Blade of Tyshalle: Heavy with philosophical and psychological themes

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews Matthew Woodring Stover Blade of TyshalleBlade of Tyshalle by Matthew Woodring Stover

Several years after the events in Heroes Die, Hari Michaelson, known as Caine on the fantastical inter-dimensional planet called Overworld, is now wheelchair bound. Despite this he still holds onto administrator status in the martially enforced caste system of Earth’s grimly overpopulated and ultra-corporate controlled future. When Hari/Caine discovers a plot to gain control of Overworld’s desperately scarce natural resources by infesting its people with a deadly virus, all hell breaks loose. Caine’s many enemies take the opportunity to strike at him, targeting his wife, the Overworld goddess Pallas Ril, and their daughter. In Blade of Tyshalle, the fate of Overworld hangs in the balance as the conflict escalates to include ancient and forgotten gods.

Handicapped and getting older, Caine remains as tough, mean, and defiant as ever. And I love him for it. In fact, it’s Caine’s character that the Overworld series is really about. The setting and plot serve as an extreme context in which to observe this natural born killer who is incapable of bowing down to authority. Aside from his Bruce Lee–like ability to kick-ass, I find myself relating to him. Like me, Caine is ill tempered and rebellious, has a compact build, and he’s struggling a bit with male middle age crisis. But in both future Earth and the Overworld, these traits are dangerous.

Readers expecting a continuation of the action/adventure and sci-fi fantasy combo that was Heroes Die are in for a shock. Though there is still a lot of two-fisted action, Blade of Tyshalle is a whopping 800 pages and carries a much more complicated storyline with chasm-deep philosophical and psychological themes. It hardly seems possible, but it’s even darker than the previous book.

However thoughtful it may be in comparison to its predecessor, Stover refrains from preaching. Instead, he offers more of a workingman’s interpretation of stuff like Nietzsche, existentialism, Sun Tzu, and even thoughts drawn from Bruce Lee’s philosophy. This is all very interesting, but can be overwhelming for readers who didn’t take Nietzsche 101.

Speaking of Nietzsche, there are a few too many long looks into the pit here. There are violent acts, descriptions of bodily functions, dungeon conditions, and rapes. I could have settled for a tad less graphic detail — that there is some sadistic $#!+ going on comes through loud and clear without all the added detail.

I would love to read someone else’s opinion of Blade of Tyshalle, particularly if that someone is educated in philosophy, psychology, or sociology. I did enjoy this novel, but felt like I didn’t understand everything that Stover was getting at.

The Acts of Caine — (1998-2012) A sci-fi/fantasy blend. Publisher: 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, bound to ignore the grim fact that he kills men on a far-off world for the entertainment of his own planet — and bound to keep his rage in check. But now Michaelson has crossed the line. His estranged wife, Pallas Rill, has mysteriously disappeared in the slums of Ankhana. To save her, he must confront the greatest challenge of his life: a lethal game of cat and mouse with the most treacherous rulers of two worlds.

Matthew Woodring Stover The Acts of Caine 1. Heroes Die 2. Blade of Tyshalle 3. Caine Black Knife 4. Dead Man's Heart (forthcoming) book reviewsMatthew Woodring Stover The Acts of Caine 1. Heroes Die 2. Blade of Tyshalle 3. Caine Black Knife 4. Dead Man's Heart (forthcoming) book reviewsMatthew Woodring Stover The Acts of Caine 1. Heroes Die 2. Blade of Tyshalle 3. Caine Black Knife 4. Dead Man's Heart (forthcoming) book reviewsMatthew Woodring Stover The Acts of Caine 1. Heroes Die 2. Blade of Tyshalle 3. Caine Black Knife 4. Dead Man's Heart (forthcoming) book reviews 4. Caine's Law


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GREG HERSOM’S (on FanLit's staff January 2008 -- September 2012) addiction began with his first Superboy comic at age four. He moved on to the hard-stuff in his early teens after acquiring all of Burroughs’s Tarzan books and the controversial L. Sprague de Camp & Carter edited Conan series. His favorite all time author is Robert E. Howard. Greg also admits that he’s a sucker for a well-illustrated cover — the likes of a Frazetta or a Royo. Greg live with his wife, son, and daughter in a small house owned by a dog and two cats in a Charlotte, NC suburb. He retired from FanLit in Septermber 2012 after 4.5 years of faithful service but he still sends us a review every once in a while.

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