Book Review: Heroes Die by Mathew Woodring

14 May 2015

“Heroes die” is a clever blend of science fiction and fantasy. The premise is that of a very hierarchical society that derives entertainment from gladiator games. Actors are sent to an alternate dimension to participate in adventures and their experiences lived second-hand by others as virtual reality and television.

The main protagonist is Hari Michealson, who plays the killer Caine. The story is about his struggles with bosses (who want to make his adventures ever more sensational), societal norms (which he is finding more stifling each day), his partner (who thinks him psychotic) and his impossible mission (killing a God-like emperor in the alternate universe).

Ironically, Caine has no qualms about the murders he commits or the lives he destroys in the process. The studio sponsoring his adventures and the people viewing them don’t think about these aspects either.

The storytelling is fast paced, the action gritty and gory.

The romance is stereotypical (misunderstood reticent/gruff hero pursues woman who doesn’t see him for what he is).

The quality of writing is good: no unnecessary descriptions of puddles on the street. And surprisingly imaginative: a lady who can see auras describes him as

had a quality of relaxation, but there was nothing loose about it; instead it was stillness. A meditative readiness that seemed to flow out from him and fill the room with capacity for action, as though all around him ghosts of imaginary Caines performed every movement that was possible within the space: every attack, every defense, every leap or flip or roll.

The plot builds up to a how is he going to get out of this mess climax and did a good job of keeping me guessing, which was good.

Enjoyed reading the book. Recommended.

  • Genre: SF/action/fantasy
  • Similar books: Hunger Games/1984