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  1. #1
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    Matthew Woodring Stover

    Hi.

    The more I read this forum, the more Matthew Woodring Stover's name comes up. And this intrigues me because I do not like this author.

    I tried to read "Heroes Die" about 6 months a go but quit reading about a third the way through. This is very rare as I can only recall one other fantasy book that I quit reading. That was a Forgotten Realms book (Crusades was the name, iirc).

    Everyone else that you people bring up, except for the Perdido book, I have read and enjoyed. So how come I didn't like this book while all you mature, intelligent readers did? That's what I keep asking myself. And since this is a forum thought I would change the question round and ask you.

    Why did you like Stover's Heroes Die? What was so good, so standoutish about this book?

    I found it was dull, boring, and just plain awful. Caine was sooooooooooo over-the-top and ridiculous. The characters seemed very 2 dimensional with Caine akin to one of the "insert name here" cardboard heroes of a Tsr novel.

    Here is a good example of what I mean: "I am strong. I am relentless. I am inescapable.
    .
    .
    I am invincible. I am the Blade of Tyshalle.
    I am Caine"

    Thanks for this quote FitzFlagg, by the way.

    Should I have finished the book? Would it change my perceptions?

    I am not trying to be mean or anything. I am honestly puzzled as to why you all liked it when I didn't.

    Just so you know and can understand my viewpoint. My favorite authors are; George R.R. Martin, Orson Scott Card, Tolkein, Weis&Hickman, and more recently, Dave Duncan. With honorable mentions to Feist, Jordan, Pratchett, Kay and Glenn Cook.

    Thanks for your time,
    just a newbie

  2. #2
    High Priest of Cainism Shehzad's Avatar
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    Thou didnst like Stover and Mieville? HERESY!! Thou arest hereby EXCOMMUNICATED!!

    j/k

    Since I am the first of the Stover brigade to respond, I'll put a few pints down and then wait for FF and Neologik to fill in the blanks.

    First of all, one thing I liked about Stover is that his book as a gritty realism about it. This isn't a fairy tale-people are going to get hurt and he makes no apologies for it. Like in real life, people die, and they die in ugly ways. Deaths are not always heroic, injuries are not always glorified, just like in real life.

    Secondly, I found none of characters to be "cardboard" per se. First of all, Caine isn't your everyday hero. In fact, he's a cold-blooded assassin, and yet he's the hero. One of the villains, Ma'elkoth is a good king, someone who brings stability to the land. Berne has more of the characteristics of a villain, yet it could be argued that Caine's actions are just as bad. The only character who has the characteristics of a hero(ine) is Pallas Ril. There is no clearcut battle between good and evil, no sides, no heroic knights, no damsels in distress, no evil villains. Instead there are people with various motivations, mostly selfish, sometimes noble. It is a clash of motivations and interests rather than a humdrum battle of good-vs-evil.

    Thridly, Stover doesn't preach at you. he doesn't tell you what to think about his characters - instead he just shows you the characters and lets you make up your mind. Someone I know though Berne had some characteristics of a hero - he does, in fact!! It's up to you to decide.

    As far as the quote and Caine are concerned, remember that Caine is above all, an ACTOR. he HAS to be over-the-top, or larger-than-life to his audience. The quote "I am..." was at a time when he was mentally preparing himself to assume the mantle of Caine. Remember that he was going into a battle for his life against his will for the entertainment of others. Also, in the rigidly casted world to which he belonged, he was ultimately powerless and insignificant, while in the Overworld he is powerful, a force to be reckoned with. It is these contrasting roles that you have to keep in mind.

    Hope you will give it another go,
    Shehzad

  3. #3
    Archmage
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shehzad
    Thou didnst like Stover and Mieville? HERESY!! Thou arest hereby EXCOMMUNICATED!!

    j/k

    Since I am the first of the Stover brigade to respond, I'll put a few pints down and then wait for FF and Neologik to fill in the blanks.

    First of all, one thing I liked about Stover is that his book as a gritty realism about it. This isn't a fairy tale-people are going to get hurt and he makes no apologies for it. Like in real life, people die, and they die in ugly ways. Deaths are not always heroic, injuries are not always glorified, just like in real life.

    Secondly, I found none of characters to be "cardboard" per se. First of all, Caine isn't your everyday hero. In fact, he's a cold-blooded assassin, and yet he's the hero. One of the villains, Ma'elkoth is a good king, someone who brings stability to the land. Berne has more of the characteristics of a villain, yet it could be argued that Caine's actions are just as bad. The only character who has the characteristics of a hero(ine) is Pallas Ril. There is no clearcut battle between good and evil, no sides, no heroic knights, no damsels in distress, no evil villains. Instead there are people with various motivations, mostly selfish, sometimes noble. It is a clash of motivations and interests rather than a humdrum battle of good-vs-evil.

    Thridly, Stover doesn't preach at you. he doesn't tell you what to think about his characters - instead he just shows you the characters and lets you make up your mind. Someone I know though Berne had some characteristics of a hero - he does, in fact!! It's up to you to decide.

    As far as the quote and Caine are concerned, remember that Caine is above all, an ACTOR. he HAS to be over-the-top, or larger-than-life to his audience. The quote "I am..." was at a time when he was mentally preparing himself to assume the mantle of Caine. Remember that he was going into a battle for his life against his will for the entertainment of others. Also, in the rigidly casted world to which he belonged, he was ultimately powerless and insignificant, while in the Overworld he is powerful, a force to be reckoned with. It is these contrasting roles that you have to keep in mind.

    Hope you will give it another go,
    Shehzad

    Stover sounds interesting. What book should I start with ?

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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archmage
    Stover sounds interesting. What book should I start with ?

    "Heroes Die", then "Blade of Tyshalle"

    I'm not sure about his other works though...

  6. #6
    Archmage
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quagmire
    "Heroes Die", then "Blade of Tyshalle"

    I'm not sure about his other works though...

    Thanks man

  7. #7
    MJ Dusseault Spears&Buckler's Avatar
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    Come on now, Powers That Be!! This MWS thread is damn near 3 years old and he still doesn't have his own place in the Author section. This must change!!

  8. #8
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    Caine a TSR-type hero?!?!? Read more...

    Let's see In HD, many of the characters are dualities, and there is much inner struggle, especially with the Actors/Aktirs which is the real person, who they are on Overworld or who they are on Earth.

    very 2 dimensional with Caine akin to one of the "insert name here" cardboard heroes of a Tsr novel.
    How much of the book did you read? The characters are REAL, if they were like the TSR characters, you would have a tally of which spells/level they are and would immediately be placed as "good" or "evil." In HD, there really is not good or evil, there are characters who do what suits them best, actions and thoughts they feel and do to meet their ends.

    The characters are driven by their own sense of right, when painted that way, and from each characters POV it's tough to choose sides.

    Ultimately, Caine did all the things he did for himself and his love for his wife.

    The fight and battle scenes are some of, if not THE best in any book I've read.

    The book IS over the top, intentionally.

    As for the quote you pulled from me, Caine as Shehzad said is an actor. Also, he is a fighter, a warrior. Fighters (and athletes) have to psych themselves up before each encounter, Stover puts the reader in the head of Caine, like virtually no other author CAN put you in their character's heads, save maybe Martin, John Marco or Robin Hobb.

    ..still shaking head about the TSR comment...



  9. #9
    High Priest of Cainism Shehzad's Avatar
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    ..still shaking head about the TSR comment...
    As FF said: if this was TSR we'd know immediately: Lawful Good, Chaotic Good, Lawful Evil etc etc. Also the TSR characters seem like someone's PCs transcribed into a book.

    ....joins FF in moping about the comment...

  10. #10
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    jiels:

    Give it another try. I had an extremely tough time with Michael Moorcock initially, now I want to read everything he wrote.

    Honestly, when Heroes Die first came out a couple of years ago, I didn't give it a second thought, just kept looking past it in the stores. I am glad I picked up though.

  11. #11
    High Priest of Cainism Shehzad's Avatar
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    FF: are the two of us - and Neologik - the only ones to have read this book on the forum?

  12. #12
    The Doctor... Sammie's Avatar
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    I can't find it. I have looked though!

    Sammie.

  13. #13
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    The problem with Stover is his books aren't easily available outside the US.

    I think Keyoke mentioned reading him and Hobbit mentioned getting the book.

  14. #14
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    Thank you for your replies and lack of flames!

    I made a mistake in my first post by stating what I thought of the novel. I should have simply just asked why you liked it and not explained why I didn't. *sigh* Live and learn.

    I could sit here and argue the points you have brought up but I am worried that it would degenerate into flames, like so many other online discussions.

    You are convincing me to give it another chance though.

    As to your point that Caine is an actor and I should remember that while I read. Your right, I should keep that in mind. But in my defense I would argue that that idea has been written better, imo, in other books. The one example that really comes to mind is from OSC's Worthing Saga about the actress who's life was the movie. I found that much more convincing and thought provoking then Heroes Die.

    Iirc, I had only read to the point where Caine meets up with a group of other warriors which turns out to be a trap. This uber mage-warrior guy arrives with lots of troops and starts killing the other people, of course Caine is never in any real danger while those around him die quick.

    To me, Stover failed in creating a believable tension in the few action scenes I read. They were well done, yes, but there never was a sense that Caine would die or was in any real danger. *shrug* It reminded me of a R. A. Salvatore fight. You know who's going to win before the fight even starts. Of course I find as I get older fight scenes are increasingly not interesting. Unless there is something really special or different I tend to ignore them.

    And the other big thing that hampered my enjoyment of the story would have to the main character. I could not relate in any way, shape or form to Caine. I really liked him when he wasn't Caine but as soon as assumed that role I got bored. *shrug*

    Just so you know I like dark stories and tales. I have been rereading and enjoying the Thieves World anthologies lately and it doesn't get much darker then that! As Aspirin writes in the second book, "They get darker with each book." Not to mention the Black Company novels or Donaldson's Gap or Covenant series. I would list all these, along with Moorcock, as dark, depressing fiction that I love. So, it's not the grittiness or lack of traditional "heroes" that turned me off.

    But like I said your replies are making me think I made a mistake. So, I think I will go buy the book and give it another chance. I will let you know if the second read changes my original opinion.

    Thanks again for your time,
    just some newbie

  15. #15
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Yes, FF - have bought the book, if only to understand what you, Neologik and Shehzad are going on about!

    (When I get chance to read it....hmmm.)

    Sammie, I gather you are in the UK, so this might make sense. I had to go to Andromeda Bookshop in Birmingham to get a copy - good shop, btw and on the net - and they had one copy. I'm sure Amazon.co.uk would have it though.

    Hobbit
    Mark

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