Audie Award Nominee, Fantasy, 2013
Renowned throughout the land of Ankhana as the Blade of Tyshalle, Caine has killed his share of monarchs and commoners, villains and heroes. He is relentless, unstoppable, simply the best there is at what he does.
At home on Earth, Caine is Hari Michaelson, a superstar whose adventures in Ankhana command an audience of billions. Yet he is shackled by a rigid caste society, bound to ignore the grim fact that he kills men on a far-off world for the entertainment of his own planet - and bound to keep his rage in check.
But now Michaelson has crossed the line. His estranged wife, Pallas Rill, has mysteriously disappeared in the slums of Ankhana. To save her, he must confront the greatest challenge of his life: a lethal game of cat and mouse with the most treacherous rulers of two worlds.
©1998 Matthew Woodring Stover (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
"Stover's fans and those who like their fantasy/SF tinged red should enjoy this energetic tale." (Publishers Weekly)
"Day of the Jackal meets Lord of the Rings.... A marvelous conspiracy thriller of worlds within worlds, where no one is necessarily who or what they seem." (Simon R. Green)
"Stefan Rudnicki performs with the skill of a master swordsman as he slices through the action scenes. His gravelly tone is perfect for the story as he portrays Caine's controlled wrath and tightly leashed passion." (AudioFile)
I wasn't sure what to expect when I downloaded this title as I'd heard nothing about the author or the series before, which in itself is strange because I'm a voracious reader. Anyway, I took the chance and started listening.
Imagine my surprise then, that as the last few words of the book faded away in my ears, I came to the conclusion that this may have been one of the finest fantasy books I'd ever come across! The narration is simply sublime - every nuance of the characters is brought to life by Stefan's apparent understanding of their motivations.
The sci-fi/fantasy crossover is handled exceptionally well, as are the philosophical musings by the main players of the story (or should I say actors? :-), and the way that the plot unfolds. It might also be able to lay claim to one of the most badass main characters in fiction.
Note that it is brutally violent (seriously, if you are squeamish stay away), has morally realistic characters (there is no good or evil but merely the acts that men, and Gods, do) and some clever plotting that turns most fantasy tropes on their head. Even though is was written more than 10 years ago, it still feels fresher and does more to push the fantasy genre somewhere new than most current authors.
Do yourself a favour, if you fancy some fantasy and are fed up with the current lot (baring maybe Joe Abercrombie), try this out for size. And remember one thing, it's followed up by a block that manages to better it in almost ever way.
Happy ever after indeed!
An excellent book, definitely in my top 5.
The closing sequence (which I won't spoil for you) is amazing. I was captivated.
Stefan Rudnicki is one of the best audiobook readers I've ever listened to. This performance does not disappoint.
I found this book gut-wrenching in places, and uplifting in others. The story and the performance combine to make this a totally immersive experience, as you live the highs and lows alongside the characters.
I'd give this six stars, if I could.
I enjoy a good plot, well thought out characters, witty banter and to be amazed by the creativity of the author!
Enjoyed this story from beginning to end. Excellent plot, fantastic and well thought out characters and just really good story telling. Enjoyed the development of the main characters and the pace and complexity of the story.
I really thought of myself as an aficionado of science fiction and fantasy, having read many hundreds of books over the years. All those tales consumed, devoured and liked or not in varying degrees. Some titles appreciated because of their original ideas, a good story, some, the fully realised and interesting characters, others perhaps the quality of writing, they have something to say.
Occasionally...Very occasionally you find a book that combines the lot. It becomes a personal classic that you never forget. Enter then, "Heroes Die".
I had never heard of Matthew Stover, but by accident saw some rave reviews on the Amazon.com USA site (check them out).... And then found this version narrated by Stefan Rucnicki on Audible...
Wow! The find of my year. This is a hard hitting, sometimes visceral story combining both Sci Fi and fantasy in a seamless and credible way (something I can't recall being done before). The main characters are superbly drawn and the many action sequences are breathtaking and (be warned) violent. The writing is intelligent and treats the listener as intelligent too. No info dumps here...
Stefan Rudnicki is also the perfect performer for this too. His deep baritone voice resonates in a way that is perfect for the nature of the characters and their quite gripping story. Superb. I will be seeking out more of Mr Rudnicki's prolific work.
In short. Brilliant. Oh, and Ignore the cheesy cover art. It was designed for Americans...
Go on, buy it... it's only one credit!
P.S. I've just finished the next book in the sequence, The Blade of Tyshalle. It's a much darker exploration of the human condition and redemption... Breathtaking.
"Finally, an epic worthy of Stefan Rudnicki"
Ever since the Prince Roger series, I have wondered why Stefan Rudnicki could not be engaged to read another great story. Finally, I think this is one. The story itself is immensely clever and innovative. Stover creatively weaves two worlds and multiple plots together with skill. His prose is excellent, and I particularly admired his ability to place me in the scene with his descriptions and metaphors. The story has twists and turns, with plots, sub-plots, and intrigue layered on intrigue. We get to know Hari Michaelson/Caine very well. If there is a weakness, it's that the other character development suffers a little. Rudnicki is a brilliant reader and wrings everything out the story that there is to be squeezed out. This one is a keeper that I will listen too again. Thanks Mr. Rudnicki and Mr. Stover for a job well done.
"Don't Let the Cover Turn You Off"
I'll be honest, I am swayed a bit by cover art and nearly didn't read this book because I find the cover art cliche, contrived, etc. Based on the other good reviews I went ahead, and I'm glad I did! The development of this world/environment is second to none, bordering on genius. There is really nothing that couldn't be done with the mix of worlds and technology. It has all the fantasy standards, but that's only because the sci-fi setting allows you to dive into that world at will. Rarely have I read a book that succeeds so well at blending sci-fi and fantasy.
So, "awesome environment", check. Now, how about the characters and storyline? I've also never seen such a wide variety of characters in one book (and I've been reading books for a little while now). I won't elaborate here to spoil it, but there is one character (who gets narrated with a very deep voice) that never ceased to amaze and surprise me. Actually, most of the characters were multi-dimensional, gods be praised :)
The storyline has plenty of twists and intrigue without being obtuse. As with all good books nobody is ever who they appear to be a first glance, but that is true in life isn't it? The storyline is probably the weakest part of the whole package, but it is supported so well by everything else that it still works very well.
I've never listened to this narrator before, and each new narrator always takes an hour or so to "get to know". I've never heard a voice with so much timber as Stefan Rudnicki's and found it difficult at first, but it matches very well with most of the characters. One of the characters absolutely required his voice and I actually felt the warm vibrations of this character's voice coming through my speaker!
If you like Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson, Joe Ambercrombie, Brent Weeks, and Robert Jordann, (and who doesn't) you will like Matthew Stover.
"Takes a while to understand but worth it"
Okay, first you have to ignore the cover on the book. Not sure if the author lost a bet or something but it's best to just push play.
It took me FOREVER to understand what was happening in this story. Several times I thought there was no way this was the first book in the series because I couldn't grasp any context. Once I accepted it I just moved on and the story got better. It does keep you guessing and the characters are great. I'll give the next one a shot and see what happens.
Enjoyed the narration as well. Not sure if I've listened to Rudnicki before but he really helped make the difference at the beginning when I was trying to decide if I should keep going.
"One of the best series ever."
Equal parts Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Robert Jordan, and Geroge R.R. Martin, this is one of the best series of books I've ever listened to. Stephan Rudniki was masterful.
These books have it all. Powerfully written and narrated action sequences, deep philosophical questions, poetic prose, heroes, villains, you name it.
I highly recommend them as credit worthy. I could not stop listnening.
What's not to like? This series and this book is just fantastic, Stover builds a world unlike any other then throws you head first into hell and takes you on a journey you can't even begin to imagine at the beginning. This series, especially the second book Blade of Tyshalle, is frankly a masterpiece. He manages to make everything feel real by having real characters and a story that makes you feel every hit, every blade and every piece of magic.
Yes, he does a great job every time.
I have had to many reactions to this book, from pain for the characters, sadness at death and joy for Caines success. This book will grab you and demand you attention.
Buy it.... NOW.... DO IT!
"Rather slow but then...."
The characterization picked up, and made me not want the book to end.
His wife riding the waves of the river.
There a mixture of the humorous and at times the profane. I found myself relating to the characters.
At times I was grossed out by the imagery, and and times I laughed (almost wrecking the car).
I'm looking forward to finishing the series. But I feel for the virgin goats.
"Kick the Series off right!"
Yes, this is one of my favorite novels, but I have less time to read these days.
Nothing really compares to HD. Stover's writing style is unequalled
Rudnicki brought this story to life.
I did have an extreme reaction. At times I just felt so involved in the story that I forgot where I was.
"I got to be caine"
sometimes you kinda live the story. doesn't happen with most books. but this one leaves u spellbind and thinking you are caine.
"An Impressive Start to a unique Series"
I have seen many glowing reviews of this novel and I decided I had to give it a try. I was blown away by the action scenes, plot, setting, and pretty much everything else about this book. Caine is perhaps one of my favorite characters I have ever read about. The book is not short, in fact it could be called long, but there isn't a slow moment in it. All of Stover's characters are well developed and either easy to like or hate. My favorite part of the novel is the action, whitch is detailed, believable, and not jam packed full of magic. It is quite simply knock down, drag out, brutal war. This is why I will say that this novel is not for the faint of heart, along with the action there is plenty of bad language, and nun of the characters are really nice people. The word that best describes the cast is hard, they all have problems and faults, and they won't shy away from a scrap. To complete this review the narrator fits the story perfectly. It is true that he is a bit hard to get use to, but once you do, his voice is what I would imagine Caine's would be. I highly recommend people get this book, it not only is a great story, but it bridges the gap between fantasy and science fiction in a way I have never found before.
Great work of combining dystopia with fantasy, though could do with a little less mysticism.
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