September 18th, 2005, 02:39 PM
Edited for submission
A letter to Mr Stover.
This is a copy of a letter I sent to Matt Stover, concerning his book, Heroes Die. He asked that I consider putting it up in the hope it might spark some discussion on how different people view a work.
Anyway a request of this nature is something I take seriously so here goes.
I have just finished reading Heroes Die and have been somewhat surprised in the book and my reaction and thoughts about it.
To be honest I was off put at first by the comments on the many forums and boards concerning this work, most seemed to concentrate on the macho/male/violence content and attitude/nature of the main character in the book. This made me think it was not my type of book. On reading it I have found I enjoyed it and formed my own opinions about the character and his world.
I feel that the two worlds or existences that Caine lives reflect a schism in his personality. That his fear and what he sees as his cowardice when dealing with the “real” world and its rigid caste system, corrupt society and the way everyone uses everyone else, (wait, am I talking about an fictional world here ) has lead to a form of impotence. He dare not act for fear of loosing the very things he believes he needs, his position, caste, money etc.
It is only when faced with losing the one thing that was given to him freely (not bought or in any way given as a reward by the society he lives in) the love and companionship of another human being. The soul mate you might say if you believe in such. Even though at the being of the book it seems this relationship has been lost, it hasn’t as far as Hari/Caine is concerned.
That he has to fight for this love in another world a world where he believes he is free from the very things that bind his existence elsewhere adds another layer. Because he is not free, is he? Caine is as much bound by the same things in that world as he is in the real world. They take a different form, but they are extensions of the “real” world holding him just as tight.
As I read the book I began to realise that under all the various layers, the comments on society, class and the using of others for ambition, personal gain and pleasure. The hollowness that can lie at the heart of and society, there is another story, least for me.
Strip everything away from us and what is the one thing worth fighting for and even dying, the love of another human being, given freely. To have one person that sees you, the whole you with all your flaws and still loves you. Accepting what you are, wanting you as you are. To give yourself completely to that other person and they to you, even if part of you doesn’t think it will last for ever, not to do it, to do everything to protect it is something you can’t contemplate.
Anyway back to Caine, by fighting for the one thing that others would dismiss as unimportant, a mere sensual pleasure(a lot don't get what love is really about and never will), he shatters the bonds that hold him in both worlds and becomes a whole person? Perhaps? He certainly changes both worlds in some respects.
You have sir under all the layers written quite a good love story One of the best I have read in a long time, I rate it up there with Joe Haldeman’s “Forever War” which for all its comments about the uselessness and waste of war had at its heart a true example of the emotional bond that exists between one human being and another.
Last edited by Holbrook; September 18th, 2005 at 04:01 PM.
September 18th, 2005, 03:15 PM
Give me liberty!
Interesting letter, Holbrook.
I'd go even further and say that fighting and indeed soldiering is really always about love for others, in a sense. Love for your country, your family, your buddies, love for an ideal. Its just that its a selective love, and its balanced by a necessary willingness to kill the enemy, which sometimes crosses from dispassion into outright hatred.
War and conflict to the death might entail and inevitable wastage of human life and potential, but it paradoxically showcases the best as well as the worst of humanity.
Last edited by Ouroboros; September 18th, 2005 at 03:18 PM.
September 18th, 2005, 04:48 PM
hey Hollbrook promise you'll write another letter if you read Blade of Tyshalle?
I always have trouble describing Heroes Die to my buddies. The action elements always seem to want the most description, but when I try to explain how there's a lot more to the story I seem to be verbally not up to the job.
Last edited by saintjon; September 18th, 2005 at 04:54 PM.
September 18th, 2005, 05:08 PM
And I thank you.
I'd have more to say, but those of you who've been around me have heard it all before. And if any newbies cruise through, I'd like to hear what they think before handing down any stone tablets from On High.
September 19th, 2005, 10:32 AM
Something that struck me about HD, and that Mr. Stover underscores in BoT, is that Caine isn't a 'big-picture' kind of guy. What makes Ma'el'Koth and his ilk so dangerous is that they deal in abstracts, thinking in terms of Society and Civilization rather than the individual people who make up those things, and woe to the irregularly-shaped pieces that don't fit their geometrically-perfect jigsaw.
Caine is the opposite: he looks at the people around him, not the grand sweep of things. Love, family, protection of the same, those are what drives him, not a perfect ideal.
Caine takes it personal and makes it personal.
That's not to say Caine doesn't take a wider view, but he thinks first and formost about the people he cares about, then his thoughts turn to the kind of environment in which they'd be reasonably safe and able to prosper. From the bottom up in other words.
As for the faceless billions of strangers, well…he'll do what he can, but ultimately they'll have to look out for themselves. They're not his responsibility ('I am not my brother's keeper,' in the words of his namesake).
He doesn't have a savior complex, because he doesn't have a God complex. He doesn't try to save everyone because he knows he doesn't have that kind of power, or the right to use it if he did.
But that's just my opinion, MWS would know Caine a little better than me.
November 9th, 2005, 11:11 AM
I never thought of it like that, I tend to prefer heroes with the bigger picture but there is something about Caine that involves it whilst concentrating on the personal. Really looking forward to Caine: Black Knife.
Originally Posted by RAD
November 9th, 2005, 08:50 PM
Ah, but whoever said Caine was a 'hero?'
November 10th, 2005, 01:33 AM
Edited for submission
Not in the traditional meaning of the word. He is the main character in the book. Or the persona the book uses to explore a set of thoughts/ideas so he is the "hero" in that sense.
Originally Posted by RAD
To mark characters up as "hero" and "villan" in some works is a little silly, as they are really quite complex characters and I personally find the best ones reflect "real" people, who are a horrible mix of good and bad. For most good, or their own personal good, is upper most. But for some of us their good is down right evil.
Matt has managed to make you love and hate Caine. I personally, have at times, during my reading of the two books, swung between the two.
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