Review: Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher
Published by Harper Voyager on June 16th 2015
Genres: Dark Fantasy, Fantasy
Source: Author, Purchased
Thanks to the Author, Michael R. Fletcher, for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Faith shapes the landscape, defines the laws of physics, and makes a mockery of truth. Common knowledge isn't an axiom, it's a force of nature. What the masses believe is. But insanity is a weapon, conviction a shield. Delusions give birth to foul new gods. Violent and dark, the world is filled with the Geisteskranken—men and women whose delusions manifest, twisting reality. High Priest Konig seeks to create order from chaos. He defines the beliefs of his followers, leading their faith to one end: a young boy, Morgen, must Ascend to become a god. A god they can control. But there are many who would see this would-be-god in their thrall, including the High Priest’s own Doppels, and a Slaver no one can resist. Three reprobates—The Greatest Swordsman in the World, a murderous Kleptic, and possibly the only sane man left—have their own nefarious plans for the young god. As these forces converge on the boy, there’s one more obstacle: time is running out. When one's delusions become more powerful, they become harder to control. The fate of the Geisteskranken is to inevitably find oneself in the Afterdeath. The question, then, is: Who will rule there?
Beyond Redemption is a book that is wonderfully dark and twisted but well balanced with humor and interesting characters. The magic system is quite unique as it is based on insanity which adds a really interesting dynamic. The more powerful a person becomes, the more unstable they become as well. It is a very intriguing way to build a level of restraint and possible self destruction that is tied directly to their magical ability.
And reality is also shaped by belief, so people with strong delusions can shape the world. And paranoia can also define your reality. Needless to say, it is dark, there are definitely some twisted things, but the book also does a great job building complex relationships between broken characters and adding enough humor to keep it from ever becoming too dark. There are some characters that become insanely powerful, but you can see their sanity fleeing, causing their own destruction. This was expertly done in my opinion. Pretty much anything is possible in this world as long as someone is delusional enough to make it happen, but there were costs and limits.
There are many different types of delusions, so as you may imagine, there are also many types of power within this magical structure.
The story follows a trio, Bedeckt, Stehlen and Wichtrig. Bedeckt is an older, scarred warrior who seems incredibly sane in this world of insanity. Wichtrig is on a mission to become known as the World’s Greatest Swordsman (which he believes himself to be). And Stehlen is, well sneaky and has no remorse. She can’t help herself from stealing, and seems to have absolutely no remorse over killing anyone for pretty much any reason. Pretty much: Don’t mess with Stehlen. You won’t see or hear her coming before she stabs you in the back. It feels like an unlikely group of people, and to be honest, the reader is not initially very sure why they are together, or why even more importantly, why they stay together. Quite frankly, they are all a bit miserable and they don’t act like they really enjoy each others company. But the dynamics between them were all great. They are all such flawed people, but you still want to root for them and as the book progresses, you also start to understand them all a bit better.
There are some people who have the power to bend others to their will. They are known as “Slavers” and they are incredibly dangerous. People can pretty much lose themselves and become shells of people who are used only as tools for the slaver. Some slavers are worse than others, but none are desirable, and some are particularly horrific. Maybe this is another good place to remind people, this is not a book for the faint of heart, this is not a book for the easily disturbed. This is a book for readers who enjoy exploring the darker side of potential realities.
I really hate to say too much about the plot with this one, because really, I enjoyed going in knowing very little. This world has so many different possibilities, I loved not knowing what was going to come at me next. There are wonderful twists and curious events. There is a good deal of action, suspense and moments of heart wrench, and moments of unthinkable atrocities. Coming to know all the characters involved lets you see how broken everyone and every thing is, and you can’t help but want for something to go their way.
Do not dismiss this book as just going for shock value, there is real merit to this story and it I don’t believe anything was carelessly thrown in. Every moment had a reason, a purpose. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has been a fan of books labeled grim dark. You can’t get much more grim or dark than Beyond Redemption, but it is done in a way that makes it an incredibly enjoyable read. I am really looking forward to the next one.