Amph It's always personal: The Acts of Caine thread

Discussion in 'Archive: SF&F: Books and Comics' started by Havac, Jan 29, 2009.

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  1. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    Here, ladies and gentlemen, is the thread to discuss Matt Stover's Acts of Caine series. I read it through this month, and I was blown away. I loved the world and the characters Heroes Die introduced us to. Blade of Tyshalle absolutely brutalized Caine and then used it to push him to rise higher than ever, and now Caine Black Knife showed us his origins has me waiting eagerly to see what Caine's going to do next.

    So . . . thoughts on the series?
  2. GrandAdmiralJello Moderator Communitatis Litterarumque

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    The fight between Ma'elKoth and Pallas Ril was glorious, as was her apotheosis in general.
  3. Tel_Janin Jedi Padawan

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    I didn't realize that Blade of Tyshalle was the second book in the series when I bought it. Traitor had just been released, and I was excited about this new guy who made Star Wars powerful again. Seriously, it's been a long time since we've had anything truly meaty in the EU. Blade was the only book of his my local BN had in stock, so I grabbed it and never looked back. I was hooked from the initial Zero chapter. "This is a tale of twin boys..." One of my all-time favorite chapters ever.
  4. KirKanosForever Jedi Padawan

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    By far, my favorite part is how each book is a different animal entirely. Heroes Die is a mostly straightforward action/adventure novel. Blade is a great, 'consequences of ones actions' story for all of the protaganists (Caine, Delian, Ma'el Koth, etc.) as well as having the greatest prologue of any book I've read. CBK I have yet to judge completely, because I have a feeling that HFF will be a direct continuation and important for judging this Act.

  5. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    Yeah . . . it's hard to top gods fighting. Ma'elkoth in general was amazing; I loved the ambiguity of his genuine love for his people juxtaposed with his brutal tactics, to the point where he's definitely the antagonist, but it's hard to call him a villain, especially since his entire arc is so complex. In the same way, Caine is the protagonist, but he's really no hero. The exchange going something like "You would burn down the entire city to save her?" "**** the city. I'd burn the world." We love him for that heroic devotion to the woman he loves . . . but his absolute inability to care about anyone else is a huge glaring flaw. He really is a horrible person . . . but damn if he isn't fun to read, and damn if we don't like him anyway.
  6. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    Yeah, CBK and HFF are obviously a case of one of Stover's 700-page novels being split up in two. So CBK is just the slow-build setup we got for the first half of BOT . . . I expect HFF to start off in top gear now (if it can top BOT's kickstart -- the freaking incredible takeover of the Pit [one of the best moments in the whole series] -- that'll really be something incredible).
  7. manmiles Jedi Padawan

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    Is 'Caine Black Knife' easily accessible to readers who've not read the Caine books before, or is it best to have read them in order?
  8. saltmanz Jedi Grand Master

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    Jan 29, 2009
    Without a doubt, I'd say they're best read in publication order.

    CBK can be pretty confusing for even a seasoned Caine fan, so I would probably not recommend it to a new reader. That said, I think Blade of Tyshalle stands on its own well enough to be an acceptable lead-in to CBK. Heroes Die, not as much, mostly because of the major plot points that would be missed by skipping BoT.
  9. Trip Force Ghost

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    I think you can start with any of them, except-- don't skip Blade of Tyshalle.

    In other words, any of the three work well enough as an introductory novel, but don't read Heroes Die and then skip right to Caine Black Knife. A lot big, huge, important stuff goes down in BoT-- enough that, if you're already familiar with Caine's universe, you'll be confused as hell when you pick up CBK. If CBK is your starting novel, though, all that's just off-page backstory that's minor in terms of the story.

    In fact, it might even be okay to read CBK, then Heroes, then BoT; just, whatever you do, don't skip right from Heroes to CBK.

    Obviously, though, it's best just to read them all in proper sequence, particularly if you want to avoid spoiling yourself. Which you do.
  10. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    Yeah, I would strongly suggest starting with Heroes Die, and definitely suggest not skipping BOT. Heroes Die is a basically self-contained adventure that sets up the universe (and it's still my favorite of the three), and Blade of Tyshalle picks up about seven years later, dealing with the aftermath of what happened in Heroes Die and making some huge changes to the status quo. Due to the focus on HD's fallout, the events of that story are pretty well summarized, so you shouldn't be lost. Caine Black Knife dwells much less on previous activities, so you might find yourself a little more lost in the backstory, but the backstory also isn't all that necessary to understand what's going on.

    I still strongly advocate starting with HD and working your way through, as it will give you the best appreciation for the rest of the stories, and also as I think HD is the strongest entry. BOT and CBK (at least CBK's present portions; the Retreat from the Boedecken segments are nonstop adrenaline that really help cover the slower pace of the main story) are both somewhat slow to get rolling, so it's easier to bear through the slow start when you're already familiar with the characters and enjoying them and you know the kind of epic full-bore asskicking Stover's going to start handing out once it gets started.
  11. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    Do you guys happen to have an in-order-best-read (aka publication) list?
  12. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    It's Heroes Die, Blade of Tyshalle, Caine Black Knife, and then His Father's Fist is upcoming.
  13. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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  14. KirKanosForever Jedi Padawan

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    http://www.desertwords.com/fiction/inthesorrows.html

    This is a short story MWS wrote about a young Hari Michaelson. Definitely worth a read, and the easiest Caine story to get ahold of.

  15. MWStover - Traitor - Shatterpoint - ROTS - LSatSoM

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    It also pretty damned nearly sums up the primary themes of the entire Acts of Caine, all in a couple thousand words.

    This is the only thing I've ever written that still just plain gets me as much as the prologue of RotS does . . . both of them feel like they were written by somebody else who just happened to use my hands for the typing.

    Thanks for reminding me it's still out there.
  16. saltmanz Jedi Grand Master

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    Matt, any chance of seeing In the Sorrows reprinted in the back of His Father's Fist, or even the MMPB of CBK? It really deserves to be in print somewhere, especially since it was referenced in CBK (I loved that!)
  17. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    Yeah, I loved that short. It raises some interesting questions about the operation of magick on Earth, too. We also see magick working on Earth at the end of Blade. Is this something you have any intention of addressing in HFF, Matt, or is it up to us to ponder?
  18. Trip Force Ghost

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    The latter example was due to being in the vicinity of a dil, I think.
  19. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    Quite possibly. Still doesn't explain Mast, though.
  20. MWStover - Traitor - Shatterpoint - ROTS - LSatSoM

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    The ultimate authority on the utility of magick (Earthside and otherwise) in the Acts of Caine is still Tan'elKoth, whose disquisition on the subject can be found in Blade of Tyshalle's section Thirteen (13.4 -- 13.6, to be specific). As I still maintain a policy of silence regarding specifics of text in my books, I have nothing to add to Tan'elKoth's explanation, beyond noting that even gods (which, at the point in question, he is not -- at least, not yet [cf. "Lord Righteous" in Caine Black Knife]) have certain limitations of understanding.
  21. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    Ah; I'd forgotten that bit. It answers some questions and maybe creates some new ones. Very nice.
  22. darthcaedus1138 Force Ghost

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    Just bought Heroes Die, so I'll start that as soon as I'm able to make some time..

    Any suggestions on how to get Blade of Tyshalle? I've looked for it in a lot of bookstores, and it's hard to find from Amazon, so is there an easier way to get it?
  23. Havac Some Guy Who Moderates Lit

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    It's available as an e-book, which is the route I went. It's out of print, and used copies go for absurdly high prices online (and none of that money goes to Matt). That's probably your best bet.
  24. Ulicus Lit'ari

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    Yeah. I stumbled across the short story after reading CBK and loved being able to go, "Wait a minute! He spoke about this in CBK! Awesome!"

    It was just great.

    And I think: "And whatever else he might be at eleven years old, Hari Michaelson was no ***damn amateur."

    Is just about my favourite line ever written ever.
  25. Silky Jedi Knight

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    It maybe available as an e-book but personally i wouldn't go down that route as it is a quite long read and spending that amount of time reading off a computer screen or similar device is going to be hard work. Alongside that it will requires careful reading in some sections to fully grasp you might find that your better off with the book. Its worth the price of purchase if only for the backstory of how Hari got his chance to become an actor alone.

    Personally Heroes Die is one of my favourite books. It is absolutely amazing, and the greatest complement that I can give is that BoT is as good a read as Heroes Die.
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