you instead of back in you. Leaving you to wake up scarred and in a puddle of drool you can only hope is your own, the stench of burning hair wafting. Sizzling.

Other fantasy novels claim they’re brutal and gritty. But you might as well put a bow in their hair. They’re playacting. Badly. Like William Shatner trying to do The Sound of Music. If that’s brutality, then Caine Black Knife is the biggest, meanest boy on the block. That guy that had a mustache in elementary school who’d slap you silly for your lunch money while giving you the stink-eye. And pick his teeth with a shiv in class.

Stover’s novel doesn’t just live. It snarls and growls. Like its main character Caine, it’s a testament to all that’s antisocial, always taking its bad self to anywhere that’s not here. Because with Caine, where he’s at usually isn’t a good place to be. Bad things get worse. Worse things get downright rotten. Downright rotten things get…well, normal for him. He’s a negative ion attracting a positive amount of crap, a fecal matter magnet always knee-deep in some cesspool.

And he’s dropped more bodies than the Bubonic Plague. An assassin without peer.

Deadly. Calculating. An Interstellar Rock Star. He’s all of this, and more. But if you’d ask Caine, he’d just tell you he’s lucky.

Caine returns to the Boedecken, twenty-five years after a brutal battle there transformed him into a reality TV superstar. Older now, maybe wiser, he re-discovers the face of Hell. A Hell he changed into an oasis. Barren ground he turned fertile, irrigating it with the blood of the Black Knives.

The Black Knives. A name synonymous with terror. An ogrilloi clan known for their unparalleled brutality. For their inventive tortures. Better to do yourself than let a Black Knife catch you alive. Because then you’ll wish you were dead.

But there aren’t many Black Knives now. Caine made sure of that. He got genocidal on their ass, exterminating them to the brink of extinction. Twenty-five long years ago.

Then he got adopted by his brother Orbek, an ogrilloi. A Black Knife. Making Caine a part of the clan. Caine Black Knife.

Now Orbek is up to his tusks in trouble, imprisoned by the Knights of Khryl, a death sentence hanging over his head. So Caine must return to save his brother. Back to the Boedecken. A blast from the past.

Not many authors can write an immersive first person perspective like this. It’s phenomenal. Caine doesn’t just narrate, he lives. This isn’t reading, it’s rafting down the river of Caine’s consciousness. A dark, disturbing stream-of-conscious narration unapologetically filled with ugly thoughts. Caine’s a dick, as unlikeable a character as you’ll ever find. Dishonorable and a downright villain to some. Most writers would try to find something redeeming about him. Something that takes off the harsh, ugly edges. Something that says he’s not all bad. Maybe his secret love of puppies, or working the local soup kitchen on Sundays. Stover never succumbs, instead always embracing Caine’s dickheaded-ness. Glorifying it. Caine doesn’t care about being liked. Being liked only gets you killed. And being dead is butt.

And it’s this unflinching nature, this refusal to kneel and submit which makes Caine Black Knife so fascinating. Caine is an indomitable force of nature. The perfect storm. A tornado of terror that can’t be stopped. Can’t be appeased. Can’t be bargained with.

Chapters are split into a now-and-then format. Now following Caine’s quest to save his brother Orbek. Then focusing on Caine’s annihilation of the Black Knives. Both storylines are one sensational scene after another, a machine gun pacing burping out nonstop action. Rat-a-tat-tats serving as the soundtrack for Caine’s memorable sequences.

The storylines alternate by chapter, always ending on high notes. You finish each chapter, dying to know what happens next. So you turn the page, start a new chapter. Only to find the other plotline. Then rinse. Repeat. So it’s always one more page, one more chapter. Until you reach the back cover, dawn peeking over the horizon. Stover’s a master angler, always in control. He’ll hook you, string you along, and then gut you as you’re flopping around on the bank gasping for air. A stone-cold writer. Don’t even bother staring at him with pleading guppy eyes.

Last Word:
Books like Caine Black Knife don’t come around often. Loud, obnoxious and wanting to punch your face in. Brutal as a brain aneurysm, Matthew Stover’s ode to orneriness has one of the most disreputable main characters ever. And also one of the most thrilling. Riding around in Caine’s head feels so dirty. So voyeuristic. Like piggybacking on a coal black heart. It makes an impression.

It leaves its indelible mark. ( )
1 vote pstotts | Jan 28, 2009 |
Fantastic. The third Act of Caine contains two intertwining narratives: one replays the events from Retreat From the Boedecken, the Adventure that launched Caine's career 25 years ago and made him a star. The other plotline revolves around Caine returning to the Boedecken, three years after events from the previous book. There's a couple of mysteries rolling around, involving Caine's adopted brother Orbek, something called the Smoke Hunt, and a gate back to Earth. Unlike earlier volumes, this book is told entirely from Caine's perspective, which naturally means the language is even cruder than previous books -- or, perhaps, just as crude, but more concentrated. The other consequence of the limited POV is the fact that when Caine doesn't know what's going on, neither does the reader. This makes for some enjoyable segments of 'unreliable narration', but it also makes understanding the mystery plot more difficult -- especially considering the sometimes-unreliable narrator Caine doesn't always announce to the reader when he's made a connection toward solving the case. Having said all that, despite starting out a bit slowly, the book really picks up in the second half, and is altogether a fantastic addition to the Acts. What's really amazing is how seamlessly the additional backstory provided here fits into that given in the earlier books; one becomes convinced that this character and his history, and that of his two worlds, is real; that Stover figured all of this out years ago, is only slowly letting us peek in on the worlds he's created. One last comment, and that's that book is only part one of two. It doesn't really end on a cliffhanger, per se, but it is a definite To Be Continued moment... I can't wait to read the further Acts of Caine. ( )
1 vote saltmanz | Dec 6, 2008 |
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Epigraph
The future outwits all our certitudes.

—Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.

"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."

--Blade of Tyshalle

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For Robyn, again.
As always.
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The dirt-colored cloud spreads wide, hugging the horizon, draining into hollows of the distant hills.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345455878, Paperback)

In Heroes Die and Blade of Tyshalle, Matthew Stover created a new kind of fantasy novel, and a new kind of hero to go with it: Caine, a street thug turned superstar, battling in a future where reality shows take place in another dimension, on a world where magic exists and gods are up close and personal. In that beautiful, savage land, Caine is an assassin without peer, a living legend born from one of the highest-rated reality shows ever made. That season, Caine almost single-handedly defeated–and all but exterminated–the fiercest of all tribes: the Black Knives. But the shocking truth of what really took place during that blood-drenched adventure has never been revealed . . . until now.

Thirty years later, Caine returns to the scene of his greatest triumph–some would say greatest crime–at the request of his adopted brother Orbek, the last of the true Black Knives. But where Caine goes, danger follows, and he soon finds himself back in familiar territory: fighting for his life against impossible odds, with the fate of two worlds hanging in the balance.

Just the way Caine likes it.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:17:52 -0400)

In Heroes Die and Blade of Tyshalle, Matthew Stover created a new kind of fantasy novel, and a new kind of hero to go with it: Caine, a street thug turned superstar, battling in a future where reality shows take place in another dimension, on a world where magic exists and gods are up close and personal. In that beautiful, savage land, Caine is an assassin without peer, a living legend born from one of the highest-rated reality shows ever made. That season, Caine almost single-handedly defeated, and all but exterminated, the fiercest of all tribes: the Black Knives. But the shocking truth of what really took place during that blood-drenched adventure has never been revealed ... until now. Thirty years later, Caine returns to the scene of his greatest triumph, some would say greatest crime, at the request of his adopted brother Orbek, the last of the true Black Knives. But where Caine goes, danger follows, and he soon finds himself back in familiar territory: fighting for his life against impossible odds, with the fate of two worlds hanging in the balance. Just the way Caine likes it.… (more)

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