cover image Caine Black Knife

Caine Black Knife

Matthew Woodring Stover, . . Del Rey, $14 (343pp) ISBN 978-0-345-45587-1

Stover's third Caine novel (after 2001's Blade of Tyshalle ) mixes a twisty plot with intense violence and a strong narrative voice. Caine—an otherworld warrior played by professional actor Hari Michaelson in a far-future reality show beamed home to entertain fans on Earth—returns to the Boedecken, the site of the battle that made his career. As he makes his way through the city, encountering spies, warrior-priests and assassins, he also wades through memories of the fight. The political machinations of the present-day story tend to detract from the tight, well-choreographed flashbacks. Stover has a gift for brutal, detailed action sequences, and Caine is at his most enthralling when he's fighting or discussing tactics, but the high levels of (occasionally creative) profanity and the cliffhanger ending may put off some readers. (Oct.)