[[quoteright:239:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/311864.jpg]]
->''"You, as Actors, have a precisely defined role, irrespective of whether you swing a blade or throw a lightning bolt, joust or heal the sick. It is purely and simply this: [[BloodSport Your function in society is to risk your life in interesting ways]]."''
-->-- '''Blade of Tyshalle'''

''The Acts of Caine'' is a series of [[ScienceFantasy fantasy-science fiction]] (trending toward fantasy) books by Creator/MattStover.

There are currently four books: ''Heroes Die'', ''Blade of Tyshalle'', ''Caine Black Knife'', and ''Caine's Law''.

The series's setting is an interesting combination of a [[{{Dystopia}} futuristic earth run by corporate governments with a strict caste system and loads of repression]], and a [[DarkFantasy parallel high fantasy world called Overworld]] that earth humans have learned to travel to and exploit. This exploitation initially takes the form of The Studio, a company that produces a sort of reality entertainment by sending "actors" to Overworld. These actors are trained in either magic or combat, implanted with a kind of video recorder and sent to Overworld to "risk [their] lives in an interesting way". On the SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism, the series tends towards cynicism, although it's not without [[EarnYourHappyEnding bouts of idealism]]. [[http://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/137613/acts-of-caine-the-best-damned-fantasy-youve-never-read A more detailed synopsis here]], with minor spoilers from the first three books.

The books are centered on the character of Caine and his actor Hari Michaelson. ''Heroes Die'' tells the story of Hari/Caine as he tries to rescue his love interest Shanna/Pallas Ril from [[BigBad Ma'elKoth]]. As with all the books in the series, ''Heroes Die'' comments on the morality of violent entertainment and explores of a myriad of other moral questions.

''Blade of Tyshalle'' takes place seven years later, reintroducing Hari and Shanna in their later married, unhappy and semi-retired lives (along with the no longer divine [=Tan'elKoth=]). This tedium is of course shattered by plots set into action by the corporate leaders of Earth which Hari's friend, Kris Hansen/Deliann Mithondionne tries to avert. This novel turns the moral philosophizing[[UpToEleven up to 11]] or 12, adds questions of identity, resource usage, destiny (or lack thereof) and humanity's drive to exploit and use up everything. It also features the end of the world, in a way.

''Caine Black Knife'' follows Caine in both the present (three years after the end of ''Blade of Tyshalle'') and twenty-five years ago as he interacts with the [[ProudWarriorRace Black Knife clan of Ogrillos]]. The present arc of the story includes a broader exploration of Orbek Black Knife, a side character introduced in ''Blade of Tyshalle''. The philosophizing is turned back down to about 8, but questions concerning the legitimacy of guerrilla warfare and online {{FPS}}s are still asked. Also has some rather overt references to either the Iraq War or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, complete with a suicide bombing.

''Caine's Law'' follows immediately after (and in some cases, [[TimeyWimeyBall simultaneously with or even preceding]]) the events of the third book, as Caine faces the consequences of a deal he made with a god at the start of his Acting career--and the fallout from the last book, as timelines begin to get screwed around and gods start to intervene. The philosophical questions return with the advent of a mysterious mythical woman called "the horse-witch" and a recurring [[AnimalMotif theme]] about the treatment of horses and humans. Caine travel through different parts of his life, trying to put things in order for an explosive showdown with the dark Powers at work.

----
!!These books provide examples of:

* AbsurdlySharpBlade: Kosall combines this with {{Vibroweapon}}.
* ActionDad: Caine, from second book onward.
* ActionGirl: Talaan in ''Heroes Die'', Marade in ''Caine Black Knife'', Angvasse in ''Caine's Law''.
* AGodAmI: Shanna/Pallas Ril and Hannto the Scythe/Ma'elKoth. To be fair, they actually became gods.
* AlwaysABiggerFish: In the end, [[spoiler:Kollberg]] is taken by the Social Police.
* AlwaysSaveTheGirl: "I'd burn the world to save her".
* AnyoneCanDie: Many central characters have died. Several have died and come back. One character got killed, came back as a semi-god, got ''killed again'', and then became a true God.
* AntiHero: Caine.
* AntiVillain: Toa-Sytell.
* ArmorPiercingQuestion: "What do you want?" About two-thirds into ''Blade of Tyshalle'' Tommie asks this of Deliann, which takes a little under a page and a half. "What do you want?" happens to be both the identifying code phrase and the central tenet of the persecuted philosophy Tommie holds. Tommie has to ask the question, with mildly different phrasing, over five times. No, Deliann, not what you feel guilty about, not what you think went wrong in the past, not what you like or wish or would settle for. What you ''want''.
* ArtisticLicenseMedicine: An InUniverse example in ''Heroes Die''. Hari complains to the guys at The Studio after playing their BloodierAndGorier version of one of his adventures that the wounds Caine took should have had him immobilized from pain and shortly dead of blood loss.
* AscendedExtra: Raithe.
* AuthorTract: A few times, though it never goes on for more than a few pages at a time.
* BackgroundMagicField: The "Flow" is generated by all living beings and can be used by magical adepts for their own purposes.
* BadassBeard: Caine and Ma'elKoth.
* BadassBoast: More than a few:
** ''Heroes Die:''
-->'''Caine:''' "He who lives by the sword can die by my knife."
** ''Blade of Tyshalle:''
-->'''Caine:''' "RuleNumberOne: You fuck with me, you die. No questions, no exceptions, no second chances."
-->'''Caine:''' "THEY TOLD YOU I WOULD DIE DOWN THERE! I TOLD YOU I'D BE BACK!"
** ''Caine Black Knife:''
-->'''Caine:''' *to a band of Black Knife [[OurOrcsAreDifferent ogrillo]] hunters, after killing one of their number in single combat* "Did anybody not UNDERSTAND what just happened here? Does anybody need it EXPLAINED? This place is MINE. You can go anywhere you want, but you can't come HERE. For you here is DEATH. Here is PAIN. He died EASY. You will die HARD. You will die SCREAMING. Your bitches will HOWL. Your pups will STARVE. I will FEED YOU YOUR FUTURE."
--> Later, "I told you I'd feed you your future. Did you think I'd make you eat it raw?"
* BadassInDistress: Seems to still happen [[DistressedDamsel more often to the females]].
* BadassNormal: Caine, at first. Also, the Monastics and the Khryllian armsmen.
* BlackAndGrayMorality: Qualifies for this trope only due to what the protagonist [[SociopathicHero must]] [[TheUnfettered become]] to stop the antagonists, and how badly the "pure" heroes like Deliann and Pallas Ril manage to [[NiceJobBreakingItHero fuck things up]].
* BloodKnight: Caine and Berne.
* BloodSport: The whole point of Actors like Caine and their Studio-sponsored adventures on Overworld.
* BookEnds: in ''Blade of Tyshalle''.
* BreadAndCircuses: The function of the Adventures on Overworld is to turn ''an entire planet'' into the arena of a BloodSport for the entertainment of the masses on Earth.
* BriarPatching: In ''Heroes Die'', [[spoiler: Caine uses this as part of tricking Ma'elKoth into following his BatmanGambit. He directly refers to the trope name while doing so]].
* BrokenBird: Angvasse in ''Caine's Law''.
* CatchPhrase: Berne: "Fuck me like a virgin goat."
* CharlesAtlasSuperpower: Hari/Caine. In ''Heroes Die'' he tries to vent his anger against a gel punching bag that hardens against force up to the strength of human bone before resetting. Well before he's gotten the rage out of his system, he's easily, repeatedly working it over.
* ChekhovsGun: Toa-Sytell's poisoned dagger.
* ChurchMilitant: The Knights of Khryl.
* ClapYourHandsIfYouBelieve: "A powerful enough metaphor grows its own truth."
* ClaspYourHandsIfYouDeceive: Subverted in ''Heroes Die'', where Kollberg does this to try and keep calm while talking to the Board of Governors rather than trying to be cunning.
* CombatPragmatist: Caine/Hari embodies this trope.
* ConsummateLiar: Caine is immune to the truthsense of Khryl's holy knights for reasons he doesn't quite understand. Though it might have something to do with the fact that he would rather kill a man than lie to him. Maybe that kind of "honor" just confuses the poor god trying to read him.
* CorruptCorporateExecutive: Marc Vilo.
* CouldHaveAvoidedThisPlot: In the prologue of ''Blade of Tyshalle'', protagonists Kris Hansen and Hari Michaelson plot to get Hari out of Magic School and into Battle School. Their plan hinges on getting Hari to demonstrate his fighting prowess by "saving" Kris from a rival, crippling him in the process. Afterward, the head teacher tells them their plan has succeeded, but laments that another person's dream was crushed so that they could have theirs, adding plaintively "Couldn't you have asked?"
* CrapsackWorld: Earth.
* CrouchingMoronHiddenBadass: Orbek. The irony lies in that Caine originally targeted Orbek first when breaking up Orbek's old gang because he thought the young ogrillo was the gang's ''weakest point''.
* CuttingTheKnot: Caine's usual way of solving problems.
* DeadGuyOnDisplay: In ''Blade of Tyshalle'' the body of Caine's late rival and master swordsman Berne is kept as a tourist attraction on Earth in the Studio Curiouseum. Ultimately his body is kidnapped and reanimated so it can kill Pallas Ril.
* {{Deconstruction}}: Of a wealth of {{Fantasy}} tropes, being a LowFantasy take on archetypal ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' settings like the TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms.
* DefiledForever: An interesting example. There's a religious sect of priestesses who are completely chaste virgins, to the point of dressing like men to stave off advances. If they ever give into temptation, they lose their power. If they are raped, however, they basically turn into a magic nuke. Unfortunately, they rarely survive the massive influx of power, not to mention the resulting destruction.
* Dented Iron: Caine, who considers himself the sum of his scars.
* DepravedBisexual: Berne.
* DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu: Caine tends to come up against Physical Gods ''a lot''.
* Disabled Snarker: Caine after ''Heroes Die''. "It's like having a pair of dead dogs strapped to my ass. Except that I can't eat them."
* DirtyCoward: [[spoiler: Lamorak]].
* {{Doorstopper}}
* DueToTheDead: The Last March, a funerary procession of drummers and the bodies of fallen soldiers.
* {{Dystopia}}: Earth in a nutshell.
* EarnYourHappyEnding: Insomuch as there are happy endings.
* EldritchAbomination: Inverted in the Blind God, played straight with the "god" of the Black Knives.
* EliteMooks: The Social Police, the Black Knives, Esoteric Friars, and the Grey Cats.
* EurekaMoment: Toa-Sytell has one when he [[spoiler: reads the Monastic records on Caine and realizes that he's an Aktir.]]
* EvilSoundsDeep: [=Ma'elKoth=]'s voice is usually described as rumbling.
* EyeScream: The first book opens with one. And then there's the Black Knife Kiss.
* FacelessGoons: The Social Police.
* FantasticRacism and FantasticSlurs: Played with in that the Earth fantasy names for the species are considered slurs: elves prefer to be called primals, dwarves to be called stonebenders, orcs to be called ogrilloi, and pixies to be called treetoppers. The ogrilloi have an interesting nickname in their language for humans too.
* FantasyGunControl: Initially starts this way, but gets violated by the end of ''Blade of Tyshalle''. By ''Caine Black Knife'' Overworld not only has shotguns and automatic weapons they captured as trophies, but figured out how to produce more.
* Finger Tenting: Subverted in ''Heroes Die'', where Kollberg laces his fingers together not as a sign of deception, but to try and keep calm while talking to [[HeWhoMustNotBeSeen the Board of Governors]].
* FirstPersonSmartass: Justified. The protagonist is having his experiences as a particularly violent sort of adventurer in a fantasy world recorded for the entertainment of the masses on a dystopian future Earth.
* {{Foil}}: Berne to Caine. To summarize a lengthy spiel, while both are vicious and skilled fighters, Berne is TheHedonist, while Caine has a cold discipline.
* ForTheEvulz: Inverted. The bad guys always act out of self-interest, ideology, or pure hedonistic lust. The protagonist is the one who, for fun, escalates conflicts almost compulsively. This includes "escalating" a verbal argument into a lethal fight, a skirmish with an ogrillo tribe into ethnic cleansing, and a minor political conflict into a civil war. And the bad guys are still worse.
* FromNobodyToNightmare: [=Ma'elKoth=] used to be the wimpy necromancer Hannto the Scythe.
* GaiasVengeance: Chambaraya [[spoiler: through Pallas.]]
* GenreMashup: DarkFantasy meets {{Dystopia}}.
* GloryDays: Ma/Tan'elKoth, Hari, and Shanna in ''Blade of Tyshalle'', some of the surviving Black Knife Nation in ''Caine Black Knife''.
* GodEmperor: The Most Beloved [=Ma'elKoth=].
* GodsNeedPrayerBadly: Gods only have power from their worshippers.
* GoodIsDumb: Shanna/Pallas's blindness and moral obliviousness ironically only get worse when she [[spoiler: becomes nearly omniscient]].
* HandicappedBadass: Caine/Hari [[spoiler:before he he figures out how to magic the bypass. Even with that he's got a noticeable balance problem, and that magic can be shut down.]]
* HealingFactor[=/=]HealingHands: The Knights and Priests of Khryl have both -- but, seeing as Khryl is a god of war, their powers only work on wounds sustained in battle.
* HeartbrokenBadass: Initially Caine.
* HeroicBSOD: Caine after [[spoiler:Shanna's death]].
* HeroicComedicSociopath: Caine skirts the line of this. Well, maybe dances on it. Okay, he does a full soft-shoe number up and down with Broadway routines and a full stage orchestra in the background.
* HeroicSacrifice: [[spoiler: Talaan]] in ''Heroes Die'', [[spoiler:Deliann]] in ''Blade of Tyshalle''. Subverted in ''Caine Black Knife'', where Caine acts to make the Adventure look like this but is really [[spoiler: just planning to mess up the Black Knives for the hell of it]].
* HonestyIsTheBestPolicy: Comes at the end of the XanatosGambit Caine spent all of ''Caine Black Knife'' finagling into place. Caine has just royally screwed the Board's plans up. Their two choices are: reward him for sabotage and murder of one of their number by giving him a total pardon and more authority and free rein than they gave to the guys sent out to catch him, or permanently lose access to Overworld and possibly risk Overworld's most powerful empire marching over a portal with dragons and warmages to blast Earth into submission. Caine is happy to unveil all the details because he's not afraid to die and they have no alternatives.
* HonorBeforeReason: The Khryllians, which Caine thinks is stupid for two reasons. First, because despite being merely [[PowerLevel a grade six fighter]], he's managed to kill more than a few [[OneManArmy Knights]] [[CombatPragmatist by not adhering to any codes]]. Second, because at one point when Caine insults a Knight's honor by calling him a coward, it ends in a duel to the death.
-->'''Caine:''' In the end, what was he going to kill me for? Because I called him names. I have my vanity, I just don't kill for it. I'm not pretending I'm a better man than him, I just hate that people say he's a better man than me.
* HumansAreTheRealMonsters: Humans are bastards. Well, to be exact, the metaphorical psychomorphic deity-incarnation of humanity is a bastard. But the [[AntiHero human hero]] who achieves [[DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu its humiliating defeat]] is also a [[SociopathicHero bastard]], so in this series humanity doesn't look good at the individual or species level.
* IncrediblyLamePun: Caine occasionally has these.
* IndyPloy: Caine's speciality.
* InLoveWithYourCarnage: [=Ma'elKoth=] has almost said this word-for-word to Caine multiple times.
* InSeriesNickname: The Social Police are sometimes referred to as [[FluffyTheTerrible "soapies"]].
* InterplayOfSexAndViolence: Happens a lot, perhaps best personified by Count Berne.
* IHaveManyNames: There's virtually no god, main character, or figure of power in the novels without at least two names, identities, and/or titles. Orbek and Kollberg are notable by exception.
** By ''Caine Black Knife'', [[spoiler:Caine himself]] is known variously as the Lord of Chaos, ''kwatcharr'' of the Black Knives, Agent of Khryl, and the Hand of [=Ma'elKoth=].
* InsufferableGenius: T'Passe.
* InvoluntarySuicideMechanism: Actors are conditioned not to say that they're Actors, speak Earth languages, etc. This protocol is eventually reversed when Aktir hunters get wise to the simple test of demanding a suspect say "I am an Aktir."
* ItsPersonal: Subverted. One of the things that makes Caine/Hari dangerous is his willingness to take ''all'' fights this way.
* LetsYouAndHimFight: Lampshaded in ''Caine's Law''.
* KnifeNut: Caine.
* KnightInShiningArmor: The Knights of Khryl in ''Caine Black Knife''. They are good guys...but...
* KnightTemplar: The Knights of Khryl.
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters
* MasterOfOneMagic: In ''Heroes Die'', Lamorak is a crappy mage overall, but his Dominate is really good.
* MasterOfYourDomain: Monastic Control Discliplines.
* MeaningfulName: Well, of course. The [[NameOfCain eponymous]] protagonist has set in motion events that would lead to the death of his wife, best friend(s), father, the suffering of everyone who's cared for him, etc. etc. If the dude ''had'' a brother he probably would have offed him too. Also like the biblical Caine, there are gods looking out for him after his punishment (although gods who want to punish him [[DidYouJustPunchOutCthulhu tend to get owned hard]]).
* TheMole: [[spoiler: Lamorak.]]
* {{Motif}}: Fire, Water, and human excrement.
* MoralDissonance: Caine's not a nice person.
* NameOfCain: Obviously.
* NayTheist: The Monastics in general and [[InsufferableGenius T'Passe]] in particular. The Monasteries were, in fact, developed for the express purpose of protecting humanity's interests from the predations of deities.
* NeverBringAKnifeToAFistfight: All Caine has are his fists and maybe a knife, but he tends to come out on top in a fight.
* NewPowersAsThePlotDemands: Or rather, new species traits we weren't told about in the last novel, as ''Caine Black Knife'' introduces the ogrilloi's horse-outrunning quadripedal lope.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: Oh man, poor Deliann...
* NoDeadBodyPoops: Repeatedly averted.
* OnlyMostlyDead: [[spoiler: Caine]] in the end of "Heroes Die".
* OurDwarvesAreAllTheSame: They are called Stonebenders ("Dwarves" is a racial slur used by humans) and can do all of the impressive stone- and metalwork associated with the Dwarves with their bare hands.
* OurOrcsAreDifferent: The ogrilloi are slightly closer to Warcraft Orcs, with the exception of the Black Knife tribe, who are the ogrilloi that other ogrilloi tell horror stories about and act like Tolkien Orcs on a real bad day. Ogrilloi also differ from the typical depictions of orcs in their physiology (namely their quadripedal lope, ridged back, and fighting claws).
* PapaWolf: As per Caine's Third Rule, messing with Caine's family is a good way to get yourself marked for death.
* PhysicalGod: Ma'elKoth and Pallas Ril, before the events at the climax of ''Blade of Tyshalle''.
* PoweredByAForsakenChild: In ''Heroes Die'', [=Ma'elKoth=] spends the life of his devotees when using combat magic. Unlike most, he is aware of the cost; when he gives Berne a smidgen of that power to use, he reminds the man of the human cost, and he uses this fact against [[spoiler: Pallas Ril]].
** Attempted in ''Blade of Tyshalle'' with [[spoiler: the Blind God and Ma'elKoth trying to gain control of Overworld by [[MindRape mind-raping]] Faith]].
* PowerLevels: Caine registers as a grade six weapon due to his Monastic training. This is only slightly higher than [[{{Mook}} an armsman]], so the Khryllians aren't particularly worried about it. After all, their Knights have divine-given SuperSpeed and SuperStrength, they can deal with entire ''armies''. [[CombatPragmatist Caine enjoys proving to them that their system is bunk]].
* PowersThatBe: All other gods besides Ma'elKoth and [[spoiler: Pallas Ril]].
* PrivatelyOwnedSociety: All the world's government collapsed years earlier after a viral outbreak, and society was rebuilt by private corporations, with the current rulers of the world being the Leisure Council, a group of the richest few hundred people on Earth. As a result, the society has a very rigid caste system.
* ProudWarriorRaceGuy: Orbek
* RebelliousSpirit: Caine and the Cainists in general.
* RedShirt: subverted. Guys who seemed like mooks in ''Heroes Die'' have plot impacts in ''Blade of Tyshalle'', and the unfortunate death of one guard in ''Caine Black Knife'' becomes a point of argument between Caine and his Knight of Khryl escort.
* RuleNumberOne:
-->Rule One: Fuck with me, and you die. This is your only warning.
-->Rule Two: What I say goes. Break Rule Two, you get hurt. Break it again, you die. Again, this is your only warning.
-->Rule Three: Fuck with my family or my friends, and you're fucking with me. When in doubt, see Rule One.
* SatisfiedStreetRat: Caine to a ridiculous degree, Orbek Black Knife and Majesty/Toa M'Jest to a lesser extent.
* SchizoTech: By ''Caine Black Knife'' Overworld has shotguns and automatic weapons but is still mainly a medieval-to-Renaissance aesthetic.
* ScrewTheRulesIHaveMoney: Earth's caste system means that most of the Businessmen (management) caste think this way, and the Leisuremen (executives and shareholders) above them are even worse.
* ShutUpHannibal: Caine gives one to [=Ma'elKoth=].
* SirSwearsALot: Caine's very foul-mouthed, to say the least.
* SociopathicHero: Caine.
* SorcerousOverlord: Ma'elKoth.
* StaringThroughTheSword: The cover of ''Caine Black Knife''.
* StateSec: The Social Police.
* StopWorshippingMe: Caine eventually inspires the creation of a ChaoticNeutral philosophy, who tell him that its not about him, just his ideals. Eventually, he performs so many badass acts that the philosophy evolves into a full-blown religion worshipping him (which, [[GodsNeedPrayerBadly considering the way divinity works in this universe]], might actually elevate him to godhood at some point). Caine tells the founder to shut it down, and she calmly tells him to his face that she doesn't care what he thinks.
* SuperDetailedFightNarration: "The gassy thing about the figure-four headlock..." *cue paragraph of description in loving detail*
* SurvivalMantra: "Keep your head down and inch towards daylight."
* SwordOfPlotAdvancement: Kosall, though a JustifiedTrope here in that Kosall just happens to do a lot of important stuff. Except it turns out it might also be the sword of a god that was also in possession of an order of knights for the past five hundred years ([[TimeyWimeyBall the timeline gets complicated when gods are involved]]).
* SwordPointing: From the ''Blade Of Tyshalle'':
-->'''Ma'elKoth''': ...You've learned a new trick. Come, then: Let us meet as men, standing face-to-face, for the surrender of the sword. [[LargeHam I applaud your sense of ceremony: Grant and Lee at Appomattox Courthouse, rather than Brutus at the feet of Ant-]]
-->'''Caine''': (''points [[AbsurdlySharpBlade Kosall]] at him'') You talk too fucking much. You and me, we both know what's going on here, and it has nothing to do with surrender.
* TalkToTheFist: Happens no less than five times in ''Blade of Tyshalle'' alone.
* {{Telepathy}}: Kris's "flashes".
* ThereAreTwoKindsOfPeopleInTheWorld: From ''Blade of Tyshalle'':
--> "You know what they say. There are two kinds of people in the world: [[LampshadeHanging people who say things like 'There are two kinds of people in the world', and people who know those first people are full of shit.]]"
* TheSlowWalk: Played straight in ''Blade of Tyshalle'', mildly deconstructed in ''Caine Black Knife''.
* TheUnfettered: The series demonstrate how the Unfettered make setting right and wrong in your story very difficult. Caine, the protagonist, is a prime example of an Unfettered character (but not his alter ego Hari, interestingly enough). He manages to be both a genocidal murderer and the world's saviour, an amoral cutthroat and a loving father. Stover successfully pulls it off because the morality in his novels is more about how much control you are willing to exercise over events to bring around the right outcome and less about whether death is right or wrong. Other Unfettered characters include [[ActionGirl Talaan]], [[InsufferableGenius T'Passe]], and Tommy to a degree. Ma'elKoth is Unfettered [[spoiler:until the Blind God owns him]]. Berne comes close but loves infamy and [[TheHedonist pleasure (read: rape)]] too much. Raithe manages to be Unfettered for about all of two chapters in ''Blade of Tyshalle''.
* ThisIsGonnaSuck: TropeNamer. In the ''Blade of Tyshalle'', Har, is a paraplegic --and at the moment, he is trapped in a burning building thanks to an assassination attempt. His 200-lb. companion has been knocked unconscious and must be dragged along, the air is full of dust and smoke ([[CaptainObvious making it hard to breathe]]), his wheelchair is unavailable, and he has to bypass several stories of staircase anyways before he can find an exit. "''This'', thought Hari, ''is gonna suck''."
* TimeTravelTenseTrouble: ''Caine's Law'' has this in spades.
* TooCoolToLive: Talaan, the main ActionGirl from ''Heroes Die'', who may have been a better fighter than ''Caine''.
* TortureTechnician: Arkadeil. His matter-of-fact, scholarly manner of ToThePain arguably makes him far creepier than many who take sadistic joy in it.
* ToThePain: Arkadeil in ''Heroes Die'' has a cold, dispassionate delivery of this as he teaches apprentice torturers.
* TooGoodForThisSinfulEarth: Deconstructed with [[spoiler:Shanna and Deliann]], both of whom made significant mistakes that aided the bad guys and put innocents in danger.
* TortureTechnician: Arkadeil in ''Heroes Die''.
* TryingToCatchMeFightingDirty
* {{Twincest}}: A probably nonconsensual example: Berne is revealed to keep twin sex slaves, [[DepravedBisexual one male and one female]]. This being Berne, if you think he wouldn't [[RapeByProxy order them to have sex with each other]], you plainly haven't read the books.
* UnspokenPlanGuarantee: Mentioned in ''Heroes Die''.
* UnwinnableTrainingSimulation: The Lakefront simulation in chapter 0 of ''Blade of Tyshalle''. The College of Battle Magic has an advanced class that opens with the Lakefront simulation. In it, the student Actor is put into a VR simulation of Overworld, in the docks of the city of Ankhana, where (s)he hears the sound of a woman being assaulted down a nearby alley by a single man. Those actors who confront the man will quickly find out that there are two others waiting on the low rooftops to jump some fool like you rushing to her aid. Even defeating all three won't do; the best student in the College, Kris Hansen, got that far only to be knifed by the woman, who is in on the charade. When Hari Michaelson, a Labour-caste near-dropout with terrible magick skills, enters the challenge, he becomes the first person in the history of the College to beat the simulation. Not bothering with spells, [[CombatPragmatist he gets the jump on the first man]], [=KOs=] the other two before they can recover from jumping into the alley, and [[SatisfiedStreetRat knows better than to trust the woman]], who gets her throat cut when she tries to knife him. He only fails because the test expected him to use magick, and the instructor hacked the simulation to bring the other players back to life and beat him senseless, something that was never before needed for the Lakefront sim. Regardless, as the instructor points out, the point of the test is to show whether the Actor-to-be can give the viewers an interesting death scene.
* VancianMagic: Thaumaturgists pattern spells into physical items, giving them a limited stock, likely as an intentional nod to the series's TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons inspiration.
** However, this is subverted in that patterning spells in this manner is done for convenience rather than necessity. Magic requires enourmous concentration to pull off without the aid of these items and only a very small number of extremely skilled thaumaturgists can really kick butt without them.
* VasquezAlwaysDies: [[spoiler:Talaan]] gets hit by this in ''Heroes Die''.
* WalkingDisasterArea: Caine is this for multiple reasons. For one, because he was an actor by training and for the longest time either sought out or created violent situations to provide material for his adventures. Also, because [[TheUnfettered the way he forces himself on reality]] actually causes the fabric of magic and chance to send hell his way (according to his more metaphysically-minded companions). But mostly, it's because [[BloodKnight the crazy bastard]] can almost never resist the urge to escalate a fight.
->''"I love the guy like a brother, but every time he comes to town we end up in another fucking war."''
-->-- '''Duke Toa M'Jest''' a.k.a. '''Majesty''' ''
* WarriorMonk: The Monastics. Played with in that they're not a religious order per se, but a brotherhood devoted to protecting the Future of Man and the Covenant of Pirichanthe that keeps the gods in check.
* WeakButSkilled: Deconstructed in ''Heroes Die''. Talaan may have more skill than Berne but it isn't enough to compensate for the latter's superior power, [[spoiler:which gets her killed.]]
* WhatTheHellHero: Eventually, anyone who cares about Overworld asks the Actors this.
* WillNotTellALie: Caine has a bit of a warped sense of honor, which has given him the well-deserved reputation that he would rather kill a man than lie to him. The last act of the first book hinges entirely on lies and deceit, which makes him very uncomfortable.
* YouBastard: In ''Heroes Die'' Caine uses this on his audience, who collectively share his body for the duration of his adventures. Due to the character narrating to his own audience, it also ends up directed at the reader by extension.
* YouJustToldMe: In the third book Caine meets a spy for an old friend of his, and instructs the spy to take a message to her. The spy plays dumb for a while, until Caine offers to explain what gave to spy away (so that he can correct the mistake). The spy admits it would be useful to know how Caine was so sure. Caine just says "I wasn't sure."
-->'''Caine:''' Fuckin' amateur.
* ZombieApocalypse: HVRP is rather similar to one. Infectees are fully conscious the whole time, and grow more and more paranoid and violent as their physical condition degrades. It was estimated that every victim with the virus killed 2.8 people. It led to the breakdown of standard government and the rise of the Caste system of corporate overlords. [[spoiler:Exactly as the Blind God wanted.]]
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