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Caine Black Knife

(The Acts of Caine #3)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  2,977 ratings  ·  107 reviews
Redemption casts a bloody shadow

On Overworld, Caine was an assassin without peer - a legendary killer known as the Blade of Tyshalle. Back on Earth, Caine was Hari Michaelson, an actor whose bloodthirsty adventures in the Overworld made him superstar. In his last adventure, Caine almost single-handedly defeated and exterminated the fiercest of all tribes: the Black Knives
Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Published May 27th 2013 by Orbit (first published January 1st 2008)
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Average rating 4.06  · 
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 ·  2,977 ratings  ·  107 reviews

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Sep 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have nothing bad to say about this novel except that it is a scaled down and streamlined version of the previous two novels. Assume you're taking our favorite badass, Caine, and developing a subplot that was teased in the previous novel about the Black Knife Clans, where Caine was made a blood-brother to a bunch of orcs, and run with it.

We've got the backstory where he made enemies of them when he was just starting out as as an Actir making huge ratings and long after that, indeed, several yea
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018

"Why would I want to join your f_cking clan?"
"What 'you' want? Who cares?" Orbek rose grinning. "You don't choose your clan, Caine. Born Black Knife, you're Black Knife. Borned Hooked Arrow, you're Hooked Arrow. Now: say that you are Black Knife, then let's go kill some guards, hey?"

Actor Hari Michaelson on the Home planet, known as Caine on parallel universe Overworld, is sort of retired from violent pursuit, following what can only be described as wholesale slaughter in the first two books i
Mike (the Paladin)
This is the third book in The Overworld or Acts of Caine series. The writing remains good and the story enthralling and all my warning caveats remain in place. Come to this book understanding that the language, the situations, the graphic descriptions are all decidedly what might be called "R" rated.

That being said I say again that these are well written and at times even thought provoking reads.

I think that so far as pure storytelling, plotting, characterization and just plain quality goes the
4.5 stars. The Caine/Hari Michaelson books are some of the best SF/Fantasy books that have ever been written. Not quite as good as the previous two entries but still incredibly entertaining. Highly recommended!!
Jul 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, favorites

Hari/Caine is crazy but the kind that keeps me glued to the pages. This was more disjointed than the other two books but necessary for the last book in line.
*Absorbed in Countless Worlds*
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
Unfortunately, this installment fails to thrill me as the former installments did. I really wanted to like it. DNF at 20%.
Nicholas Barone
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The third book in Stover's "Acts of Caine" series continues to impress. Unlike the first two books, which told complete stories, this one ends in a bit of a cliffhanger (which will be resolved in book 4, Caine's Law).

The book interweaves two stories. One picks up the story of Caine from a couple of years after the events of book 2 (Blade of Tyshalle). The other tells the tale of an adventure from Caine's past - a story that has been referred to several times in the first 2 books. The two stories

The best fantasy novel of 2008 till now for me. The power of the first two Caine novels in a tight, well honed, no words wasted package. Not for the squeamish since it's even more graphic than the first 2, it follows Caine's adventures in 2 threads, one in the past detailing his first famous adventure that made his name, second in the present picking up some pieces of that original 25 years ago adventure.

Adam Whitehead
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Three years have passed since Hari Michaelson - better known to two worlds as Caine - defeated his enemies, left the rancid and overpopulated Earth behind and escaped to Overworld to live in peace. When his adopted ogrillo brother Orbek goes missing in the Boedecken, Caine is reluctantly pulled back to the site of his first and greatest adventure, the one that won him his name, and he finds that he must finally face the ramifications of the huge events that happened twenty-five years earlier.

Feb 15, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Stover's Heroes Die is an excellent- if brutal and rather vulgar- book. Unfortunately the series takes a downhill turn from there; I didn't like Blade of Tyshalle at all.

The third book snaps back and forth between the present and the adventure that originally made Caine a superstar. Neither one is fully satisfying, although it's an improvement on Blade of Tyshalle. Unfortunately it also ends halfway through the story, so you'll be waiting for book #4 to find out how it ends.

Only Heroes Die works
Aug 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
This really only felt like half a book. I've since started Caine's Law and hopefully I'll see a conclusion to the story started here.
Before we get into this book, I'd like to note that I am a huge fan of the second book in this series, Blade of Tyshalle. It took what is my least favorite part of Heroes Die, the dystopian setting, and turned it into the centrepiece of something much more exciting and interesting.

So, about 10% into this novel, I thought this book was going to do something similar to the character of Caine. I've never thought that Caine rose too high above typical anti-hero, so I was excited to see Caine become
Sep 23, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Quite a letdown for me. I love Stover's stuff. My problems, in a nutshell, are as follows:

- the overuse of the first person: Caine is a much better badass in third person, and we really need the distance and the mystery, which is taken away in the 1st person perspective
- problems with how the "adventure" portion is handled (it is portrayed as a cube, or maybe as a first-hander experience, but the internal "thoughts" of the main character seem out of place for a cube)
- lack of any other character
So, the third book of Matthew Woodring Stover's series about Caine, a wandering mercenary who in reality is an actor from our world, whose adventures are followed by us, the adoring masses. Acts of Caine, get it? Clever. I first picked up 'Heroes Die' many many years ago, on recommendation by the lovely chaps at the Borderlands bookstore in San Francisco, on my first ever trip there. And absolutely loved it. It's brutal, funny, gripping and a pretty harsh book. But I loved it. Then a couple of y ...more
Roger Eschbacher
"Caine Black Knife" is the third in the series of books centered on the adventures of actor/unstoppable assassin, Hari Michaelson and is a must read for fans of talented author Matthew Stover. However...

Lacking the "big story" component of the first two books (fate of two worlds hanging in the balance, etc), CBK is also a bit of a jumble -- mixing a present day mini-adventure with a series of flashbacks about how Hari made his bones and became the mega star, Caine.

Personally, I would have prefe
Mar 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stover knows this character and his voice cold. I read this a while ago, so I can't remember too much beyond enjoying it (while being aware of the over-the-top nature of the prose), but I just wandered over to, where the other has occasionally been offering "Caine on Combat" tactical tips.


"The best way to hit someone is by surprise. The best way to surprise someone is to hit him before he knows you’re there. Second best is to hit him before he knows he’s in a fight. As a last r
Jan 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This book (3rd in the series) was more enjoyable than "Blade of Tyshalle" (book #2) but less enjoyable than "Heroes Die" (book 1). This book is a prequel to the first two, allowing the reader to experience the adventure that made Caine a star. I eagerly look forward to book 4 "Caine's Law" coming out in the near future.
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
great story, although the shift back and forth is rough

Had a good read, not as epic as the first 2 in the series but nonetheless a deeper look at the beautiful bastard Caine
Jun 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Almost a return to form, but falters in its final moments.

I love Heroes Die, it is an epic but tight and satisfying story that leaves the door open to a sequel. Blades of Tyshalle is simultaneously a well written book, with interesting characters both old and new, and a bloated mess that was excessively esoteric, self important, and high stakes that it honestly came across as someone with a lot of ideas who was unsure they would get another book deal, cramming them all into one.

So with two pola
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was hesitant to continue on with the series as I wasn’t a fan of Blade of Tyshalle but I really enjoyed Black Knife. At least in the first part (this looks like it’s a 2-part story with Caine’s Law) this book wasn’t as confusing or philosophical as book one. The stakes also didn’t seem to be as high. Half of the story is part of Caine’s backstory and his initial adventure that made him a star dealing with the Black Knife clan. I’m usually not a fan of alternating timelines as they can become c ...more
Jul 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, dystopia, z-2017
Didn't like it as much as the first two in the series--things get more winding and there's less of a direct story told. It does, however, provide some additional insight into what made Caine who he is. We see the majority of his first big adventure, The Escape from the Boedecken, split up across the novel. We see his moment when he steps up to try and be a star and then all of the fallout.

Still pretty dark. Still violent and with lots of strong language. If there were more to the series than ju
Drew McCaffrey
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent book from Stover. While it's part 1 of a two-part story and thus ends on a cliffhanger, it was a pure adventure through and through. There is more humor here than in either of the first two Caine installments, and a less oppressive outlook in general than in BLADE OF TYSHALLE.

However, the stakes are lower and overall Stover doesn't push himself as much as he did in BLADE. CAINE BLACK KNIFE is a much more fun read, but it's not as impressive a literary work. 4 stars is the orde
Yu-Hsien Kuo
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was told as an interchanging narrative between the "Retreat from the Boedecken" and the events following book two. Seemed to me like an excuse to just tell the story of Caine's past successes, since nothing much happened in the future arc.

Still good tho. More like book one than book two of the Acts.
This is pretty great. It's a good first half of the final act of Caine.

The book still has the same hardcore noir/fantasy feel as the preceding two books. Start fast and keeps ratcheting up the stakes. Gives us a good glimpse into the story that started Caine's legendary career.
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a complete sucker for this series. Stover keeps pumping out the action and the emotion and the cool concepts in this series. A wonderful mixture of magic and science fiction that doesn't feel forced. Some new characters as well. I loved it.
Jan 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't really enjoy the jumping around in time a bunch - it was hard to follow, and I started giving up. I enjoyed the 1st 2 books much more - I wish book 3-4 were more consistent.

Book 3 & 4 come as a pair. You could stop after reading book 2.
Paca Sad
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A return to the pleasantly violent world of Caine, good backstory again some deep, deep, philosophical meanderings, but overall a good-read!
Jace Woodstock
Steady decline in quality

Climaxed at the first book in series. Continues to decline. Did enjoy the flashbacks to his youth though. Still a readable series.
Vincent Nijzink
Not bad, but not as good as the first book. Strange cliffhanger ending.
Todd Campbell
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, just brilliant. Everything that was good about the first two books is in this but condensed and magnified. One of the best fantasy series ever.
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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

Other books in the series

The Acts of Caine (4 books)
  • Heroes Die (The Acts of Caine, #1)
  • Blade of Tyshalle (The Acts of Caine, #2)
  • Caine's Law (The Acts of Caine, #4)

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