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Caine Black Knife (Acts of Caine) Paperback – October 14, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews
Book 3 of 4 in the Acts of Caine Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Stover's third Caine novel (after 2001's Blade of Tyshalle) mixes a twisty plot with intense violence and a strong narrative voice. Caine—an otherworld warrior played by professional actor Hari Michaelson in a far-future reality show beamed home to entertain fans on Earth—returns to the Boedecken, the site of the battle that made his career. As he makes his way through the city, encountering spies, warrior-priests and assassins, he also wades through memories of the fight. The political machinations of the present-day story tend to detract from the tight, well-choreographed flashbacks. Stover has a gift for brutal, detailed action sequences, and Caine is at his most enthralling when he's fighting or discussing tactics, but the high levels of (occasionally creative) profanity and the cliffhanger ending may put off some readers. (Oct.)
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Review

“Stover has conjured up a future out of the darkest dreams of Philip K. Dick. . . . The wildest sword and sorcery adventuring since Robert E. Howard’s mighty Cimmerian laid down his sword.”
–Christopher Rowley, author of the Bazil Broketail series, on Heroes Die

“Blends science, magic, and martial arts into an action-packed tale of adventure and heroism.”
–Library Journal, on Blade of Tyshalle

“Marvelous . . . Day of the Jackal meets Lord of the Rings.”
–Simon R. Green, author of The Unnatural Inquirer, on Heroes Die
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Product Details

  • Series: Acts of Caine
  • Paperback: 366 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (October 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780345455871
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345455871
  • ASIN: 0345455878
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Caine Black Knife is the third book in Matthew Stover's exceptional Acts of Caine series, following Heroes Die and Blade of Tyshalle. The premise of the series is that a couple hundred years in the future, earth's primary entertainment is the ultimate in reality programming: people live and experience the exploits of "actors" who are transferred to another dimension that is, essentially, your standard fantasy world. Caine was an immensely popular actor, smart and violent; the first two books dealt with one of his Adventures and its fallout on both worlds.

Caine Black Knife picks up several years later, and treats us to two intertwined stories: Now, Caine is older, maybe a bit wiser, maybe a bit more mellow, but no less intelligent and no less dangerous. As he ends up involved in danger and intrigues in new settings, we flash back to the Adventure that made him a star: we see a younger, more narcissistic, self-absorbed and violent Caine making a name for himself, setting the stage for events to come. Caine runs into some characters we've met before and plenty of new ones, comes up against new threats from two worlds and makes a few new friends along the way. It's fascinating to see this character at two very different stages of his life, unmistakably himself in each, yet incredibly different in outlook, in the choices he makes.

Matthew Stover is a great writer of intelligent, exciting fiction that refuses to be confined to a single genre, stories that engage your imagination and make you think even as they provide nearly non-stop action, and make no mistake: Stover's action sequences are nonpareil, brutal and detailed without losing coherence or energy. Every book in this series is fresh and new; Stover never settles for offering just more of the same, and Caine Black Knife stands proudly by its predecessors as a great novel and part of one of the finest sff series on shelves today.
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ugh. I'm conflicted on this one. On one hand, by book three of this series, you know exactly what you're getting into with Caine. On the other hand, this book was far more brutal, unrelenting, vulgar, disgusting and inhuman than the others. At least in the other two books there was a break from Caine being Caine. We had Hari and his relationship with his wife and daughter, we saw him care about people. We saw him have friends and a real life - there were other characters who were in the story.

Caine Black Knife is 99% just Caine being an a-hole, killing people and being tortured. There's pretty much nothing humanizing about him. I'm not one to usually be queasy about violence in books, but this one was just too much for me - which is ironic because I thought Caine was a bit of a cry-baby in book 2. I wish I had just read Heroes Die and stopped there - but I bought all the books, so I'll take a shot at the last one and see how it goes.
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Format: Paperback
Heroes Die was a rescue story in which Caine had to fight through a God in order to save his beloved. Blade of Tyshalle raised the stakes and took on a different, more dark and tragic approach. While they both were different kinds of stories, there was still a large connection between the two. Many of the same characters appeared in both novels -- Ma'elKoth, Toa-Sytell, Kierendal, and Pallas. Caine Black Knife is missing a lot of these characters, and suffers from it. Caine talks with Orbek and T'Passe, but beyond that there's no appearance by Deliann, Raither, or even Faith. Caine Black Knife is a smaller, more personalized novel shown completely from Caine's point-of-view, but the novel suffers from the minimal connection to the previous two novels in the Acts of Caine sequence.

It's been three years since Blade of Tyshalle took place. Caine has left Ankhana behind, focusing instead on making sure people from Earth -- headed by the Board of Governors -- don't come back to Overworld. When he catches word that Orbek, of the Black Knife Ogrillo clan, has been taken prisoner, he heads over to helps him. But, as it always happens with Caine, events start to spiral out of control as word of the mysterious Smoke Hunt is coming. Meanwhile, Stover takes us back twenty-five years in the past to show the story of what made Caine famous, when he all but single-handedly destroyed the Black Knife clan.

Choosing to focus exclusively on Caine is the best decision Stover made. What really makes this story push forward are the differences between Young Caine and Old Caine. The younger version is more ruthless, prone to violence, and willing to sacrifice his allies in order to make himself famous. His lack of conscience really is troubling.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Whether you like sword and sorcery, dystopian futures, or just really brilliant prose, Matt Stover's Caine series has it all. The first two novels bent my brain a lot; this one kicks up both the writing and the story to another level as they jump back and forth between the twisty story in Caine's present, and the epic adventure of 20 years back that made him famous.

These books are not a fast, light read. They are so dense with detail, characterization and worldbuilding that they demand your full attention. But this is no doorstop fantasy novel that makes you slog through pages of exposition to get to the story. Stover's narrative voice is one of the most compelling I've ever encountered, and every sentence he writes pulls you deeper into the action and faster towards the resolution.

If you aren't reading these, why aren't you? Go get the first novel, Heroes Die, and start now. You won't be sorry!
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