Blade of Tyshalle by Matthew Woodring Stover

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. The issues here are not black and white, just like real life.

To sum up, this is an INTENSE read that comes to a completely satisfying conclusion. This book left me winded and smiling after reading it, as if I just spent a few hours working out in the gym. So far, this is the best book I’ve read this year. Though the book is ended cleanly, you get a sense that Stover may have some more Overworld Tales up his sleeve. I for one would welcome them.

Reviewed by Rob H. Bedford

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