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 becau..Show More »se 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!
If you are Matthew Stover, you set the philosophy to 11, the action (at least for the first 3/4 ..Show More »of the book) to 2, and throw out the sequel rulebook.
I've made this an especially difficult review for myself, as I don't want to spoil a single thing about what takes place in either of the books as I tend to read reviews for later books in a series to see if they are worth investing in. So, the quick review is: very very good, get them both.
Long review: To begin with, I'll say that the first 4/5s of Blade of Tyshalle is a very different beast to Heroes Die. It has a cloying, suffocating atmosphere that builds palpably as you progress through the book. You are never sure what is going to happen and how actions will pan out (which is one of the main themes of the book - the butterfly effect). As such, it can be very overpowering, especially with the many unpleasant things that happen to people trying to do the right thing. Then you get to the last fifth of the book which escalates things dramatically - action set pieces and emotional turmoil are thrown around with gusto, all the while building to a conclusion that neatly dots the 'i's and cross the 't's. To me, the thing that stands out most is Hari's character arc, especially the way he comes to terms with who he is and what has happened to him - it is astonishingly powerful stuff. Also note that threads from the first book are picked up and either expanded upon (i.e. black shell) or explained (the Social police and caste system). This is a superb book that expands on the first in every way, subverting what you expect and what you want. Highly recommended. As a side note I noticed that there was a lot of material in this book that seemed to resonate with the 2nd and 3rd Matrix films, which is fine, except for the fact that the Blade of Tyshalle book was published 2 years before The Matrix Reloaded movie!
Enjoyable first half of the final story in the Caine Trilogiy. The book has a slower pace than previous books in the series, but still able to build ..Show More »tension to the culmination. The complexity of this book and the philosophical questions that are raised do not detract from the story but adds an an extra dimension. Cannot wait to find out how the whole thing pans out!