Enter into Neth Space and you will find thoughts and reviews of books and other media that fit the general definition of speculative fiction. This includes the various genres and sub-genres of fantasy, science fiction, epic fantasy, high fantasy, hard sci-fi, soft sci-fi, new weird, magical realism, cyberpunk, urban fantasy, slipstream, horror, alternative history, SF noir, etc. Thoughts are my own, I'm certainly not a professional, just an avid reader avoiding his day job.
Friday, March 14, 2014
Review: Caine’s Law by Matthew Stover
I have raved
in the past about the Acts of Caine
series by Matthew Stover, so if you have a moment, take the time to read those
not familiar with Matthew Stover and the Acts
of Caine series, please at least go back and read the review for Heroes Die. It’s a great start to get
a feel for things, though the series really gets going in Blade of Tyshalle (in my opinion anwyway). Because, if you are a
fan of epic fantasy, you are doing yourself a huge disservice by not reading
these books. Do you like dark fantasy (or gritty/grimdark as it’s being called
these days)? This series pre-dates and out does anything you’ll find in
grimdark today. Seriously, this series is criminally under-read and I cannot
state strongly enough that fans should read it.
Caine’s Law (Act of Atonement, Book 2) completes the series in what is the
best conclusion to any series I’ve read. Let me say that again…this series has
the best ending of any series I’ve read to date. The pure satisfaction of this
ending is second-to-none. To give just the slightest hint at this, I will quote
the last line of the book/series (now, this is slightly complicated due to
non-linear storytelling, but this is essentially the last line).
Any fucking questions?
Caine is the
antihero of antiheroes. He is not nice, he is selfish, he is ambitious, he will
sacrifice whatever he needs to, and he will torture and kill without a second
thought. But, he’s also the good guy. He is the ultimate take no prisoners, bad
ass motherfucker. Caine is someone that you don’t want to mess with – it will
end badly, and it will probably end just as badly for everyone you know.
And for all
that Caine is fiercely protective of his own. Heroes Die is essentially about him saving his wife. Blade of Tyshalle is about him saving
his daughter. Caine Black Knife is
about Caine coming to terms (of sort) with his past and the wrongs that he has
done (and about him saving his brother). Caine’s
Law is about him saving everyone else. And it’s way, way more complicated
Caine’s Knife is a wonderful mess. As
I indicated above, it’s nonlinear, but that doesn’t go far enough. It’s
metaphysical – similar to what was seen in parts of Blade of Tyshalle, but much, much more. The best way to express
this is to quote author’s note.
Several parts of this
story take place before the events depicted in Act of Atonement Book 1: Caine Black Knife.
Other parts of this story
take place after. Still others take place before and after both. Some parts may
be imaginary, and some were real only temporarily, as they have subsequently
begins with the end and ends with the beginning – framing it as a journey.
Perhaps the hero’s journey…only not, because Caine is no hero…except when he is.
This only adds another layer to the long list of what this book and series is
about. Which is yet another reason to read these books – depth, depth unlike
99% of what’s out there. These books will make you think, they will entertain
you, they will make you think about why they entertain you, they will make you
lose sleep, and they just might make your language a bit more colorful.
and the series as a whole, are more than just the best, most badass character
in fantasy. It’s a book about being human and what it means to be human. It’s a
series the darkness of humanity and it’s a series about conquering the
darkness. It’s a series about redemption and progress. It’s a series about the
horror of oppression – both from government and gods. It’s a series about
overcoming that oppression. It’s about love, sacrifice, family, and fatherhood.
In short, it’s about progress, it’s about becoming better, and the inner
strength of humanity to make it happen – in the face of all the pure evil that’s
present as well. And along the way there is both romance, and lots and lots of
graphic violence with equally graphic language.
It’s really ineloquent
and ironic to continually gush my love for this book and series, so I think I’ll
pause and to illustrate much of what goes on and what I was attempting to say
above, below are a few of the chapter titles for Caine’s Law, in no particular order.
Scars What Dreams
May Come Times that
Bind Assbitch of
the Gods Enter Hero Meat Puppets Love
Insanity Truth to
Issues The Art of
Unhappening Fuck God To the
Masters of the Earth
the Gods – is there a better chapter title ever? And as I said, it’s only better.