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Presenting: Matthew Stover’s ACTS OF CAINE novels

One of the most highly regarded fantasy series EVER is finally coming to the UK.

Presenting a gritty action fantasy series like no other. Welcome to the world of Caine: Assassin. Hero. Superstar. . .

Heroes Die, Blade of Tyshalle, Caine Black Knife and Caine's Law - the four novels int he Acts of Caine gritty fantasy series by Matthew Stover - a favourite of Scott Lynch and John Scalzi

Several huge names in the fantasy world have been shouting from the rooftops about the sheer brilliance of this series by New York Times bestselling author Matthew Stover. Par exemple:


‘Oh, you fortunate people. HEROES DIE and BLADE OF TYSHALLE directly informed the writing of THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA . . . I’d dare say they were what taught me how to craft a novel. Matt is criminally underrated, and these books are bog standard for him, which is to say ‘brilliant.’ They’re bold, startling, multi-layered, humane, and laugh-out-loud wonderful at frequent intervals . . .

. . . A gritty, bloody, deeply touching work of genius’


‘A heaping plate of kickass kickassery with a side of kickass sauce . . .

If you are a fan of the meaty, bloody but smart fantasy of which authors like Joe Abercrombie and Richard K. Morgan currently traffic, you really do owe it to yourself to check out the whole Caine series . . . I doubt very seriously you will be disappointed, and if you are, well, I don’t know what to do with you, except maybe wonder if your brain chemistry is off in some unique and disturbing way. But I’m willing to bet your brain is fine and you’re going to eat this stuff up.

So: fans of  fantasy, this is my recommendation. Get this one. Get them all’


‘Talk about a dark anti-hero. Talk about a cool alt-SF/Fantasy world. Talk about some violent assholes who populate BOTH universes. I mean Hari is one of the biggest badasses I’ve read in a LONG time. Seriously flawed, very nihilistic world/WORLDS really he’s involved in. And yet, his journey is so full of emotion, you root for him every step of the way. This is an Alpha male you can get behind. Damn. Hot damn.

Don’t read if you don’t like profanity, unlikeable characters and awesome fight scenes. :D

THIS WAS FANTASTIC! . . . If you like really really gritty, dark fantasy like George RR Martin, Richard Morgan (Takashi Kovaks books) or ESPECIALLY Joe Abercrombie, you should get this book’

Not convinced yet? What’s wrong with you?!

All four books in the Acts of Caine series – HEROES DIE, BLADE OF TYSHALLE, CAINE BLACK KNIFE and CAINE’S LAW – will be released digitally in the UK & ANZ on 27th May 2013.

Pre-order now for a special introductory price on book one, HEROES DIE.

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  1. Lisa Rice

    May 2, 2013
    at 8:46 am

    You guys are my inspiration on all my books now. Literally every book on my amazon wishlist is from Orbit :-)
    I am so grateful for your newsletters and facebook page as I am always looking for a new book, author or series to devour as only a true fan can… thanks for another gem, in the Acts of Caine series.

  2. TheAdlerian

    May 3, 2013
    at 5:27 am

    I’d bet Scalzi never read one of these books. They aren’t “kick ass” in the least, rather they’re massively depressing and enervating. I don’t believe that’s an insult because I think they’re supposed to be. In other words, anti-adventure stories.

    In one novel, the main character is paralyzed and drags himself around as he curses and gets tortured. He literally could not kick ass if he tried. And there’s very little action, but instead a lot of psychological action, the character muses about his life, it’s pitfalls, etc.

    The odd part is that the hinted at backstory sounds a lot more exciting.

    I’m not saying these are bad novels, but they’re more a message about a collection of subjects than they are fantasy or science fiction stories.

    • Alex Richardson

      May 3, 2013
      at 5:51 pm

      In that same novel, the cripple literally slices a God in half. If that’s not kicking ass, I’m not sure what is. There’s also that part about him taking over a prison, all while he can’t even move his legs.

      The Acts of Caine books are indeed deeply psychological and ponderous, and the character is put through hell and back… but what’s absolutely essential to the series, in my reading, is that he always manages to pull himself back up. The series never wallows in Caine’s misery; it’s not about his problems, but about how he fixes those problems, and probably breaks the problem in millions of little pieces while he’s at it. The section in Tyshalle, where he acknowledges that he shouldn’t be able to move his legs, but he will anyway, the rules be damned, is a good example of this theme.

      Matthew Stover is very adamant that he writes fantasy books. In his own words…

      ” Think about it this way: what we now consider “fantasy” is the original whole from which all literature is distilled, starting with the Epic of Gilgamesh, running through the Iliad, and Odyssey, the Bible, Beowulf, the Bhagavad-Ghita — the list is infinite. Examples are found in every culture. Every other genre (I should say: every sub-genre) is defined by eliminating fantastic elements: by carving away the gods, fate, magic, whatever. “Fantasy” is what we call a novel that partakes of the whole of the human literary heritage.

      So, yeah. I’m a fantasy writer. It was good enough for Homer, and it’s good enough for me.”

      I don’t think it’s fair to say they’re not science fiction and fantasy because they explore deep themes. Rather, they’re simply intelligently written fantasy/sci-fi

    • Lee Tatum

      May 21, 2013
      at 10:48 pm

      To TheAdlerian: I met John Scalzi at a reading & book signing May 14 at the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore. In the short time we spoke together, we talked about some of our favorites, and Stover is one of mine and his. So when I saw your post, I was surprised. I’ve read all four Caine novels, and I’m sure Scalzi has as well. Why don’t you write him at his blog Whatever, and tell him “that he hasn’t read one of these books.” I suggest this, because I don’t like someone maligning a writer and reviewer, especially because you’re doing it in a childish fashion since you didn’t agree with his overwhelming positive, enthusiastic review of the Caine series. Your opinion about the series is valid, in that it’s your opinion and review. I disagree with it, but I’m not going to suggest you didn’t read the books. Please do not claim to know what another author has or hasn’t read.

  3. Azaza

    May 6, 2013
    at 2:21 am

    Only a digital release? I’m thrilled that FINALLY someone picks up the series again, but I’d love to have my own shiny copy of Blade of Tyshalle on the shelf, and the second hand prices AND ordering from antiquaries in the US is just not my favourite thing to do… (And besides, I love a uniform layout – those covers look shiny!)

    @ Adlerian
    dunno if you read the same Blade of Tyshalle as I did, but I didn’t feel that there was too little action. And if anyone ever complains about too little fighting in Black Knife, I’ll seriously doubt their sanity. And the amazing thing actually is that Caine STILL kicks ass in Blade of Tyshalle, despite everything. He still fights back.

    And the series takes up rather typical Sci-fi motives on the earth, there’s lots of technology and a rather dystopian image of human society. On Overworld, you have an old-school fantasy setting, with all the races and Gods and magic. Most good sci-fi or fantasy books have MORE than just fantasy or sci-fi – I can go pick up a D&D rulebook if I just want a descripiton of a fantasy landscape and culture. A decent novel will have something more to say – and The Acts of Caine have a LOT more to say!

  4. TheAdlerian

    May 7, 2013
    at 1:22 am

    A couple of action scenes in a novel that’s like 600 pages is not an action novel. In most of the stories the character is rendered useless in some way, then there’s some action to show he’s not, after hundreds of pages of crying about it.

    Overall, the books are like a parable about an action oriented man frustrated by modern life, being “crippled” with guilt, and so on. The action and fantasy elements are weak and just there to pretty up the parable.

    It’s all well done if you like that sort of thing, and I can, but after several novels read back to back, I wondered when the story would start. The overall concept of the story is great, but the parable part annihilates the conceptual stuff.

  5. Chris

    May 9, 2013
    at 12:35 pm

    You guys are totally getting trolled.

  6. The Maslow...ian...?

    May 14, 2013
    at 11:25 am

    You KNOW you’ve hit the big time when the trolls come out to play. Just remember, Adlerian Psychology is perhaps best known for the concept of the inferiority complex… ;-)

    Very few books, let alone series of books, are able to impart new insights after each successive reading of them. The Caine books are able to do so. The craftsmanship of the writing is superlative – if you wasted a few semesters in college studying literary stuff like tropes, archetypes, mythology, etc., these books offer a clinic on modern usage. If you would rather just read a “ripping good yarn” the same stories have got you covered. That’s rare indeed.

    I think that Heroes Die and Cain Black Knife come closest to the traditional sci-fi /fantasy adventure structure, but part of the beauty of these books is the authors willingness to not only create each book as a stand alone story, but to – in the case of Blade of Tyshalle especially – radically alter the style, tone, and voice of the narrative from previous books.

    One thing I find very useful in reviews is when other authors who’s work is similar gets listed. It’s really hard to do so for Mr. Stover. I guess if I had to, I’d say that if you like Joe Abercrombie, Glenn Cook’s Black Company, or possibly Peter Brett and Patrick Rothfuss, you owe it to yourself to read these books.


    • TheAdlerian

      May 16, 2013
      at 1:30 am

      You should consider reading some nonfiction books, then you’d know what an inferiority complex actually is. It’s actually a good thing as it propels one to improve. A superiority complex is the bad one, where the person thinks they understand life, but never bothered looking at it beyond their own perceptions.

      I didn’t say the books were bad, I read three of them back to back, and I do not waste time reading if there isn’t merit. I said, the books are more like parables exploring ideas, rather than a serious science fiction/fantasy story. I also said there’s very little action, which is correct.

      None of that makes a bad series of novels.

      What I didn’t like:

      1. The promise of world building. There’s very little, just the concept of the two worlds.

      2. The promise of a cool character. We’re TOLD Caine has been trained in this art, has this magic, but he never uses any of it. Instead, he gets his ass kicked and complains. That’s parable material, which is fine, but I found it enervating.

      3. The books are less stories than extended torture scenes for Caine where nothing ever works out. More parable stuff, but I didn’t find the stories satisfying.

      All valid criticism, not “trolling” which is a sad insult given my posts. I posted in response to the various book covers I’ve seen which promise what does not exist.

  7. Steve

    May 26, 2013
    at 2:09 am

    Will they also be coming out in paperback?

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