Blade of Tyshalle
hits like a sledgehammer to the face. Here's a taste of this thickly boiling stew of fantasy, horror, and science fiction:
Kollberg chewed on the finger, worrying it, cracking the bone like a dog sucking marrow; he turned his head to one side, wedged the finger back between his molars, bit down again, and yanked his head from side to side until the bone splintered at the knuckle and he could rip it free. Blood sprayed, and Kollberg fixed his lips to the wound, sucking greedily.
Imagine an earth overloaded with faceless billions scrambling for the scraps of the unimaginably wealthy few. The only way to climb out of the gutter comes through training for Reality TV to the nth degree: actors train in special academies, are implanted with broadcast equipment, and get transferred to Earth's sister world, called Overworld, where all the trappings of high fantasy exist for real.
There are tiny, winged fairies on Overworld. They carry yard-long lances of razor steel. The dwarves magically flow stone to entomb their enemies. Back on earth, viewers experience full-body simulations of the actors' heroic adventures.
But the billions hunger for more than entertainment. Overworld tempts them with its pure air, its unexploited resources, its living space, and its sweet, clean water. Their hunger begets a blind god. And Kollberg, the god of human appetites, sends his weapons to Overworld--bulldozers for the land and a plague of fatal, frothing madness for the people.
Enter Hari Michaelson, the actor formerly known as Caine. Since the events of Stover's Heroes Die, in which Caine squared off against the god Ma'elKoth, a new religion has sprung up--Cainism. The Children of Ma'elKoth persecute the Cainists, but that particular war is small potatoes next to the bouts of unstoppable death about to be unleashed as earth's high-tech weaponry takes on the fiery thaumaturges of Overworld.
Hari/Caine, his old friends, and his bevy of mortal enemies surge and clash and take unbelievable beatings, spiritual as well as physical. And the faceless billions learn nothing of trust, sacrifice, or redemption.
Blade of Tyshalle: gods, myths, human weakness, and the tool that is pain. You've been warned. --Blaise Selby
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From Publishers Weekly
A host of action sequences (whose detailed choreography reflects the author's martial-arts background), subplots, counterplots and secondary characters (some gruesome enough to give Hannibal Lecter pause) extend (some will feel pad) Stover's (Heroes Die, etc.) latest epic. A century or more from now, Earth's 14 billion people are kept under control not only by a rigidly hierarchical totalitarianism but by the entertainment provided by the adventures in the Overworld, a parallel world that seems to be the Faerie of myth and folklore. Hari Michaelson, a media executive on Earth but a formidable assassin named Caine in the Overworld, discovers a monstrous plot to infect Overworld with a deadly virus and depopulate it for the benefit of Earth's oligarchy. With the help of his wife, Shanna, in her avatar as the goddess Pallas Ril, and his old fighting instructor Kris Hansen, now an Overworld mage named Deliann, Caine/Michaelson fights a long and involved battle against both the Earth conspiracy and Overworld's dark god Ma'elKoth. How it all turns out matters a lot less than the immediate, often X-rated action. In spite of its high ambitions and a considerable level of intelligence, the book goes over the edge from complex into convoluted, and among efforts to combine SF and fantasy (consider Tad Williams's Otherland series and classic Michael Moorcock) has to be ranked as an interesting near miss.
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