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Heroes Die (The Acts of Caine #1)

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  4,391 ratings  ·  288 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,...more
Paperback, 545 pages
Published May 29th 1999 by Del Rey (first published January 1st 1998)
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Community Reviews

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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.
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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...more
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...more
Mike (the Paladin)
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...more
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 20, 2014 Rob rated it 4 of 5 stars
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 definit...more
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
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...more
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.

Heroes Di...more
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...more
Alex Ristea
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...more
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.
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...more
Jo Anne B
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...more
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......more
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
Jake Menne
One of the coolest concepts, characters, and books I’ve ever read.

Right of the bat the world building was incredible. The reader is introduced to a future earth where the constitution has apparently been thrown out the window and we have entered a very strict cast system. Different dimension have also been discovered and there is one that is straight out of a fantasy novel where “actors” can go and the rich elite can take a ride in the actors head more or less.

The hybrid science fiction fantasy...more
Laura Lulu
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.
Sky Corbelli
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...more
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...more
Apr 25, 2009 Aaron rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in seeing what a fantasy Jack Bauer might look like.
Shelves: character, plot, setting
"A pop-top can of 100% pure Grade-A whipass" MW Stover calls his own novel, and rightly so. This rollercoaster eclipses any other thriller/action-adventure ever written, and it resides in the fantasy genre. Fun, as long as you don't mind gore and lots of it. Significantly deeper than anything else that tries to be exciting and thoughtful, though--save its sequel, Blade of Tyshalle.
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...more
Very good action packed adventure albeit graphic in terms of violence though it served the story well. I would recommend it although I wish I hadn't read the author's interview at the end as one question got a bit into politics. Everyone is entitled to their opinion though & he wrote a heck of a story.
Rafal Jasinski
Obok tetralogii "Inny Świat" Tada Williamsa, "Bohaterowie umierają" jest prawdopodobnie najlepszym połączeniem science-fiction i fantasy, z jakim się spotkałem. Owszem, przedstawiona tu ledwie w wycinku, oparta na zależnościach kastowych, dystopia, nie oparłaby się głębszej analizie, a fantastyczny świat Overworld to w zasadzie worek pełen ogranych fantastycznych klisz, motywów i postaci, to jednak połączenie obu tych rzeczywistości i oparcie fabuły na ich współzależności robi naprawdę duże wraż...more
I stumbled on this by pure chance in a book blog announcing that the four volumes of Mr. Stover's Acts of Caine series were being printed in a new edition - otherwise I might never have learned of their existence, even though the first one dates as far back as 1998. So I'm very grateful to that blogger for this exceptional discovery.

Heroes Die literally held me in thrall from page one: there is a rhythm to this story, and to the author's storytelling, that captures the reader in a spell-like hol...more
Very mixed feelings.
Heroes Die is born from a very interesting concept: a parallel world in which elves and magic are real, where actors/gladiators are sent to live grand adventures, livestreamed worldwide to billions of paying customers in the dark dystopian future Earth.
Hari Michaelson (alias Cain) is an actor, to be precise he is one of the most famous and appreciated actors in the world, in virtue of his ruthless, ultraviolent attitude and innate sense of drama.
But, as it turns out, fame ai...more
So, I have heard "Heroes Die" is a hardcore macho book, with a brutal masculine main character, thus having no choice but to read it and find out for myself.

And as it turns out.. I have a completely different opinion of it. haha.. Caine, as such, is more or less an act. Hari is an entertainer. In the very beginning of the book he says that Caine and him are not the same person. More like an avatar. Myself, I think we all have lots of different self-version in us, a few dominant ones, and others...more
Troy G
When someone asks me for Dark Fantasy, my mind brings me to this book. Technically it is equal parts Sci Fi and Fantasy, because several of the characters are entertainers sent from a technological world to a magical one. Their adventures are recorded and can be experienced by movie goers in a VR enviroment.

This may be a pulpy idea, but it is presented in a fairly cynical fashion. The central character is much akin to a pro athelete. He is employed by a series of massive cooperate interests wit...more
Chris Hawks

The first book I read by Matthew Stover was the Star Wars book, "Traitor". I whipped through it in 2 nights, and it still remains my favorite of all the many Star Wars novels. It was also the only Stover novel I'd read. That changed when I read good things about some of his original novels, and found two of them at Half-Price Books shortly thereafter. They're the first two books in a series called "The Acts of Caine".

The first book, called "Heroes Die", st...more
I really did not enjoy this book. But first, I'll touch on the things I did like. Stover has a very conversational writing style; as such, this made Heroes Die a very quick and easy book to read. I also have to applaud his ability to convey action and fight scenes in the same way. The brutalities of Caine’s fights are evoked in the mind in a visceral way, and every mad dash to freedom or quickly broken bone feels very real. I also found the main villain, Ma'elKoth, to be wholly engaging as a cha...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Hawkwood and the Kings (Monarchies of God, #1-2)
  • The Folding Knife
  • The Red Knight (The Traitor Son Cycle, #1)
  • Talion: Revenant
  • A Shadow in Summer (Long Price Quartet, #1)
  • The Steel Remains (A Land Fit for Heroes, #1)
  • The Whitefire Crossing (Shattered Sigil, #1)
  • Scourge of the Betrayer (Bloodsounder's Arc, #1)
  • The Darkness That Comes Before (The Prince of Nothing, #1)
  • The Grim Company (The Grim Company, #1)
  • Among Thieves (Tales of the Kin, #1)
  • The Troupe
  • Herald of the Storm (Steelhaven, #1)
  • Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen #1)
  • The Heroes
  • Nights of Villjamur (Legends of the Red Sun, #1)
  • Lamentation (Psalms of Isaak, #1)
  • The Thousand Names (The Shadow Campaigns, #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...
Star Wars, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (Star Wars, #3) Traitor (Star Wars: The New Jedi Order, #13) Shatterpoint (Star Wars: Clone Wars, #1) Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor (Star Wars) Blade of Tyshalle (The Acts of Caine, #2)

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“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.” 4 likes
“Now that it’s too late, now that I lie here dying on this bloodstained sand, I finally get it.

I understand, now.

I understand. I know what he meant. My father told me that to know
the enemy is half the battle. I know you, now. That’s right.

It’s you.

All of you who sit in comfort and watch me die, who see the twitch of
my bowels through my own eyes: You are my enemy.

Corpses lie scattered around me, gleanings left in a wheat field by a careless reaper. Berne’s body cools beneath the bend of my back, and I can’t feel him anymore. The sky darkens over my head—but no, I think that’s my eyes; Pallas’ light seems to have faded.

Every drop of the blood that soaks into this sand stains my hands and the hands of the monsters that put me here.

That’s you, again.

It’s your money that supports me, and everyone like me; it’s your lust that we serve.

You could thumb your emergency cut-off, turn your eyes from the screen, walk out of the theatre, close the book . . .

But you don’t.

You are my accomplice, and my destroyer.

My nemesis.

My insatiable blood-crazed god.

Ah, ahhh, Christ . . . it hurts.”
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