Book Review: Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher

A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Beyond RedemptionBeyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Book 1 of Manifest Delusions

Publisher: Harper Voyager (6/16/15)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Mogsy’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Would it make sense to call a book “grimdarker than grimdark”? This question was the second thought that crossed my mind as I pensively closed the cover on the final page of my copy of Beyond Redemption. It followed right on the heels of my first thought, which was “Damn, that shit was a hundred different kinds of awesome.”

Grimdark, after all, is a term frequently used to describe fantasy fiction with mostly dystopic, brutal or violent themes. Very often it also features characters that are amoral or dishonorable. All of this applies to this novel, which most certainly is nihilistic and violent—viciously and disturbingly so. It’s also aptly titled, seeing as no one in this story is in possession of a single redeeming attribute. They are all terrible, disgusting people. No joke, I could strip these characters down to their infinitesimal building blocks in order to examine each and every single atom under an electron microscope, and I still wouldn’t be able to find the smallest trace of goodness in any of them. It’s quite amazing, really.

Gods help me then, why did I enjoy them so much? Perhaps one has to be a little bit crazy to revel in reading about dark, gritty and twisted characters such as these. In which case, can you please pass me some more of that sweet, sweet insanity?

Fortunately, Michael R. Fletcher is happy to oblige. The world he gives us is literally steeped in chaos, madness, and delusion. In Beyond Redemption, individuals known as Geisteskranken are the unstable and insane individuals whose psychoses manifest as reality. Furthermore, under normal circumstances their powers are also shaped by collective beliefs, so the more people who believe in your delusion, the more those ideas become the truth.

Let’s just take a moment to digest this, shall we? You’re essentially being thrown into a world where the “magic” is delusion, and all your magicians are batshit insane. Come on, doesn’t that sound positively delightful!

Not to mention, there are just so many types of Geisteskranken. Rarely do I recommend this, but in the case of this book, it might actually be helpful to check out the glossary of all the different kinds of delusions described in the back before you start reading. It’s an impressive list, each one more frightening than the last. Hassebrands, for example, like to set fire to everything as an outlet for their repressed rage and loneliness. Therianthropes, on the other hand, think they are possessed by animal spirits, and are able to shapeshift into these creatures simply because they believe they can. But perhaps the most nefarious of all are the Gefahrgeists, sociopaths who are driven by their desperate desire to be at the center of attention and to rule over others.

And heaven forfend if you happen to be one of those Geisteskranken who are comorbidic, a person who manifests multiple delusions. These men and women tend to be even more unhinged, as mental instability often goes hand in hand with comorbidity. In Beyond Redemption, High Priest Konig Furimmer is one such individual, a twisted madman who seeks to forge order from the fiery chaos around him. Konig’s plans involve creating a god – a god his church can control. An innocent and sheltered young boy named Morgen is being groomed for the honor, to be killed once it is determined that he is ready to Ascend.

But before his Ascension could come to pass, Morgen is stolen away by three wretched thieves: Bedeckt the old cantankerous warrior, Stehlen the bloodthirsty kleptomaniac woman, and Wichtig the pompous Gefahrgeist who fancies himself the Greatest Swordsman in the World. Konig has no choice but to send the most dastardly of his Geisteskranken after the trio of brazen miscreants, hoping to salvage his plans before Morgen is forever corrupted. Anything can happen in this wild, dark tale of cat and mouse, but one thing is guaranteed – there’ll be a body count numbering in the hundreds and a whole lot more blood and guts spilled before this is done.

If you think a book like this sounds too crazy and ludicrous to pull off, I don’t blame you. The thing is though, it works. It really does. Declaring the protagonists as flawed might be the understatement of the century, but I was nevertheless fascinated by their delusions and eccentricities. You might find yourself wanting to root for them, even if you hate yourself a little for it. They are all so vile and depraved, and yet I cannot deny this was one of the most fantastic and unique cast of characters I’ve ever met.

It’s impossible not to get completely sucked into this story. Not that I wanted to fight the pull, mind you. Beyond Redemption is so wildly imaginative and intensely entertaining, you just can’t help but embrace its bleak world, the tortured characters, the wicked concepts. Giving in to the madness has never felt so good.

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25 Comments on “Book Review: Beyond Redemption by Michael R. Fletcher

  1. Wow, your review definitely makes me want to read this! And kudos for spelling all those long, unfamiliar words. I think I’d be scared to write a review for this book, for fear of getting so many words wrong, LOL!

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    • Haha, confession: I had my copy of the book open to the glossary at the end while I was writing this review. I would never have spelled all those words right on my own 😉

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  2. it looks like we have many many things in this one and that the world is quite impressing. I’m curious and at the same time I wonder if it’s for me. Maybe I should try!

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    • I’d say it’s definitely not for everyone, but you never know! It might be worth giving a try, especially if you’re curious about grimdark.

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    • I don’t think I can read a lot of this genre back to back to back (I think that was part of my problem with Mark Lawrence’s Broken Empire trilogy and Jorg), but on the whole I do find grimdark books to be really fun.

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  3. Well, not easy to decide about this. I always have a very hard time with characters who don’t have an hope for redention (I don’t really mind if they are extremely flawed or unlikable, but I need to see redemption in them), and still the idea is so different and unique that I am intrigued.

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    • Hmm, maybe…one of the characters has a sliver of a shot at redemption. But…that’s about it! 😀 The thing is though, I can’t stress how flawed these characters are, but at the same time they aren’t wholly unlikable. I thought that was pretty interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Grimdark, a subgenre more often described by authors who are considered representative for it than by its characteristics, 😀

    Great review, Mogsy, I agree with you, I really liked this book.
    Before reading, I thought the idea was interesting, but now that I read it, I would say it’s more the way author utilized this idea that was brilliant. You can’t even predict what’s going to happen;since main players are, well, insane which means they don’t follow normal train of thinking. My favorite part were doppels and reflections.
    My only complaint was german and that’s only because every word or name he used means something (like Regen Anrufer literally means rain summoner). It was distracting since my mind kept translating while I was reading.

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  5. “Damn, that shit was a hundred different kinds of awesome.”

    That, right there, needs to go on the cover! Seriously, so glad to see more people discovering and enjoying this book. Such a daunting concept, but he really does pull it off – you have to wonder if he’s just a bit mad himself!

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    • The author might be a bit mad, we fans might be a bit mad, let’s all be mad together, lol! I’m really glad I read this book. When I saw the reviews for it, I had a feeling it would be right up my alley.

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  6. With your review you just managed to make me feel both frightened and deeply curious about this book: it’s clear that it’s not an easy read – not so much for the story itself but because of the “terrible, disgusting people”. And yet it also sounds challenging – daring you to face it and… end up liking it, as you did. Ok, it’s the kind of challenge I might accept 🙂
    Great review, thank you!

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  7. “under normal circumstances their powers are also shaped by collective beliefs, so the more people who believe in your delusion, the more those ideas become the truth.” This sounds fascinating and very original! Nice review. I am a bit scared to try this one but your glowing review makes me want to put my neck on the line and read it, ha.

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    • Haha, yep this is definitely one of those books you just have to try for yourself. It’s really hard to explain just how bizarre and unique the “magic system” is because I don’t even know if I can call it that. Very cool book.

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  8. Pingback: Mogsy’s Bookshelf Roundup: Stacking the Shelves and Recent Reads | The BiblioSanctum

  9. I’d heard this novel was very grimdark, and very good, but I had no idea about that magic system! Using actual psychotic disorder is genius and crazy! 😛 Then the more people who believe your delusions, the more power your delusions (aka. magic) becomes… that make so much sense! Has the type of magic even been done before?

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  10. Pingback: Guest Post: “Writing Crazy” by Michael R. Fletcher | The BiblioSanctum

  11. Pingback: Book Review: The Mirror’s Truth by Michael R. Fletcher | The BiblioSanctum

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