Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Heroes Die (The Acts of Caine, #1)” as Want to Read:
Heroes Die (The Acts of Caine, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Heroes Die (The Acts of Caine #1)

4.09  ·  Rating Details  ·  6,988 Ratings  ·  407 Reviews
Renowned throughout the land of Ankhana as the Blade of Tyshalle, Caine has killed his share of monarchs and commoners, villains and heroes. He is relentless, unstoppable, simply the best there is at what he does.

At home on Earth, Caine is Hari Michaelson, a superstar whose adventures in Ankhana command an audience of billions. Yet he is shackled by a rigid caste society,
Paperback, 545 pages
Published May 29th 1999 by Del Rey (first published January 1st 1998)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Heroes Die, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Heroes Die

The Orb of Truth by Brae WyckoffIsle of Winds by James FahyHouse of Blades by Will WightThe Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillipThe Scourge by Roberto Calas
Best Fantasy Books Under the Radar
13th out of 1,382 books — 1,737 voters
Prince of Thorns by Mark  LawrenceThe Blade Itself by Joe AbercrombieA Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinKing of Thorns by Mark  LawrenceEmperor of Thorns by Mark  Lawrence
The Grimdarks
31st out of 191 books — 615 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details

Okay, let me get the following BOLD STATEMENT out of the way. If I absolutely HAD to choose my single favorite BADASS “action” protagonist of all time HARI MICHELSON (AKA CAINE) would get the nod.
Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket
Now I have read many books with main characters who “went to 11” on the 10 level kick-ass meter
so picking a favorite or comparing one to the other is very hard to do. However, overall, taking all aspects of nut stomping, bone-breaking, dialogue-delivering (very important), head-splitting, “you d
Jun 18, 2012 Felicia rated it it was amazing
WHOAH. Blast of testosterone to the face in the midst of my romance novel obsession. THIS WAS FANTASTIC!

So this book is really hard to describe, it takes place in a futuristic dystopian society that uses crazy technology to send "actors" to an alternate reality called Overworld, a traditional Fantasy-ish world. They are watched back home via virtual reality tech as the actors live in the Fantasy world, the fantasy people have no idea they're from an alternate dimension. The hero, Hari, is basica
Mike (the Paladin)
Feb 21, 2015 Mike (the Paladin) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
This is an excellent book.

Please allow me to open with a caveat or two. First, I'm a Christian...I mean an actual practicing one. If you're a Christian (and possibly this will apply to those of you in other belief systems as well) you need to go into this knowing that it is not what I'd call "Christian friendly". On the other hand if you can read a book realizing "it's fiction" and can take what it has to say that's worthwhile and not be offended that it doesn't agree with you...I think you'll s
Sep 21, 2015 Algernon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2013
In the author's own words, from the interview at the end of the book:

Q: How would you describe Heroes Die?
A: It’s a piece of violent entertainment that is a meditation on violent entertainment — as a concept in itself, and as a cultural obsession. It’s a love story: romantic love, paternal love, repressed homoerotic love, love of money, of power, of country, love betrayed and love employed as both carrot and stick. It’s a book about all different kinds of heroes, and all the different ways the
Oct 09, 2015 Brad rated it it was amazing
This was recommended to me because of my devotion to The Fortunate Fall, and not without good reason. It's a fantastic tale that requires patience at the beginning, but with each domino piece it sets up, it delivers one of the most exacting and brilliant payoffs I've read in any SF or F work.

That's saying something.

The novel is long and the crappy cover is off-putting, but the length does the tale very excellent justice, so I recommend that ya'll just ignore the eyesore and pick up this classic
David Sven
If there’s one word to describe Heroes Die – it’s Testosterone. This book has some of the most graphically violent action scenes you’ll find in anything written by Abercrombie or George RR Martin or any of the host of grimdark authors that have been populating the fantasy genre recently. And just in case you didn’t get enough Testosterone from the actual writing, the audio narration will have the short and curlies growing out of control from crotch to neck. Stefan Rudnicki is the man and his dee ...more
Feb 03, 2015 Rob rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Dark Fantasy
Executive Summary: Dark Fantasy/Sci-Fi that is more gruesome in places than anything I've read from Joe Abercrombie or George R.R. Martin.

Full Review
It's hard to believe this book was published in the late 90's. It would be right at home with all the Dark Fantasy that seems to be abundant these days. This book is way more gruesome in places than most of the so-called "grimdark" fantasy I've read recently. This seems to be a book that has gone under the radar of most fantasy fans.

This is defini
May 26, 2008 J. rated it it was amazing
I forget, for long periods of time, how tremendously awesome epic fantasy books can be. When they are well-written, with high stakes, well-drawn and fascinating characters, scenes and set-pieces which fit together perfectly, constantly ratcheting up the tension and suspense... reading experiences don't come much better for me.

To be clear, this isn't pure epic fantasy: it's a combination of fantasy and science fiction, where Actors from a future Earth go adventuring in Overworld (which is a "grit
May 18, 2012 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2012
5 Stars

After nearly 15 years of being in my reading queue, Heroes Die by Matthew Woodring Stover more than lived up to my high expectations. This brutally dark and twisted, and often funny science fiction fantasy blend is just so much damn fun!!!! I admit that I am sure that there are flaws in this book, in the plot, and even in our wonderful heroes, but to me it is as if Matthew Woodring Stover wrote this book just for me and my sick and twisted sense of humor. Hot damn Stover even combines my
Sep 26, 2009 Jon rated it liked it
3.5 stars

The pros: Great combat scenes, lots of fast-paced action, dystopian future Earth reminiscent of ancient history repeating itself, and plots within plots ... all for your entertainment.

The cons: Prolific profanity (although I suppose it could be argued that it's all relevant and 'in character'), graphic violence (again relevant and 'in character'), lust/love seen through testosterone-tinged viewpoint and only one decent character afloat in the grey morass of moral ambiguity.

Alex Ristea
Aug 15, 2013 Alex Ristea rated it it was amazing
My new favourite book that probably no one has read.

Matthew Stover is the king of action. You thought Mark Lawrence and Joe Abercrombie were gritty? Heroes Die is outright nasty, then. Glotka doesn't even hold a hot iron to this guy.

The premise is interesting--a mashup of sci-fi and fantasy, where "actors" in a future earth strap into these chairs which send them to an alternate universe (a fantasy medieval setting) where their adventures are watched by millions of people back home. Lots of oppo
Paul O'Neill
Sep 17, 2015 Paul O'Neill rated it it was amazing
Don't let the crappy cover fool you, this is a great book! I'm surprised this hasn't made its way to the big, or small, screen. It has everything, kick ass main character (who develops throughout the story), fast paced action, magic and fantasy elements, gods, war, a really touching love story and reality tv.
My first novel by this author & it was quite a pleasant surprise. He handled two distinct worlds very well. One is a high tech, rather dystopian world, the other one full of swords & sorcery. Not a new idea, but it was a rather new way of putting it together with plenty of excitement throughout.

The characters were well drawn with logical, sometimes complex motivations. There were multiple heroic figures, plenty of bad guys, & they didn't always stay where they started out. They grew
Twerking To Beethoven
So there's this very popular actor, - Hari Michaelson - alright? He plays Caine, a fully-fledged badass who kicks all sorts of arse in a fantasy world. Only Ankhana isn't actually a fictitious world, it really exists in a parallel dimension. So, whenever people watch one of Caine's movies, they're watching stuff that's happening for real.

Now Caine... picture a cross between Harry Callahan, Dutch off Predator, John McClane and Conan. That's the sort of badass Caine is. Actually, everybody's a me
Dec 13, 2013 Artemas rated it really liked it
To quote Matt Stover: "Fuck me like a virgin goat."

I'm pretty torn on this one. 4 stars, but that's probably the biggest round-up from a 3 that I'll ever grant on Goodreads. I found the first half of this book to be a little bizarre. As things started to click I got dragged into the story and the end made up for the confusion caused by the beginning.

I still have a bunch of questions about the "setting" that I hope will be answered in the next volume of the series.
Jan 11, 2016 Matthew rated it really liked it
Wonderful... brutal... and full of intrigue and action. Why Stover is not a standard bearer for fantasy I will never know. Highly recommended.
Jo Anne B
Aug 17, 2012 Jo Anne B rated it it was amazing
Heroes Die

My husband loved this book so much that he made me read it. I am glad I did.

I like badass heroes and Caine filled that role quite well. I really enjoyed Stover's writing style which incorporated humor and heart amidst all the vulgarity and violence. It made me like the characters more when they would say a line such as "Well, what's up her goddamn ass then? There's probably five billion women that'd sell both their tits and an ovary to spend one night with you! Jesus Christ!" I don't
Jul 11, 2015 Sumant rated it liked it
Yesterday while searching the internet for under rated fantasy books I came across this book Heroes die. I am really amazed as to why this series did not become much popular, may be people still liked reading tolkienesque fantasy at that time or the genre of grimdark was in its infancy stage at that time.This book has all the elements of grimdark to the brink, but the story is also one of the strong points of this book, the other being the world in which it is set.

Some of the strong points of th
Jan 17, 2015 Nelson rated it really liked it
I had read so many amazing things about this book that maybe, just maybe, that's why I really liked it but I didn't love it. The final product could not reach my expectations.

Nevertheless, this is a really good book! 100% adventure with a little bit of social commentary to spice things up.

The highlight is without a doubt Stover's ability to pull of some really good actions sequences. They are written with so much clarity that I could see every movement, punch, kick, and roll in my head. They ar
Христо Блажев
Износ на хаос:

Антиутопично кастово общество от близкото бъдеще, вманиачено по реалити шоу, в което хора се пренасят в друга реалност и участват в шеметни – и доста кървави – приключения. На пръв поглед – нищо оригинално. Но на втори – “Героите умират” на Матю Стоувър е брутално фентъзи с примес на фантастика, излязло през далечната 1997 г., което дава начало на поредица от четири книги, последната от които излиза през 2012 г. Зачетох го, без да проверя да
So... This book. I'm gonna go with 2.5 stars here.

I started this book a month and a half ago, give or take a couple days. It felt like I was reading it forever and ever... and there were times when I thought it would never end. To be fair, there was a lot going on in my life that made reading take a back-burner, but even when I did pick this book up, it just... didn't grab me.

And in general, I think that's the problem I had overall - I just kept waiting for this book, this story, to grab me...
Apr 11, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-read
Heroes Die by Matthew Woodring Stover is one of those often overlooked novels important to both science fiction and fantasy. Hari Michaelson is better known as Caine, the Blade of Tyshelle, a brutal assassin on the world called Overworld. His adventures are experienced by millions of people back home where his many assassinations and staggering body count have made him a superstar. When Hari/Caine’s wife goes missing in Overworld he is sent against the world’s newest dictator in a mission with l ...more
Aug 06, 2013 Sarah rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi, fantasy, dystopia
I couldn't finish this one. I renewed it 3 times because I wanted to be able to finish it, but I'm giving up.

This is a fascinating story. The world is interesting, complex and full of potential, as are the male characters. It's well-written and mostly believable. But I'm stuck on two major, major issues.

1) What is with all the shit? And I mean that literally. I'm no wilting lily who can't stand to read about graphic violence, grit and gore. There just seems to be a never-ending river of it in t
The first 100 pages were absolutely brilliant. About halfway through I realized I was only halfway through. It turned out to be a bit too long, with one too many twists and action scenes. I was a little bored at the end and was not fully able to appreciate the epicness happening.

Caine is too smart for how he is portrayed. He's like, Locke Lamora smart, with none of the panache and style. A lot of the book reminded me of The Lies of Locke Lamora actually, with the cons and the blood everywhere, b
Laura Lulu
Feb 19, 2011 Laura Lulu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: magic, sci-fi
Fast paced, gritty writing style and great fight scenes. But that was all it was. The characters were two dimensional and completely unsympathetic. I need character development and motivations as much--if not more--than gritty & action packed. I need to like the main character--he doesn't have to be perfect, in fact, I prefer it if he's not. But I didn't give a rat's patootey about Hari/Caine--he was a self-absorbed dickhead.
Richard Guion
Jan 11, 2016 Richard Guion rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have seen rave reviews of this novel for years, finally decided to try it - BOOM! This is action adventure par excel-lance, with influences felt from Heinlein, Zelazny and Leiber. Other reviewers like Mike the Paladin can describe the plot / flavor of the story. What I liked the most was the concept of Overworld and how it related to the Earth. Overworld is a "real" world (not simulated by a computer) where magic exists, where sword-fighters still exist in a pre-industrialized city-state. Eart ...more
Sky Corbelli
Feb 25, 2014 Sky Corbelli rated it really liked it
This is a fantastic book.

From the setting to the action to the plot, this one hits all the right notes. Even the use of the first person present tense (something I normally cringe at) is remarkably well done. Better than that: it makes sense.

If you're looking for a book that takes a tech-savvy dystopian world and combines it with high fantasy, mixes in a healthy dose of jaded protagonist, and shakes it all up with just a hint of political commentary until it's pleasantly dark, this is the book f
Dec 22, 2015 Jakyro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Heroes Die is the first part in the Acts of Caine fantasy series. Although being fantasy, the story also incorporates some intriguing sci-fi elements. We follow the tale of Hari Michaelson whose life is set on earth where a cast system has been put in place. As an actor Hari belongs to the 'professional' cast and is known across the globe for his performances as the assassin Caine. For his performances as Caine, Hari is transported to another universe to impersonate his character there on a worl ...more
Jul 10, 2012 Dawn rated it really liked it
This was quite a ride! I wasn't really sure what to expect when I started it. It had been recommended to me as an action packed, dark and exciting fantasy story, so I didn't even read the blurb, I just jumped in. I was a little thrown off at first.. It starts out seeming like straight up fantasy, and then all of a sudden it turned all science fiction on me... I'm not a huge fan of science fiction so I was immediately a little worried.. But the blending worked in this one, it really really worked ...more
Ian Oliver Camiwet
To start, this book is not for those who hate extreme blood and gore, profanities, and assholes. Because seriously it has a lot of them.

Now, Heroes Die is one of my favorites, it has a lot of unforgettable characters, an interesting future earth with parallel worlds which are also very interesting, a fast pace plot that won't let go, and the writing style is simply awesome.

The future earth has developed a strict cast system where riches and skill determines your status. Their source of entertain
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The Whitefire Crossing (Shattered Sigil, #1)
  • The Folding Knife
  • A Shadow in Summer (Long Price Quartet, #1)
  • The Ten Thousand (The Macht #1)
  • The Steel Remains
  • Talion: Revenant
  • Black Sun Rising (The Coldfire Trilogy, #1)
  • The Judging Eye (Aspect-Emperor, #1)
  • Lamentation (Psalms of Isaak, #1)
  • Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery
  • God's War (Bel Dame Apocrypha, #1)
  • The Desert of Souls (The Chronicles of Sword and Sand #1)
  • The Troupe
  • Nights of Villjamur (Legends of the Red Sun, #1)
  • Soldiers Live (The Chronicles of the Black Company, #9)
  • Acacia: The War with the Mein (Acacia, #1)
Matthew Woodring Stover is an American fantasy and science fiction author. He is perhaps best known for his Star Wars novels -- Traitor, Shatterpoint, Revenge of the Sith and Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor. He has also published several pieces of original work, such as Heroes Die, which Stover described as 'a piece of violent entertainment that is a meditation on violent entertainment'. ...more
More about Matthew Woodring Stover...

Other Books in the Series

The Acts of Caine (4 books)
  • Blade of Tyshalle (The Acts of Caine, #2)
  • Caine Black Knife (The Acts of Caine, #3)
  • Caine's Law (The Acts of Caine, #4)

Share This Book

“A lie is like a pet- you have to take care of it, or it'll turn on you and bite you in the ass.” 18 likes
“I believe in justice, as long as I'm holding a knife at the throat of the judge.” 6 likes
More quotes…