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Blade of Tyshalle Mass Market Paperback – March 26, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 108 customer reviews
Book 2 of 4 in the Acts of Caine Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Reprint edition (March 26, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345421434
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345421432
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.3 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,477,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
BLADE OF TYSHALLE is the sequel to Matthew Stover's excellent HEROES DIE. This is the rare sequel that surpasses the excellence of its predecessor.
I'm not going to go into a long summary of the story, but suffice it to say, BLADE OF TYSHALLE blends Fantasy and Science Fiction into an exemplary piece of speculative fiction. Briefly, Hari Michaelson (aka Caine) is a broken man due to events in HEROES DIE. Overworld where his known as Caine has become a tool of the Studios here on Earth. Overworld is a fantasy-type world populated by ogres, thaumaturges (wizards/sorcerers), elves and the like. Studios send their best actors to Overworld so people can live along their adventures. The nature of these adventures is similar to Virtual Reality, people can pay, like they do for a movie, to watch the actor's adventures as the actors run through their adventures.
What this book is really about is more complex-conflicting personalities on different worlds, supreme characterization, internal dialogue that is genuine, sticking to your beliefs and struggling, inching toward sunlight with every breath-and all that just describes Caine. Hari/Caine fights against himself, his family and the studios trying to ruin his beloved Overworld, home of his adventures and his life. The action is amazing, the characters are some of the most "real" and fleshed out that I have ever read. The supporting characters are just right, there aren't too many and the detail they are given is just right. The `villian' Ma'elKoth is one of the better "villains" in SF today. I give the quotes to villain because at many points through the story, Ma'elKoth does things that you or I would do given the situation, he is a guy you can like, that's what makes him scary.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Stover's work has been lampooned as "over-the-top" and "shallow wish-fulfillment violence" by a few self-satisfied snobs who didn't bother to actually read what he was writing. However, *Blade of Tyshalle* contains more deep reflection on the consequences of violence, and on the nature and the extent of personal responsibility for one's actions, than any other novel I've read in the past ten years. I expected to be enthralled (Stover is a past master of narrative mechanics and effective tension-building), but I didn't expect to be quite so moved. *Blade of Tyshalle* is an emotional and intellectual brick to the head, and the heart of it all (as Bob Urell has pointed out elsewhere in this review section) is its skillfully-crafted multi-level duality.
Caine is simultaneously a selfish, vicious, amoral mass-murderer and the freest, noblest, least dishonest character in the story. Stover never loses sight of either aspect of his gritty fantasy Batman; when it looks like Caine is getting a bit too much authorial glad-handing, Stover shows us what a ... he is. When it looks like he's being too much of a ..., some of the twisted nobility is allowed to creep back in. Caine is a construct that Stover alternately tortures, dissects, and celebrates-- only idiots would make the mistake of assuming that Caine is some sort of wishful authorial projection. Caine is Stover's demonstration of how simplistic dualities-- Good vs. Evil, Right vs. Wrong, Order vs. Chaos-- so easily break down when confronted with the complexity that even a single human being displays.
Too many fantasies treat blood, sex, violence, and adventures as something distant from the reader, something so unlikely and improbable that they can be enjoyed abstractly.
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Format: Paperback
After reading "Heroes Die," I was very glad to learn that Stover was writing a sequel. Stover is amazingly good at using the conventions of action, fantasy, and dystopian science fiction while also subtly twisting them in service of his all too believable and recognizable characters. Unlike many authors, he understands that actions have consequences, not all conflicts have good solutions, and nobody can be a hero all the time. He writes great fight scenes, too.
"Blade of Tyshalle" is, in some ways, very similar to "Heroes Die." It focuses on Hari Michaelson, and his alter-ego, Caine, as he fights against impossible odds to save his family from threats on both Earth and Overworld. It includes action, dungeons, desperate last stands, and so on. However, this book spends a lot more time on other characters, including Shanna/Pallas Ril, Hari's wife; Ma'elKoth, who goes by Tan'elKoth for much of the book; Raithe, a young Monastic dedicated to killing Caine; Kollberg, Hari's old nemesis, raised up from his exile to the Labor Pool; and Kris/Deliann, the Changeling Prince of the elves. Also, Earth has become more directly involved with Overworld, to the point of creating an enclave of technology, and later releasing an incurable virus to justify an armed invasion, in the name of "restoring order;" this changes the rules of the game.
The plot is even more intricate than in "Heroes Die," but the story also contains much more social commentary and philosophy. There are many brief, odd, semi-mythic interchapters, which, once you figure out which character corresponds to which mythic figure, provide a handy road map for the rest of the book.
After I finished "Blade of Tyshalle," I wasn't quite sure what I thought of it.
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