Some sketches I made while reading Matthew Woodring Stover’s series. I fell in love with Mr. Stover’s writing when I read the novelisation of Revenge of the Sith, demonstrating that the story of this film had huge potential, which unfortunately didn’t transfer on screen at all.
I was lured into the Acts of Caine series due to the cyberpunk elements and I stayed for the complexity of the story- which progresses from a pretty normal sci fi /fantasy mix to an epic, complete with its own mythology and then takes a turn towards the surreal for the finale.
What impressed me the most is Stover’s well-developed characters, all of which fall into different shades of grey. With the latest trend demanding anti-heroes in fiction and U.S.-exported popular culture being traditionally easily digestible, I am tired of seeing the usual brooding, self-proclaimed anti-hero who goes around moaning about the sins that weigh on his shoulders or something and never actually does anything questionable except maybe shooing a dog.
The Acts of Caine doesn’t really include any heroes; there’s multiple sides to everyone, because they all just happen to be human like you and me. Even the gods are flawed. Caine is the kind of guy who makes a spectacle out of killing people for a living. Does he spend a big chunk of any book wallowing in depression and self-pity? Not really, he actually kind of enjoys his job. Caine is caring towards his friends and forgiving towards his enemies. In fact I’m not even sure he has any enemies- just people he would like to kill, people who would like to kill him and people whose demise would be beneficial.
The main antagonist of the first book is also an artist and a father to his people. As far as I remember, the only obvious villain is Berne, who is also a fun-loving childlike sort of person, eager to earn the praise of his master and Caine’s attention. Berne also might be my favourite character, after reading about his night-time fantasy which revolved around killing the parents of a young girl and kidnapping her with the intention of raising her and eventually revealing that he killed her parents (something along these lines anyway).
Anyway, point is: don’t give me heroes, villains or anti-heroes, give me human beings and I’ll love them.