by Matthew Woodring Stover
Published by Del Ray
Dan Winclechter's Rating: 4 out of 4
A few hundred years in the future, actors are sent to an alternate dimension, Overworld, where typical aspects of fantasy (such as dragons, elves and magic) are commonplace, for the entertainment of men on Earth. These actors are sent on dangerous adventures and everything they experience is recorded in a first-person point of view format for others to enjoy without the threat of fatality. Hari Michaelson (known as Caine on Overworld and to his billions of fans on Earth) is widely considered the most successful and popular actor on Earth at the time. Whole Overworld governments have crumbled at his hands and massive wars have erupted due to his actions. In order to maintain and further his career, his studio must assign him more dangerous adventures, perhaps even at the expense of Hariís life. The novelís premise is based around Hariís estranged wifeís mysterious disappearance on Overworld while on one of her own adventures. Unless the studio can locate her within a couple days she will die due to complications of the inter-dimension void. Caine is given what the studio hopes will become his biggest hit ever, an adventure featuring romance, revenge and all the regular brutal action found in a Caine adventure. Not all is as it appears however...
The story that Stover puts forward to us on paper is exactly what Hariís studio would want for its own product. The story has everything anyone could, whether it is politics, action, fantasy, romance and even various social critiques. Without giving away the plot, it can be said that the novel is not just another good versus evil plot. There is much more going on that meets the eye and all the characters are human in that they cannot be so clearly defined by a single word. Itís this massive compilation of ideas and plots that make Heroes Die such a riveting read. Stover employs an addictive writing style rife with vivid descriptions that really brings the reader into Michaelsonís world. The worlds and societies found within the text are so fleshed out that one would think Stover had actually lived in them. One of the true joys of the novel is the way that Stover manages to describe various emotions and situations that many readers will be able to relate to on some level or another and yet are terribly hard to put into real words. Stover seems to do this with ease and the reader will know exactly what he is talking about when they come to those parts. You will feel a part of this world, and that is perhaps the bookís strongest aspect.
There is very little I can really complain about. Itís far from a bad thing, but the novel is lengthy and will require a lot of time. This definitely is not the kind of book that a reader can just pick up once in a while and read in short spurts. The plots that Stover weaves are quite in-depth and readers are likely to feel a bit lost if they take too long of a break from reading. Of course, in the end an in-depth and lengthy tale is exactly what most readers want, so this aspect is only bad for this with little time to spend on reading. Also, some readers may find Stoverís bluntness and vulgarity to be distasteful, but all of the violence, sex and some rather disturbing rituals are shown for a purpose. The novel does not include these things just for shock value. They are meant to create a real and living world that readers can believe in, and it completely works. However, for those with a light stomach or those who are easily offended, this may not be the best novel to check out.
Matt Stover writes some extremely graphic fight scenes and again, these may be too much for certain readers. I would highly suggest this novel for only mature audiences, and if youíre younger it may be wise to consult your parents first rather than have them discover what youíre reading later on.